by Roger Thomas

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Prepared for Death - Ready for Life (6 of 20)
Series: Forever Living in a Whatever World
Roger Thomas
Philippians 1:18-26

Introduction: In 1995, Ninie Hammon became the executive editor of The Southeast Outlook, a newspaper published by the huge Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY. A few years earlier, she wouldn't have believed she would ever work for a church. She wasn't a Christian back then. She didn't mind telling people she had no use for churches or religious people. All that changed in 1988.

At that time, Ninie worked as a reporter for a small town newspaper in Lebanon, Kentucky. On May 14, news headlines across the country carried the story of a horrific church bus accident. The bus's fuel tank exploded in a collision with a drunk driver. Twenty-four children and three adults died in the crash. Ninie didn't cover the story. However, she had several reporter friends in the county where the children were from.

Ninie's friends filled her in on what happened that evening. She couldn't get the story out of her mind. Witnesses told of one particular passenger, Chuck Kytta, the youth minister of the church. Chuck sat in the front of the bus behind the driver and right over the fuel tank. The flames instantly engulfed him. When Chuck realized what was happening, witnesses said, he looked up, lifted his hands and cried out, "Jesus, I'm coming home!" Some of the kids said he was smiling.

No matter how hard she tried, Ninie could not erase that image from her mind. Ninie wrote, ""I was not a Christian in 1988, so I couldn't make any sense of what Chuck did. The only way to explain how a man could calmly accept, almost welcome, a painful death was to acknowledge that he understood some great truth I didn't, that he had something--faith? hope? God, maybe? something!--I didn't have. And try as I might, I couldn't help yearning for whatever he had that made death a thing to embrace rather than to fear." Two years later, Ninie welcom ...

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