There I found myself, at the Delhi National Hospital morgue in India, mourning the death of my dear friend Edward. Edward was a man of God in every sense. This past December, God brought him home suddenly at the age of 42. This is the story of Edward Jesudhas, profound missionary, and my personal friend. A few of the moving testimonies I learned about Edward before I preached to Edward’s congregation after his passing:
“He led me to the Lord and counseled our family.”
“The day he prayed for me to get a job, I got the job!” “God used Edward to pray for many people. He surprised me one day by saying, ‘God will use you to pray for others and see them touched by God as well.’”
“Edward came to our poor slum and began to tell us about the One True God. No Christian had ever visited us before.”
I was in India, one country amongst many ministry sites I was visiting in Asia, away from my home in Mexico. I had plans to see Edward just hours before tragedy struck – excited to sit with my friend and discuss the happenings of his ministry.
Edward strived each day to make an impact – in his family, his communities, and ultimately in this world. He devoted his life to the mission field, serving in North India seeking to reach a people group who previously had no access to the Gospel.
AN UNEXPECTED LOSS
The day Edward passed he traveled with a ministry partner to visit sites among the “low caste” Chamar people in the Rohini area of Delhi, India. He walked through a slum area where they teach young Chamar girls to sew, shared time with a number of locals he had helped lead to the Lord, and paid a visit to the missions school that he started just one year prior.
On this same day, I was teaching in a missions’ school just outside of Delhi. My wife and I were scheduled to visit and teach at Edward’s newly formed missionary training school and his church over the upcoming weekend. Hours before he passed, I received a text from Edward that read “Where are you my friend? You are very silent.” I quickly replied that we were in transit to his part of the city, and were looking forward to being with him the next day.
Upon returning home from his work, with his wife at his side, Edward had a major heart attack. There was nothing that could be done to save him. He was gone in minutes.
AN UNFORGETTABLE IMPACT
My friend Edward was a pastor, missions mobilizer, Ph.D. Candidate, and ministry partner. We worked together in the GlobeServe network of missionary training schools; our goal through GlobeServe being to establish churches among 500 unreached people groups over just a few years.
Edward targeted a number of unreached, “untouchable caste” people groups in the Delhi area. In fact, his doctoral thesis was set to cover the Chamar people. The Chamar number over 51 million in India. Only 0.5% of these 51 million are born-again believers. God used Edward to start a movement among the Chamar people.
It was my honor to be at his home when he first planted a church in the cramped living room of his apartment on the north side of the bustling Delhi metropolis. Just one year later, I was in the same apartment, only to find 70 people tightly packed and worshipping Jesus.
BUILDING ON EDWARD’S LEGACY
Within two hours of his passing, at about 11 pm at night, more than 1,000 people showed up to mourn Edward and console his family. The following day, about 300 of us gathered together for an informal home-going to honor a man who fought the good fight, who finished the race, who is now home with Jesus. Edward’s life and legacy shine like a beacon.
Two years have passed since Edward began his work among the Chamar people. Over this time his congregation and missions school have moved to a larger facility. But Edward lived understanding how much work had yet to be done. He had planned to give his life to this cause, and those now in leadership roles here strive to keep building, sharing, and giving.
Edward wasn’t just a minister. He was a husband to his wife, Hersia, and a father of two children in their teen years, Allen and Edwin. Even in the midst of processing their loss, Hersia and Edward’s ministry partners have taken up Edward’s ministry to build on the church and missions school.
It is my opinion, as well as everyone else who knew him, that Edward had too few years on this earth; he had so much left to give and accomplish. But in God’s great wisdom and sovereignty, I recognize our loss is heaven’s gain. As I sought to console Edward’s son, Allan, shortly after his father’s passing he made a remarkable statement, “Here in India, my dad accomplished more in two years than many could in 70 years.”
Allan is right. Edward lived with eternity in mind. He set forth every day – in a region where many efforts are made to keep the light of the Lord away – to bring God’s kingdom to unreached peoples. Edward, my friend, you are an inspiration. You introduced hundreds to the redemption found through Christ and gave your life to the most important cause. We will strive every day to build on your legacy, through India and beyond.
This article is from the Spring 2019 Issue of coMission Magazine.