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Summer 2005 | Volume 28, Number 2 | Athletics


Falcons’ No. 20 and Huskies’ No. 20 Team Up to Share Their Faith

On May 1, 2005, Seattle Pacific University women’s basketball point guard Amy Taylor ’05 joined forces with University of Washington women’s basketball guard Kayla Burt, and scored a victory — but not on the court. Burt, whose cardiac arrest three years ago made headlines, was invited to tell her story at a church in her hometown of Arlington, Washington. She asked Taylor, her close friend and fellow “basketball evangelist,” to join her. By the end of the service, 10 people had committed their lives to Christ.

Taking the Great Commission seriously, Kayla Burt (left) and Amy Taylor share the gospel on and off the court.

It wasn’t the first time these two guards — whose jerseys, coincidentally, both sport No. 20 — had teamed up to share their faith. There have been numerous other times and places, such as two summers before in Nice, France. It was a Saturday afternoon, and Taylor, Burt, and three others — including Taylor’s father and younger brother — had just played a basketball game against five of Nice’s top high school male players. “We pretty much whomped them,” claims Taylor’s father, who happens to be Wayne Taylor, senior pastor of Calvary Fellowship in Mountlake Terrace, Washington; author of Practical Christian Living and The Unsearchable Riches of Christ; and voice of the radio program “Consider Jesus.”

The real victory, however, occurred after the game, when Burt and Taylor shared their testimonies with the boys. “You could hear a pin drop,” says the elder Taylor, who stood back and watched. “The next day two of the guys showed up at church. That’s a 40 percent success rate!”

Today, Burt talks about her faith by relating her personal story. “God loves us more than we can fathom,” she tells audiences, “and wants nothing more than for us to love each other. No matter what we face in this life, he gives us the power and strength to overcome.”

It’s a message Burt understands at much more than a superficial level. Three summers ago, her younger brother was almost killed in a car accident. “He basically broke the whole right side of his body,” recounts Burt, “and he had a laceration right next to his carotid artery.” The family attributes his survival to God’s intervention.

Then, just a few months later, shortly before midnight on New Year’s Eve 2002, Burt suffered cardiac arrest. Her teammates saved her life (on any other night at that hour, she would have been alone), but when she awoke from her coma 15 hours later, she was told she would never play basketball again. Amazingly, on November 14, 2004, Burt returned to the game, a defibrillator surgically implanted in her chest. She went on to lead her team in scoring and assists.

Taylor, too, has experienced triumphs at a cost. In March, her uncle died from an AIDS-related illness. For the family, there was joy even in the midst of pain, because her uncle came to Christ just days before he died. Two years ago, Taylor’s mother was diagnosed with a recurrence of thyroid cancer, and a blood test in April revealed that the 24 months of radiation treatment that followed had been unsuccessful. Two hours after the blood sample was taken, however, God revealed to her that she had been healed. In July, a PET scan showed no trace of cancer.

In public appearances with Burt, Taylor shares her story through songs she has written for friends, accompanying herself on the piano: “If you just fall to your knees you’ll find what his amazing love will bring/You’ll find the Lord of Lords, the God above, the King of Kings/You’ll find a reason to sing to the unseen/And if you don’t believe me now, one day everyone will see/A light of such great magnitude you will fall to your knees.”

Between them, Taylor and Burt have earned a host of awards and recognitions. Taylor was named 2004 SPU Newcomer of the Year and 2005 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year, and helped lead her team to the 2005 national NCAA Division II championship game. This year alone, Burt received the national V Foundation Comeback Award and was chosen U.S. Bank Pac-10 Women’s Basketball Player of the Week and Everett Herald Woman of the Year in Sports.

When Taylor and Burt met five years ago at a basketball camp, Burt wasn’t a Christian, much less an evangelist. “I was led to the Lord by a simple question Amy asked me,” she explains. “She asked if I believed in heaven and hell. It grew silent in the car after that, but I could see Amy had something I didn’t have, and my curiosity drew me to church for four straight weeks before giving my life to the Lord. A year later I faced tragedy with a strength that wouldn’t have been possible without my resolute faith in Jesus.”

— BY kathy henning

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