George grew up in a pastor’s home in Michigan. His early years were spent in the Grand Rapids area where he enjoyed living in a great neighborhood with many friends and fun things to do. At age 11, he and his family moved to the Gladwin area where his father pastored a Baptist church and administered a Christian school. As a teenager, he gained practical ministry experience working with his youth pastor in a variety of activities such as preaching, teaching, and visitation. It during this time that George began sensing God leading him into ministry. He went to Baptist Bible College in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Pastoral Studies.
Amy grew up in Michigan and attended several Christian and public grade schools before her family moved to northern Michigan to work at a Baptist church camp. During Amy’s high school years she attended a Christian school, and during her summers she helped her mom in the camp office and kitchen. It was during those years she got a glimpse of what being in ministry was all about. After high school graduation Amy attended Northland Baptist Bible College and earned an Associate of Arts degree in Secretarial Science.
George and Amy were high school sweethearts; and after George’s second year of college, they were married on June 11, 1994. They knew there would be many years of schooling ahead for George since his end goal was a Ph. D. After college, George earned a Master of Divinity (1999) and a Master of Theology (2001) degree from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. It was also during that time they had two children, George David (1999) and Ashley (2000). Upon George’s completion of his Th.M. in 2001, the family moved to the Toronto, Ontario area for George to begin a Ph.D. program at the University of Toronto. In 2003, they had their third child, Alyssa, whom they referred to as their “Canadian Coon.” In 2005 George finished his final class for his Ph. D. Also in 2005, George was offered a position at Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary in Lansdale, PA to work in the library. They quickly got involved at Calvary Baptist Church, serving in the nursery and children’s ministries, and George taught an adult Sunday school class. George worked diligently to write his dissertation. Their children were 6, 5, and 2, and Amy was blessed to be able to stay home with them. Eventually George moved from his position in the seminary library to full-time professor. In 2009, he finished his dissertation and received his Ph. D.
In October of 2010, George resigned from the seminary due to a moral failure. This heart-breaking event led to George and Amy being separated for many months. During this time, God worked in George’s heart and slowly brought him to full repentance. Amy patiently waited on God, allowing Him to lead her and the children through this most difficult time. The Lord showed Himself faithful to George, Amy, and their children in and through the healing process, where they got a glimpse of how much God loves them and how amazing His grace is in their lives. The culmination of the healing process came in September of 2011 when George and Amy exchanged vows and restarted their marriage. Also in 2011, Amy went back to work full-time after staying home with the children for twelve years. She was very thankful to be hired at Calvary Baptist School to work in the administrative office. The Lord provided the job at the exact time she needed it, and the job has been perfect for her gifts and skills. She has enjoyed the visits from her children between classes.
In early 2015, as George started to feel God leading him back into ministry, he and Amy talked about what he would do. They began to pray that God would show them. In August of 2015 Amy told George she thought they would end up in missions, but she didn’t know where. Over the next couple months they had several conversations regarding what they might do and where they might go. In October they started to feel an unexplainable pull toward South Africa. Dave and Julie Rudolph, veteran missionaries to South Africa, were scheduled to be at their church later that month, so George and Amy arranged to have lunch with them. During their brief lunch the Lord seemed to confirm that South Africa was where they would go. In February/March of 2016 the Coon family took a survey trip to South Africa where George spoke twice at Lagoonside Baptist Church, taught an 8-hour expository preaching class, and led a weekly theology class. The family had the opportunity to visit the Township community and observe ministries going on there. Since their visit to Knysna, the Lord has continued to confirm He that wants the Coon family there to equip church leaders to reach their world. They plan to move to South Africa in August of 2017, and they are eager to watch the Lord provide the support they need to get there.
George David was born on January 26, 1999. He enjoys piano, video games, and reading. He serves in his church by accompanying the music team on the synthesizer and by assisting the tech team. At school he accompanies in concerts. During the summer of 2014 he went on a missions trip to Peru. While there his heart was drawn toward the possibility of serving on the mission field. He considered the possibility of working a non-vocational ministry job in a missionary context. Since the missions trip he hadn’t really thought much more about missions, but in retrospect, he now sees God’s plan for the next phase of his life. When the family moves to South Africa he will have just graduated from high school. He is planning on moving with his family to South Africa and serving with them for at least two years. He plans to attend university there and study business management. George David is most looking forward to becoming involved in the music outreaches of Knysna Hope.
Ashley was born on March 20, 2000. Ashley was born with severe hip dysplasia which required surgery on both hips as a baby. While the surgeries were successful at the time, as she grew one hip did not develop correctly. As a result, at the age of fourteen, she had major surgery to reposition her hip socket. During this time the Lord taught her that His plan is not always our plan. She realized that although it can be difficult to faithfully follow God’s path for her life, the surgery process taught her it is all worth it in the end. Learning this life lesson has enabled her to remain calm and trust God with her family’s future move to South Africa. Ashley enjoys volleyball, basketball, piano, photography, and graphic design. She serves in church by helping in the children’s ministries and also by accompanying the music team occasionally on the synthesizer. She has worked since 2014 in the after-school childcare and summer day camp programs at her school. Ashley has always desired to one day work with children. As she reached junior high she had the desire to be a missionary teaching English when she is older. At this time she is planning to pursue an early childhood education degree with a goal of one day working in an orphanage. During her junior year of high school, Ashley is hoping to help manage the middle school volleyball team at her school before moving to South Africa. She wants to use the skills she learns in this position to help start a city-wide volleyball program in Knysna.
Alyssa was born on July 9, 2003. She enjoys baking, writing, reading, volleyball, piano, crafts, and spending time with her best friend, Avarie. She also enjoys babysitting and helping in the children’s ministries at church. Following a special missions day at church in 2014, she expressed an interest to one day become a missionary. Alyssa was encouraged by her mom to tell the missions pastor at her church, which she did. In anticipation of our move to South Africa, Alyssa is most looking forward to participating in the feeding ministry to the children in the Township community.