Evening in the Courtyard
Featuring Edwin and Sylvia from North Africa
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Center for Philanthropy | 700 S Dixie Hwy in West Palm Beach
Doors open at 5:30 pm; program will begin at 7:15 pm
Edwin and Sylvia grew up on the island of Malta, a small nation in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Malta is the place where the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked, and today it is one of the most religious nations in Europe.
In 1971, when Edwin was 17 years old, he heard a Norwegian missionary share the Gospel with a group of people. Soon after, he bought a Bible and began studying to prove the missionary wrong. After a few weeks, Edwin was confronted with a dilemma: What was the truth? He chose to believe the Bible and put his trust in Christ as his Savior.
That same year, the Norwegian missionary also shared the Gospel with fifteen-year-old Sylvia and she, too, decided to commit her life to Christ. The missionary baptized her in a secret ocean-side ceremony. The day of her baptism, Sylvia had to smuggle a change of clothes out of the house so she could go without her parents finding out. Also baptized that day was Edwin. They became the first evangelical believers on the island of Malta, and little did they know they would go on to become husband and wife!
For almost twelve years they were two of only six Maltese believers who met in their home. After British troops withdrew from Malta – and with them many Christians with whom they fellowshipped – they felt even more isolated. Having persevered in this difficult environment for so long, Edwin and Sylvia attempted to emigrate elsewhere. But God had a different plan. They felt God calling them to remain in Malta to establish a local church, and Edwin became the first local believer to be ordained as a Baptist minister. They established the first Maltese-language church in Malta, which the government officially recognized four years later.
In 1996 Edwin and Sylvia began traveling to North Africa to minister to expatriate churches and North Africans. Through their travels, they began to develop a deep burden for the people of North Africa, where the nations are almost 100% Muslim. For Sylvia, it was the women and children of the region who really captured her heart, including female prisoners and refugees. Together, they frequently visit ministry partners in North Africa to encourage them and consult with them on issues of leadership, organizational development, and outreach strategies.
Throughout this time, Edwin has remained the pastor of the church they founded in Malta. Much of the couple’s time is dedicated to ministering among local Maltese as well as North Africans. They also host several consultations and trainings for North African believers, both men and women, throughout the year.
Edwin and Sylvia have four children and several grandchildren.