Story by Ashlee Larrison
Photos by David Kadlubowski
GCU News Bureau
It was part of God’s mission for Kirk Cameron: his journey through the world of show business, his spiritual awakening and his most recent title -- keynote speaker at Grand Canyon University Fall Commencement.
From a young age, Cameron always wanted to be a doctor. He was a shy kid and didn't like getting on stage and talking in front of people. He had to overcome his fear.
“I wanted to be Ben Carson -- I wanted to be a surgeon,” Cameron said. “I ended up becoming Mike Seaver.”
As in young Mike Seaver on the 1980s hit show “Growing Pains.” Cameron went on to become a prominent actor in Christian films such as the “Left behind” franchise or “Fireproof,” but that wasn’t the only prominent change in his life.
“I grew up as an atheist as a kid,” Cameron said. “I never went to church, didn’t grow up in a Christian home. But I discovered the Lord when I was about 17 years old, and that was the biggest change in my life.
“Knowing who I am and whose I am and being in a relationship with God as my Master made all the difference.”
Through his growing faith and relationship with the Lord, Cameron made moral decisions on “Growing Pains” and other key decisions that he said shaped his character and reputation.
Cameron lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Chelsea Noble. Five of their six children are scattered across the country, in college or working. He is focused on projects that allow him to combine his career with his mission of sharing the Gospel.
“One of the things that I’ve really long to do is share the Gospel with people through evangelism,” he said. “I’ve been able to do some television shows and other things that have the gospel in them and shares the gospel with people so that people can know Christ. I think that’s a big part of God’s plan and mission for me.”
Cameron also teaches at marriage and parenting conferences and does keynote speeches for ministries and organizations. He said he is interested in teaching at the university level.
He tackled his first commencement speech as he does most things in his life -- by overcoming fear.
“This was really exciting,” Cameron said. “I was a little nervous. I’ve never done it before. I knew with all these Christian families, it was just really a special blessing to be part of this day that they’ll remember for their whole life.”
Cameron talked to the Fall Commencement gatherings about the importance of overcoming fear to take that next step and shared with them the three most important companions to carry with them: The Master (the Lord), Their Mission and Their Mate (Friend or Spouse).
“Fear is like an invisible wall,” Cameron told them. “Once you take that first scary step through that imaginary wall, something wonderful happens. That fear has lost its power over you.”
He also urged the audience to forget their past, focus on their future and not to let fear keep them from perseverance when the going gets tough. Reflecting on Derek Redmond’s 1992 Summer Olympic games 400-meter run and his determination to finish in the race despite tearing his hamstring, first on his own and then with the assistance of his father, Cameron highlighted the courage it took for Redmond to keep going.
“Graduates, if you never give up and refuse to quit, you will finish your race,” he concluded. “Enjoy the trip, I’ll see you at the destination.”
As graduates approached the stage to receive their diplomas, Cameron stayed true to his word, meeting and shaking hands with them.
“I was excited for everybody, so it was just a spur-of-the-moment thing. I wanted to say congratulations,” he said. “It was great to meet so many of them … it was really exciting.”
Photos were taken, questions were answered and Cameron’s message was one the audience won’t soon forget.
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].