From the streets to the church: Pastor Dwayne Edwards tells his story
Before becoming a pastor, Dwayne Edwards led a rather turbulent life as a young adult. Growing up with his mother, he became troublesome and rebellious, often engaging in fights with his peers in high school.
"I grew up without a father, so I wasn't so much used to males shouting at me, and that triggered the fights with classmates and sometimes teachers," Edwards told Family and Religion.
He said that not having a father figure around really affected him. "I remember times when I would get sad and jealous watching fathers pick up their children from school, knowing that mine was nowhere around."
The fights continued and eventually he was expelled while in grade eight at Knox College, after numerous suspensions and several pleas for leniency from his mother.
He then went to Spalding High School and was later made a form prefect. There, he vowed to turn his life around.
"At Spalding, I made a drastic change in my attitude and behaviour towards school and my walk with God. I even started playing football and was doing well, but while on camp, I succumbed to peer pressure. I started girl hunting and again strayed down the wrong path. It led to fighting, and I started walking with a knife because I was not going to back down from any confrontation. I was ready to defend myself," he said.
TURN FOR THE WORSE
At one point, Edwards got into a fight which escalated and a gun was brought into play. He was again caught up in the old ways of fighting and was all about the hype and the girls and ganja smoking. All this time, no one in the community knew of the deviant acts he was engaged in as he was never caught and, like a decent young man, he continued attending church.
"Upon leaving high school, things took a turn for the worse. I had one pair of worn out shoes and could barely find clothes to put on my back. My hair was unkempt, I wasn't wearing shoes, I engaged in gambling, and I stopped eating meat because, in my mind, I was now a Rasta, and that episode lasted two years."
He continued: "Instead of getting better, I got worse. I almost got caught with a gun and weed going to a football match, but my mother caught me red-handed, so I got rid of them, and by the time I went out, I ended up in a police-military roadblock and was searched. I thought to myself, 'look how me could end up a prison'. Right there and then, I told myself it was time for a change," he told Family and Religion.
WALKING WITH GOD
That was the wake-up call he needed to return to God, and so he went back to church and everything changed for the better.
"I went to a crusade and gave my last $50 for offering and the pastor said, 'God is going to bless you', and from then, God has been blessing me abundantly," he shared.
Edwards started Bible college by default and did not know how he was going to make it. "I started with one suit of uniform and a suit of clothes and no money in my pocket. My father came around later and started helping with school fee, and so I survived three years of college solely on the grace of God and the kindness of others who helped me along the way," Edwards shared with Family and Religion.
"I walked into Bible college, and by the time I was leaving, I had so much clothes I had to give some away," he shared. The change in his behaviour and attitude made his praying mother very proud, especially looking back at the struggles she went through.
"The blessings of God just keep flowing, and every day I tell Him thanks for bringing me from that dark place to where I am now. There are times when I feel like giving up, but I can't because God blessed me with a lovely wife and son to live for," he said. Edwards is now pastor at the Grace Chapel Assemblies Church of God in Summerfield, Clarendon.
With a bachelor's degree in theology, the aim is now to do a master's, and then the ultimate goal is to do a doctorate in Bible and theology. "I really want to serve at the highest level. I'm going all the way, not for the name, but so I can serve God," Edwards told Family and Religion.