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Coach preaches own funeral

March Madness came to its climax on Monday and Tuesday nights, April 6-7, when the University of North Carolina men’s team and the University of Connecticut Ladies’ team each won another National Championship.

Somewhat overlooked in all the excitement of the final regular games of the season and the following tournaments was the death of a renowned college basketball coach.

Kay Yow, the long time Women’s Coach for North Carolina State University died on January 24th after a 22-year battle with breast cancer. She was actively coaching into the 2007-2008 season. In 34 years, Yow, one of the most successful basketball coaches of all time, guided her teams to more than 700 victories, four Atlantic Coast Conference championships, 20 NCAA tournament bids and one appearance in the Final Four. In addition, she coached the gold-medal-winning U.S.A. Team during the 1988 Olympics.

But the most important thing to Coach Yow was her faith in Jesus Christ, not basketball. She made sure that this was communicated to the fourteen hundred persons attending her January 30th funeral at Colonial Baptist Church in Cary, N. C. The Pastor told the funeral congregation that Coach Yow, herself, had planned most of the elements of the Service, including a 20-minute video in which she personally articulated the Gospel and asked those watching to commit their lives to Christ.

She told how she had come to Christ through the ministry of a Campus Crusade for Christ leader who had built a relationship with her while asking repeatedly for an opportunity to speak to Yow’s team one day after practice. When Yow finally agreed, she, herself, was convicted by the Gospel message. “I knew that this was something that I needed to do, and that night I asked the Lord to come into my life,” she said.

On the video shown at the funeral, Yow quoted scriptures known as “the Roman Road” to salvation as follows. “For there is no difference (in people), for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22-23). “For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “But God has demonstrated his love for us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “If you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved” (Romans 10:9-10). “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). These verses explain the sin problem and how faith in Christ saves from sin.

“I pray that each of you will come to know Him as your Lord and Savior,” Yow said, looking directly at the camera. “And now I say farewell. And it’s been a wonderful journey, especially since the time I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.”

If you chose to leave behind a video to be shown at your funeral, this month, would you be ready to tell three things: (1) how you realized you needed Jesus Christ; (2) how you came to faith in Christ; and (3) what difference Jesus Christ made in your life? And a final question: Is your relationship with Jesus Christ so real and important and life changing to you that you would like to be a message and leave a message about Him to others?

–Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Saturday.