The son of an ordained Baptist minister, Edmond Gibbs grew up in a churchgoing family. "We were at all the meetings," he says. "We were very involved." Edmond himself was a junior usher, played drums during the worship service, sang in four of the church choirs—directed three of them, and helped out with the youth group.
Though Edmond's parents divorced when he was five and Edmond was an only child, he was surrounded by cousins, aunts, grandparents, and a large church family. But as Edmond grew up, all of the church involvement began to feel like busywork. "I knew about Jesus, but I didn't have a personal relationship with him," he says.
At school, Edmond maintained good grades while also running track and playing football; playing in the marching band, wind ensemble, and jazz band; singing in the choir; and participating in drama, mock trial, the poetry club, and the Black Student Union. Tragically, during Edmond's senior year in high school, his father was murdered.
"No one saw how much I struggled with my father's death," Edmond says. "But it felt like there was a big hole that needed to be filled."
Once in college, Edmond joined a fraternity and did his best to fill that hole with drinking, partying, and smoking. He started going to raves and using drugs—LSD, ecstasy, mushrooms, and others. When major music labels approached the R&B group he had organized, Edmond aspired to a career in music. He was shattered when the group broke up and he lost the hope of a musical career. To drown his disappointment, he drank more and used harder drugs.
Edmond worked as a door host for a local bar, where he says he got his first wakeup call. His mother called to tell him she had breast cancer. Again Edmond turned to alcohol and drugs to forget his despair. But having been raised in church, he knew the only way to get through the devastating news of his mother’s illness was to pray. After three intense weeks, his mother's golf ball-sized tumor miraculously disappeared, and Edmond was reintroduced to the power of prayer.
He started attending church again and even leading out, but he maintained his lifestyle of alcohol and drugs on the side. "My life wasn't reflecting the life I was faking in the church," he says. He felt hypocritical and realized he was not setting a good example for the youth; his attendance tapered off.
Edmond began a spiritualistic study that led him through Mayan and Sumerian prophecies, the Annunaki, alien phenomena, the Iluminati, secret societies, and finally to Judaism. He still attended church sporadically, but one particular Sunday he told his mom he didn't feel like going. I should get a little bit of Word though, he thought, so he picked up the remote and began flipping through the TV channels. He landed on a program that flashed the words 'Amazing Facts Presents,' where a "little bald Jewish guy" was teaching things Edmond had never heard before. "I'd listened to a lot of preachers," Edmond says, "and this was the first time I ever had to pick up my Bible to check what they were saying." He began "attending" church via satellite. Every time Doug Batchelor came on, Edmond had to search his Bible for himself to make sure that what he was hearing was true.
Edmond went online and found the Amazing Facts website. "I went through all the Storacles, all the study guides, back to back," Edmond says. "I couldn't get enough." As he describes it, Pastor Doug led him through the Bible studies, while the Holy Spirit led him to renew his dedication to Christ. Then the topic of the Sabbath came up. As he listened to Pastor Doug's appeal, Edmond thought, "Lord, I hear you, I've got to go to church."
Edmond found a Sabbath-keeping church on October 10, 2009. "I walked in the door and felt right at home," Edmond says. The pastor told the story of the prodigal son, from the father's perspective. Edmond felt God’s arms open wide, welcoming him back into the body of Christ. The problem was, Edmond was still partying and selling cocaine in order to pay his rent.
Sixteen days later, Edmond describes how he found himself at a crossroad. It was 6:00am and he had just gotten home after stopping at the liquor store, and he already had two grams of cocaine in his system. Holding a bottle of vodka and smoking a cigarette, Edmond sat down to complete a Bible study. At that moment, an audible voice came to him and said, “Look at yourself! You cannot serve God and the world, too. Make a decision!”
Edmond dropped to his knees in tears and prayed. Lord, I can't do this without you. If you don't take this away from me now, I’m going to end up killing myself. God heard his cry, and took away the addiction to drugs and alcohol. "I was set free, and I've been sober ever since," Edmond says. "Hallelujah!" God also gave Edmond the power to leave the rave scene, which had been his existence for 12 years.
Edmond believes the Holy Spirit led him to Amazing Facts. Besides the TV program, he found the websites and free e-books very helpful. When he watched a DVD made by the students at the Amazing Facts College of Evangelism, he felt impressed to follow in their footsteps. "I wanted that experience!" Edmond says. As soon as he announced his application to AFCOE, he had a sponsor and was offered a job as a Bible worker.
Edmond still senses God’s leading in his life. "God put me in a loving church, surrounded me with good Christian friends, and gave me an opportunity to share this blessing with others," he says. "The Lord has given me a great testimony." Today, Edmond shares that testimony in Bible studies that he leads on Friday nights and Sabbath mornings in a local food ministry.
"I just want to be a vessel to do God's will and to spread His Word," Edmond says.
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