This internet thing is a funny animal. When you post something here for all the world to see, it is bound to be kept forever somehow, some way. So it is probably wise to be careful what you say and do. I am sure that I have run afoul of this my fair share of times and will likely do so again. The only way to avoid saying or doing the wrong thing at some point is to say and do nothing at all. But that would be a bit like the guy who “buried his talent” in the parable of our Master, so I don’t recommend that course of action either.
The reason I bring this up is a site that popped up a couple of weeks ago and that now appears to have been hastily removed. I started to comment about it after I saw it mentioned in a friend’s Facebook posting one day, but I held back. The site was called RestoreStephenBaldwin.com and it is currently defunct. I would link to the Google cache version, but that one will only last for so long as well. So for the sake of discussion, I am going to post some of the original purpose statement from the cached website for your take on the matter.
HE TOOK A STAND
Stephen Baldwin of the famous “Baldwin Brothers” Hollywood clan is a veteran actor who has starred in over 60 films and TV shows. He is no stranger to the Hollywood life of glitz, glamour and the public eye.
In 2002, he had an experience that changed his life forever. He became a Born Again Christian, giving his life to Jesus Christ. Over the next few years, he became very vocal about his faith, using his spotlight to boldly preach the gospel. However, because of his convictions it has caused him the loss of many jobs and the most recently, a highly publicized bankruptcy.
He has been publicly ridiculed and insulted by people who think that he has been abandoned by God. A simple search through the internet will reveal that people not only mock Stephen, but mock God.
In response to this (with the permission of Stephen’s ministry President Daniel Southern) we have established RestoreStephenBaldwin.org. A privately funded and managed website. Our vision is to see Stephen Baldwin publicly restored in front of millions. Stephen’s platform will increase allowing him to reach even more people with the Gospel and God will get all of the glory. Publicly.
The Story Behind The Vision: Job
Job was the most inflential man in the east, (Job 1-3) he was a man of great wealth who stood up for righteousness and his God. However, there came a period of time where Job went through great distress and testing. He lost his children, his health, his home and wealth. Throughout this pain and suffering, he stood in faithfulness to God and would not turn his back on Him. Because of his faithfulness, Job was instantly restored by “All Who Knew Him”
How Was He Restored: Token Gifting
Everyone knows that God restored Job, but do they understand the mechanism of his restoration? Job was restored by the people. By “All Who Knew Him”. This website was created to see a rebirth of that mechanism. If the people of God come together and each give a small “Token Gift” we can see a massive restoration of a Christian public figure and all the glory will go to God. Its simple, will you take part in the second ever All Who Know Him event?
There is also a youtube video that explains the purpose behind this endeavor.
There was also a page that cataloged some of the insults that have been hurled at Stephen Baldwin because of his testimony as a follower of Jesus. I won’t repost those, but I do want to add a small section from the Q and A page.
Q- Why does Stephen need personal wealth?
A- Stephen’s influence is in Hollywood. Hollywood worships money and without it you are seen as a loser and cannot be an effective influence to this group.
Q- How much money does he need?
A- From what I read in public court documents Stephen needs several million dollars to pay all of his creditors but he deserves hundreds of millions for his Job like faithfulness in the face of relentless loss and persecution.
Q- What percentage of a gift actually reaches Stephen?
A- 100% goes directly into his bank account through online gifting. The bank account was arranged by Daniel Southern. Daniel was Billy Graham’s Crusade Director for almost 20 years.
I am guessing from the fact that the site is now “offline” that this didn’t go over particularly well with a lot of people. I am sure there were many who hopped on board without a question. Christianity Today has an article from the time when the site was exclusively directed toward helping Stephen that you can read here. But there is another more recent article online that tries to make it appear that the project was intended to be a bigger help for lots of people and that Stephen was merely the “first recipient” chosen for this hand up if you will.
Personally, I am not buying the current account of things. I saw the original site and it was all about Stephen Baldwin. It was named after him for crying out loud. I am not out to pile on the guy. I actually do appreciate his testimony, as much as I have heard of it anyway.
All of this hubbub led me to ask a slightly different question however. I know that Stephen has been a pretty popular guy in the TBN circles (I saw him on there several times when we still had that channel in our cable lineup). My only question is why these people all assume that the only outcome by which God can be glorified in this is when Stephen receives boatloads of cash in “token amounts” from a lot of believers. I don’t remember the exact figure on the website when it was up, but it was something like 10% of the 150 million professing Christians in the US giving a token amount. If we plug in $1 for the token amount, then that is $15 million bucks. Why is cash seen as the ultimate answer to the problem here?
Let me ask another question. Has anyone around Stephen taken this opportunity to talk about the time that Jesus said this:
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
I am just curious to know. Maybe no one around him has the temerity to point out such a thing. Based on the words of our Lord, I am willing to say that Stephen doesn’t know just how good he has it at this point. Even in bankruptcy, God is still in control and He is still faithful. Maybe God has designs on “restoring Stephen Baldwin,” but the most important restoration He can do has nothing to do with money, and I pray that Stephen understands that if he didn’t already.