Theodric Coleman is amazed at how God has redeemed his life. Once a homeless, hopeless drug addict wandering the streets of Indianapolis, he’s now the corps ministries director at the Chicago Englewood, Ill., Corps Red Shield Center.
As a young man, the musically gifted Theo wanted to make it big as a singer and songwriter; instead he lost wives, houses, cars and the respect of his family and friends to substance abuse. He spent the next several years going from crack house to crack house, living rough and hustling for drug money.
“When I saw people who knew me, they’d just shake their heads and keep going,” recalled Theo. “I’d lost so much. I felt this was my life’s destiny.”
Theo had been in and out of rehab facilities repeatedly. During a stint at the Indianapolis Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC), he met Envoy Steve McNary. Later when Steve became administrator of the Gary, Ind., ARC, he heard Theo was back on the streets and doing poorly. He asked that a message get passed on to Theo: if Theo called him, Steve would arrange for a bus ticket so Theo could enter the Gary ARC.
Two weeks after receiving Steve’s message, Theo finally realized the shambles his life had become. He stumbled into a McDonald’s from which he’d been repeatedly thrown out and asked the manager to call Steve. The manager said, “Go take a seat.” It was 8:00 a.m. An employee came over with a free breakfast for Theo, and later lunch, then dinner as he and the manager waited for word. They waited until 8:00 p.m.
“Suddenly the manager came over to say a ticket was waiting for me,” said Theo. “She asked if I could get to the terminal. My feet were swollen and painful, but I said I could.” That’s when a kind-hearted mailman offered Theo a ride to the station. It was December 22, 2007.
At the Gary ARC, Theo rededicated his life to God, got and stayed clean and became a soldier. He worked there for several years and served as its worship leader, which is how he met Dawn, his wife for the past decade. She and her father had been coming to the ARC to support her son. Though her son left the program, they continued attending worship.
“I’d been praying for someone with whom I could be in ministry. I knew Dawn was the one when she became a soldier!” said Theo, who recently earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing analytics and has been praying with his corps officers, Captains Corey and Nikki Hughes, about becoming an envoy.
“When the door opens, I want to be ready to step through it,” said Theo. “I’m so grateful the Army was there for me. I want to do the same for others.”