By: Dezaray Barr
Craig Coe is the Pastor of Coulee Life Church in Onalaska, Wisconsin. He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministries and a minor in Church Music.
From 2002 to 2004 and again from 2013 to 2015, Coe worked in the IWU Admissions Office as an Admissions Counselor. He also spent some time as the Assistant Director of Admissions.
“IWU not only gave me the educational foundation, but a lifetime of support and encouragement,” said Coe. “Friends and faculty have been a source of encouragement ever since graduating and beginning ministry.”
Although it has been over a decade since graduating from IWU, Coe explained that he still experiences encouragement from the faculty and staff of IWU. “On a trip back to College Church for a pastors conference, I ran into Dr. Wilbur Williams on the sidewalk, and he asked about ministry,” Coe said. “We talked about the good and the bad, and he told me, ‘Satan may give roadblocks on the road, but God keeps moving us forward.'”
Since becoming a pastor, Coe has witnessed God work in his life, his family, and his congregation. “God has been so faithful to not only provide for my family and ministries that I have been a part of, but he continually shows that he is at work in transforming individuals and families,” Coe said. “Being able to spiritually support people, pray for them, see them catch the vision of God and selflessly serve others… all of these things confirm that I am where God wants me to be and doing what he has called me to do.”
Coe worked at his current church (then called Sand Lake Wesleyan Church) from 2010 to 2013. “We thought that we would be at this church for a long tenure,” Coe explained. “A pastoral transition took place, and I was not chosen to be the next lead pastor, but I had a peace that God knew what was next.”
During this break, God immediately provided Coe with a job in IWU Admissions. “It would be two and a half years before we re-entered vocational ministry, and God brought us back to the place that we left,” Coe said. “The congregation had declined by 90%, but He gave us a clean slate in which to build a ministry that focused on the community around us and planting more congregations in the area. After a year of refocus and rebuilding the foundation, we launched our first worship gathering in October 2016. People have accepted Christ, we have had our first baptism service, and we are planning on launching another congregation within 5 years of this restart.”
Now, as Coe and his family settle into life in Onalaska, Wisconsin again, Coe wants to encourage IWU students to allow God to do what He wants with their lives. “When I worked in the Office of Admissions, I would tell students to hold onto your dreams loosely,” Coe said. “God may be wanting to take you in a totally different direction than what you have planned for yourself. I had no dream or plan to help start a church in the Denver-metro area out of college or to restart a congregation that I had previously pastored. My dream was to be the best staff pastor that I could be, but God continues to move me from that to areas of higher leadership.”
Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the Alumni Office. Dezaray is a junior Strategic Communication and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. At IWU, Dezaray runs both the JWHC Blog and her own blog. Visit Dez’s website at www.dezaraybarr.weebly.com.