Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington sat down for an Instagram Live with his pastor friend, A.R. Bernard, on Thursday and recounted the moment he was filled with the Holy Spirit and how it impacted his life and even his children’s lives.
During the 30-minute discussion, Washington told the senior pastor of Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., that he gave his life to Jesus three times and on one of those occasions he had a supernatural encounter with God.
"I was filled with the Holy Ghost and it scared me. I said, 'Wait a minute, I didn't want to go this deep, I want to party,'” Washington admitted.
The moment happened at Bishop Charles E. Blake’s West Angeles Church of God in Christ in the ‘80s.
“I went to church with Robert Townsend and when it came time to come down to the altar I said, 'You know this time, I'm just going to go down there and give it up and see what happens.' I went in the prayer room and gave it up and let go and experienced something I've never experienced in my life,” the “Fences” actor explained. “I remember calling my mother afterwards and asking her, I said, 'Well, you know it felt like I was going up in the air, and my cheeks were filled' and she said, 'Oh no, that's the devil you're purging.’”
"It was a supernatural, once in this lifetime experience that I couldn't completely understand at the time.”
It would take years before the entertainer fully dedicated his life to God. In a 2017 interview with The Christian Post, Washington shared his testimony.
"I speak now and I'm doing what God told me to do from the beginning," he testified. "It was prophesied that I would travel the world and preach to millions of people. It was prophesied when I was 20. I thought it was through my work and it has been."
"My mother said to me when I was 59, she said, 'Denzel, you do a lot of good. You have to do good the right way and you know what I'm talking about.' I don't drink anymore, I don't do any of those things. I'm all about the message to the degree that I know it, and I'm unashamed and unafraid to share it!”
In his new discussion with Bernard, Washington explained that his experience with the Holy Spirit kept him throughout all the years of his fame and success.
"It kept me grounded in spite of myself; I mean, I accepted it, I definitely experienced it, but I wasn't ready to live it. I don't know how old I was then but I wasn't ready to live it then. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's gone through that kind of experience,” Washington told his spiritual mentor.
The actor also wanted people to know that having a moment with God like his doesn’t mean that life would now go his way.
"You have that moment ... But it doesn't mean that the rest of your life is going to go the way it should. It's not like 'Oh, I had this moment, I'm filled with the Holy Spirit and now everything's going to be pretty, not going to be perfect. The next day I'm ready to save everybody. I'm in charge of saving people.”
Bernard mentioned that Washington called him the day his own son, John David Washington, experienced a similar infilling with the Holy Spirit.
"He's a very talented and spiritual young man,” Washington said of his oldest son who has followed in his father’s acting footsteps. “We are happy about his success but we are equally excited about the example he's setting for his brothers and sisters, as a man of God and their sibling being an example of that and being unashamed of it.”
“I don’t put value in monetary and all of those things. What happened with one of our sons, we pray, happen to all of our children. I've tried everything else and it doesn’t pay off.”
Concerning what he sees in the world today, Washington said he’s “empowered and inspired by the young people — black, white, male or female.”
During the conversation, Washington also shared his thoughts on racial injustice and the move for equality still happening long after the civil rights movement.
"I'm 65, not 15 [now], that's different. I'm looking at it from a different perspective,” he noted. “Some of the underlying issues obviously are still the same. The platforms that young people or people have now to express their opinions are obviously, there are ... so many more of them and there's so much more of an opportunity.
"In a sense, part of Martin Luther King's dream has come true. He talked black and whites walking hand in hand. Well, that's actually the case. They are walking down the streets by the thousands, tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands. They are not yet seeing 'Free at last, Free at last, thank God almighty I'm free last' because they're not. But they are together. So he was and is a prophet. It is changing, we are in the middle of it. Where it's going to go, we will see.”
The popular actor concluded his time with Bernard by saying, “After all is said and done, I want to be in that number! I just want to be in that number when the saints go marching in. I want more than anything else in my life to be in that number.”