I have been asked to say just a few words on behalf of the Missionaries and Directors of Baptist Faith Missions – both past and present – and from the entire Baptist Faith Missions fellowship and family in Christ.
I want to limit my remarks to Brother Overbey’s impact upon us and influences among us as our friend, fellow-servant of the Lord, and as our leader.
Regardless of how you knew Brother Ed or in what capacity you might have related to him, one thing you can say about him, he was always the same Brother Ed, and always the same sterling and Christ-like character.
There is a Scripture that always comes to mind when I think of Brother Ed. Luke said this about Barnabas in Acts 11.24: “For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.”
Brother Ed was a good man because he always modeled his life after Christ. He was a good man, not because of any goodness native or inherent in himself, but because of the goodness of Christ who lived in him. Brother Ed was as Christ-like as any man we have ever known or would ever hope to meet.
He was a good man because he was full of the Holy Spirit, and he always expressed and exemplified the full panoply of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. He lived in the Spirit, and he walked in the Spirit.
And he was a good man because he was full of faith in Christ – he knew Christ and lived a full life of faithful and committed service to Christ. He was “full of faith” both in the sense of his faith and confidence in Christ, and also his faithfulness to Christ in every activity of his life and ministry.
Brother Overbey related to us and led us as a generous man. He was all his life generous in his commitment to Baptist Faith Missions – both with his financial contributions and the giving of his life’s service.
In fact, Brother Ed was one of the contributors to the very first offering given to Baptist Faith Missions for the support of Joseph Brandon’s ministry in the Acre, Brazil. When Hafford Overbey assumed the role of promoting support for Missionary Brandon, he led his own Sunday School class to begin the contributions. We have the first mimeographed letters Hafford Overbey began distributing [which soon after became “The Mission Sheets”]. The first offering was $16.25, and each offering was faithfully recorded and accounted for. Among those offerings are “Edward Overbey – $1.00” [his brother Donald Overbey also contributed $1.00]. Not much now, but in March 1942, $1.00 was a generous offering for an 18-year-old young man. He continued that commitment and support for the missionaries supported through BFM for the rest of his life.
Brother Ed always related to us and led us as a gracious man. Brother Ed was, above everything else – a man of grace. He knew the grace of God and he lived out the grace of God.
He always treated everybody else with sincere, genuine, and un-hypocritical grace. We sometimes would have to talk about or deal with sensitive matters relating to other servants of our Lord, but we never discussed anybody else – or dealt with any kind of sensitive measures – but that he would always preface anything he said about anybody else with this introduction: “He is a good man…”
He always spoke the truth – but he always administered the truth with love, fairness, consideration, deep sensitivity, and grace.
He was courteous and deeply respectful to all of his brothers and sisters.
Brother Ed related to us and led us as a man of the Word of God. As our leader, Brother Ed was not only a MAN OF HIS OWN WORD [he was a man of impeccable and impeachable integrity and honesty] – but more importantly, he was a man of the Word…the Word of God.
He was the consummate teacher of the Word of God – the Bible…both in his public ministry and his personal conversations with all of us. He knew the Bible. He had studied the Bible extensively and deeply all his life. He was studious and knowledgeable of the Scriptures. He was a true scholar, but he was simple, direct, and clear in his expression of the Word of God.
And, he not only KNEW the Bible, but he lived his life and conducted all of his activities by the Word of God. He led us to do everything we did by the Word of God. Brother Ed could take the truths and the teachings of the Scriptures and explain and express them in the simplest of terms so we could act on it with conviction and clarity.
He was unmovable and unshakable in his convictions, but he also knew how to give liberty and consideration to other people’s beliefs when there was room for another interpretation or application of the essential truths of Scripture. He counseled us on more than one occasion, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” [Romans 14.5].
Spurgeon said one time that a preacher and teacher of the Word ought to bleed “Bibline blood” – that is, your very blood should have Bibline and Biblical consistency. Brother Ed had Bibline blood coursing through his very veins.
Brother Ed related to us and led us as a servant. He was a true “servant-leader.” He was humble, quiet, soft-spoken, unassuming – he was approachable – and never tried to impose himself on anyone or force himself into any situation.
He served in numerous roles and capacities during his lifetime of ministry and service to Christ. But, he told me one time: “I never really applied for any position or ministry I have ever assumed. In everything I have ever done, someone came to me and asked me to serve.” And he served our Lord and others that way all his lifetime.
Jeremiah had a faithful assistant and scribe by the name of Baruch. It seems that Jeremiah may have had to rein him in on one occasion by saying to him, “And seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not…” [Jeremiah 45.5]
Brother Ed NEVER sought great things for himself – but the Lord on many occasions and in many roles sought him out – and Brother Ed always followed and served the Lord faithfully.
And, as the Hebrews writer said of all the other examples of faith he was commending in Hebrews 11.32: “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of…” so much more we could say about the deep respect and appreciation we all have toward God for the privilege God has given us to learn from, be led by, and be impacted and influenced by the Christian character and example of Ed Overbey, faithful servant of God, leader, and friend.
We can only reiterate and say “Amen!” to the commendation and affirmation we are sure he has received from his Lord, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” [Matthew 25.21]