L.J. Brooks, a popular and influential student leader at Ouachita Baptist University, died unexpectedly Dec. 2 following a brief hospitalization at Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock.
Brooks, 21, was a senior Christian studies and Biblical languages major in Ouachita’s Pruet School of Christian studies. An assistant pastor of Fellowship Church in Arkadelphia, he also served for the past three semesters as a ministry leader and speaker for Ouachita’s weekly Refuge worship service. He also served as ROMS (Reaching Out to Multicultural Students) chaplain and was involved in WOW (Welcome to Ouachita’s World) and Tiger Serve Day.
“L.J.’s life has impacted our campus like few ever have,” said Ouachita President Rex Horne. “This talented and committed young man will not be forgotten.
“In the midst of our questions is the sure word that L.J. is not dead but lives,” Dr. Horne added, citing Jesus’ words in John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
“L.J. was one of those remarkable people who seemed to be able to encourage and to uplift everyone he encountered throughout each day,” said Dr. Danny Hays, dean of the Pruet School of Christian Studies. “This was true for professors, staff and students alike. During the three and a half years he was here at Ouachita, he made a huge positive impact for Jesus Christ on hundreds of people, always encouraging them to love the Lord more faithfully and to serve Him more obediently. We will truly miss him but we are thankful to have known him.”
“A lot of people on campus thought of L.J. as the Refuge speaker,” said James Taylor, director of campus ministries. “If rumor got out that he was speaking at a particular service, people would make sure to attend. While he was a great speaker, the image that sticks with me is of L.J. loading garbage bags into his trunk after one of our events. Someone had to take the trash out and he didn’t think too much of himself to drive it to the dumpster himself. Jesus said, ‘Whoever wants to be great among you must become your servant.’ L.J. was truly a great servant of God.”
More than 200 students, faculty and staff gathered for a Sunday afternoon prayer service in Berry Chapel on the Ouachita campus.
Brooks “was deeply loved as evidenced by your presence today,” said Dr. Scott Jackson, associate professor of Christian ministries. “He’s going to be deeply missed, but what an inspiration.
“L.J. is with the Lord,” Dr. Jackson said. “Even if he were given the chance to come back, there’s no way he would come back. We can celebrate that. That’s the hope of the gospel. I Thessalonians 4 tells us that we do not grieve as the rest of the world who have no hope. We grieve, yes. We’re deeply burdened and saddened, but we grieve with hope – the hope is in Jesus Christ, the hope is certain, the hope is that we will one day see Jesus again, with L.J., and we will celebrate life everlasting.”
Brooks’ roommate, Kevin Coleman, a senior Christian studies and philosophy major from Katy, Texas, told fellow students, “L.J. would want for us to continue to praise God because that’s what his life was about and that’s what our lives should be about and that’s what the Holy Spirit empowers us to do.”
Brooks, who is among students featured in Ouachita’s current “Discover the Ouachita Difference” DVD, summed up his Ouachita experience by affirming that his professors “don’t separate the mind from the heart so what we study is great information, but they make sure that we apply it to our lives and we’re really affected by it.”
Following graduation from Ouachita next May, he had planned to pursue a Master of Divinity degree from Duke Divinity School, with ministry goals of serving as a church staff member and adjunct professor.
In addition to the words of reflection during the prayer service, students and faculty members posted dozens of tributes to Brooks on social media sites, highlighting his leadership and influence. Among the many tweets posted were:
“If there was one person who had an impact on everyone on campus here at Ouachita, it was L.J. Brooks. A man of faith, integrity and love.”
“Praying for my Ouachita family today as we mourn the loss of a great and Godly man who impacted everybody around him! @LJBrooks”
“I’m praying for the Ouachita community today. One life-changing student was called home – we may not know why, but we know his destination.”
“It’s apparent that L.J. was not only a difference maker in his life, but even in his death. Praying for his family and Ouachita today.”
“L.J. made an impact on so many people, including ones he didn’t even know. He fulfilled his purpose. #youwillbemissed”
“Earth has lost an incredible man, but Heaven has gained a saint. Thankful for the life of L.J. Brooks who practiced what he preached.”
A memorial service will be held Saturday, Dec. 8, at 11 a.m., at Fellowship of the Nations in Brooks’ hometown of Houston, Texas.