Joe Brooks inspires me because he reminds me of Jesus. Not just because he has a beard. Not even because he was always the guy leading the resistant donkey down the ceter aisle of church on Palm Sunday.
Joe reminds me of Jesus because he has been following Jesus for a long time, and we begin to resemble those we love and imitate.
One of the main reasons Joe started coming to our church, College Hill Presbyterian, was that he and his wife Helen had a sense of call to racial reconciliation. When they first came, our church was almost entirely white.
Soon after Joe began attending many years ago, he had some tough experiences – like the time he put his hand out to the greeter at the door, and the guy would not shake hands with him. He turned away. That would have been the end of it for me, but Joe stayed because he knew God wanted him to stay. That’s another thing that makes Joe like Jesus; he forgives people when they’re mean and racist.
He has given so much to our church community – teaching, tutoring, leading men’s groups, helping with kids’ worship dance, serving twice as a deacon and as an elder, not to mention unofficial security guard whenever the situation calls for it! I’m so grateful for all he has been for us, and all he has done for us.
The family and friends of Joe and Helen Brooks have added considerably to the size of our church. I cannot imagine the place without them. They have eighteen grandchildren!
The other reason Joe reminds me of Jesus is how much he loves God. The love and truth of God is on his mind and on his heart, and he always eager to talk about God in a way that makes sense to his listener. If you ever get a chance to talk with him (when he doesn’t have a group of kids flocking around him) ask him what God is doing in his life, then get ready to hear something good!