FILE – March 24, 2014, file photo provided by Harding University in Searcy, Ark., let Botham Jean, speaking at the university. Jean was fatally shot Sept. 6, 2018, by off-duty officer Amber Guyger who says that she mistook his residence for her own. The service for the 26-year-old Botham Jean will begin at noon, Thursday, Sept. 13, at a church in a suburb of Dallas after a public display. (Jeff Montgomery/Harding University via AP, File)
DALLAS – As his mother describes, Botham Jean was only a teenager when he presented a plan to evangelize the country of St. Lucia. He came up with a map of the small island nation, which he had deposited in 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 during college, and during his life in Texas. Jean was killed last week when a white off-duty police officer shot the 26-year-old in his own apartment.
A funeral is scheduled for Thursday at a church in a suburb of Dallas. The service will also be streamed live.
According to the court documents, Officer Orange Guyger, 30, saw his apartment for her own and thought that she is against a burglar. Guyger was arrested Sunday for the murder and has since been released on bond.
Jean the murder led to protests and outrage, and was a flash point in an ongoing national conversation about issues of race and enforcement of the law. But under the lofted ceiling of Jean’s church this past weekend, the story is centered on his life and legacy, as participants recalled memories of the man she knew as a passionate singer and a caring friend.
Allison Jean said that her son was 8 years old when he asked to be baptized, but was denied by his father. Jean tried again a year later, again without success. The third time he asked, Jean came up with tears in his eyes.
“Botham said: ‘Father, I want to be baptized. I want to be a Christian,'” she recalled the dozens of people sitting in the blue pews.
She also remembered how Jean found his way from St. Lucia Searcy, Arkansas, where he attended Harding University. There, he graduated in accounting and information systems before graduation 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 Harding University, which had a high cost. But Allison Jean said she later found the University of the West Indies never received an application from him.
Instead, Jean had his acceptance of Harding University and a proposal, said the high price would be justified because he could get an education while remaining within a religious community.
Todd Gentry, a minister at the College of the Church of Christ in Searcy, Arkansas, said Jean worked as his intern for three years.
“He gave the Lord, and he wanted you to care about the Lord,” Gentry said. Jean, he said, that the people feel good, 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 lights 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 that he was Jean the official coach at the company and began to think of him as a little brother.
“As much as he thought I was leading him, he was me,” he said.