After finding his faith and a path for his future at Reinhardt University, Michael Coleman is living day by day spreading the Gospel through ministry in the inner city of Charlotte, N.C.
As a member of the Urban Eagles through Missionary Athletes International, the 2016 RU graduate is doing the work he says God has called him to do. While serving in China for three months, he was trying to figure out what he was going to do next. The college soccer player felt he wanted to reach at-risk youth and use soccer as the vehicle.
“My plan was to go get a part-time job and during my time off, just play soccer with kids in Atlanta and share Christ with them,” Coleman said.
He began internet searches thinking he had heard of an organization that already had a program in place and Charlotte Eagles kept coming up time and again. So he reached out to RU Men’s Soccer Coach Joey Johnson, someone Coleman called a man of Christ and someone who had ties to the Charlotte Eagles.
“When I signed on to be the men’s soccer coach at Reinhardt, the first thing that I did was to go to lunch with the captain of the team, Michael Coleman. It was clear after just those two hours with him that Michael possessed natural leadership qualities and as time passed, his honesty, work ethic and servant’s heart constructed a solid platform for influence for the season we shared together,” Johnson said.
Johnson made the connection to the person in charge at Missionary Athletes International and in less than a week, Coleman was on a bus headed to North Carolina.
He joined with his boss, Ben, who had been living in the low-income community of about 4,000 for a few years, and got set up in their home. The domestic missionaries live in the communities they are reaching, Coleman said, adding it is much like Jesus did – living amongst and ministering to the people.
“It has been a great journey for me to witness the personal growth in this young man’s life in recent years and I know he is having a positive impact on the lives of others through his work with the Urban Eagles,” Johnson said.
Currently, Coleman coaches a 10-and-under soccer team with 13 boys on the team.
“We do everything from small group Bible studies together to tutoring and educational assistance,” he said. “We are also there for crisis assistance if something comes up in the home.”
He said he helps out in other areas where he can. Urban Eagles has middle and high school teams, including 50 young men.
“Forty-three of them are fatherless,” Coleman said, adding how important it is for Urban Eagles leaders to be good male role models for the boys and young men in the community.
“Through us living in the neighborhoods, these are our problems together and we are going to look to Jesus to fix our problems,” Coleman said.
It was not that long ago that Coleman was searching himself, needing a faithful atmosphere and a strong and faithful role model. Both of those he was able to find at Reinhardt.
“I was not a believer when I first came to Reinhardt. I met the Lord while I was at Reinhardt,” Coleman said.
He said he was lost and was dealing with many issues – it was walking back from soccer practice one day that he was overcome emotion and clarity.
“I believe it was the Holy Spirit that flooded me,” Coleman said. “I went back to my room and was bawling. I asked the Lord to forgive me, and I said, ‘I don’t want to do anything without you, Lord.’”
It was at that moment that he accepted Jesus Christ into his heart and decided to live for Him.
“My life did a 180 at Reinhardt. Things changed on the soccer field. I ended up becoming the captain my senior year. We led the team to the school’s first ever regular season championship,” Coleman said.
A graduate of the McCamish School of Business with a degree in business administration, Coleman said his original plans were to get into the business world and “live for myself.”
That quickly changed and now he is focused on spreading the Gospel and making a difference in the young men’s lives.
Coleman added that each team member pays $10 to play for the entire season, meaning funds have to come from other avenues to make the program thrive. To learn more about Coleman or the Urban Eagles, visit http://www.maisoccer.com/Missionary/index_E.html