Background artist turned seminary student, Steve Cha, did the unforgiveable in Hollywood.
After scenes from “Moneyball” concluded--this mild-mannered evangelist walked over to superstar actor Brad Pitt, giving him a million dollar bill with the celebrity’s face on the front. Pitt was perplexed—but cordial, as this was a ministry tract Cha attained from Living Water Ministries to witness to non-believers. An excerpt read: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Then He rose from the dead and defeated death. Please, repent (turn from sin) today and trust in Jesus alone, and God will grant you the gift of everlasting life. Then read your Bible daily and obey it.”
A letter from his casting company followed days later.
Cha committed the cardinal sin. His casting company warned extras (background artist) not to approach main players, unless they initiate contact. After three years in Tinsel Town--Cha was blacklisted, losing his livelihood. He packed his bags and left the life he once had dreamy visions of as a child. Nonetheless, seeds were already planted. Cha witnessed to director Stephen Spielberg, along with actors Harrison Ford, Tori Spelling and Dan Aykroyd before saying goodbye to Los Angeles. He talked with Beliefnet about his journey and his memoir, Hollywood: Mission Possible.
You talk about witnessing to Brad Pitt. Tell us about that experience.
I worked on the movie “Moneyball and was called the day before. I was thinking in my mind “Who is on “Moneyball?” So when I went on IMDb to research, Brad Pitt’s name popped up and I’m like: “You got to be kidding?” I wanted to evangelize this guy because he came from a Baptist upbringing. His mother and father are very devout Christians. Somewhere down the line when he came into Hollywood, he fell away from his faith. So I decided to approach Brad at the end of the night. He was really in a rush to get out of there because of such a long workday and I’m assuming he just wanted to get home to Angelina and the kids. I chased after him—we were at the Sony studios. I met him outside at his golf cart and I just thanked him for having a wonderful day since I had conversations that day during the shoot, although, they were not about spiritual matters. It was kind of casual fun. It ended by giving him a gospel tract, one of those million dollar bills from the Living Waters Ministry/Way of the Master. At that moment, he was really shocked and didn’t know what it was--it had his face on it. Afterwards he left and I thought everything was great.
So that door was closed.
For the most part yeah--I can’t see what’s in God’s plan. He might open it up again. Maybe go to Hollywood from a different position or angle. I’m working on a Master of Arts in Theology [at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena] and training to become a pastor to preach God’s Word, verse by verse. [Now]I’m going around and speaking and encouraging others to boldly share their faith like I did. In the world of evangelism, if you can conquer your fears, just follow God’s commandments and scriptures that he’ll do wonderful things even if it’s costly along the way. In my life that is clearly an example.
Is God moving in Hollywood?
There are a lot of people praying for the content to change in Hollywood. The content they put out every year influences people all across the world and the nation. The content itself can’t change in Hollywood, if the hearts don’t change in Hollywood. The thing is to actually get people to get the gospel message across to them by working from in the inside out not the outside in. The truth is we need more people to step up and boldly take on opportunities that are so evidently there. They pass it up because they don’t want to get on anybody’s nerves or to be seen as a religious freak. That’s always a temptation in Hollywood, too.
So many believers are keeping a low profile?
I’m just telling you from my perspective for three years on set that I’ve never really seen too many Christian going around sharing their faith. I have heard of people passing out tracts here and there, which is great, because that’s what I used to do. I talked about [Jonathan Khan, actor] from the book. He’s the guy who influenced me to evangelize because I saw him do it. He told me about his celebrity evangelizing stories and I was hooked.
You lost your livelihood because of witnessing. What’s has been the positive side from this experience?
The positive side has been that I know that there were Christians along the way influenced by what I did. Some even inspired to do evangelism, some to become missionaries, to boldly share their faith and to do something wonderful with their lives. In terms with the celebrities, it’s regrettable that I can’t really say that somebody became saved at the moment when I came up to them. I did meet one star that asked me to keep his name confidential. But he worked on a few of the “Fast and the Furious” films. He had a struggling Christian background. When I approached him on a television show, I talked to him about his faith. He told me he had questions. I met up with him later at his restaurant in LA. He said I answered a lot of questions for him. He called me six months later saying how everything was going good in his life and how I helped influenced him with other people God had in his life. He actually started to attend church again. So that was an amazing thing.
Go check out Cha’s book, Hollywood: Mission Possible.