Late evangelical leader Joel Edwards is remembered as a humble man of God at Eulogy of Life
Christians gathered in north east London on Friday evening to give thanks for the life of late evangelical leader Joel Edwards.
There were tears and laughter as family, friends and the many people whose lives and ministries were touched in one way or another by Edwards came together to celebrate his life and legacy. at St John’s Church in Hackney.
His son, Joel, remembered him as “an amazing pastor of people”, while his daughter Davina called him a “kingdom building bridge builder” who was “humble”, “generous” and “a true defender”.
“He gave himself to so many people and often in a way that was right between him, the recipient and the Lord. It was not about recognition. He gave so much because he loved so much,” said she declared.
Edwards, of Jamaican descent, died in June of cancer at the age of 70. He was hugely influential, former chief executive of the British Evangelical Alliance and international director of Micah Challenge. Prior to that, he was a pastor for many years in the New Testament Church of God (NTCG) denomination at a church in Mile End, London.
The sermon was delivered by the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, who praised Edwards as someone of great “spiritual generosity” who “did not judge but give”.
She said the best way to honor Edwards’ life was to live as faithfully as he did.
“I believe very strongly that the church of God needs millions of Joels,” she said. “[Joel] didn’t just say what it was, but actually did the right thing.
“You and I, if we really want to honor Joel, it can’t just be about tonight and our gathering.
“If we really want to honor Joel’s memory, we have to live what it means to be God’s people – every day.”
Phyllis Thompson, former associate pastor of the Mile End NTCG, called Joel “a remarkable man” and a “great leader”.
“It was a life well lived,” she said.
Mervyn Thomas, founder of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, where Edwards has served as a strategic adviser for the past six years, said he was “a man of God” who had “incredible passion and heart for justice”.
“Joel was a man who spoke both to the Church but also to society,” he said.
Poignantly, the eulogy of life was also heard by Edwards himself in the form of a video message recorded shortly before his death.
In it, he said it would be “superficial” to say that faith is only about believing in God for healing and not allowing the possibility of death.
Rather, Edwards said faith for him meant being “totally available for God to heal” while accepting that if that didn’t happen, faith would help him have “a quality of life for as long as possible.”
He said he didn’t want “mumbo jumbo faith but real faith in a God who can heal and real faith in the peace and grace of God to see us through anything”.
“And then faith comes into play – the grace of God, the peace of God that passes understanding, that doesn’t lead me to curse God and call him this and that and say ‘how is this ? and ‘why me?'” he said.
Citing the example of the young Hebrew men in Daniel 3:17, who said they would be faithful to God even if he did not save them from the fire, Edwards said he wanted to be remembered as someone who trusted God no matter what.
“I want a faith that is vibrant in death as well as vibrant in healing. A faith that draws people to Jesus on your deathbed… That’s faith to me,” he said.
“I want to be known as a person who rests in grace and peace, not in achievements or activities, but in the sovereignty of God – [that people will say] he illustrates the sovereignty of God in his life.”
Praise of Life can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube: