David Smith, assistant chaplain for Shelby County Jail, Rick Crowder of Vincent United Penecostal Church and Brother Eddie Burchfield visit the Shelby County Jail on Tuesday evenings to share their faith with inmates. (Reporter photo/Christine Boatwright)

Archived Story

Burchfield brings “fresh fire”

Published 10:55am Wednesday, February 1, 2012

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

Eddie Burchfield hasn’t led a typical life for an evangelist.

Burchfield grew up in Bessemer, and while he said he had a good family, the family rarely attended church. He hunted and fished like a typical young boy until he hit his teenage years.

At 13 or 14, Burchfield picked up the guitar, and by 15, Burchfield was in a band called “Their Satanic Majesties Request,” after a Rolling Stones’ song, he said.

“This set the stage for years of drugs and alcohol,” Burchfield said.

Burchfield was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1971 “against my will,” he said, as he opposed the Vietnam War. While in the service, Burchfield got married.

While working at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Burchfield joined the 55th Army Band playing bass guitar and percussion. He started selling drugs to the other band members, and in 1973, he was “busted” and honorably discharged, “which was a miracle in itself,” Burchfield said.

His life began to change in January 1975 when Burchfield’s wife became a Christian.

“I came home at 4 a.m., and she said she got saved,” he said. “I said, ‘That’s good. You do your thing, but don’t you have anyone come over here and talk to me about God.’”

Burchfield’s wife ignored her husband and invited people to come and witness to her husband. He said he was generally rude, cursed and fell asleep while the people witnessed, but when he awoke, they were still there.

On June 8, 1975, Burchfield experienced a “day (he’ll) never forget,” he said.

After his wife said he would have to go to church or go “somewhere else,” Burchfield agreed to attend church with her. He arrived at the Church of God of Prophecy in Bessemer that night high on cocaine and “dope.”

“They’d been praying for me for a long time,” he said of the church members. “I went to church, and they came, shaking my hand and saying they were glad I was there. My defense shield was down, and I was like a deer in the headlights.”

During the testimony service, Burchfield heard the stories of believers.

“It was like an angel grabbed me by the collar, and I stood up and said, ‘I might be the worst sinner here,’” he said. “The Lord spoke to me. Every time I think about this, it’s like it’s brand new.

“The pastor called me Brother Eddie for the first time,” he said. “For 36 years and eight months or so, I’ve not had one desire for cocaine.”

Burchfield is now an ordained evangelist through Worldwide Missionary Evangelism. He began Fresh Fire Ministries, and attends Chelsea Community Church.

On Saturday mornings, Burchfield, a Chelsea resident, preaches for 30 minutes on WURL, 760 AM, in Moody from 7:30-8 a.m.

In addition to working for ALDOT as a permit manager in Calera, Burchfield spends his Tuesday evenings at the Shelby County jail, joining with other ministers and men of faith to minister to inmates.

“You go in, and they shut the door behind you,” he said. “In all this time, I haven’t felt one bit of fear.

“I tell them, ‘Men, let’s crack the book and take a look. Do you want to be a crack addict? Let’s crack the book,’” Burchfield said of how he begins his ministry. “I’ve got men who wrote me letters who are free, free in Christ. I’ve seen them cry like babies, which is one of the most beautiful sights you can see, seeing a man pray to God.”

Editor's Picks

Library welcomes Archie Wade and Magic Bunny Merlin

Now you see him, now you don’t! Experience the wonder that only a truly gifted and wonderful magician can bring. Read more