Had you ever heard of Jason Ray? You’ve probably seen him more than once but you never knew it. His life may have never touched yours, but his death will touch many…
Jason Ray was a 21-year-old senior at UNC-Chapel Hill and was majoring in Business Administration; his minor was Religious Studies. He was an active member of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and performed as the lead singer of a band he and some friends started in high school. Jason also played Rameses, the Carolina mascot.
Jason was also considered to be a committed Christian. Hear what some have said about him:
"Friends said the one thing Jason may be even more passionate about than the Tar Heels is his faith. He attended Concord Christian Church and was a member of the youth group. Sunday morning, senior minister Mike Wood (Jason’s pastor) led his congregation in a prayer for Jason’s recovery."
(another article read) "And now Ray’s friends are taking a cue from Jason himself. For three years, his job during the game was to give hope to Tar Heel fans. Now his fans said they’re not giving up hope on their friend", (many gathered on campus for prayer vigils).
(another article) "We’ve known Jason since he was 11 years old — he is an awesome kid," said Jodi Stewart, a neighbor of the Ray family who attends the same church in Concord. "I never knew a kid who was more full of life. He was excited every day. He loved what he was doing, he loved God, his family, and being the school’s mascot. We have not given up hope."
You know, stuff like this is tough; to see a 21 year old student who seemed to have the ability to make a difference die doesn’t seem to make sense. Adam Lucas wrote, "What do you say when your kids ask you why Rameses is on TV? Mascots don’t die. And neither should college kids." No Adam, they shouldn’t, but..
This morning I told Keyna that Jason Ray, the Carolina Mascot (we’re big tar heel fans, if you didn’t know) had died. I commented, "According to what the news is saying, he was ‘sold-out’ to JESUS."
Keyna responded, "Really? You know, why is it that something terrible like this happens to someone who loves the Lord?" to which I replied, "I don’t know; but I’m pretty sure about this: many lives will be saved (spiritually) because of his death. It said on the news that there was a memorial service planned for him at the library on campus tonite. If he loved the Lord like they said he did, chances are somebody’s gonna tell these kids the truth about Jason’s faith and why they liked him so much – the presence of JESUS that lived inside of him."
And that’s the deal, isn’t it? God gave this 21 year old kid some fame by playing the mascot of one of the premiere Division 1 NCAA basketball teams. Students knew him (or about him) – fans loved his character. And on Sweet 16 weekend, as America watched his team play on National tv, the announcement was made during that game that he was critically injured when he was hit by a car earlier. Had this happened any other time during the year or the season it would have been regional news – but because of "March Madness" the impact was HUGE!
I am praying (and believe) that Jason’s life will make an eternal difference this week as friends, fans and students celebrate his life. I didn’t know him, but it seemed that his life belonged to JESUS – now, in death that message will be the crown that impacts other lives for all of eternity; That’s how God is:
He gives us the ability to increase His fame, that many will know and be impacted by his life. If Jason’s death brings this much glory to God, IMAGINE THE IMPACT THAT YOUR "GOD-FOCUSED" LIFE CAN BRING TO HIM.
Get out those fingers… (I realize that if you didn’t hear my message "Live Like You Are Dying" you’re saying, "huh?’)