ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (BP)–As he participated in a drama portraying the crucifixion of Christ, he was working already to fulfill his call to the ministry. But 20-year-old Antwoyne Edwards, a student at Ouachita Baptist University, could not have known that this community worship service would be his last opportunity to share the gospel.
Only hours later, on the morning of Friday, April 21, Edwards drowned while boating across Lake DeGray near Arkadelphia, Ark., where Edwards was finishing his second year at Ouachita.
A native of Big Spring, Texas, Edwards had become known on campus as a spiritual leader, strong in personal witnessing.
As a member of the Ouachita football team, he stood out on the field as the starting halfback; however, off the field Edwards was looked upon as being “passionate” about winning the football team, and anyone else, for Christ.
“Antwoyne was a good student and an excellent athlete, but I think everyone who knew him thought of him first and foremost as a committed Christian who worked tirelessly to tell the good news of Christ,” said Andrew Westmoreland, president of OBU.
According to Ouachita officials, Edwards, a health and physical education major, went camping with his teammates Nathan Syer and Matt Klopfer, as well as recent graduate Mark Palfreeman. Deciding to return to campus during the early morning hours on Friday, April 21, Edwards and two others in the group were crossing the lake to return to their vehicles when the boat began to take on water. The others on board the boat tried to save him, but they were unsuccessful.
In March of this year, Edwards had surrendered to ministry at Second Baptist Church, Hot Springs. Even prior to his call to ministry, Edwards had been active in ministering on campus; those who met Edwards remembered him by his haircut. He shaved “Jesus” in the back of his head as his unique way of witnessing, and it had an impact.
“When my 7-year-old son met Antwoyne a year ago, he was so influenced by him that he asked if he could shave a cross in his head,” recounted Richard Young, Second Baptist’s minister of music and worship.
As an active member of Ouachita’s Baptist Student Union, he “made a point to make everybody he met feel like they were important,” said Julie Wilson, assistant director of the BSU. “He was constantly talking about what God was doing in his life and what new things he was learning.”
Earlier in the semester, Edwards was selected to share his testimony during the university’s weekly chapel service. Addressing campus unity, he called for the student body to stand and repeat a prayer of forgiveness for the divisions that existed on campus.
“Whether it was a mission trip to another state or counseling with friends on the football team, Antwoyne led many people to a saving faith in Christ,” Westmoreland said. “This is a devastating loss to the Edwards’ family and to the Ouachita family, but we know that our faith will sustain us.”
“What he said out of his mouth was what he lived,” noted fellow OBU student and friend Brian Mills, who described Edwards as a man of “integrity” who was “totally bold” in his witness for Jesus Christ.
“He loved everyone and everyone loved him,” Young said.
Butch Culbreath, Edwards’ Sunday school teacher at Second Baptist, called his death a “tremendous loss” for the church’s collegiate ministry, but “it is heaven’s gain.”