Actor Rodney Coe was in the midst of a budding stage career when a violent mugging left him with significant brain damage — a life-altering attack that nearly killed him.
Coe, who currently stars in Sight and Sound’s “Jonah,” was coming home from a party in New York City late one night when he said three guys approached from behind and beat him with a baseball bat, damaging both his face and his memory.
“After that mugging, I went from working large theater houses to working at a movie theater on Broadway … filling popcorn buckets, because that was the only thing I could do,” he said in a recent video. “I couldn’t fill the drinks, too many options, I couldn’t run the register, too many options, and I couldn’t complete a full sentence — and let me tell you: memorizing lines was out of the question.”
Perhaps one of the more painful elements of the ordeal was the dire impact the injuries had on Coe’s acting career.
Coe explained that, before the assault, performing had become a way of life for him after he started acting in school productions as a child. Over time, he came to love the craft and started to excel at it. Eventually, that love for the arts brought him to New York City, where his stage career took off.
But while Coe had grown up in a Christian household, he said his spiritual path deviated even before his horrific mugging. Two of the pivotal moments came when two buddies of his threatened to take their own lives.
“I didn’t believe either of them, because it wasn’t as clear in the moment, and they did (take their lives),” Coe said, noting that he soon started turning to drugs and alcohol as a result. “That rocked me. I started self-medicating. … because of those experiences early in life I didn’t really trust the Lord. Where was he in those moments?”
It was later on that the mugging unfolded, and Coe was left with a damaged memory — yet another tragic happening.
But while he lost so much, the actor said he started discovering God more deeply and profoundly after sustaining his injuries. Eventually, his perspective turned from seeing God as a Lord who makes bad things happen to a God who loves every man, woman and child immeasurably.
“I (realized I) had given my life to him, but I hadn’t loved him yet,” he said of his spiritual state. “From that moment on I never drank again. I never did drugs again.”
And Coe said his memory soon started to return and, as a result, he was once again able to get back into theater. Today, he’s headlining Sight & Sound’s “Jonah” production, helping to bring the biblical story to life.
“I know what it’s like to forgive…for the Lord to transform your heart and your life and to give you a new beginning,” he proclaimed.
Sight & Sound, which has theaters in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Branson, Missouri, works to bring epic biblical stories to the stage. Find out more about the amazing and entertaining effort here. Also, be sure to check out “Jonah: On Stage!” a special one-night only theatrical event that will take place on May 2.
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