As he descends a ladder into his makeshift grave, 63-year-old John Edwards is giving back to the American missionaries who helped save him from two dozen years of addiction, panhandling and homelessness on the streets of London.
“I've overdosed, serious overdose, over 20 times,” said Edwards, “When my father died in 1984, I literally couldn't make his funeral. My family wouldn't let me go. That broke me. That was my personal rock bottom.”
Since that time, Edwards has used whatever means necessary to spread his message of hope.
He has crossed America carrying an 11-foot cross, several other continents with a 33-foot syringe and his latest idea came while burying a close friend whose relapse led to a fatal overdose.
“Maybe if I make a coffin, and maybe if I live in it for three days like Jesus did and if I speak from the coffin,” Edwards recalled thinking at the time.
From inside his three-by-eight-foot box, Edwards will livestream his message for addicts .
This makes his fifth burial to date and already, he's reached more than a hundred million people.
“It's a ridiculous idea what I'm doing, and some people will tune in to watch to me here, but they want to know, 'Who's the crazy Irishman in the coffin?'” said Edwards.
That crazy Irishman is Patricia Edwards' husband, and it took some explaining to convince her to bury him over and over again.
“We love each other and I'm 100 percent behind him,” she explained.
“Not enough to get in the grave with him though?” asked WMAR-2 News reporter Jeff Hager.
“No, no... he can get in there on his own,” she said.
It is a quirky, but powerful approach to reaching some of Baltimore's most vulnerable citizens to hopes of turning their lives around before it's too late.
“Maybe through people like us, God will bless America again,” said Edwards.
Edwards' coffin comes equipped with air, food, and water, not to mention a portable toilet.