Illuminating the Darkness: How Roberta Edwards Shone

Estes church of Christ

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” Matthew 5:14.

My junior year of high school (2007), I travelled to Port au Prince, Haiti, with a medical team from my home congregation, the Estes Church of Christ. That is when I met Roberta Edwards. She was the administrator of SonLight Children’s home, and had about 20 children living with her, calling her “mom.” She was also a hard-working servant in the community. She opened her home to feed nearly 150 children 2 meals a day, 5 days a week, and helped them financially with their schooling. This woman was a servant. She was a light.

In October, my husband and I travelled with the Estes group on my fifth medical mission trip to Haiti. I hugged Roberta’s neck when we arrived at the guest house. She looked tired but still had a smile on her face. We had 1 wonderful day of clinic and saw nearly 150 people. That night about midnight, I woke up to the sound of hysterical sobbing.

Roberta Whitney Lana
Lana Pirtle, Whitney Gravelle, and Roberta Edwards on a 2008 trip to Haiti.

“Roberta has been shot and killed.”

On Saturday, October 10th, 2015, Roberta Edwards left this earth and received her eternal reward.

When I think about light, I can’t help but think about creation. “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night” Genesis 1:3-5.

From the beginning of time, light has been separated from darkness. They coexist, but have always been separated. We live in world full of darkness. Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by it. I believe it is no coincidence that Jesus calls both HIMSELF and US “the light of the world” (John 8:12 and Matthew 5:14). We are walking lights, illuminating the dark places of the earth, showing others our good works, so they can give glory to our Father who is in Heaven (Matthew 5:16).

At Roberta’s memorial service, one of the ministers at Estes spoke of Roberta’s light. Shortly after becoming a Christian in her 30s, she travelled to Haiti on a mission trip. Roberta saw the darkness, recognized the powerful light of Christ radiating from her, and eventually decided to return to the dangerous country of Haiti to become a full-time missionary.

Ms. Edwards with some of her children at the orphanage.
Ms. Edwards with some of her children at the orphanage.

I encourage all of us to find our dark corner on this earth, and shine our light as brightly as possible. Our dark corner can be at school, our workplace, hanging out with friends, vacation, our home, or even a third-world country.

Jesus knew we would face struggles and rejection when it came to shining our light. “…The light has come into the world, and the people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed” John 3:19-20. Despite these struggles, I am so encouraged by John’s words in John 1:5. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” How beautiful is that? To know that LIGHT WINS. Regardless of our trials, rejection, or failures, we, with our lights, will overcome.

So go find your dark corner. And be the light.

In Him,


If you’d like to know more about Roberta and the incident, here is a statement from the Estes elders:

Whitney Gravelle
About Whitney Gravelle 6 Articles
I am a graduate of Freed-Hardeman University, a Physician Assistant, a wife, and a lover of photography, cats, and the beach. My favorite verse is Romans 8:28. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." My husband and I currently live outside Nashville, Tennessee.

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