At the age of seven, Brian Coleman got saved. After his parents had been divorced, Brian stayed with his mother, but on the weekends he would visit with his grandma. He loved to go to her house, and they would go to church on Sunday’s.
One Sunday, as the Old Rugged Cross was being sung, Brian began to cry. His grandmother asked him if he wanted to be saved and he said yes. She took him to the altar where the preacher prayed with him. He accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior but really didn’t know what that meant.
When he turned eight, he began to participate in multiple sports and was here, there, and everywhere, and was unable to go to his grandma’s as often. With no one in is life to disciple him on a regular basis he really didn’t go any farther with his confession of faith.
“Now I can look back and see all the things God did during that time,” Brian confessed.
“I played sports and was a good athlete. I did not drink, smoke, or rub snuff. I never did any of those things. I thought it was foolish to do them because I was doing too much hard work to make myself better at sports.”
While in college at Glenville State, Brian would read his Bible and pray however he really didn’t understand what he was reading. If he did something that would not be considered good, he knew it but didn’t realize it was the Holy Spirit convicting him.
At work, he would pray before he ate, but his coworkers would criticize him because they knew what he did over the weekend. Even having them remind him of his transgressions didn’t deter Brian from praying–he was aware that it was the right thing to do. He didn’t fully understand why, but he knew he needed to acknowledge God. And unfortunately, like most of us, he wouldn’t realize until after the fact that he did something wrong.
During college, he met his friend Larry that liked to golf and often they would go hit the links. He was a Christian too, but when Brian was around him, out of respect, he tried to watch his language a little better. They became good friends, and after school, Larry became an assistant pastor.
One occasion Larry was going to meet some local kids and take them to play basketball. He called to invite Brian to join them because of his athletic background and Brian felt an urge to go.
“I didn’t know why I wanted to go with him, but I did,” Brian said.
“God used him to be just what he needed to be to me so He could reveal Himself to me.
“Sometimes people question if getting saved as a little kid is real or not. Though I didn’t know what being saved fully meant at the time, there is no doubt in my mind it was secured that day.”
Being friends with Pastor Larry and continually watching him as he would interact with the kids through sports helped Brian realize that he needed to make a deeper commitment to the Lord. He quit cursing and began to straighten out his life and shortly after that he met his wife.
He started to work as a sort of associate youth pastor at Larry’s church. He was helping disciple them through sports–just as his friend did–as God was also helping him through working with the kids.
“My son was small at the time. I coached him in sports and on Wednesday, when it came 5:30 we would leave because I had to teach Wednesday nights at the church. We never had a problem. If there was a game on Sunday, we let them know we would be late. That’s just what we did.”
In 2007, Brian and his friend from Elkins were looking forward to going Elk hunting in New Mexico. It was a few weeks until they were leaving and they planned to camp out and work on some things in preparation for the trip. Because gas was around four dollars a gallon, Brian decided to take his Harley to Elkins.
Two miles away from his friend’s house a van pulled out in front of him.
“Once I realized I was going to hit it, and there was nothing I could do, I kicked the bike sideways so I would hit it sideways. My shoulder was broken, my knee was broken, I had four compound fractures in my leg, and my ankle was broken.
“I remember I was laying in the road looking up and I knew what had happened. People were coming up, and I started praying out loud. I didn’t look at the people I kept looking up.
“I didn’t look down, and I didn’t know to what extent I was injured but I asked someone if they could just point my foot up, and it would feel so much better, but they just said, ‘No man. We’re not going to touch you.’ ”
An ambulance came and took Brian to the HealthNet helicopter. His cousin was working that day, and on the trip, she administered morphine during the flight. Brian was still in severe pain and asked her if she had given it to him yet. She told him, yes, but he was in so much pain that they ended up giving him three doses by the time they made it to the hospital and it still did not dull the pain.
When they got ready to do surgery on his leg, the doctor gave him two doses of anesthetics, but he remained wide awake. The doctor spoke with the anesthesiologist who told him he could only give Brian a little bit more and it may not work. If not, they were going to have to operate with him awake. Thankfully, Brian started counting backward for the third time and went to sleep for the surgery.
Brian couldn’t walk for almost four months. He slowly began the process of healing and eventually moved to crutches, then a cane, and he kept getting stronger. His leg was reconstructed with rods and screws and metal hinges for his knee and ankle, but you would never know by looking at him.
Brian had been in retail management for a convenience store chain and traveled often opening up new stores across the area. He had been in Huntington, and the company wanted him to remain in the area, so he and his wife sold their house and moved. His wife was a manager at a large discount retailer and was able to put in for a transfer to the area. Within two and a half weeks of moving, he was asked to go to Pennsylvania. He knew that would not be possible. They had just sold their house and moved to an area that was unfamiliar, and he was not going to leave his wife alone so, he turned in all of his vacation and sick days and left his job.
They returned to Harrison County, and their church was having a hoagie sale to raise money. While he was there helping out, he felt like God said, “This is what you need to do.”
“So I’m praying,” Brian recounted. “Okay, I don’t have a job now, and I am trying to get resumés together, but we have a little pull-behind grill, and I can do basic hoagies.”
This all happened in 2011 when the state was riding the and gas boom. Brain approached a friend at the bank for help in getting the paperwork done. At this point, he needed a name. He prayed and God told him “Heavenly Hoagies.” Now he needed a logo, and God brought to his memory that morning he gave his life to Christ and that the song “Old Rugged Cross” was playing. He knew the logo had to reflect the cross and chose to use the three crosses with the name.
Brian had a desire to share God with others, and God showed him that the workers at the well sites were a long way from home and needed a ray of light in their day, and opportunity would be present to share the Word.
He built a large following setting up near multiple well sites and by word of mouth. Locals began to hear and see him, and when the oil and gas business started to dwindle, he now had a following from the communities where he sat up.
One event became the turning point in Brian’s new career. One evening at closing, a couple was the last customers for the day. The person right before them had given a one hundred dollar bill to pay with. Brian only had a cash box, so he placed it, he thought, on the bottom. The couple ordered and when he gave them the change, he accidentally gave them the one hundred dollar bill. After they leave, while closing out, Brian realizes the money is gone. He knew what he had done.
Across the road was a convenience store where he noticed the owner outside and asked if he knew the couple that was just there. He gave him an address and Brian went to just make sure because they may not have noticed the honest mistake.
The address was incorrect, so he made a few inquiries and found where they lived.
A few days later he stopped by their home and spoke with the gentlemen, but he said he didn’t have the money and he would check. Brian felt the urge to be more adamant, but a feeling of peace came over him. It was agreed that he would return the next day to see what the guy found out and he left.
He came back, and the gentlemen said, “We don’t have it, but if you say we got it by mistake, we’ll make good.” Only thing is they would need two weeks.
He could tell they were just getting by and during the two weeks, Brian went to a men’s meeting. One of the men needed to clean out his closet of so many clothes, per his wife, and Brian realized he was about the size of the gentleman he had accidentally given the money to.
He went back to get the money and took the clothes with him. Surprised at the gift from Brian, the guy said that a bunch of things had happened and they didn’t have the money. Brian’s reply was, don’t even worry about it. He reassured him that there were no hard feelings and if he ever wanted to come and get a hoagie he would be welcome too.
Shortly afterward, Brian began to move to more locations and started getting requests to cater weddings and events. He went from 30-40 hoagies a day to over 70. From his experience in retail management, Brian knows how hard it is to get good employees, but he was at the point of needing help. Brian approached his wife, and she agreed to take a leave of absence to help with the increased workload. The idea was to keep her salary through the slower winter months as she helped through the summer.
God arrested Brian and revealed to him it was a lack of faith to have the safety net of his wife’s salary so they agreed she would start full time in March 2012.
They purchased a box trailer and built a grill to wheel in and out and started going to new places. Eventually, they opened up a restaurant and life was good.
On March 1, 2014, Brian’s one-year-old granddaughter had come to visit. When she would stay, before going to bed they would put their dogs in their kennels, in the dining room, and shut the door.
In the middle of the night, Brian and his wife woke up and smelled smoke. In only his pants, he opened his bedroom door, and flames were just a few feet away. His wife ran away from the fire to the baby’s room as he ran towards the fire and tried to get to the dogs. He fumbled in the dark knowing there were folded clothes nearby that he could grab the kennels with since they were hot.
Meanwhile, his wife got their granddaughter and opened the window. When the window opened, a backdraft came throughout the house.
Brian remembered, “I looked at the ceiling, and the flames were rolling. As I bent down to grab the kennel I turned to look and saw it coming right at me. I put my head down and my hands up. At that time I heard my wife say come to the window but I yelled back that I was getting burned up. I couldn’t get the dogs, and I don’t remember anything else until I was on all fours by the window telling her I can’t breathe.”
They all went out the window. A neighbor helped his wife and granddaughter over a chained link fence, and somehow he went over on his own. They made it to the neighbor’s porch as the fire trucks arrived. As Brian sat on the porch, with his body reeling from the burns, he could only say, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe,” and was covered with soot.
Brian had not been breathing for around 5 or 6 minutes before the helicopter came.
Brian went into a coma and did eventually wake up, but due to the severity of his injuries, he was placed on a breathing machine. They put him into a medically induced coma for around 30 days where he would only be awake a few minutes a day. While he was under and until he left the hospital his wife made sure the K-Love radio station was playing, although he doesn’t remember it while in the coma.
During that time he had terrible hallucinations, and in his mind, he felt people were trying to kill him. He was very agitated and had to be restrained. They adjusted his medicine which helped to reduce his agitation, but he still was hallucinating.
He couldn’t communicate, now having a tracheotomy, but in his mind, he thought people understood what he said. Because he was continuing to hallucinate, and had pulled all of his tubes and wires out on multiple occasions, they allowed his wife to stay in ICU continually in hopes of keeping him calm.
Brian remembered only one pleasant memory while he was on the medication and it was where he, his wife and grand babies went to a resort park like Disneyland. There, he walked along the sand and trees, and it looked like Jerusalem. They went on a tour of all the places where Jesus had been, and he felt peace.
Brian went through rounds of treatment for the smoke and soot that had accumulated in his lungs. They estimated it was close to five pounds of debris they removed.
After they had allowed his wife to be with him, he improved dramatically. They weaned him off the medications, and his mind was freed from the impending hallucinations. The nurse X-rayed his lungs, and they were entirely clear, and they began the rehabilitation process. Every day was better, and he was even starting to speak and walk. Even his eyesight remained perfect after the entire trauma.
Being more aware now, he remembers the song “Untitled Hymn” by Chris Rice come on the radio. His wife was there, and he told the nurse to listen to the words and they all began to cry. The nurse spoke up and said she didn’t go to church and Brian replied that she needed to.
He befriended a young man while in the burn unit, who came from a dysfunctional family and didn’t have anything. He was there alone. When he found out, the collection that had been taken up for Brian and his family among the four hundred cards he received, he felt the Lord lead him to give it to the young man. Even in his recovery, God was using him to make a difference. He also hand-wrote a “thank you” note to everyone who sent him a card
Within a week after his wife was allowed to stay and the medications were adjusted, he was sent home. Determined, that Sunday after his release, Brian bundled up and relying on his family, was able to go to church. The next Sunday, he got up in front of the congregation and gave his testimony to God’s glory. His granddaughter was there and ran up to her Pappy because she hadn’t seen him since the event.
Brian considers his granddaughter his angel since the fire. The blanket that his wife wrapped her up in that night didn’t smell like smoke and didn’t have any dirt on it. He had been covered in soot, and so was his wife, but nothing was on his granddaughter.
“In my heart, I believe she is the reason I am still here,” Brian offered up.
“We sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ all the time over the phone. If I raise my hand, she knows to say, ‘Thank you, Jesus.’
“My other granddaughter, who is now six, I love her just as much.”
Having four kids and two grandchildren, he is just happy that he is able to watch them grow up and has never asked why these events have happened to him.
“The thoughts not even went through my head of why because the Bible says, all things work together for good for them that love God, and to those who are called according to his purpose,” Brian said.
After returning to his food truck, restaurant, and the catering, the opportunity came to open another restaurant and then another. He was healed, but due to how severe his injuries had been, he was not his old athletic self. The workload became too much, and they decided to downsize to only one restaurant with catering and continue the food truck.
“If I can’t give it everything I have, I don’t want to do it,” Brian declared.
“I prayed and opened the restaurants when I was supposed to and got to touch those people.
“There is nothing special about me. I got saved when I was a little boy and didn’t have any guidance. Jesus was always in my heart, and I can look back now and see it.
“I’m not perfect, but I do what I can to be right with God, and my grill is my pulpit.”
Brian and his wife have returned to the original vision from God of doing food trucks. They now have closed all the restaurants and are working on a second truck to hit more locations.
Interestingly, the sandwich board Brian puts out each morning in front of the food truck is very popular. Each morning he writes an uplifting word or scripture on the board. People have even just stopped by, not to eat, but to see his encouraging word for the day. He has even had a gentleman stop, out of the blue, and tell him that he saw angels around him.
“What do you say to that?” Brian asked as he teared up.
Find out more about Heavenly Hoagies, their hours, and food truck locations at www.heavenlyhoagieswv.com.
Hours: 11am – 6pm (except where noted)
|Monday||Anmoore at the Black Bear Express (1030am to 6pm)|
|Wednesday||Hundred at the State police barracks (11am to 6pm)|
|Thursday||Morgantown/Granville – at WVU Medicine – University Town Centre (just pass Sam’s Club/Walmart) (11am-2pm)|
|Friday||Charles Point at the Exxon (1030am to 6pm)|
|Saturday||Shinnston – across from Shop-n-Save (11am-2pm)
(When no Catering is scheduled)