Saturday, June 1, 2024

Unexpected Legacies: Earl Eugene Edwards

By Matthew J. Elliott

Gene Edwards 2007

There are times in life when unexpected things happen to unexpecting people. Some of these stories have a lot of chaotic aspects to them as well. My own story is somewhat of a chaotic one, and while my story is not the story this post is about, there are some unique connections between mine and that of one of my favorite authors of all time. As a young man, I deeply longed for people to relate to who endured similar experiences in life that I had. I eagerly wanted to find others to connect with because there was no one, at least no one I knew about, who could understand the things I had to deal with as a child. Even as an adult, I questioned the idea of being understood by others. Earl Eugene Edwards, known to many as the famed author, Gene Edwards, was one of the few. His stories inspired me and his personal story inspires me even more. 


Before he was even born, circumstances were against him. His ancestor, Joseph Edoir, a Frenchman, abandoned his heritage and shipped off to the Americas with dreams of building a new life in the late 1790s. Surrounding the oil boom of the 1920s, his illiterate father, J.C. “Blackie” Edwards moved to the great state of Texas and married a woman named Gladys Brewer. She was the daughter of a cotton farmer who was terrified of tornadoes and forced his family to live a mostly sheltered life moving from town to town living in storm cellars.  Both had dreams of creating a new life together and had two sons together. While Gene’s father did what he thought he needed to do in the business world, his mother became a teacher and dreamed of becoming a writer.  While she never accomplished this, she did pass that gifting on to her son. Gene was the younger of the two and had little hope of living past the age of three. 


Conroe, TX (Oil Boom Late 1930s)
While living in Conroe, Texas, Gene became one of the many who were almost taken by the scarlet fever epidemics of 1935. While Texas had limited cases, worldwide scarlet fever was breaking out even in schools that had been immunized against the disease. His lungs filled with fluid and breathing was considered impossible. The medical personnel who visited the guaranteed home on multiple occasions told the family that the young toddler would not make it through this. On three occasions, it was believed that Gene had actually passed on. It was only after his parents took after Hannah, Samuel's Mother from the Bible, and promised God that they would give him solely to the Lord's work that Gene overcame this struggle. In truth, I had a similar struggle as a baby with an infection in my leg that almost did the same to me. 


Had it not been for the prayers of my parents, I might have perished as a baby too. Gene also had a significant case of dyslexia. Another sentiment, I can relate to on a pretty deep level, but this is not about me, is it? As a young preteen Gene could not even read his own handwriting and he was more of an introvert than most. The combination of this left the poor young child with little hope of finding purpose in life and he struggled with this until he began attending military school. There he discovered that he had a prodigious memory. In other words, Gene could store a great deal more information in his memory than most people. This led him to develop a deep passion for history and literature and eventually led him to his own Damascus Road Faith experience. 


The Divine Romance
At this point, Gene’s life took a huge turn. He left the military school and in the early 1950s, he graduated college at the ripe old age of 18. After this, he joined the ministry and developed even more interest in biblical history, thus leading us to who many know him as today, one of the most masterful authors of his time. While trying to find his place in a pastorate, Gene discovered he had his mother's gift of story-building and he ultimately left the pastorate roles he thought he wanted to live out his days as a Christian Writer. His stories include everything from educational content to biblical fiction books based on the knowledge he had gained about the early Christian Church. In his time he published more than 25 best-selling books, and his most memorable work, The Divine Romance, is widely considered a masterpiece of Christian literature. 

It is hard to imagine that someone who had such a challenging history could overcome so much in his lifetime. The Legacy Gene Edwards left behind is truly one that many would not have expected and it proves that once again, It is not who you are underneath, or where you come from that defines you, but what you can overcome. The past is always going to be there, it is how we react to the present that will determine our future.  There is so much more to Gene Edwards' story than I have been able to share in this post. So I encourage you to look into it for yourself. There is a great deal to learn about this man, as well as the others you have highlighted in this series so far. Go, therefore, and find the ones you can relate to in your own life.  


~ Biography ~

Matthew James Elliott (M.J. Elliott) is a passionate writer who loves to encourage and inspire others. He has served in various ministry roles for over 15 years, which has given him a unique perspective on people and Biblical History. Matthew holds a degree in Biblical Studies from Oklahoma Wesleyan University, with a focus on Pastoral Care, Christian Education, and Worship.

Matthew is happily married to Traci, and they have three children named Leyla, Caleb, and Hannah, who bring them immense joy and inspiration. As a writer, Matthew's goal is to share love, equip others, and edify them for the greater good. He loves connecting any amount of scripture to his stories and uses his knowledge of Biblical History to do so often.

You can find Matthew's works on AmazonGoodreadsFacebook, and His Website. He has written DevotionalsAn Episodic SeriesNovellas, and even Commentaries for The Gospel Daily.


~ Highlighted Release ~

The Cyprus Journal is Out! It Released on May 5th, 2024!

One Young Man. His Significant Story. A Witness of the Early Church.

Many knew him as the young cousin to Barnabas the Encourager, the son of Mary who offered her home to honor the Savior and those who followed Him, or even the man who abandoned Paul on his First Missionary Journey, but there is more to his story. His story is one of new beginnings, a promise fulfilled, and a man who overcame fear of the unknown.

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Sources:

Autobiography | Gene Edwards. geneedwards.com/autobiography.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting. It's amazing what people who don't think they can accomplish anything at all do when they are believed in and inspired!

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  2. Yes, his story is quite inspirational. Learning about these people has been really a lot of fun!

    ReplyDelete