(AP) – As his mother describes it, Botham Jean was only a teenager when he presented a plan to evangelize his home country of St. Lucia.
He came forward with a map of the small island nation, which he had sectioned off into pieces, and pointed to the communities he wanted to impact first.
“Botham did everything with passion … God gave me an angel,” Allison Jean said at a prayer vigil last weekend.
Friends and family described Jean as a devout Christian throughout college and during his life in Texas. Jean was killed last week when a white off-duty police officer shot the 26-year-old inside his own apartment.
A funeral service is planned for Thursday at a church in suburban Dallas. The service will also be streamed live.
According to court documents, Officer Amber Guyger, 30, said she mistook his apartment for her own and thought she encountered a burglar. Guyger was arrested Sunday for manslaughter and has since been released on bond.
Jean’s slaying sparked protest and outrage, and became a flashpoint in an ongoing national conversation over issues of race and law enforcement. But under the lofted ceiling of Jean’s church last weekend, the narrative centred on his life and legacy as attendees recalled memories of the man they knew as a passionate singer and caring friend.
Allison Jean said her son was about 8 years old when he wanted to be baptized, but was denied by his father. Jean tried again a year later, again with no success. The third time he asked, Jean came with tears in his eyes.
“Botham said ‘Dad, I want to be baptized. I want to be a Christian,'” she recalled to the dozens of people seated in the blue pews.
She also remembered how Jean found his way from St. Lucia to Searcy, Arkansas, where he attended Harding University. There, he majored in accounting and information systems before graduating in 2016, the school said in a statement.
She told Jean to apply to the University of the West Indies, but also gave the OK to apply to Harding University, which was expensive. But Allison Jean said she later found the University of the West Indies never received an application from him.
Instead, Jean had his acceptance from Harding University and a proposal, saying the high price would be justified because he could receive an education while remaining within a religious community.
Todd Gentry, a minister at College Church of Christ in Searcy, Arkansas, said Jean worked as his intern for three years.
“He cared about the Lord and he wanted you to care about the Lord,” Gentry said. Jean, he said, made people feel important, whether it was with a cup of coffee or a conversation.
Jean had been living in Dallas and working at accounting and consulting firm PwC.
Co-worker Kerry Ray said Jean lit up a room the moment he stepped in and described him as a selfless and caring man.
“This world has lost a light in the dark,” Ray said.
Ray said he was Jean’s official coach at the company and started to think of him as a little brother.
“As much as he thought I was leading him, he was leading me,” he said.