Outhustled!

By coming alongside young men, like Edward, we are given the privilege of joining in God’s work of reclaiming and redeeming the fatherless by becoming spiritual brothers and fathers to them. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can unite us together in Him.

Edward McMillan was a hustler.  His hustle, however, wasn’t basketball, it was drugs.  For fifteen years, he was the leader of a successful drug ring in Lynchburg called, The Corleognes.  He would tell you that selling drugs wasn’t the life he had imagined living, but it became the life he couldn’t imagine living without.  

Although Edward never used drugs himself, he realizes that he was as much of an addict as his buyers. His addiction, though, was to the hustle itself.

It’s not hard to see why.  He took in $1,500 the first night he was in the “game.”  In that one night, he took in what it took him a month to make at Walmart and J. Crew.  He didn’t need three semesters at St. Paul’s College to see that the math didn’t add up.  For him, the choice was clear, and the hustle was on.

IMG_3389.JPG

For 15 years he played the game and hustled better than just about anybody else.  And yet, the hustle began to wear on Edward.  The thought that users were taking rent money or Christmas money, and in some cases, even selling their bodies, to buy drugs, began to trouble him. He didn’t know it at the time, but God was pursuing him.  The hustler was being outhustled by the God who loved him and gave himself up for him. He was about to turn Edward’s world upside down.

That day came when one of his buyers sold him out to the police.  Edward was arrested, convicted and sent to prison for six years.  While in prison, he lost everything.  He lost his freedom, his lifestyle, but more than that, he lost his family.  His wife of 7 years divorced him and his 4 kids grew up without having their dad around for those six years.  It was and remains his greatest pain.

Edward learned, what C. S. Lewis once wrote, that “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deafened world.”  It was through pain that God began to rouse Edward’s heart.  Rather than harden his heart toward God, he opened it up.  He took advantage of these six years to get healthy in his mind, body and most importantly his soul.  He returned to the foundation that his mother and grandmother had laid for him.

Having grown up without a father  (his died when Edward was one), Edward sought to surround himself with father figures who could help guide and disciple him.  

God led him to one of our No Walls Ministry partner churches where he got to know one of the pastors.  That pastor began meeting with him to encourage him and grow his faith in Christ.  Edward started attending another No Walls partner church closer to his home.  Edward was able to get a job at a fabrication factory, but without a driver’s license, he had to rely on public transportation.  Through your generosity, No Walls was able to buy him a used moped, which has made a world of difference in his life.  

IMG_3388.JPG

Make no mistake. Life is not easy for Edward.  The right path is a costly path. Though he gladly pays child support, he struggles to find a way to pay off the mountain of court fines against him.  In addition, he worries that his thirteen-year old son will make the same mistakes he made in his life.  And yet, he knows more than ever that the God who outhustled a hustler can reach the son of a hustler too.  Pray for Edward that he can be the father to his children that he never had growing up.