Canyon Springs High School sophomore Desi Coleman doesn’t go to football practice or hop on XBox Live when he gets out of school on Wednesdays.
Coleman goes to his North Las Vegas home and on to Greater Carver Missionary Baptist Church, 1221 J St., where he addresses the faithful at least once a week.
The 17-year-old youth minister, part of a churchgoing family whose members belong to three area congregations, is said to have preached his first sermon as a toddler.
Coleman didn’t give his first official churchwide sermon until he was almost 16 and said he gets nervous every time he steps to the pulpit in front of Greater Carver’s nearly 200-member congregation.
He shouldn’t, according to great-grandmother JohnEtta Mosley.
Preaching, she said, is in Coleman’s blood, and by her lights, he’s pretty good at it.
“He can preach a sermon,” Mosley said. “He doesn’t seem nervous, and he shouldn’t be. He doesn’t remember, but I was there when he preached his first sermon at 3 years old, so he’s been doing it a long time.
“I think it’s wonderful. I, at one time, wanted to be a minister; so it just runs in the family.”
When he’s not preaching, Coleman likes to stay involved in church-sponsored youth outreach initiatives such as the Nevada-California Interstate Missionary Baptist Convention.
When he’s not in class, he finds time to help run Canyon Springs High School’s youth bible study group and serve as a member of the school’s black student union.
Somehow, in between, he holds holiday coat drives.
Run out of his home, Coleman’s second annual church-sponsored drive aims to collect hats, socks, gloves and coats for area homeless through mid-November.
It was his idea. It’s just another example, Coleman said, of ways individuals and the church can help weave a stronger sense of community through neighborhood outreach.
“I got the idea from the lord, and we ran with it,” Coleman said. “Last year, I kept it within the church. This year, I’m trying to branch out to do more for the community because it seems like we’re lacking the love and support that we used to have.”
Coleman hasn’t read the entire Bible — he’s still working on the book of Job — but said he manages to find plenty of inspiration for sermons in his older family members.
“I was kind of forced to grow up as a child, and I’m ahead in my years,” he said. “I’ve always liked to hang around my grandmother, grandfather. I love hanging around with old people, and I think we should listen more to what the older generations have to say. They’ve been through enough now to know where they’re coming from.
“A minister should be a teacher before a preacher, and that’s what I try to do.”
Still a lay preacher, Coleman hopes to become a fully ordained minister before attending college and eventually law school.
There aren’t many preacher-turned-lawyers out there, but then again, there aren’t many 17-year-old youth ministers.
Mosley thinks it will be a fearsome combination.
“As soon as he gets both his certificates, the judges are going to step down and run away,” she said. “He’ll drive them absolutely nuts. They can’t handle a minister and lawyer like that. He’ll be telling them too much truth.”
Coleman is scheduled to accept donations for his holiday homeless coat drive from noon to 5 p.m. through Nov. 18 at 705 Miller Ave. or 2821 Dogwood Ave.
For more information, contact Coleman at 702-788-1187 or email@example.com.
Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter James DeHaven at 702-477-3839 or firstname.lastname@example.org.