Every Sunday morning at 6 a.m., Pastor D.J. Edwards preaches to the world.
Edwards is pastor of the River Worship Centre in Park Hills but his sermons are now broadcast around the world. “Victory in Jesus” can be seen at 6 a.m. Central time every Sunday on the Sky Angel Christian Network and on Channel 262 of Dish Network.
“We’d only been on for two weeks and we’d already gotten calls from North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Ohio and Alabama,” Edwards said. “We’ve had incredible positive feedback from people saying it affected their lives.”
The church began “Victory in Jesus” as a radio ministry, and it became a television ministry in July 2008. The worship service first aired at 7 p.m. Fridays on Larry Rice’s New Life Evangelistic Television Network. For the past year, the half-hour show aired in eight stations in Missouri, as well as in Illinois and Arkansas. In addition to Edwards’ messages, the show offered free Bibles, tracts and other religious items.
“We had never done this before, and Larry Rice’s people were really helpful,” Edwards said. “We had tremendous response.”
In early spring, Sky Angel Network contacted him and asked if he was interested in being broadcast on their Christian network. Through their satellite system, the show would also be available to all Dish Network customers as well. Best of all, “Victory in Jesus” would be shown on Sunday morning instead of Friday.
Although they liked working with Rice and his staff, the offer to go national and to be on television Sunday mornings was too good a chance to pass up The church agreed to switch once its contract with Rice had been fulfilled at the beginning of July.
The 30-minute segments of “Victory in Jesus” feature taped church services. Regular church services are held at 10 a.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. Tuesdays.
Edwards grew up in the Baptist church and began his ministry at age 11. He used magic tricks to get people’s attention, and then he delivered gospel messages. At 16, he began to preach.
“When I accepted the Lord (at 6), I immediately began to evangelize in school,” Edwards said. “I knew how much the Lord had blessed me, and I wanted to share.”
In 2003, Edwards began to feel that God wanted him to start a church.
“The Lord spoke to my heart and told me that people everywhere would come out of denominations and into where the river of the Holy Spirit was flowing,” he explained. “I felt the Lord saying this in my heart, and then a voice kept coming, ‘river worship service.’”
The River Worship Centre began with about 15 people and quickly grew. In 2005, church members felt called to serve free hot breakfasts seven days a week. By the time they ended the program two-and-a-half years later, the church had served 36,000 meals.
The breakfast program was the subject of a story by the Christian Broadcasting Network in June 2007. At its busiest, the church fed 140 people at a time. But for some reason, the crowds began to dwindle in late 2007, and the church decided to end the program in January 2008.
At the same time, the church was led to feel people’s souls instead of their stomachs, and “Victory in Jesus” got its start.
Edwards and his wife Rose have a 2-year-old daughter, Moriah. They have help from Glenda Goodson, who works on production of the weekly show.
Many of Edward’s sermons focus on God’s love for Christians, despite their faults. Too often, people believe God requires perfection from His believers, and when they fail, they sometimes feel that they are not really Christians, he said. That is especially true when mistakes are serious.
“We want to tell people that Jesus forgives you if you believe in Him,” Edwards said. “Lots of people have done prison time and the love of Jesus has touched their heart. We’d better hope that mercy is real for them, or it might not be real for us.”
Messages of God’s love rather than warnings of His wrath promote healing, Edwards say. Those messages, delivered through “Victory in Jesus,” have led many people to write the church about stories of how they were inspired or encouraged by the televised worship services.
For more information about the church and Edward’s mission, go to http://www.theriverworshipcentre.org.
Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.