Life doesn't always follow the pattern we choose to fashion our lives when we are young, and tragedy sometimes plays a big role as to which seams we follow as we sew the fabric of our lives together.
This weekend, a Texas-born evangelist, Dr. Ed Carter, who experienced back-to-back tragedies in 1970 while attending Marshall University on a full football scholarship, is the keynote speaker at the Calvary Baptist Church's revival services in West Williamson.
On Nov. 14 of that year, the plane that was carrying the Marshall football team home after a heartbreaking 17-14 loss to East Carolina University in Greenville, crashed not far from the Tri-State Airport, killing the 75 Marshall University football players, coaches and fans.
Carter wasn't on the plane, although his name was listed among those of the 75 deceased passengers. Carter's father had died and Ed traveled to Texas to attend the funeral. His decision to remain with his grieving mother an extra day that weekend saved his life. Ed read his own death notice in the paper as he read about the loss of his teammates.
Dr. Carter will be speaking at the Calvary Baptist Church at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. this Sunday and at 7 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday nights. The Rev. Aaron Rohde, pastor of the church, and his congregation extend an invitation to the public to join them and hear Dr. Carter tell about the decisions he made after the plane crash and the death of his father that steered him into a satisfying life in the ministry.
Today, Carter has been in the ministry for 30 years and serves as director of Death Unto Life Ministries Inc., a multinational mission board.
He has been blessed to preach in revivals, evangelistic crusades, jails, bus ministries, tent meetings, and rescue missions across the United States and in several foreign countries.
Ed Carter was born on Nov. 12, 1950, in Pampa, Texas, to Robert and Sarah Carter. Later, his family moved to Wichita Falls, Texas, to live with his grandparents. They attended a Baptist Church and, at the age of 12, Ed joined the church and was baptized.
In 1969, Ed was graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and received a four-year scholarship from Marshall. After the plane crash, Ed returned to Marshall to play football, and finish his education. On March 10, 1974, he received the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior and became a member of the Souls for Christ Baptist Church where he surrendered to preach the gospel.
According to Carter's account of his life after the death of his father and the tragic plane crash, "The Lord began to open many doors of opportunity for me to preach.
In May of 1974, I graduated from Marshall University with a degree in Secondary Education."
On June 11, 1976, Carter and Shirley were married, moving to Chattanooga, Tenn. in August of that year. There they became members of Highland Park Baptist Church and Ed Carter enrolled in Temple Baptist Seminary in September of 1976.
"The Lord blessed Shirley and me to travel together and serve Him and witness many precious souls saved throughout my days in Seminary," Carter noted on his website.
"In 1979, the Lord blessed me to be the chaplain of the Student Body. In 1981, I was graduated from Temple Baptist Seminary with the Master of Divinity degree."
Dr. Carter and Shirley have two sons: Mark, a graduate of Tennessee Temple University, is Home Office assistant for Death Unto Life Ministries Inc., and Jeff, also a graduate of Tennessee Temple University and Bible Seminary, serves with DULM Inc.
The evangelist said DULM was officially organized in 1981 and later received status as a non-profit organization. Currently, Carter said, there are four families serving with Death Unto Life Ministries Inc. "Our goal is to reach people of all walks of life, but we have a special burden to reach our kinsmen according to the flesh, black America, and to establish New Testament churches."
According to an account of the plane crash published in The Herald Dispatch at Huntington, "the probable cause of this accident was the descent below Minimum Descent Altitude during a non-precision approach under adverse operating conditions, without visual contact with the runway environment."
The jet struck a tree on a hill just west of the airport runway. After dipping to the right, the plane crashed into a hollow nose first. The impact scattered engines and other parts over a wide area. All 75 people on board died. The crash would be labeled the worst air disaster in American sports history.