An Irishman, who is a former addict has pulled off a stunt that is buzzing the net by allowing himself to be buried alive for three days in order to raise awareness for those suffering from addiction and depression.
John Edwards volunteered to lie in a coffin which was then sealed and buried in the grounds of an east Belfast church – Willowfield Parish, where he will be speaking “from the grave” by live streaming his thoughts and feelings while he is in the ground.
The 61-year-old who is a committed Christian is also the founder of charity Walking Free, which aims to help people who are suicidal or have addiction problems.
After experiencing what he described as an “incredible encounter with God 27 years ago”, he set up a number of Christian rehabilitation centre and homeless shelters.
Having lost more than 20 of his friends to addiction and suicide, Mr Edwards now counsels and prays with people in distress or despair.
He says he aims to speak to people “from beyond the grave” and is broadcasting stories of hope from his coffin on his Facebook page.
Edwards plans to take calls, emails, Skype and texts from people around the world, to speak about depression and addiction. The whole experience will be streamed on Facebook Live and the Walking Free website. He has already posted some video updates on his Facebook page from the two nights spent in the coffin.
John Edwards put on a brave face as he was locked in a casket and had dirt dumped on top of him, kissing goodbye to his wife as he prepared to spend three days in the ground. Speaking to local media before his stunt, Edwards said;
“I’m a former addict and I’ve been clean and sober for 25 years. I’m making a very large coffin, I’m burying it in East Belfast and I’m going to live in it for three days.
“I know this is a radical move but people are continually contacting me who are either suicidal or who know friends or family who are. My plan is to speak to them from the grave before they get there and show them hope.”
Rector of Willowfield Church, David McClay said: “John is going into the coffin on Ash Wednesday which marks the start of Lent. The season of Lent is one when Christians talk about dying to ourselves.
“But the message from the grave is one of hope – hope for those who are struggling with addictions, hope for those who feel life is hopeless, and hope of life that is eternal.”
This is not the first time Edwards has pulled off the stunt of being buried alive as he found it raised awareness across the country after a first trial. Last year, he spent three days buried underground in his adopted town of Halifax in England.
The Dubliner has also been physically close to death on several occasions.Having experienced sexual abuse, mental illness and homelessness, the former drug addict said he overdosed a number of times.
He also underwent a liver transplant after developing Hepatitis C from a dirty needle, and has survived cancer twice. Admitting that his habit of being buried alive is a “bit of a gimmick,” Edward said it was one with a serious message.