It’s cause to do a double-take—at least it was for some people last month at the International Christian Retail Show in Denver. Some people had not read or heard the story of Stephen Baldwin (yes, click this link and you will get a taste of what’s happening here). Because of some of his movies, people didn’t expect him to be a Christian—much less someone with radical faith. As a celebrity, Stephen certainly drew a crowd of booksellers to his book signing.
Several weeks ago, I watched a lengthy segment on the Trinity Broadcasting Network where Stephen Baldwin told the story of his changed life. I could see the transformation and commitment to be genuine. Because of his connections to the entertainment world, Baldwin (and his new book) is showing up in unexpected places. I found this piece in Esquire (which has a circulation of over 700,000 copies a month). As the article from Sean Gibson begins, “You can learn a lot from Stephen Baldwin. Maybe not about quality acting or the downside of nepotism, but balls-out evangelism? The man will change your life. Since finding Christ after the September 11 attacks, Baldwin's nurtured a unique kind of religious conviction, one that's equal parts scripture and Mountain Dew Code Red. He talks about it, and why you should find it, too, in his new book, The Unusual Suspect: My Calling to the New Hardcore Movement of Faith (Warner Faith, $24). Pull up a pew.”
I didn’t wait in the lengthly line for a signed copy of this book—but I did haul home an advance reading copy for this book which releases next month. I’ve been reading this book and was amused to find this paragraph about the movie Bio-Dome. “The film was brainless and pointless and hilarious and God wanted me to make it. I didn't think that at the time. Making Bio-Dome played right into my usual, let’s have a good time attitude. God had other plans, I just didn’t know it at the time. When I say God wanted me to make this movie, I do not mean to imply that He approved of everything in the film. This film contains stuff that does not reflect the life I now live. I haven’t even allowed my own children to see it…The critics may have hated Bio-Dome, but kids loved it. They loved it when we first made it and they still love it today. Everywhere I go I have some kid in his late teens or early twenties come up to me and tell me that this is their favorite movie…One of the reasons kids will listen to me today is because they recognize me from the movies. But not just any movie. One movie: Bio-Dome. God had me make this film to give me the platform that would later become my life’s work.”
If you read these entries about the writing life, you know my wife and I love to go to movies. Some of the movies that we see are great and others are complete busts. The weekend Bio-Dome released we were pressed to find anything worth watching—yet determined to go to the movies. So we were one of the folks in the audience watching this film and we walked out wondering why we had parted with our cash for this experience. Isn’t it amazing what can happen from the least expected sources?
Here’s another bit from The Unusual Suspect by Stephen Baldwin with Mark Tabb: “All my life I’ve played different roles in various productions. But when I separated my life on screen from my real life, I see how my life is like a movie. From the time I was born, I’ve played different roles: child, student, musician, athlete, actor, husband, father. It’s as though my life is a production, written, produced and directed by the hand of God. All the roles he’s had me play and all the paths he’s taken me down all worked together to prepare me to receive my greatest role and fulfill his purpose for creating me in the first place. When I read back over the script God wrote of my life, I understand everything that’s happened in this story has all come about to bring me to a place where I could understand who God is and how he wants to use me. That’s the greatest production.The role I’m now playing in the drama God penned that is my life, is the greatest role I will ever play in my life. And it is my life.”
What experiences is God using in your life to eventually create something beautiful? It’s hard to see the potential in the moment of difficulty. I’d encourage you to write down small pieces of those experiences. Maybe the dialogue or something shows up in a private journal or a computer file. It’s something you can use as a resource to write these experiences and be an encouragement for others. Years later, the pain or the difficulty will be hard to recall unless you capture it in the moment. Then you can use those experiences in a book proposal then a book or a personal experience magazine article. Where will you be able to show your radical faith and the difference it makes in your life?