Last Friday, 28 August, actor Chadwick Boseman passed away peacefully at home with his wife and family by his side after a four-year battle with cancer. He was just 43 years old, having played some of the most iconic roles that many actors could only dream of, such as Thurgood Marshall (an American lawyer, civil rights activist, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court), Jackie Robinson (an African American professional baseball player) and the godfather of Soul, James Brown. All this before his role as superhero, “Black Panther”, which drew acclaim from fans of all ages. The tweet announcing his death is now the most liked tweet of all time!
According to the pastor who baptized Boseman and watched him mature into an adult, the arts were always part of Bosman’s life and so was his faith. For the opportunity to play Robinson, an icon to those fighting for racial equality, he believed it is the result of ‘divine intervention’. He said in interviews that he prayed to God to be the Black Panther before he got the role. In a speech last year, in which he thanked actor Denzel Washington for providing a scholarship that made it a possible for him to study one summer at Oxford University, he concluded by quoting the beautiful benediction from Ephesians 3:20.
In his 2018 address at his alma mater, Howard University in Washington D.C., he challenged graduates to pursue God’s purpose for them and trust him to make a way no matter what the challenges are in front of them. He said, “Sometimes you need to feel the pain and sting of defeat to activate the real passion and purpose God has predestined inside of you”.
He then quoted Jeremiah 29:11 before continuing, “Graduating class, hear me well on this day. This day, when you have reached the hilltop and you are deciding on next jobs, next steps, careers, further education, you would rather find purpose than a job or career. Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember, the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose … When God has something for you, it doesn’t matter who stands against it. God will move someone who is holding you back away from a door and put someone there who will open it for you if it’s meant for you”.
William Barclay, a Scottish theologian, minister and author, once wrote, “There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why”. Boseman’s death was sad and untimely but not before discovering and pursuing God’s purpose for him. What about you?