Late evangelical leader Joel Edwards remembered as humble man of God at Eulogy of Life

Joel Edwards 1951-2021

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 in some way touched by Edwards came together to celebrate his life and legacy at St John at Hackney Church.

His son, Joel, remembered him as "an amazing pastor of people", while daughter Davina called him a "kingdom-building bridge-builder" who was "humble", "generous" and "a real advocate".

"He would give of himself to so many people and often in ways that were just between him, the recipient and the Lord. It wasn't about recognition. He gave much because he loved much," she said.

Jamaican-born Edwards passed away in June of cancer at the age of 70. He was hugely influential, formerly serving as General Director of the UK Evangelical Alliance and International Director of Micah Challenge. Prior to that, he pastored 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 was "not judgemental but giving".

She said the best way to honour Edwards' life was to live as faithfully as he did.

"I believe very strongly that God's church needs millions of Joels," she said. "[Joel] did not just talk the talk but actually walked the talk.

"You and I, if we are truly going to honour Joel it cannot just be about this evening and our gathering together.

"If we are going to truly honour Joel's memory then we have to live what it means to be the people of God - daily."

Phyllis Thompson, former Associate Pastor at Mile End NTCG, called Joel "a remarkable man" and "a great leader".

"His was a life well lived," she said.

Mervyn Thomas, founder of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, where Edwards was a Strategic Advisor for the last six years, said he was "a man of God" who had "an incredible passion and heart for justice".

"Joel was a man that spoke both to the Church but also to society," he said.

Poignantly, the Eulogy of Life also heard from Edwards himself in the form of a video message that was recorded shortly before his death.

In it, he said it would be "superficial" to say that faith is only believing in God for healing and not allowing for the possibility of dying.

Rather, Edwards said faith for him meant being "utterly available to God to heal" while also accepting that if this did not happen, faith would help him to have "a quality of life for as long as possible".

He said he did not 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 whatever."

"And then faith kicks in - the grace of God, the peace of God which passes understanding, which doesn't lead me to curse God and call Him this and that and say 'how come?' 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 didn't save them from the fire, Edwards said he wanted to be remembered as someone who trusted God no matter what.

"I want a faith which is vibrant in death as much as vibrant in healing. A faith which draws people to Jesus on your deathbed...That's faith for me," he said.

"I want to be known to be a person who rests in the grace and the peace, not achievements or activities, but in the sovereignty of God - [that people will say] he exemplifies the sovereignty of God in his life."

The Eulogy of Life can be watched in full on YouTube: