It is all over the tabloids; Mel Gibson's wife of 28 years is divorcing him. Twenty years ago, when Gibson was best known for playing men bordering on insanity, his divorce would have simply been another tidbit of Hollywood marital drama. But since Gibson produced the vastly successful The Passion Of The Christ, his divorce is no longer just a Hollywood tragedy; it's a Christian tragedy. It reminds us that celebrities who come out to glorify Christ have massive bulls-eyes painted on their chests, politically, culturally, and especially spiritually, and they desperately need our support through prayer.
Willie Aames is another recent casualty. Aames is perhaps best known as "Tommy" on the 1970s sitcom Eight Is Enough, or as "Buddy" on the 1980s sitcom Charles In Charge. In the mid 1990s Aames, a Christian, was asked to play the role of Bible Man. From 1996 to 2004 Aames took on the role of a Bible-wielding super hero who wears the Armor of God and teaches children to use the Word of God as their primary spiritual weapon. Bible Man appeared on stages in hundreds of cities, putting on high profile skits that were made into a line of videos that kids love.
In 2007 Aames and his wife Maylo Upton-Aames wrote a book Grace Is Enough about their early troubled lives and their journey to learn about the power of God's grace. Soon after, their lives tumbled downhill. Aames ended up declaring bankruptcy, his car was repossessed, and Maylo left him after 22 years of marriage. Thanksgiving of 2008 he picked up a bottle of whiskey for the first time in two decades and tried to commit suicide. At the end of March, 2009 he was selling his belongings at a garage sale.
Christian leaders have the responsibility to conduct themselves above reproach and to set examples for those who follow them, to be humble and transparent, and to give the Enemy no foothold in their lives. Yet, Christian leaders are also humans, subject to temptations and passions, and are only as strong as their walk with Christ each day. It is easy to fall from spiritual heights and succumb to old habits and wild emotions. Satan is going to use any means he can to drag these leaders down and smear the name of Christ.
That is why it is vital that we pray for those in leadership of our churches, youth groups, home groups and families. (It's also vital that we pray for our leaders in local and national governments. They too need God's guidance and protection.)
Christians in Hollywood are particularly vulnerable. They are not official leaders, and they do not necessarily have church bodies praying for them and supporting them. They are surrounded by people and groups who, at best, don't understand Christianity and, at worst, are virulently anti-Christian. They may not consider themselves spiritual leaders, and yet they represent Christ to millions simply because they are in the public eye. Mel Gibson has consistently considered himself a human wreck in desperate need of God's mercy. Yet, The Passion Of The Christ made him famous as a Christian, and primed him for attacks that have successfully knocked him down over and over again.
We need to pray for Mel Gibson and Willie Aames and their families.
We also need to pray for those still standing, to hold them up and pull out the true "weapons of our warfare" in their defense. Kirk Cameron, long known as Mike Seaver from Growing Pains, recently made huge waves as the lead role in Fireproof, a movie about a marriage restored through one spouse's demonstration of Christ's love. As far as the world knows, Kirk Cameron's marriage is currently strong and healthy. But, we know the Enemy of our souls would love to tear down Cameron's relationship with his wife and shame the name of Christ. The Camerons need prayer.
There are many others. Stephen Baldwin, the youngest of the Baldwin brothers, has become well known as a Christian – a sharp contrast to his older brothers. He needs prayer as he presses on in Christ despite the controversy it causes among his family members and coworkers, with all the eyes of the world ready to watch him fall.
We as a Christian community must pay attention to potential battle areas and seek God's protection and help for these and other Christians whose necks are stuck out in Hollywood. We cannot leave these exposed sheep all alone in a land of wolves. The world may look at them and call them hypocrites when they stumble, but we call them brothers and sisters. We must come alongside them and support them in prayer. When part of the body suffers, we all suffer.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. -Ephesians 6:12
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; -2 Corinthians 10:4-5
'Charles in Charge' Star Willie Aames Holds Garage Sale After Bankruptcy, Suicide Attempt - Fox News
Kirk Cameron's Real Life Growing Pains - 700 Club
Mel Gibson talks with ABC's Diane Sawyer About The Passion - ABC
Meet the Gibson Family - People
BibleMan Powersource - The Bibleman Zone
Stephen Baldwin News - StephenBaldwin.com