By Jordan West

CLEVELAND, Ga., TMNews – A native of Clarkesville, Ga., Truett-McConnell 2015 alumni Jake Brooks never expected he would have received his bachelor’s degree from a school so close to home. As he currently works on obtaining his master’s degree from Piedmont College, Brooks is still floored by the journey God brought him through to reveal his life’s calling, lasting friendships, and his future wife.

Lifelong reminders of God’s grace

“I’ve grown up in Clarkesville all of my life, and I have attended Bethlehem Baptist Church my whole life – my parents, grandparents, everybody.”

“I grew up in the church and my parents always taught me what right and wrong was and what sin was,” Brooks recalled. “I learned that sin was something everyone struggled with, and I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.”

Brooks explained, “I was young, but I was able to understand the concept that I was a sinner, and that I needed grace. It’s such a basic concept, but that’s what you really need to know to understand salvation.”

Discovering a call of ministry through missions

He emphasized the value of discipleship in his life, and said, “We had a new youth pastor who came in when I was in the eighth grade. He really took my group of friends under his wing, and really discipled us.”

Brooks continued, “It was then when I really learned how to grow with God, and what it meant to grow closer to Him, and become more like Him, and to share Him with others. Being a witness for Christ was something I truly started to grasp as I went into my high school years.”

“During my senior year of high school, I decided that I wanted to go into ministry. I had been on several mission trips with my youth group, and I was excited,” Brooks said.

Brooks knew he wanted to serve the Lord and play sports, and he said, “Ministry and sports are my passions, and so that was my plan when I went to Emmanuel College. I was going to get a degree in business and go on to seminary.”

Beginning the college experience

He headed to Franklin Springs, Ga., to begin his freshman year. He remembered, “I went to Emmanuel College, where I played golf for two years, and I studied business there as well.”

While he enjoyed his time at EC, he felt as if he would be happier elsewhere. Brooks explained, “After a few years, I decided to stop playing golf and transfer to a school closer to home where my best friend was.”

Brooks transferred to TM as he started his junior year, and he said, “I heard about Truett-McConnell from my best buddy, Justin Haynes, and from Jonathan Morris [TM’s Director of Student Development]. He was my Sunday School teacher at the time, and he really helped me get more information about Truett-McConnell.”

Serving in the church and on the court

Brooks explained how coaching a local basketball team opened his eyes to what God had in store. He said, “When I started at TM, I was still on track to get a business degree and go to seminary, but in the spring of my junior year, I coached a local basketball team, and it was a blast.”

“I had a really good time,” he continued. “God just really placed a desire in me to be around basketball again. I had played in high school for four years and growing up. I had a hard time at first reconciling that I felt called to do ministry, but that I also had a strong desire to do something with basketball.”

Brooks prayed and sought wise counsel. He expressed, “After talking with friends and praying through everything, I realized that there was no need for the two to be separated – that I could do both ministry and basketball.”

His passions started to make sense together, and he said, “It was at that time when I decided I would pursue being a college basketball coach, because I felt that God gave me a desire to coach basketball and work with young people as a platform to share Christ.”

Brooks shared, “Everyone has their platform to share Christ, and basketball is mine.”


Basketball at the collegiate level

Brooks stated, “That summer, Truett-McConnell hired a new basketball coach, Coach Yeh, and I got in contact with him about being a student assistant coach my senior year. I started working with the men’s basketball team that summer and worked with them throughout the year.”

He said, “I thought I would have a hard time relating to the guys at first, since it had been awhile since I had been around basketball and working with a team.”

These reservations were quickly resolved. He continued, “Once I got back into the flow of being with a team, you of course want to win games, and that’s one of the goals, but I think what goes further than reaching those goals are the relationships you make.”

Brooks said, “Relationships go beyond the four years you have with them as a player, or the year you have like I did when I was at Truett-McConnell.”

He was impacted by TM’s head coach. He said, “Coach Yeh really showed me what it meant to build relationships and trust with the players.”

Branching out on campus

Brooks came to TM to begin his junior year with one friend, but left with lasting friendships and a fiancée. He said, “My time at Truett-McConnell really pushed me to branch out. I met a lot of new friends from TM through the college ministry at my church, and I actually met my fiancée, Courtney [Courtney Culpepper, TM senior], there.”

He expressed, “Branching out was uncomfortable at first, but I’m thankful God grew me in that way.”

Brooks added, “I never thought, coming out of high school, that I would end up at Truett-McConnell. I had grown up near it and heard about the school my whole life. I would never have thought that I would end up graduating there, to end up meeting my future wife there, and to end up making my best friends there – God definitely had His hand in it.”

Taking his experiences into a new setting

After Brooks graduated in May 2015 with a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Christian Leadership, he began working at Piedmont College as an IT graduate assistant and assistant coach for the men’s basketball team. There, he is studying to receive his master’s degree in business.

Brooks said, “Even though Piedmont College is not a Christ-centered school like TM, I can still take the same principles I learned with Coach Yeh to build a relationship and trust, so you can get to the point where you can talk about Christ.”

His tactics to share Christ are specific. He explained, “With basketball, they have to first trust you as a coach, that you know what you’re talking about on the court. Once you’re able to build that trust and form a relationship, you have a platform to share Christ, and Coach Yeh taught me how that can be done while I was at Truett-McConnell.”

Brooks is thankful for the opportunity to do what he loves. He said, “It’s a different setting, but I get to work with great people and I still think that my purpose is the same.”

A fulfilling future

Brooks is looking forward to the exciting times ahead in upcoming years. He said, “I’ll definitely be at Piedmont for the next two years, until I finish my degree. I’m set to graduate in May 2017.”

He emphasized the busyness of this season of life as he and his fiancée plan their wedding. Brooks exclaimed, “At TM, I met Courtney, and that was the best thing to happen to me while I was there. We are getting married this summer.”

The two are trusting in God for the next step. Brooks concluded, “We don’t know what’s in store, but we are leaning on the Lord’s understanding and each other that God will point us in the right direction, whether it’s far away or close to home.”


Jordan is a senior English major and an intern for the Communications Department.

photo/Bailey Jarnagin/student intern

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