Baldwin’s about face

How one of Hollywood’s biggest “bad boys” became Hollywood’s biggest “Jesus freak”, much to his own surprise

Stephen Baldwin
Stephen Baldwin - changed his tune, but still has fun

American actor and youngest of the Baldwin brothers Stephen Baldwin turned 50 this May. On his birthday he took to Twitter and wrote: "My greatest gift? God's love!!"

Since 1986 when he joined the Hollywood scene, Stephen has had his fair share of screen time. His best-known films include Born on the Fourth of July, The Usual Suspects, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, and The Flyboys.

He also starred in the TV series The Young Riders and as himself in reality shows Celebrity Big Brother 2010 and Celebrity Apprentice.

Think Hollywood and you might picture a glamorous life of spontaneous vacations, expensive alcohol, and party after party in other famous people's mansions.

According to Stephen's autobiographical book The Unusual Suspect: My Calling to a New Hardcore Movement of Faith, that perception might have some truth to it; and trusting from his account Stephen dove deep into the lifestyle.

"Deep enough to know which steps on the spiral staircase down into the wine cellar at the Playboy mansion would trigger a silent alarm," he writes.

"When you know that, baby, you're in pretty deep."

When Stephen became a Christian in 2001 more or less out of nowhere not only did he shock audiences, his status as a laid-back seeker of pleasure took a hit.

"I have to say to all you people out there who can't believe Stevie B is now a Christian, no one is more shocked by this turn of events than me," he says.

"I had a reputation as one of Hollywood's bad boys and living up to it led to behaviour that was seriously questionable for a married man.

"But that didn't make me turn to Jesus. Overall, life was good. I just didn't realise it could be better."

"The Hollywood life is a place that gives you license to do anything you want.

"I could go wherever I wanted and do pretty much anything I wanted, and the hilarious part is that most of the time I didn't have to pay for it.

"But even as I let myself be swept along for the ride, something deep down inside me kept telling me none of this really made any sense. For me, celebrity was never reality."

And, though he only realised it in retrospect, Stephen's life at the time was focused on making money. In a recent I Am Second video, Stephen says he lived "an existence of self-absorbance, and doing what you'd normally do when trying to maintain a career in the movie business".

Something changed him. He says he had "all his preconceptions about God blown away" when he took a chance and embraced faith.

That change came slowly, after a housekeeper told him and his wife Kennya they were going to become born-again Christians and have their own ministry; and more suddenly, after 9/11 hit.

Stephen remembers the shock caused him to re-evaluate: "where am I in my life, in my beliefs, in my values, in my morals?"

Within a month of the revelation brought on by the terror attacks he gave his life to Jesus Christ.

"Loving Jesus is what's most important to me," he says now. "And I know that sounds hokey, but it's the truth.

"My life is God's life in me, for Him to do with what He wants."

He writes in his autobiography, "Stephen Baldwin, the 'fun Baldwin', refuses to become part of something old and stale and boring."

The reason he has stuck with his faith this long and continues to swear by it and publicise it so openly is he has found Christianity is not old, or stale, or boring.

"That's part of what surprised me about this thing called faith," he says. "Through it God replaced my jaded, cynical, been-there-done-that eyes with a whole new way of seeing the world."

Stephen along with friends Mario D'Ortenzio and Bobby Brewe founded Breakthrough Ministry in 2001, which uses extreme sports as a ministry through arena tours.

Then in 2009 he launched Now More Than Ever, a ministry designed to reach men and women enlisted in the military around the world.

And he shares through his acting, starring in recent years in evangelical films like I'm in Love with a Church Girl, Faith of our Fathers, and Youth Group, which he recently headed to Hollywood to shoot.

"God bless y'all in Hollywood," he tweeted. "Peace out!"

Where is God in the terror? >>