We often think of A-list celebrities as being somehow superhuman. All we see is what the media reports, and it usually involves fun parties and vacations, but rarely deep personal beliefs and feelings. Denzel Washington came out to talk about his faith, but what may surprise you is that his road to where he is was far from easy. Luckily he had God by his side to help.

Washington’s long and difficult relationship with God was there right from the start. He was born Dec. 28, 1954, in Mount Vernon, New York, to a beauty salon owner and a Pentecostal minister. Although Washington loved his mother, he shared a particularly special bond with his father, the Reverend Denzel Hayes Washington Sr.

“My father, my earthly father, Denzel Washington Sr. was a pastor for the Church of God in Christ for 60 years,” Washington explained to St. Louis American. “I know he’s smiling in heaven, seeing his son doing the best I can do today, by the grace of God.”

Despite spending his early years between his father’s church and his mother’s beauty salon, things started to fall about for young Washington when he became a teenager. He began to spend more time on the mean streets, often getting involved in fights and disputes. This worsened when, at the age of 14, Washington’s parents divorced.

Due to his increasingly concerning behavior and suffering school grades, Washington’s mother sent him to Oakland military academy in a bid to straighten him out. While at the academy, God crept back into Denzel’s life through the most unexpected medium. Washington explained, “I had flunked out of college. I had a 1.7 grade point average. I had no future … I was sitting looking in the mirror and I see a woman behind me sitting under the dryer. Of course, the voice of God always comes from under a dryer.

She said, ‘Young man, you are going to travel the world and speak to people.’

Now mind you, I was 20 years old, with a 1.7 grade point average and had flunked out of school. She said, ‘You are going to preach.'”

Washington did not go straight back to God at this point though. He took a slight detour in the form of a degree in medicine at Fordham University. This interest did not last too long—shortly after graduating, Washington decided that being a doctor was not for him after all. He was back to the drawing board.

While he was figuring out his next move, Washington took a job as creative arts director at the YMCA in Camp Sloane. The Camp Sloane’s website explains how this move helped Washington to become the actor that he is today, “The counselors there put on a talent show for the kids. I put together these little poems and rhymes and skits for the kids in my cabin, and we stood up on stage and did our bit. After the show this guy named Miles Joyce came up to me and said, ‘Man, you ever thought about being an actor?'”

Following this, Washington returned to Fordham to study for a degree in arts and journalism. The rest, as they say, is history. Despite a slow start to his career, Washington picked up more and more acting roles, eventually culminating in a best actor Oscar win for his role in “Training Day.” Yet throughout all of this, God remained by his side.

“There’s never been a time where God didn’t direct, protect, and correct me,” he explained to Charisma News. “There may have been times where I was less than faithful to Him, but He had faith in me.”

Despite his rocky road to the position that he has today, God has always been there for Washington. Now he finds his faith more important than ever. He attributes all of his success to his unwavering faith to the big man in the sky.

“Number one, put God first in everything you do,” he told Evangelical Focus. “Everything that you think you see in me and everything you think I’ve accomplished and everything you think I have … everything I have is by the grace of God, understand that. It’s a gift.”

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