Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Christopher Coleman, a friend of mine who was pronounced dead at birth and who spent the first 15 minutes in this world not breathing. God had other plans for him however, and while he struggles with cerebral palsy, Chris serves in full time ministry and is an incredible communicator. His story is heartfelt and impactful, you can read it for yourself on his website
You travel and speak all over the place, what’s that like for you?
Most audiences know that a special guest is coming but they have no idea who it is. Then when I role up on stage it’s kind of like, “What can he ever teach me?” God’s people say the same thing. I’ve had friends, family members, and even people in ministry actually say that I shouldn’t do this because people won’t listen and God can’t use me. You’ve got to remember though, I’ve been told that my whole life. I’ll never be able to talk, I’ll never be able to learn, I’ll never be able to go to college, I’ll never…you name it and I’ve heard it. I’ve come to expect that from people.
With all of that, how do you keep going?
God has a will for everything, “God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” God demonstrates his strength in weakness, and I believe I’m that weak broken vessel that He uses. Do I want to give up, yes, all of the time. But I didn’t sign up for an easy life, I signed up to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and that’s what I’m living for, to know Him. American Christianity says God exists to make our lives better and easier. But the key to the Christian life is suffering. Real Christ followers are well acquainted with suffering and pain. The Apostle Paul talked about having a thorn in his side and he begged Got to take it away, but He didn’t. This was one of God’s greatest servants of all time, and He said My grace is sufficient for you. I either cannot, or will not take it away, but My grace is sufficient for you. I get to take Him up on that every day.
Alright Chris, so why ministry…how did that happen?
I’m out of my mind! I wasn’t so much called to ministry as I was created for ministry. I mean I didn’t breathe for 15 minutes, and yet here I am. I had just graduated from college in Georgia and was getting ready to go back to Louisiana and I heard God say I’ve created you for ministry. And I told Him you owe me the $47,972 I just paid for college. But I don’t like to be in front of people, I’m actually pretty insecure, and my voice…people aren’t going to be able to understand me…”That’s why I’ve called you,” I heard. Then all of the sudden opportunities began to come my way. I heard God speak into me, “No one else can challenge people to get out of their wheelchairs, to walk away from what’s holding them back.” I thought a lot about Moses and what God told Moses. God asked Moses, “Who made your mouth, who made you?” There comes a point where God says do you believe in Me? Not just in Me, but do you believe Me?
I mean imagine being born blind and hearing the voice of your Savior for the first time. And what you hear Him say is that you were intentionally designed for this moment (Luke 9). Or imagine being crippled and lying on a mat for 38 years trying to get to the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-14) to be healed. Only to hear your Savior ask you, “Do you want to get well?” Do you want to be made well? He had been lying there for 38 years; of course he wanted to be made well! Jesus is seriously asking this question? I don’t think Jesus was mocking this man, I think Jesus was asking him, “Do you want me to take away all of your excuses?” Do you really want me to come into your life so you have no excuse to sit there and do nothing? Do you really want to be made well? And I think God uses me, and the ministry that He’s given to me, to rip away every excuse that people have to follow after God. God says, “What now?” That’s why God made Chris.
Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation