One of the hardest mission fields on the planet is Hollywood. Unlike say a missionary in some distant jungle, you won’t meet a bunch of primitive savages that are out to stone or spear you for your faith. However, you will encounter opposition of another sort in Tinseltown.
BY STEVE CHA
This group is often characterized as the wealthy elite who are heavily trapped in a lifestyle of fame, money, and maybe even sex and drugs. These are people who often don’t much care for religion, and if they do, it will most likely be the poppy and exotic sort of “spirituality” that is New Age, Zen Buddhism, or Scientology. On top of that, the entertainment industry, as a whole, is as liberal-minded as it gets.
These are the people I reached for Christ for a period of three years. From 2008 to 2010, I was a full-time extra who worked on many films, TV shows, and commercials. During this time, I was able to evangelize and give tracts out to many people I worked with on set, some of whom included famous celebrities. This was an adventurous, and often times scary, time of my life.
When I went into the entertainment field, it was not initially to do any sort of evangelism. I went in to pursue my high school dream of becoming a film director. I used the acting platform for getting exposure in Hollywood. In an unusual turn of events, it was there that I truly met the Lord and found a newfound passion, which was to advance the kingdom agenda in Hollywood.
While working on a TV show at Universal Studios Hollywood I met a Christian who was a fellow background artist. He was really no ordinary guy. He was an on-fire believer who was Great Commission focused. He spoke to half of the people on set about Jesus and gave them gospel tracts so fearlessly. I was impressed and got a chance to hear both his salvation testimony and his outreach efforts in Hollywood during the previous five years.
This man, Jonathan, evangelized even famous celebrities. The list includes the likes of Dan Aykroyd, Orlando Bloom, Will Smith, Jackie Chan, Annette Bening, Ed Harris, and Steven Spielberg. He even told me of an encounter he had with Harrison Ford on a movie called Crossing Over, where he gave Harrison a gospel tract (from Living Waters Ministry) and was asked to leave the set later on.
I thought, “This was crazy stuff!” But I was curious and wanted to know more. I learned more about the gospel and the importance of evangelism through Living Waters Ministry, via the TV show The Way of the Master. It convicted me so much that I knew that instead of being disobedient I was supposed to be doing what I have been called to do as a Christian. I thought, “Why was I living so much for myself when other people who don’t know Christ will spend eternity in hell? Isn’t Jesus suppose to come back soon?”
That’s when I gained a new desire to evangelize the lost. I no longer saw my film career as a priority. The saving of lost sinners was and is more pressing. Over the course of the next two-and-a-half years, I started to verbally preach the gospel to others on set and to give out gospel tracts to them. I started to evangelize celebrities myself. I thought, “Who else was going to reach them if people like me don’t? How many of them actually have Christian friends who can tell them this kind of stuff?”
It had been two years of joyful moments and challenging times. There were some people who were receptive to my work. Everyone from security guards to singers like Rob Thomas (Matchbox 20) and William Friedkin (director) showed interest. But there was also some heat that came on me at times. One time, I got seriously scolded by a Production Assistant for giving a gospel tract to actor James Wood while filming an episode of the now defunct show Shark. Nevertheless, I pressed on, but it wasn’t easy.
The most memorable story was, of course, the Brad Pitt incident, which I have shared on many media outlets. We were working on the movie Moneyball at the Sony Studios in Culver City. At the end of the shoot, around 12:30 am, I went up to Brad when he was about to head back to his trailer. I gave him a gospel tract with the “million dollar bill” design. Interestingly, it was the Living Waters edition that had his cartoon caricature on it. He took it and said that he was going to look at it later. As I left the set, I was able to also give a gospel DVD to the cinematographer, Wally Pfister.
WATCH VIRAL YOUTUBE VIDEO: “ACTOR LOSES CAREER AFTER EVANGELIZING BRAD PITT” BELOW
About 10 days later, I received a letter from Central Casting, stating that I got terminated. They provided no reason, but I can only guess that it was because of this incident. It just shows that when the gospel is presented, people will either love it or hate it. But that was the price I was willing to pay to see the lost come to saving faith in Jesus, especially when I was in Hollywood. I continue to pray for many of the famous actors in the business.
Since my termination from Central Casting, I have moved onto other endeavors, which has led me to where I am today, as teaching pastor of Grace City LA. The Lord was able to open up opportunities to tract celebrities outside of set, the most recent occasion being Wilem DaFoe and Gwen Stefani.
This, as well as many more stories, can be found in my book Hollywood Mission: Possible. This autobiography documents my many evangelism stories when I was working in Hollywood, with people like Brad Pitt, Kiefer Sutherland, Freddie Prince Jr, the Jonas Brothers, and some of the stories from the other on-set evangelists as well. You won’t find too many scoops like this in any other book or online periodical!
My prayer is that Hollywood Mission: Possible inspires you to be bold as a witness for Christ. Lord willing, pray that you will have opportunities with celebrities if you are working in the entertainment industry.
Steve Cha is the teaching pastor of Grace City LA.