Photo: Pictured above, Victory author Colin Edwards (right) stands beside his father Robby (left) as Robby delivers a sermon at church. Photo courtesy of Colin Edwards.
By Katie Bohannon, Staff Writer
On Feb. 5, Etowah County native Colin Edwards released his published novel Victory to readers worldwide. A culmination of God’s work in Edwards’ heart as his family withstood a difficult journey, Victory is the manifestation of Edwards’ realization that what God performed in his life remains a blessing intended for others as well.
Born and raised in Gadsden, Edwards attended Westbrook Christian School before graduating from Troy University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and a Leadership Development minor. He currently lives in Sylacauga with his wife Lauren, where he serves as the administrative assistant and they both serve as college and student pastors at Valley View Church.
Edwards does not regard his calling into the ministry as a mere moment, but as a destiny that grew clearer and clearer as years passed, manifesting before his eyes. At age 15, Edwards had the opportunity to speak for the first time to his youth group. Even at that young age, Edwards sensed a passion for leadership within himself and a drive to share God’s Word. As he matured, so did his passion and excitement for the Lord, and God’s purpose for his life that began as a seed planted in his heart blossomed into an uncontainable dedication to serve.
Edwards was not the only person who recognized his calling. Though his father told him often that he believed Edwards was called into the ministry and was overjoyed when Edwards shared the news with him, his father never pressured Edwards to pursue one path over the other, but taught him to let God lead his footsteps wherever he walked.
A prominent resident of Etowah County, Edwards’ father was a 1983 graduate of Emma Samson High School and a 1987 graduate of Jacksonville State University, where he pursued degrees in finance and accounting. An educator by nature, he understood the value of learning and dedicated himself to teaching others (including Edwards and his brother) at each possible moment, enlightening them to both natural and spiritual knowledge. Edwards’ father taught math at Westbrook Christian School and Etowah Career Technical Center and coached Little League baseball teams and basketball groups of all ages. But above all else, Robby Edwards lived his life as a man of God.
After serving as associate pastor at North Glencoe Baptist Church, Robby became pastor of First Baptist Church of Rainbow City in 2005. For 11 years, he devoted himself to teaching others the truth of Jesus and the promises God holds for each individual’s life. He lived what he preached, regardless of the challenges that arose in his life, proving that no circumstance would determine his joy and cancer could never steal what God established in his heart to perform. Robby’s selfless and kind nature viewed life with a greater perspective than natural eyes often behold, never speaking a negative word against anyone but instead seeing the best in others and who they can become through God’s transformative power in their lives. Robby did not preach words that filtered through ears, his life was a constant sermon filled with an endless love for people and the Lord that will influence his son forever.
“It wasn’t [dad’s] words that had the most impact on me; it was his life,” said Edwards. “The way he responded when life hit him in the face marked me. He wasn’t moved. He never lost his joy. He never lost his hope. He truly believed there was purpose in each day, no matter how tough things seemed to be.”
Edwards was 19 when his family received the news that Robby was diagnosed with cancer. The day after Robby was diagnosed, Edwards’ father stood before his congregation at First Baptist Church of Rainbow City and asked the question, “What do you do when life hits you in the face?” Over the next 23 months, Robby answered that question through the manner in which he lived his life. As Edwards dwelt by his father’s side, he learned that life is not subject to circumstances, but with God the hope of a grander tomorrow exists. When people view life with heaven’s eyes, through God’s perspective that Robby practiced, they can rejoice, regardless of how bleak, tragic or despairing their present situation seems. Edwards believes that people can rejoice, even in death, because for those in a relationship with Jesus, death is only a passageway into eternal life.
Three months after his father passed away, Edwards picked up a pen and poured his heart into words. In the past, Edwards never considered writing a book nor did he always enjoy writing as a form of self-expression. The end result of his first attempt was “Victory,” a spoken word poem sharing the title of the message Edwards preached at his father’s funeral and the title of his future novel. But Edward’s eulogy, his spoken word and book are unified in more than their names.
The word “victory” encompasses his family’s journey and his father’s life, established upon the foundation of 1 Corinthians 15 verses 55-57 that read: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” For Edwards, victory is a reason to rejoice in his father’s absence. His father’s removal from the Earth is not the end of their relationship, but a promise of eternity with the Lord, a grand and absolute hope that he looks forward to each day.
At the time that Edwards wrote his spoken word, God’s work had only just begun. In the years following his father’s passing, God performed incredible acts essential to the book Victory’s completion, ensuring that the words God inspired Edwards to write were appropriate, fulfilling the desire in Edward’s heart when he developed a relationship with writing and understood that his experiences held value worth sharing.
“People need to hear my dad’s story,” Edwards said. “I wanted to share with others what God had done. [Victory] is a testimony of God’s unending faithfulness. Beyond that, I wanted others to see how they can live free and full of joy, even when life is at its toughest.”
Edwards completed Victory before he ever reached out to any publishers. He began the publication process by contacting a few publishers he came across online, speaking to them on the phone to determine whether or not they were the right fit for his book. In the end, he connected with Lucid Books, a partnership publisher.
“From interior formatting, to final proofreading, to distribution and print, Casey and the whole staff have been incredible to work with in sharing this message with the world,” said Edwards.
Edwards’ writing process is best described as just that—a process that unfolded before him as he sat down to write. Step by step, word by word, sentence by sentence, Edwards finished what God initiated in his life years ago, transforming the thoughts and emotions of his heart into a vision of God’s glory and a tribute to his father’s legacy. While writing proved painful during moments when Edwards relived difficult circumstances his family endured, writing also became a therapeutic effort that led to catharsis and helped Edwards heal. As Edwards developed his thoughts into words, he began to witness the magnitude of the impact of his father’s love and how his resolute devotion to the Lord affected other people, establishing a legacy unbroken by cancer, rooted in the hearts and minds of those he touched forever.
“I believe dad will be remembered, first, for the way he loved people,” said Edwards. “Second, I believe he will be remembered for the way he never stopped living, even when life was at its toughest. He truly believed that there was a calling on his life to make a positive difference in the life of everyone he came into contact with. I hope my legacy is just the same.”
Edwards dedicates Victory to his father, who he is forever grateful towards for the way he stood unmoved when life struck him in the face. Robby’s peace, strength and faith have marked Edwards’ life and he believes his father’s legacy will live on many years from now. Edwards hopes that God uses his story to awaken readers’ hearts to His perspective, to inspire others to the freedom found in Jesus Christ, who conquered death and with his sacrifice, provided the promise of restoration, healing and eternity to all who believe. Through Victory, Edwards took God’s word bound on his fingers, written on the tablet of his heart and translated that message of endurance that his family experienced to paper. Victory is not the story of despair, sorrow or death, but an encouraging story of perseverance, valor and triumph in the Lord—a tribute to Edwards’ father, who finished his course and whose life fashioned a story that deserves to be told.
“There is tremendous power in people’s stories,” said Edwards. “It’s how we relate and connect. It’s vital that we share it.”
Victory by Colin Edwards is available to order on colinedwards.co, amazon.com or Barnes and Noble online.