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Mysterious Ways: Born to Be King

Discover the amazing story that led to actor David Oyelowo’s starring role as Martin Luther King, Jr.

Guideposts: Actor David Oyelowo discusses the role of faith in his career

There is a date that actor David Oyelowo will never forget. July 24, 2007. Two months after he and his wife, Jessica, moved from England to Los Angeles to further their careers. He had just read the script for a film called Selma, about the civil-rights march led by Martin Luther King, Jr. A voice spoke to him. You will play Dr. King.

“I remember the date because it was such a shocking revelation,” David told Sojourners magazine. He knew it was the voice of God. The same voice had led him to marry Jessica nine years earlier. But this had to be a mistake. Dr. King with a British accent? David was descended from Nigerian royalty. His family had never experienced the Jim Crow American South.

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The director of the film agreed—“You’re no King,” he said at David’s audition. That was that.

Or was it? David landed supporting roles in a few critically acclaimed films, yet felt compelled to spend his free time following King’s footsteps through Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia. A friend of Dr. King urged David to watch the preacher’s sermons. He played the footage over and over. He discovered a common bond with King that was more than skin deep. Both were committed fathers of four children. Both were outspoken in their faith. Both believed God had called them to their careers for a higher purpose.

“One night in Atlanta, I was about to brush my teeth—and I saw Martin Luther King staring back at me in the mirror,” David says. “I freaked out.”

Meanwhile, Selma was stuck in development limbo. Then the producers hired Lee Daniels, who’d directed David in The Butler. He saw that David was born for the role.

Critics agreed. David was nominated for a Golden Globe, and Selma struck a chord with audiences too—at a time when Dr. King’s message of love and reconciliation needed to be heard again.

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Walking in Grace 2023 Devotional

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We wanted to let you know that we have changed the name of Daily Guideposts to Walking in Grace —(Don’t worry — we promise it is the ONLY change we’ve made!)

Walking in Grace 2023 is the perfect way to start or end each day, focusing on God’s love, and connecting you to a community of writers and readers. Each daily devotion will bless you with a short Scripture verse that draws you into His word, a true moving story about the joys and challenges of living a life of faith, hope, and optimism, a short personal prayer that helps you put the day’s message to work in your own life, and a unique “Digging Deeper” Scripture for further reflection.

In just a few minutes a day, Walking in Grace 2023 will help you find the spiritual richness you long for in your life.

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