Monday, November 10, 2014

From the ashes of disaster, a ministry is born

Ed Carter uses his football background as a means to communicate the Gospel.
November 14 marks the 44th anniversary of the Marshall plane crash. For former Thundering Herd player Ed Carter, the memories will never fade to black.

Ed, a starter at offensive tackle on the 1970 team, would more than likely have been on the fatal flight that killed 75 people, which included most of Marshall’s varsity football squad. Ed was absent because of a death in his immediate family.

Dr. Carter is in his 41st year of ministry.
On the day Ed learned that his father had passed away in Texas, his mother told him in a phone conversation that she didn’t want him going on the flight.  There would be a crash, she explained, and there would be no survivors. Ed didn’t believe her. But because he didn’t want to upset his mother, he agreed to stay for a few extra days after the funeral.

It was a life-saving decision. But that’s only the beginning of the story.

Prior to his graduation from Marshall in 1974, Ed gave his life to Christ. Not long after that, he answered the call to preach. Evangelist Ed Carter is now in his 41st year as founder and director of Death Unto Life Ministries, which is headquartered in Chattanooga, Tenn.

This global ministry has touched the lives of people in America as well as other parts of the globe. Ed recently shared some of his reflections about the night of November 14, 1970 – a night that changed his life forever.

Q: It’s been over forty years since the plane crash. Why does it still matter?
EC: I should’ve been on that plane. The Lord sent me home for my Dad’s funeral and my Mom asked me to stay after the funeral. It’s for that reason that I missed my own funeral.

Q: Over the years, the central theme of your ministry has remained the same. Why do you believe the message still resonates?
EC: The name of the ministry is taken from John 5:24. The philosophy is that when I gave my life to the Lord, I passed from death unto life. Through this ministry, I’ve watched others do the same.

Q: What are some of your most vivid memories from the night of the crash?
EC: I was at my mother’s house when the news came that the Marshall plane had gone down and that there were no survivors. The next day, a reporter from United Press International called my Mom to offer condolences. She told them that it was a mistake – that I was not on the plane – and that I was actually sitting right next to her as she talked on the phone.

Q: How could your Mom know that the tragedy would take place?
EC: There were many times after that night when I asked her how she knew. What I do know is that it was not a premonition on her part. God put that bit of information in her mind when she called me to come home for my Dad’s funeral. I’ve always looked at that conversation as God’s warning to me of what was to come [on November 14].

Q: After your Dad’s funeral, you still had enough time to go back to West Virginia and join the team to make the trip to East Carolina. Are there times when you wonder why you weren’t on that plane?
EC: God is sovereign. I don’t know why I wasn’t on that plane. I don’t know why the lives of my teammates weren’t spared. What I do know is that He had a plan for my life. He saved my life, and then my soul. God allowed me to serve Him by calling me to preach.