On August 22, 2022, one of SWO’s founders, Steve Coleman, went to be with the Lord. Steve, better known to the Snowbird family as, “The Big Kahuna,” was a man used by God to start a ministry that has now affected unknown thousands of people for the past two and a half decades. In light of his passing into the presence of our Savior, we wanted to take some time to celebrate his life and legacy.
The Big Kahuna was a larger-than-life personality with a contagious love for God and His Word.
He was an amazing storyteller, who was quick to laugh, and quick to cry. He loved others so genuinely that every student and staff at SWO knew they were loved, and he often reminded us of his love for us. His heart was so big that he didn’t believe in a “lost cause”. He never turned down anyone who needed his help, regardless of their past. He had a stubborn faith in God’s power. He could not believe that someone was outside of the reach of the Gospel. It didn’t matter if they stole his personal truck filled with all his tools. It would not stop him from believing that God could change their heart.
When I think of the way God used The Big Kahuna in establishing SWO I can’t help but thank God for how he chose the absolute perfect person to accomplish this task. Kahuna’s faith in God’s calling was so solid that he often ignored traditional “wisdom” so he could be faithful. Even before starting SWO, he left a successful, growing student ministry to be the chaplain at a poultry plant, just because he wanted to be obedient to the Lord. And with SWO, he had what I like to refer to as the Field of Dreams business model where he genuinely believed, “If we build it, they will come”. And he did, and they came. He was the quintessential visionary who sacrificed everything (including his personal inheritance) to be faithful to the calling God placed on his life.
He was the exact person we needed, who had such a bold faith, always ready to act first for the sake of the Kingdom.
Although he was the founder and CEO, he had an encouraging humility and wasn’t concerned with the spotlight. He could recognize God’s gifting on others and elevate them to a place where they could use their gifts to their fullest. He never saw himself as too important to mow the grass or scrub a toilet and for years the SWO “office phone” rang on a table next to his bed.
He was a loving father, grandfather, and friend. His life has left a legacy that will endure for generations. Even though we grieve his passing and will be missed we know that he is now in the presence of his Creator and Redeemer.
May we all aspire to emulate his bold, confident faith in the Gospel and strive to live this life to its fullest as we advance the kingdom of our Lord.
P.S. – We’ve renamed our camper scholarship fund the Big Kahuna Scholarship Fund in his honor.
Want to learn more about the Big Kahuna?
The Lord used Steve to start Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters and develop the culture and mission that still drives SWO today. In this fall 2022 episode, Brody shared what he learned from Steve over the years and shared specific testimonies of how the Lord used him in other people’s lives.