What can God do with someone whose life is totally His? I think that I have caught a glimpse of that.
When you think back across your life, who are the people who stand out? Who do you remember the most? Were they your parents? Your teachers? Ministers? Neighbors?
When we think deeply about this question, we can almost always come to “ah-ha” moments which pinpoint individuals. Our religious views, our character development, and our career choices probably were influenced by a person or persons who encouraged us – or enlightened us – or, well, you get the point.
Well, I would like to share about one of my great “impacters,” Bishop Hardy Lee Coleman, Sr, who went to be with the Lord in August. As his biographer, I sat in his living room with Bishop and his wife, Ann, day after day, listening and absorbing their experiences and their wisdom. What an opportunity for my husband and for myself! We would leave their home mulling over their wisdom, their strength, and their incredible faith in God, always feeling uplifted and stronger in our own faith.
So what was so impressive? You see lots of people who are born into a situation wrought with problems, and who continue to live in those problems for the rest of their lives. Bishop was different. He was born into a situation wrought with problems, but through his faith in God and his determination, he overcame every one of them. As a result, he impacted an entire region – and beyond – for Jesus.
In fact, starting out as a sharecropper’s son in the rural segregated south, and being deserted by his father at the age of 12, Hardy Coleman had every reason to give up or be bitter. But he didn’t give up – and he didn’t become bitter. He dug deep into the strength which the Lord provided, and he continued to move beyond the hurts and the obstacles.
Because of his work load, school had to be curtailed, but Bishop was very bright, and managed to learn through other means as he grew. At the age of 18, Hardy was born again, at 19, he entered the ministry, and at 20 he got married, so no time for teenage foolishness in his life.
The next decades were non-stop. He began pastoring in his late 20’s, and added that responsibility to his farming workload. At the same time, Hardy and his first wife, Ezera, had 8 children, increasing his responsibilities beyond what most people could endure. Yet he thrived through it all, demonstrating a tremendous gift for fathering his children as they grew.
The next few decades would bring the death of his wife, and a new marriage with a new family to blend. Ann Harris who had been widowed two years before, was an obvious match in the eyes of a mutual friend. She had lived a life of faith and faithfulness, trusting God and working in her church in Memphis.
All of the children in both families were now grown and out on their own, So Bishop’s and Ann’s children (13 altogether), were happy with the couple’s new life together. Bishop and Mother Ann, as she became to many, set their ministry into high gear. They started churches (building some with their own hands) traveled to many states, and grew their influence to great proportions.
No time for bitterness. No time for grief. There was much to be done, and these pioneers of faith refused to stop. When Bishop Coleman went to be with the Lord in August 2015, at the age of 93, he was still acting head of his diocese.
Bishop Coleman was a man who had totally turned his life to the Lord at an early age. From that young age to his final days on earth, he had been God’s man. And God had shown Himself strong.
At the ceremony held in the magnificent H.L.Coleman Convention Center in Tupelo, Mississippi, there was plenty of evidence. Generations of children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and people from across the nation, gathered to praise God for the life of Bishop Coleman, and to pay tribute to this great man of God. From his own family, there were ministers to the fourth generation, and musicians and worship leaders in abundance.
A life of significance, a life totally committed to God, a life of example to inspire others to greater heights!
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