Two weeks ago in the café of the Yellow Box I had my very last conversation with Chad Cooke. It was Sunday night before the 5 pm service and we talked about basketball, faith, his girl friend Emily and the not-for-profit Charleston Hope he worked with during the Christmas season. Those were all things he loved. We talked so long I was late getting into church. I always enjoyed talking to Chad.
It was the next Tuesday before Christmas that he was playing basketball with his brother, David and friends at LifeTime Fitness where he suddenly collapsed and died. Chad was 20 years old. Chad packed more into those 20 years than most do in a lifetime.
This past Sunday I challenged people at COMMUNITY to live “questionable lives”; meaning that we should live lives so different than others that it makes them curious and ask questions about us. Our lives should evoke questions like, “Why do you serve like that?”, “Why do you love like that?”, “Why are the quality of your relationships so good?”, “Why are you so generous with your time and money?” and so on. I used Chad as a very positive example of someone who lived a questionable life.
Steve Cochran, the morning host on WGN radio attends the Yellow Box campus of COMMUNITY in Naperville and is friends with the Cooke family. Yesterday he paid a brilliant tribute to Chad that is really worth listening to: Remembering Chad Cooke. Cochran explained to his audience how Chad lived a life far different than most 20 year old men. It’s understandable in situations like this to exaggerate the goodness of a life to make for a good and honorable tribute. However, in Chad’s case the stories are no exaggeration. He was a college student that challenged pastors to join him on a mission trip to Haiti. Rather than entertaining himself, he gave of his time and raised funds for Charleston Hope to make sure kid in local under-resourced neighborhoods had presents at Christmas time. After walking on and making the College of Charleston basketball team he consistently invited his teammates to the church where he was a leader. His teammates referred to him as a “man of God.” Chad would regularly have lunch with a special needs student that others ignored just to make sure he felt included. Like so many, I loved Chad, was saddened by his death but inspired by his life. Chad makes me want to live a more questionable life!