Nick Shakoour wanted nothing to do with “The Chosen” when he was first offered the part of Zebedee, the father of apostles James and John. As a guy in his 30s, he thought it was silly to be portraying a fisherman in his mid-50s and he did not like the idea of doing a religious project — so much so that he turned down the part three different times. But God had a different plan for Mr. Shakoour and miraculously transformed his life when he least expected it.
The actor recently sat down with The Washington Times’ Higher Ground to talk about the astonishing encounter he had with God that altered the direction of his career, and why he feels compelled to talk about it.
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“If I’m being honest, ever since I’ve had my own encounter with God in Texas at the tail end of Season 3 … I’m thankful for everything, but like there’s nothing at stake for [‘The Chosen’] blowing up the way it is or you know the praise that’s coming in for Zebedee,” Mr. Shakoour said. “I’m more excited the way it’s been touching people rather than, ‘Oh, this is something that’s going to benefit me.’ God came and burned all of that away.”
The encounter Mr. Shakoour was referring to occurred when he attended a church conference with members of the construction team from “The Chosen” and was filled with the Holy Spirit. That day, he was driving on set and began to feel like there was a blackhole inside of him, swallowing him alive.
“My heart spoke up and said, ‘If you don’t ask God for help right now, this is about to get bad.’ … Next thing I knew I screamed out… ‘God my soul is lost!’” Mr. Shakoour revealed. “I just started screaming and crying and I said, ‘God my soul’s been lost for a long time and I need you now. And not only do I need you, I need what you and Jesus have to offer,’” he added, noting that he was desperately “challenging [God] to show Himself.”
That night at the conference, God answered his prayer in a powerful way. Toward the end of the event, his friends laid hands on him and began to pray. In that moment, the actor, who was raised Greek Orthodox, felt the sensation of dying. It was almost as if the inside of his body was on fire — emptying him out and making him new.
“Like it was me, but it wasn’t me anymore,” Mr. Shakoour explained. “And you know 15 years of letdowns and emotional trauma was wiped out within two minutes and I’m like searching, ‘Wait a second, where’s the anger? Where’s the, like what did you guys do to me?’”
Ever since that encounter with God, the actor has felt compelled to share his story with people regardless of any negative effects it might have on his career.
“I’m at a place now where I can either talk about my acting career all the time or I can talk about this. And that strong, strong feeling of, ‘I have to share this because after everything that everybody has been through these past couple of years and all the darkness that seems to be creeping into the world,’” Mr. Shakoour said. “I met God. I met the creator of the whole freaking universe. So now what? I keep this to myself? … I can’t sweep what He did under the rug.”
Marissa Mayer is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in Christian Post, The Daily Signal, and Intellectual Takeout. Mayer has a B.A. in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Arizona State University.
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