On this past Friday, friends and family came to First Baptist Church in Venice to celebrate the life of Oscar Patrice Duncan aka Choirboy. The church and surrounding streets were filled to capacity. Included in those that came or sent condolences were Stevie Wonder, the well-known gospel artist Kirk Franklin, President Obama and our own Venice Council. I saw teens holding each other and weeping, many of which I am sure were from the Boys & Girls Club of Venice.
Led by various ministers including those from the Venice community and Oscar’s home church, Greater Zion in Compton, family and close friends walked from his home to the church. Even his frail grandmother walked, wanting to be a show of strength on that day. A young minister blew a horn along the way reminding me of the blowing of the shofur – a sound of triumph for the inspiring life of Choirboy and at the same time a wake up call and mournful wail for the loss of a son. Another young minister carried a shield (the “shield of faith” – Eph. 6:16) and a sword (“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword”- Heb. 4:12) – appropriate symbols for Oscar, a youth pastor who loved God, spread the love of God and practiced what he preached.
Once the service began, there was praise and worship, the reading of scriptures, acknowledgments, resolutions, remarks, songs, a slide show, the eulogy, and then it was time to say goodbye …
Ironically (or prophetically), on June 4, 2002, exactly 10 years before Oscar was taken from us on June 4, 2012, he wrote an essay for his 5th period English class entitled Fate. “Life is like a fork in the road, you either go straight down the good or bad road. . . . I turn to my God for answers when I don’t know the way. I ask him to show me the way and I often wonder if I can change my own fate. …Sometimes I wonder how my life is going to turn out … I want to know if my fate is to die young or old, if my fate is going to make me famous, middle class or poor …”
Oscar’s love, influence and work spread far and wide. In his 23 years, he has left a tremendous legacy. We will miss your presence, your ministry and your beautiful smile. How marvelous it must be to stand before the Lord hearing the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”