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Youth Pastor Witnessed through His Death

Ninie Hammon worked as a reporter for a small newspaper in Lebanon, Kentucky in 1988. On May 14th of that year, newspapers throughout the country carried the story of the bus crash where 24 children and 3 adults died in what was called "the worst drunken driver accident in Kentucky" history.

The bus carried the youth group of the First Assembly of God church in Radcliff, Kentucky. Though Ninie did not cover the story, many of her friends were reporters in the county where the children were from.

Witnesses who survived the crash told of one particular passenger, Chuck Kytta, the youth minister of the church. Chuck was seated in the front of the bus behind the driver, and when the gas tank exploded a heartbeat after the collision, he was instantly encircled in flames.

When Chuck saw the flames around him, witnesses said, he looked up, lifted his hands and cried out, "Jesus, I'm coming home!" Some of the kids said he was smiling.

Ninie wrote, "I was not a Christian, so I couldn't make any sense of what Chuck did. Here's this guy so cool a bunch of kids call him "Banana," standing in flames moments from a horrible death—and he's smiling?"

No matter how hard she tried, Ninie could not erase from her mind the image of Chuck. Ninie wrote, "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 would come to Christ. She says, "Chuck Kytta planted a seed in me that took root in my heart. One day, I will see Chuck in heaven. I'll tell him how the manner of his death pointed me toward eternal life."

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