Stephen Baldwin refuses to skate along with his faith


NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — He's the brother of Alec Baldwin and is known for his role as a career criminal in "The Usual Suspects" and more recently as part of the cast of ABC's reality show "Celebrity Mole."

But Stephen Baldwin believes his most important role in life now is as a born-again Christian.

In an extraordinary career change, Baldwin has been busy making a series of Christian-themed DVDs of skateboarders and BMX riders called "Livin' It" and "Livin' It: Unusual Suspects."

On June 21, the world premier of his latest film project, "Livin' it L.A.," was presented at the Regency Lido Theater.

The new Baldwin-directed movie, produced by Kevin Palau and the Luis Palau Association, features 12 top athletes in the world of skateboarding, ranging from legends like Lance Mountain, Ray Barbee, and Christian Hosoi from the glory days of the 1970s and 1980s, to up-and-comers like Richard Mulder and Brian Sumner.

In addition to the usual premier trappings, Baldwin brought along his custom-designed brand-new 16-foot box truck, nicknamed "The Lord's Lounge," which he uses to evangelize the youth of America as he travels around the country.

The floor of the vehicle, which he parked at the back of the theater, is covered in red shag carpet. The walls boast several large white crosses that hang behind the pulpit. The extraordinary vehicle also has a public address system with a 300-foot range, plush couches, a disco mirror ball, Lava Lamps and a 40-inch plasma television that swings out to show DVDs of Baldwin's "Livin It" videos.

"The Lord's Lounge is just a way that the Lord showed me that we can have some fun with the kids," Baldwin said during a brief interview at the premier. "He gave me this vision of having a funky '70s disco lounge and really what we're just trying to do; connect up with the kids in a way they can experience a little bit more fun in relation to connecting up with Jesus."

According to Baldwin, the lounge has become a hit.

"The kids are freakin' out man; they're having such fun with it," the director said. "They're asking Mom and Dad, 'How do we get a 'Lord's Lounge?'"

Attention grabber
While the lounge has become a popular hangout on wheels, it's smaller wheels that originally got Baldwin's attention.

"It began when I went to an amazing Beachfest put on in Fort Lauderdale by the Palau organization in March 2003," he said. "I saw them using the skateboarding in a really legitimate, radical way, to bring the kids in to get a hearing for the gospel message.

"After that, we made the 'Livin It' skate video and it's really just snowballed from there. During the last three years, over 200 skateboard ministries have been birthed in America as a result of what 'Livin It' has been doing. And it's not us; it's God using this for a time such as this. God wants to reach the youth culture and He's gonna use music and skateboarding and whatever else it takes to get His gospel delivered."

Baldwin said the effort is a natural complement to the work of the Palaus.

"For over 40 years, his ministry has been extremely effective and powerful," the actor said. "When he and the team switched to the festival model, the church has had an amazing revival happen in it.

"And now the 'Livin It' thing is going out on more of a hardcore, grassroots level, and is starting to reach the youth culture demographically and is strategically pinpointing those people more than ever before. We're really excited about what is happening."

Even with the lure and bright lights of Hollywood, Baldwin said the key to his faith is seeking a real relationship with Christ.

"All I can say is that I challenged God to reveal Himself to me in a realistic way," he said. "I told Him that if He didn't, I'd curse Him. I've been living and working in Hollywood for 20 years and what I did at that moment was I did what the Bible says; that you need to do things the way God says; you need to seek Him. That's the most important thing.

"The biggest mistake people make today is they don't do it God's way, but they try and do it their way. So I challenged God and He said, 'OK Stephen, do it my way.' So I did. I sought His Word and I now read the Bible every day. I pray every day and the experience and the reaction that I have got from that has been far more powerful and satisfying than anything I've ever done anywhere else.

"God is real, but you only come to know that if you seek Him. His way is not your way."

Standing out from crowd
His open practice of Christianity is in many ways an antithesis of the entertainment capital of the world, a fact he takes in strides.

"I don't care what anybody thinks in Hollywood; I only care what God thinks. I know that all those people (in Hollywood) very soon are gonna be coming into this understanding as well."

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