By Gudrun Schultz
LOS ANGELES, California, January 12, 2006 ( – Sylvester Stallone, of “Rocky” and “Rambo” fame, has come back to his Christian roots, in a conversion experience that he says has released him from the pressures of the world.

“The more I go to church,” Stallone said, reported Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink, “and the more I turn myself over to the process of believing in Jesus and listening to His Word and having Him guide my hand, I feel as though the pressure is off me now.”

Stallone’s new movie, Rocky Balboa, is the latest and final chapter in the ‘Rocky’ series, reflecting the star’s conviction that life is about following Christ, not battling it out alone.

“It’s like [Rocky] was being chosen, Jesus was over him, and he was going to be the fellow that would live through the example of Christ,” Stallone said In a conference call with pastors and religious leaders late last fall. “He’s very, very forgiving. There’s no bitterness in him. He always turns the other cheek. And it’s like his whole life was about service.”

“I was raised in a Catholic home, a Christian home, and I went to Catholic schools and I was taught the faith and went as far as I could with it,” Stallone said. “Until one day, you know, I got out in the so-called real world and I was presented with temptation. I kind of like lost my way and made a lot of bad choices.”

Stallone said he wants to communicate to audiences the importance of attending church and receiving support in living out Christian faith .

“You need to have the expertise and the guidance of someone else,” he said. “You cannot train yourself. I feel the same way about Christianity and about what the church is: The church is the gym of the soul.”

The story of a spiritually-convicted Rocky who reads the Bible before each fight was written out of the actor’s own life experience, Stallone said.

“Most of my previous films were bloody,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “They were the creative results of my youth, when my marriage was not going well and I felt myself seduced by the temptations of Hollywood.”

“I needed to actually go through my trials and tribulations,” he said, “before I could be man enough to know how to write the kind of story that ‘Rocky Balboa’ is.”

Stallone developed a free leader’s resource kit, in association with Motive Entertainment, to help pastors and church leaders utilize the film’s Christian message. The kit includes a free downloadable leader’s guide address the issues of courage, integrity, faith, victory and purpose, the Christian Examiner reported. The guide has several approaches tailored to meet the varying needs of pastors, youth leaders, lay ministry leaders and parents.

Stallone’s first portrayal of the character “Rocky” in his screenplay by the same name won the film the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1976.

Christian resources for the movie are available at: