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Published: Saturday, 7/31/2004

Documentary touts faith of daredevils

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
Reg luke B. in a scene from Stephen Baldwin's movie Living. Reg luke B. in a scene from Stephen Baldwin's movie Living.
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"I love skateboarding for Jesus."- Sierra Fellers, 16, of Whitefish, Mont.

In a new video titled Livin' It, Hollywood actor Stephen Baldwin switches gears and gets behind the camera to direct a documentary about 11 "core sports" athletes who grind, nollie, kickflip, flair, and occasionally "case the jump" (crash) on skateboards and BMX bikes.

It's fascinating to watch these fearless dudes launch themselves into all kinds of flips, spins, and aerial maneuvers on their boards and bikes. There are several spills in the video, but one can only imagine the countless scrapes and breaks they must have endured to reach the top of the heap in their chosen fields.

But there is much more to Livin' It than the 45 minutes of daredevil action.

Click on the disc's "bonus features," and it's clear that Mr. Baldwin put this DVD together as a way of spreading the Gospel.

The 38-year-old Hollywood star, the younger brother of actors Alec, William, and Daniel Baldwin, wears a leather jacket, gold cross, and a ballcap with a rainbow colored "Jesus fish" as he talks about how he became a born-again Christian shortly after 9/11.

He and his wife, Kennya, who is from Brazil, hired a Brazilian housekeeper named Augusta to help with the chores and their two young daughters.

Mr. Baldwin said Augusta told him and his wife one day that they only think they hired her to take care of their house and kids. Before she was hired, she told him, it was prophesied during a church service in Brazil that she soon would be hired by an American family so that she could tell them about Jesus.

It took seven years, Mr. Baldwin said, but in 2000 his wife became a born-again Christian "and a year later, I followed."

"For me, being born again was the most awesome thing that ever happened in my life, and I've had a pretty awesome life already," Mr. Baldwin said.

Now he is out to share his excitement with people who, like himself, are not much interested in traditional church services.

On Livin' It, Baldwin draws viewers in with the action videos of soaring skateboarders and gravity-defying bikers, and then, in the numerous bonus segments and interviews, lets them talk about their faith in God.

The young athletes in baggy jeans, sweatshirts, and knit caps speak frankly in terms that many young people can relate to.

Livin' It, which sells for $10, also includes a theme song and video by Christian rap group Cross Movement; interviews with pro athletes Cris Carter and LaPhonso Ellis, actress Victoria Jackson, and Miami Dolphins owner H. Wayne Huizenga, Jr., and scenes from the Christian "BeachFest" that drew 300,000 people to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., during spring break.

Information is available from 1-866-897-2528 or online at www.livinit.org.

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Another innovative youth-oriented project is "Flicker Rocks Harder," a 17-song compilation featuring Christian rock groups who record for Audio Adrenaline's Flicker Records label.

Not only does the disc include hard-hitting tunes by bands such as Pillar, Kids in the Way, Mortal, Everyday Sunday, Fed Up, and the Swift, but it also contains an anti-pornography program developed by XXX Church.

The program, X3 Watch, keeps track of "questionable" Web sites that a computer user visits, then periodically

by bands such as Pillar, Kids in the Way, Mortal, Everyday Sunday, Fed Up, and the Swift, but it also contains an anti-pornography program developed by XXX Church.

The program, X3 Watch, keeps track of "questionable" Web sites that a computer user visits, then periodically sends a list of such sites to a predetermined "accountability partner" of the user's choice. The idea is to help Christians, particularly youths, overcome the temptation to visit X-rated Web sites.

"Culture bombards us every day with messages that ultimately numb us to the influx of sexual images that are all around us," said Troy Vest, Flicker's general manager. "There is no doubt that pornography is a major problem that we are facing today."

He said the label wanted to provide youth with "a tool that will help them stay away from porn on the Internet" and kept the CD's price at $6.99 to make it available to as many as possible.

Craig Gross, founder of XXXchurch.com, said he was glad that Flicker not only shares his vision but is willing to act on it.

"It is so great to see a record label interested in keeping kids away from porn in a world where most labels and musicians promote sex, porn, and inappropriate behavior these days," Mr. Gross said.

XXXchurch is as bold and outrageous as its name, setting up booths at adult video conventions as members share their faith with industry insiders.

In addition to evangelizing, the church seeks to help all Christians resist the lure of online pornography.

Mr. Gross said a Leadership magazine survey showed that nearly 40 percent of pastors with Internet access had visited a porn site and more than a third had done so within the last year.

XXXchurch.com seeks to offer help, counseling, and awareness of the problem that is often ignored because it is difficult to talk about.

In addition to its inclusion on "Flicker Rocks Harder," the X3 Watch software is available free at www.XXXchurch.com.

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Good things continue to happen for Sanctus Real, the Christian rock band from Toledo. In fact, it's so good it's bad: The first pressing of the group's sophomore disc, "Fight the Tide," is completely sold out, and Sparrow Records has to scramble to get more copies pressed.

The first single off the new disc, "Everything About You," has become Sanctus Real's second No. 1 single on the Christian rock chart and is in the Top 10 on the CHR and CRW charts.

Band members Mark Graalman, Steve Goodrum, Chris Rohman, and Matt Hammitt, recently finished taping a music video for "Everything About You" with producer Chad Denning, which is slated for airplay later this summer. Meanwhile, SR is on tour with Jeremy Camp, including an Aug. 20 show at CedarCreek Church in Perrysburg, and just like copies of the CD, the fast-selling tickets are hard to find.

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Michael W. Smith has been one of the most dependable stars in Christian music - both on and off the stage - for more than two decades.

Now Smitty is putting his life experience to work in a book called Signs (Thomas Nelson Publishers, $19.99), named after his hit song of the same title, offering advice to today's young people.

"Open your eyes, look at the signs," he sings in the song, a video of which is included with the book, "never look back at yesterday, keep your gaze steady on the narrow way."

The "signs" in the book give directions, like road signs, that are based on biblical principles to help steer young people through the chaos of modern society.

As the father of five, Smith's advice, unlike some such books, is heartfelt and practical.



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