Last Monday afternoon, I received one of those phone calls. You know the type – the ones bearing the sort of bad news that abruptly pours over you like a cold rain.
The call was from a Liberty University student, Corey Noseworthy, who informed me that two vans carrying our university lacrosse team (and Corey) had crashed near Mobile, Ala. Many players and Coach John Westfall and his family had been injured, he said.
I felt an immediate surge of helplessness as I tried to console Corey and encourage him to remain calm in spite of the dire situation.
The scene of the accident was horrific. Three students who were trapped underneath one of the vans were screaming out for their teammates to help them. By God’s grace, the boys were able to lift that huge 15-passenger van off their friends so that they could escape. Two others were pinned underneath the 18-wheeler with which they had collided.
One of the players, Chad Gurney, was critically injured and flown by helicopter to the University of South Alabama Medical Center. Another student, Ryan Leaming, was also seriously injured. Several of the players experienced lesser injuries such as broken bones and severe lacerations and were transported by ambulance to area hospitals. Coach Westfall and his twin 8-year-old sons traveling with him suffered significant injuries, including broken bones.
Later that afternoon and into the evening, Liberty pastors and officials contacted the coach’s wife, Lisa, and families of the involved players. We arranged for a university plane to fly three Liberty pastors and deans to Alabama. En route, we picked up the coach’s wife in South Carolina and flew her and our officials to Mobile.
Our pastors and deans are still in Alabama because the coach, his twins and Chad Gurney are still hospitalized there. However, we have flown all of the boys who were uninjured or treated and released from area hospitals back to Lynchburg on two separate flights.
I was so proud of all of the boys. That night on area news broadcasts, several of them were seen discussing the crash and offering praises to their Savior for seeing them through what could have been a deadly accident. The boys were heartbroken that they had to leave their fallen teammates behind, but they have continued to be in touch with them through phone calls and conversations with their family members.
Chad Gurney has undergone two operations, one to repair his shattered leg and another to mend broken vertebrae in his back. The Liberty community has been in constant prayer for them and the entire team during this time of suffering. We shall forever be grateful to the University of Mobile and its president, Dr. Mark Foley, for literally adopting our students and their families this week. Mobile-area churches have done the same. We have observed the family of God, most of whom we have never met, closing ranks around our wounded Liberty athletes.
Life is brief
It is during times like these that I am reminded of a pertinent and powerful verse in the Bible. It reads: “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14, NKJV).
After living more than 71 years, I can candidly state that the days have quickly passed by. Consequently, the longer I live, the more passionate I feel about ensuring that people are prepared to stand before Jesus Christ when their lives are over. This situation reminds me that none of us is promised a tomorrow.
Over the years of my ministry, we have published millions of copies of a powerful booklet titled, “The How To Book: God’s Principles for Mending Broken Lives.” It reveals many keys to living a fulfilling life of faith in Jesus Christ. We have given out these booklets, free of charge, through the years with the hope that they impact people’s lives.
The truth is that, like the Liberty lacrosse team learned, life can be quickly transformed from a series of delightful days into a blur of confusion and despair within an instant. It behooves us to be spiritually prepared for the one certainty of life – death.
I encourage everyone reading this column today to seriously consider this fact and to ask himself or herself if they are prepared to stand before the God of the universe when the vapor of this life is over. If you feel that you are not ready to meet God, I encourage you to contact this ministry to get a copy of “The How To Book.” There is no fee for the book. It is a gift from me to those friends who want to know more about the Bible and what it says about this life and matters of eternity. God has a plan for everyone and this little booklet will let you know how you can experience a life in harmony with Jesus Christ.
To order “The How to Book,” simply call toll free: 800-628-7972 or visit falwell.com.