Curtis and Kathryn Coleman of Little Rock, Arkansas, have this conviction—every person who is living and breathing needs to know Jesus Christ. You may not know the Colemans; in fact, you’ve probably never heard their name. But it’s not really their name they want you to know.
It’s the Name of Jesus, the Name that is above every name.
“There’s no greater thing I desire for someone than for them to be saved and have a relationship with God through Jesus,” Kathryn says. “There’s nothing more important in this world, and that’s what we’re committed to do is tell others about Him.”
That’s why they have run their business, Safe Foods Corporation, with such high standards; that’s why they’ve spent years in ministry; and that’s why they give abundantly to the cause of evangelism.
“I walk with such joy because of my relationship with the Lord,” Curtis says. “I walk with such confidence and peace, and without fear. And I know that’s all the work of the Lord Jesus in my own heart and life. So, I desperately want everybody to have that.”
Jesus doesn’t just change your future, Curtis says. Jesus changes your daily life.
“I know I’m going to Heaven when I die, but most days that I’m here, I am enjoying fellowship with God through the Lord Jesus,” he says. “Not only is there no hope for the world except Jesus; there’s no hope for our nation except Jesus. There’s no hope for my neighbor except Jesus.”
Curtis’ relationship with Jesus began when he was 7. He was riding his bike on a hot July day in front of the Baptist church his dad pastored—when he suddenly realized he was lost. He knew where he was at the moment; he just didn’t know where he was going, for eternity. He was without a Savior.
He turned his bike around, rode the three blocks back home and knocked on the back door.
“I was a typical 7-year-old boy, and every time I came home, I was either bloody or muddy,” he says. “So it was my mother’s rule that I had to knock on the back door, so she could check me out and clean me up before I messed up the house.”
When his mom opened the door and saw that he was clean, she asked him what was wrong.
He said, “Mom, I need to be saved.”
Immediately, she sat down on the back steps with him and led him to the Lord.
“I didn’t understand all about it, but I knew that Jesus did, and that’s all I needed to know,” says Curtis, now 73. “I asked Him to forgive me of my sins and come live in my heart, and He did and has faithfully ever since.”
God was with him when he became a preacher at age 16; when he went to seminary and pastored a small church in Texas; when he served with evangelist James Robison; and in his own evangelistic ministry, where he led about 45 revivals a year for two decades. But never was God more faithful than in the establishment of Safe Foods Corporation.
Safe Foods manufactures and services equipment used to help reduce the prevalence of salmonella, one of the leading causes of food poisoning and deaths associated with poultry consumption in the United States. The equipment, which dispenses an anti-microbial solution, is added to the processing line at food processing companies.
From the time Curtis and Kathryn got the phone call that planted the idea for Safe Foods in 1999, through five long years of FDA approvals, God was by their side, making His presence known and felt.
“We operated during those five years with almost no revenue,” Curtis says. “We spent those five years trusting the Lord and saw Him time after time after time bring in the necessary funding through individuals, all whom we would call friends and family.”
Curtis and Kathryn made two strong commitments when they started Safe Foods: to operate the company in a way that would honor the Lord, and to build it on the principle of servant leadership.
“We wanted to help all of our leaders understand how to be servants to the people on their teams, like Jesus was to His disciples and the people who followed Him.”
Trusting the Lord through those years of scarcity was a test to those commitments. There were times when they couldn’t even make the payroll on time.
“We had over 50 employees, and what’s remarkable is that everybody stayed with us through that because they had made the same commitment we made to our culture.”
Because the U.S. exported more poultry to Russia than any other country, Russia also had to approve the company’s technology. The FDA and Russia approvals together took seven years. Other than God, there’s no explanation for how the company could have survived that, Curtis says.
“We had millions of dollars of government-mandated tests that we had to run. It got really hard. But I don’t think I ever doubted that we were going to get through it.”
Remembering God’s faithfulness during those early years, and how He continues to provide, compels the Colemans to give to the cause of building God’s Kingdom.
“Last year, an event occurred within our company that gave us some additional financial resources that we had not had before,” says Curtis, who retired from daily operations in 2009. “And we had an opportunity to make a more significant gift [to BGEA] than we had in the past, so we were really excited.”
Following their example, two other Safe Foods founders—Tony Rampley and Kathryn’s dad, Carl Rosenbaum—also gave, making the Colemans not only ambassadors of Jesus, but ambassadors for BGEA.
With so much national focus on police officers, the Colemans chose to give the extra gift to BGEA’s law enforcement ministry, and they continue to support pastors’ retreats at The Cove and are also pursuing future BGEA ministry possibilities in Little Rock.
Kathryn still has a photo on her refrigerator as a reminder of what God did through the Billy Graham Crusade in Little Rock in 1989, when she served as a volunteer.
“During the Crusade, one night they took a picture of all of the volunteers with Dr. Graham,” she says. “I was kneeling beside him in the picture. I treasure that photo because in just that little period of time when I met him, you could tell what kind of person he was.”
And that has stood out to her as an example of what God can do when someone surrenders their life to Him, and to the call of evangelism—a cause to which she and Curtis will always contribute.
Photo: Julie Gaylor Photography