Actor T.C. Stallings recalls being taken aback during his college years when a fellow student randomly approached and challenged him to live a more faithful life.
At the time, Stallings — star of “War Room” — thought the suggestion was completely ridiculous.
After all, he was a successful collegiate athlete who had self-identified as a Christian for years, though, looking back, he now realizes that, despite openly declaring his faith, he didn’t truly know how to live it out. And that’s exactly what his fellow student was trying to point out.
“I got approached by a student … who had watched my life and reputation,” Stallings recently told Faithwire. “I was being touted as a big-time Christian (but) this kid knew that I had no clue what it truly meant … my language was bad, my movies, my activities weren’t that great, because my standard for being a Christian was so low.”
But despite faltering in how he lived out his Christian faith, Stallings, author of the new book, “Playing on God’s Team: 21-Week Devotional for Building True Christian Athletes,” said he had “never been called out for it” — that is, until his peer approached and asked if he’d study the Bible with him. That fellow student had been watching Stallings on campus and wanted to help him really get his faith in gear.
“I was blown aback. This guy wasn’t even a friend … he was just watching me on campus,” Stallings explained. “At first, I rejected him.”
The actor said his “spiritual pride” was “through the roof” at that point, but the guy kept on pursuing him. Finally, Stallings agreed to meet for a Bible study to try and get the man off his back — but was surprised when he dove deeper into the Bible with him and realized he really hadn’t been living right.
“I was brought to tears,” Stallings said, noting that verses like James 2:19 and Matthew 7:21 hit him quite deeply. “I go and I study scripture with him and it was revealed for me what it truly meant for Jesus to be Lord … he’s hitting me with these things that I hadn’t really studied.”
It was after that encounter that Stallings said he started to pour his efforts into becoming “a true Christ follower,” though he admitted that he initially found it difficult until he discovered his stride and finally learned to carry his faith into every facet of his life, including his professional career.
In the years that followed, Stallings played professional arena football in Europe and Canada until his career moved in an entirely new and unexpected direction: entertainment. It all started after he saw the Christian film “Fireproof,” not realizing that the movie would end up being a profound turning point in his life.
“I went into that movie and I watched the impact it had on people. God wanted me to see this. My heart started beating,” he said. “The only thing my heart ever beat for like that was football.”
Stallings said it was absolutely incredible to see a movie actually change peoples’ hearts, minds and actions, with the theater experience leaving him wanting to take part in that transformative process.
“I said, ‘I want to do this,'” he recalled. “I used to act for fun, but now I realized why God put that thing in my back pocket.”
So, Stallings prayed and asked for guidance — and then something truly unexpected happened. He randomly decided to reach out to the Kendrick brothers, the filmmakers who made “Fireproof” and, at the last minute, was granted an audition for the film “Courageous.” He landed a role and the rest is, well, history.
From there, Stallings went on to star in “War Room,” one of the highest-grossing faith films in filmmaking history. He played main character Tony Jordan, an experience that he said was absolutely “incredible,” especially considering how the movie stunned Hollywood and captured the number one box office spot after its 2015 release.
“I knew it would do well, but what it did in terms of opening at number two — and then usually every movie starts to level and go down … it turns and goes to number one — for it to jump up there and take the number one spot, that was just mind-blowing,” Stallings said. “And then everybody in Hollywood, just by default, you’ve got to talk about the number one movie in America. You can’t write that, you can’t make that up.”
Now, Stallings is hoping to continue finding success in Hollywood, though he has no plans to compromise his beliefs, telling Faithwire he doesn’t plan to film love scenes or take other related roles that might be deemed problematic.
“If I water myself just a little bit I’m no better than anyone else who (compromises themselves),” he said. “I chose to really pray and trust God.”
Stallings is also hoping to inspire the masses through his new book, “Playing on God’s Team,” a devotional aimed at helping “athletes answer this simple question and equip them to respond: When it comes to God’s team…what kind of player would Jesus say you are?” according to a description.
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