The passing of a great mentor

I lost a hero today. In the past couple of weeks the internet has exploded with grief over lost controversial figures and then poured out remembrances of great entertainers. Today I lost a hero of mine.

He was a pastor. From my high school days on he took an interest in me and kept me close to him through decades of ministry. My parents went to his church in two separate time periods and he was a tremendous pastor to them. The past few years were hard on him physically and it was a slow goodbye. Today, he enters into his full reward.

But there is one story that fully describes to me who this man (Pastor Norman Brooks) was to me. My wife and I were just out of college looking for ministry opportunities. I talked to a district superintendent of a smaller district and he told me to go try out at a small church in his district.

This was before the days of cell phones and we were gone for a couple of weeks, so all we knew was to go to that particular town on that particular weekend and they would interview us and try us out as pastors. We arrived in the little town on the appointed Saturday night and I called the secretary of the board. She informed me I would NOT be trying out. I was welcome to preach, but I wasn’t trying out.

We were young and devastated. We turned a very hurtful evening into an evening of laughter and I went to the church the next day and preached in a way that made them WISH they had interviewed me.

When I got back to my hometown, Pastor Brooks called me. He was livid at the district and the church. “You want me to call someone? I know those guys! I’ll call them! This is wrong how they treated you!”

I thought he would just get in his car and drive the two hours to the district office to punch the superintendent in the nose!

That was Pastor Brooks. He watched over me. I could go and talk to him when I was planting a church and trying to figure things out. In the later years when my parents were attending his church, he made sure that if I was in town on a Sunday I would be preaching in his church. He always made a way for me.

The long goodbyes are tough. This one was tough. It was painful. I am thankful he has entered into the presence of the healing Savior. But my heart aches in a loss I will feel. One of my heroes has gone.

Pastor Norman Brooks. Eternal Memory.

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