|Bishop Gerald Coleman Sr. and first lady Marlene|
D. Coleman of Faith Keepers Ministries in the
Raleigh-Frayser community. (Courtesy photo)
Monday, February 9, 2015
More than 20 years ago, Gerald Coleman Sr. traveled the United States as an evangelist with Tennessee’s 5th Jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ. During his travels he noticed that men and women were struggling to overcome obstacles. Touched by their plight, he reached out with a willing spirit and a hand of mercy to make a difference in their lives. And with a succinct message from God, he left with them a prophetic word that would henceforth change their lives for the better.
Most people address him as Prophet Coleman, a God-fearing man who prophesizes, preaches, teaches, counsels and intercedes on behalf of bishops, pastors, deacons, evangelists and laymen all across the United States – and abroad for that matter -- who look to the prophet for spiritual direction and for his uncanny ability to see beyond the realm of this world.
Coleman knew he was different than most people. He could see the intangible -- what the naked eye can’t see – even as a 6-year-old child. Some people might go so far to describe his ability as otherworldly. Coleman, however, describes it as a “gift” and that God has indeed anointed him to speak the unadulterated gospel truth.
“As a child, I could see things. I had several visions. I knew I wasn’t normal. I was always seeing things. I was prophesizing,” he says. “I would always be in front of people. God showed me how to be a leader of His people.”
Coleman actually began his ministry 31 years ago. He is currently the spiritual leader, or the shepherd, of a faithful flock at Faith Keepers Ministries, a thriving church in the Raleigh-Frayser community. He has been at the helm for 10 years.
Originally from Corinth, Miss., Coleman’s family moved to Memphis when he was 10 years old. He grew up with 11 sisters and brothers. Although their parents are deceased, Coleman is their second oldest child.
“Preachers run in my family,” Coleman pointed out. “I was about 24 years old when I received my calling.”
Rev. Kenneth L. Coleman is the pastor of God’s Ministries in Cordova, Tenn. Another brother, Charles Coleman, teaches Sunday school at another church and plays an integral part in the church’s music department. His sister, Prophetess Betty Coleman, has the uncanny ability to see beyond the realm as well. Each one, however, is working in the vineyard for Christ, Coleman says.
“You have to have a heart for ministry and a love for God,” says Coleman, the father of four children: Ashley Shaw, Marquita Palmer, Brittany Whitaker and Gerald Coleman Jr., Faith Keepers’ drummer. Marlene D. Coleman, Coleman’s wife of 13 years, is an evangelist and the first lady of the church. She oversees the women’s ministry, Women Operating in Faith.
A ‘fisherman’ of men…
In Coleman’s role as prophet, he refuses to confine himself to the church’s pulpit to reel in men and women for Christ. Instead, he travels the highways and byways casting a wide net in an effort to capture the soul of God’s people, as if he is indeed a “fisher” of men.
“I’ve done a lot of traveling and evangelistic work,” he says. “I’ve dealt with whites, blacks, Hispanics. I’m multicultural.”
Laymen and clergymen alike have called on Coleman for any number of reasons. Like a prophet from the biblical days, he responds to their calls without hesitation and travels to and fro without the need for fanfare, bells and whistles.
In a society that places a premimum on abundant living and the accumulation of wealth, the prophet is not moved or influenced one iota by luxurious living that some clergymen seem to enjoy. He is steadfast nonetheless and does not waver from his Christian duties. And he is not highfalutin or vainglorious, either.
“I don’t believe in living off the people because I’m the shepherd,” says Coleman, who once pastored the church without receiving a salary. “I teach holiness. I teach the Word. I preach from Genesis to Revelation.”
He also reaches out to transform the total man, he says, regardless of race, creed or color. “I want to reach the total man. I want to go after the soul, and I want to establish feeding programs and youth programs.”
As genteel as he is, Coleman’s reputation precedes him. Because he is a prophet, he’s compelled and imbued with a Christian spirit to lead God’s people in the “right direction” – towards heaven. He also counsels them, prays for them, and intercedes on their behalf.
“That’s my ministry,” he says.
G.E. Patterson, the late presiding bishop of COGIC, was the beneficiary of Coleman’s prophetic anointing before Patterson was elevated to the bishopric of the worldwide 5 million-member Pentecostal denomination. Coleman said he saw Patterson’s ascension in his vision.
He said he’s received phone calls for advice and blessings from other leaders as well, such as Bishop Eddie Long, the embattled pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga.; Apostle Alton R. Williams, pastor of World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church; and Bishop Edward H. Stephens Jr., senior pastor of Golden Gate Cathedral.
“One of the strongest leaders and one of the most influential persons in my life is Archbishop Leroy Bailey,” said Coleman. “I’ve also ministered to a very close friend of mine, Rev. Bartholomew Orr of Brown Missionary Baptist Church.”
Coleman has also counseled and advised Rev. Leo Holt, pastor of Grace Christian Fellowship Church; Bishop Larry Smith, pastor of Abundant Faith World Ministries; and Bishop Raymond Williams, pastor of Shekinah Glory International Ministries Church.
In 1989, he met former President Bill Clinton at Olivet Baptist Church. A friend and clergymen had arranged the meeting.
“I fellowshipped with him (Clinton),” the prophet recalls.
From Memphis to Chicago to New York to Florida and cities in between, Coleman has ministered to and prayed for people. He has been called the “Prophet of Memphis” and has strong connections in Africa and the United Kingdom.
In October 2006, Coleman began serving as priesthood bishop under Archbishop Leroy Bailey Jr., senior pastor and Chief Executive Officer of The First Cathedral in Bloomfield, Conn.; Archbishop Rainer Laufers of Old Holy Catholic Church in Ottawa, Canada; and Bishop Benjamin K. Watts, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in New London, Conn.
On May 3, 2008, Coleman was ordained a bishop at Churches Covered and Connected in Covenant (C4/IBC), “a gathering of churches, Christians, leaders and servants to worship, learn, and pray together in order to present Christ by all means everywhere to everyone.” The group brings churches together from all over the nation to worship and learn together. Bailey, the presiding prelate, established the group in 2002.
Whether you refer to Coleman as bishop or prophet, it probably wouldn’t matter – for those who seek his counsel, advice, or a prophetic word, you’d be instantly moved by his candor and impressed with his gift of prophecy.
Speaking of prophecy: A woman who had suffered from three aneurisms was reportedly healed after Coleman foretold that God would heal her within 14 days. It happened on the 12th day, Coleman said. He also prognosticated the building that houses Holy City Church of God in Christ. Supt. Jerry Taylor, the church’s pastor, would see it come to past.
Coleman has also established a number of churches. Three individuals launched their own ministry after serving under the prophet’s leadership and teaching at Faith Keepers Ministries. He also established a hospital and street ministry more than 18 years ago.
A champion for Christ…
For Coleman, the path to the pulpit began like it would with others who are making incremental steps in their own careers to achieve success – with a vita of accomplishments, educational pursuits and objectives.
Although Coleman’s accomplishments – or spiritual gifts per se – are widely known, he studied the Word of God in his quest for spiritual enlightenment and served under the tutelage of reputed clergymen. In the early years of his life, he was just as attentive in public school as he is now as a servant of Jesus Christ.
Coleman grew up in the Orange Mound community, matriculated at Hanley Elementary and graduated from Melrose High School in 1974. Always with an eye on the ministry, he would go on and graduate from C. H. Mason Bible College, where he obtained his degree.
Because he is dedicated to ministry, one would be surprised to discover that the prophet is skilled in construction work. “I’ve always been a worker all my life,” he says. “I’ve been in construction since I was in the eighth grade.”
Here’s another surprise: Coleman was a professional kick-boxer who reigned as the undefeated middleweight champion for five years. He also was the sparing partner for Anthony “Amp” Elmore, the five-time PKA (Professional Kickboxing Association) World Karate/Kickboxing Champion.
It was the 1980s, and while Coleman was battling tough opponents in the squared ring, he fought as well to vanquish what he believed were evil spirits that pervaded the mind, body and soul of God’s people through prayer and intercession.
“I was ministering even as a professional fighter,” says Coleman, who was well equipped to handle himself in the ring. But then he remembers a spirited match with an opponent that didn’t go too well.
“It was in the 5th round on ESPN at the Cook Convention Center,” he recalls. “I was fighting Oliver Miller for the Mid-South Middleweight title. One kick caused me the fight – so they say… but everybody knew I’d won.”
After the loss and subsequent fights to come, Coleman assessed his future in the harsh, physical sport that he loved so much. “God gave me a choice. He said, ‘You can become a champion for a season or a champion for a lifetime.’”
Coleman made a decision. He pursued the latter.
Monday, February 2, 2015
After the shooting death of Michael Brown and the resulting media firestorm, old racial wounds between African Americans and law enforcement quickly resurfaced. Israel United in Christ, however, was there in Ferguson, Mo., trying to quell the frustrations that African Americans were feeling by spreading “the word of God.”
Israel United in Christ is not your average Protestant church, where worshippers sing traditional and contemporary gospel songs. It also is not a church where a charismatic preacher delivers the sermon using pulpit theatrics and the age-old practice of “call and response.”
“It’s a (faith-based Christian) church/school. And we focus on the laws, statues and commandments of the Bible,” said Michael McVay, a 31-year-old mental health case manager calling himself Michael Ben Israel, a surname the members adopt meaning “son of Israel.”
The church/school also recognizes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, said McVay, who once worshipped in the Baptist faith with his mother and sister. His grandmother, he said, is a member of the Church of God in Christ.
“I’ve done my research and I felt the teaching I was getting in the Christian church didn’t touch me as a person,” said McVay. “I left the Christian church in 2010, and was studying (the word of God) on my own since that spring.”
McVay joined the church/school last year in November after surrendering the tenets of the Baptist church for a “black” focus taught by Israel United in Christ, which is located at 1661 Lamar in the Glenview community. Members meet on Saturday for worship and/or study sessions.
|Members of Israel United in Christ.|
Bishop Nathanyel Ben Israel, the principle teacher, founded the church/school in New York 12 years ago. Within that time span, he’s planted other church/schools in Ohio, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Kentucky, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, California, Virginia, and Tennessee.
“We’re working on getting schools in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Jamaica,” said Hoshaiah Ben Israel, one of the top “officers” overseeing the Midwest region – about eight states total, including Canada.
“As the truth becomes widespread, more schools will be opened,” said McVay, subscribing to the ideology and tenets that black people are “the chosen people that the Bible speaks of.”
“We teach everybody to learn the truth for himself or herself,” said Ben Israel, 31, an entrepreneur and recent convert who was around 8 years old when he last attended Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church with his mother.
“When I started following the commandments, I got an understanding,” he said. “It changed my life when I applied the laws to my life.”
Before Ben Israel committed to the church/school, he trekked to Orlando, Fla., to meet the church/school elders. “I read the entire Bible and watched a video that showed we are the true Israelites,” he said, and embraced the teachings with a determination to teach others.
Although the Bible refers to the Jewish nation of Israel as God’s people, both Ben Israel and McVay surmised that today’s Jews are not descendants of ancient Israel.
“They do not fit the prophecies concerning Israel and they do not suffer the curses that were placed upon Israel by the Most High,” said McVay, motivated by self-study and the “knowledge” that he’s acquired since he first joined the church/school.
“It’s important to my faith,” he said, adding, “In grade-school were taught that we’re African-American. But we’re taught in the Bible that we’re Israelites. We can’t be two people from two different continents.”
McVay pointed out Deuteronomy chapter 28, verses 15-28 to support his argument. He said black people and brown people throughout world history have suffered through slavery and degradation because of their disobedience.
“We are here to wake up the so-called blacks, Native Americans, and Latinos to our true heritage – Hebrew Israelite,” he said. “The one way for the so-called blacks, Native Americans, and Latinos to identify with our true heritage is to turn to the Holy Bible.”
Referring to the King James Version and the “1611 King James Version,” McVay said members of the church/school derive knowledge from the latter version because it includes the “Apocrypha,” or “the missing books of the Bible.”
Although Israel United in Christ is fairly new to this area – about 2,000 members total across the country – Ben Israel said the church is growing.
“We got a lot of young men with us,” he said. “We got the solution to change people. Young men catch on to this quickly because they’re looking for a solution.”
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