One Life Matters – Ed Stevens

by Mark Powell, Director of General Baptist International Missions

For many years, General Baptists have celebrated the life of Rev. Ed Stevens. Ed Stevens was a missionary who served on Guam, Saipan, Tinian, and Chi Chi Jima. He died at an early age while en route to Guam to receive medical treatment. As is often stated, we honor his sacrifice each year through an annual international missions’ offering on the Sunday closest to September 22 in honor of his passing. But is that the only reason we honor this singular life? Not at all.

Ed Stevens accomplished an unbelievable amount of good in a few very short years. In doing so his life reminds all of us how one single life, consecrated to God, can have an eternal impact on thousands.

The length of Ed Stevens’ ministry as a missionary was from 1946-1952. Following his ordination in 1945, Ed was on his way to Guam less than one year later. He served briefly on Guam from 1946 – 1947 where General Baptists are the oldest Protestant denomination. He then pioneered a new work on Saipan when General Baptists became the first protestant denomination on that island – making him not only a missionary but a church planter. The next two years were miraculous as Ed Stevens began a new outreach on the nearby island of Tinian to a leper colony, led Vincente Silencino to the Lord and baptized him, and laid the foundation for a new work on the island of Chi Chi Jima as the result of a hospital visit to a man from that island.

Ed Stevens in two short years accomplished more than many would in a lifetime! As a missionary, he pioneered Saipan, Tinian, and Chi Chi Jima. As a church planter, he started the Saipan Community Church which has literally touched thousands of lives. As a pastor/missionary, he ministered to the hurting in the leper colony on Tinian. As a personal evangelist, he led many to the Lord, among whom was a “Filipino boy” who would later become our first General Baptist missionary to the Philippines impacting thousands of lives and producing over 300 churches to date! As a pastor/evangelist he would make a hospital visit to a man from Chi Chi Jima resulting in a new work for General Baptists on that island.

The product of these two years has made an eternal impact on so many that only heaven knows the singular value of this one man’s life! The ministries on Guam, Saipan, and the Philippines continue to change lives to the present day.

Ed Stevens spent two years back in the States from 1949 – 1951 where he finished his degree program at Oakland City University, served as pastor, and tragically lost a son in an accident. Despite the pain of that loss, Ed, his wife Gertie, and son David would return to Chi Chi Jima in the fall of 1951 to continue the work he had pioneered three years earlier. In September 1952 Ed Stevens would fall ill and seek medical attention on Guam. His ship was in sight of Guam and ready to enter the harbor when God called this faithful servant home.

What a life! Missionary, Church Planter, Pastor, Evangelist! In really only three years (1948-49, 1952) of missionary life, Ed Stevens made an eternal impact that would result in thousands coming to know Jesus Christ and hundreds of churches being planted! Add to that the impact on lives he had as a pastor during his few short years of stateside ministry and you have a legacy worth remembering.

We, therefore, do not honor Ed Stevens because of his death. We honor him because of his life! During 2017 we will celebrate the 100th birthday of Ed Stevens and in doing so we will have the unique opportunity to educate a new generation about the value of a life well lived for God! One life can truly impact 1000s of souls for eternity and change lives for generations to come. We will once again challenge General Baptists to honor this “hero of the faith” and pass his legacy on to future generations.

In 1872 a British revivalist, Henry Varley, befriended a young man name D. L. Moody and commented to him “Moody, the world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to Him?” The words stirred Mr. Moody to become one of the world’s great evangelists. Those same words could well be applied to the life of Rev. Ed Stevens. His singular life reminds all of us what God can do “with a man fully consecrated to Him” no matter how short or long that life may be!

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