After meeting a friendly young man while leaving the high school the other day, I met him again the next day at my house, as he came in a Mississippi Power truck to take down a couple limbs. It became obvious that the Lord had led him my way, so I asked him if he would share his testimony. I so enjoyed visiting with Lewis and Stacy Coker and their son Brody in their attractive, rustic home, with the great room displaying mounts of two deer heads, one each for Lewis and son Brody. A third mount was the head of a caribou that Lewis shot in Alaska.
James Lewis Coker was born April 11, 1983, to Jim and Christine Dean Coker of Newton County. His father worked at ESCO for 42 years before retirement, and his mother was a stay-at-home mom. He has one sister, Dion Coker Hamilton, married to Alex Hamilton, and together they have six children, Erin and Lexie Hamilton, Maria and Erica Hutchins, and Blake and Bella Hamilton.
Lewis attended Newton County schools, graduating from NCHS in 2001. In high school he played basketball for four years and baseball for two. Planning to attend Mississippi State University to do Poultry Science, he studied Ag-Science for two years under Jimmy McMillan. However, a friend and mentor, Mr. David West, suggested he consider lineman’s school. He went through the 16-week school in Lucedale, Mississippi, worked for Southern Pine Electric for five years, then moved to work for Mississippi Power in 2007. Now Local Manager for the county, as of this week he will have worked in this field for twenty years.
Stacy Michelle Goodson Coker was born April 8, 1983, in Natchez to Denver and Hattie Priest Goodson. Her father worked for the Franklin Telephone County for 44 years, and her mother worked 19 years for C-Spire. She also has one sister, Melissa Goodson Morris, married to Seth Morris, and living in Brookhaven. Melissa has a son, Jasper, ten years old.
Stacy, who played sax in the band, performed in the Color Guard, played on the FCHS soccer team, and did Tae Kwon Do privately, graduating from Franklin County High School in 2001 with high honors. She began a dental hygiene course offered at Meridian Community College in Meridian, where mutual friends played matchmaker to get them together on a blind date. Stacy graduated and took her boards in May 2005, and soon became dental hygienist in the office of Dr. Eric McCormick, D.M.D., in Bay Springs, for whom she worked ten years.
They could see the hand of God in their wedding plans. Having planned a traditional wedding in June, they decided instead to move it to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in March, with a small gathering of family and close friends. Lewis’s mother had had a heart condition for years, but, after enjoying her son’s wedding March 11, 2005, she unexpectedly passed away in April.
On October 3, 2007, Lewis and Stacy’s son, Brody Gavin Coker, was born. Stacy found a good baby sitter in Bay Springs, then he attended a private Christian school there for two years. Stacy left the Bay Springs position in time for him to enter Newton County Elementary School in the first grade. In July 2016, Brody, at age nine, asked Christ to be his Saviour at VBS and now enjoys youth activities in their church.
Lewis and Stacy, feeling led by the Lord, in order to ensure his having a biblical worldview, have begun homeschooling Brody, now in the ninth grade. He will be playing basketball and baseball with a homeschool organization in Meridian. He is also enjoying attending the Newton County Vocational-Technology classes, studying a General Engineering curriculum. Lewis told me Brody had his first real job experience this summer, laying brick with a local brick mason, Barry Hollingsworth.
The Coker family love to travel, primarily for the purpose of sight-seeing. A few of their trips were to Washington, D.C., Seattle, Disneyland and Disney World, the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, and they have taken the long train ride from Meridian to New York City via Amtrak. Their next trip is planned for Yellowstone. Lewis and Brody love to hunt for deer and turkey. In fact, we saw a flock of turkeys near the woods back of their house.
Lewis attended Hickory Baptist Church as a child then went with his mother to Little Rock Baptist while in high school. He told me of his first experience with the Lord as a twelve-year-old boy at Central Hills Baptist campground near Kosciusko. One night he heard a sermon on heaven and hell, and he said, “I felt the Lord tugging on me pretty heavy. I talked to one of my counselors. As I got older, I strayed, and the Lord never stopped working on me. At my mom’s church I went forward again. From then till now, I’ve been steadily trying to walk closer. It gets easier—reading the Word, praying, being active in church, surrounded by church people.”
Stacy grew up in the Union Baptist Church in Roxie, Mississippi, with her family. She recalled, “I was about ten years old. You feel different one day—you know God’s talking to you. And I knew it was time. I joined the church and was baptized.” She continued, “I was very blessed. I had godly parents and grandparents praying for me. When Lewis and I met, we realized we were so in agreement on most beliefs and situations. Everything has fallen into place.” Lewis added, “It’s a true blessing that God put us together.”
Lewis and Stacy became members of Newton First Baptist in 2007, and in 2013 he became a deacon. Lewis went to Haiti in 2012 with But God Ministries, then in 2019 he and Stacy joined another group from Newton First Baptist Church on a mission trip to a partner church in Morelia, Mexico. From about 2019-2021, the church was without a pastor. Covid had hit, and other situations made this to be a time of heavy responsibility for Lewis, as he had been elected Chairman of the Deacon Board in 2019.
The Cokers had just experienced a trial of their faith and a big miracle, beginning April 24, 2018, when, on the job for MS Power, Lewis climbed a 30-foot pole on South Main in Newton then fell from the very top. God blessed in the circumstances. Lewis, who sometimes works alone, was working with his co-worker Wayne Gordy that day, and he fell on a grassy area instead of concrete. His back, ribs, and pelvis were all broken, yet doctors opted to not do surgery. After three days in UMMC, he was home under Stacy’s care in a hospital bed for twelve weeks and now lives without significant pain!
Lewis and Stacy told me of the Bible and devotional reading they both use called The Bible Recap by Tara Leigh Cobble, and they agreed they owe everything to Christ. It is good to see another family where God’s leading of them together is obvious.
Live for Jesus! He’s coming soon!
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