Becoming a Champion for Christ


Coach Billy Kennedy tells the story of his spiritual growth and how he surrendered all to Christ and became a champion for Him.

My parents divorced when I was a boy, and after that, my mother started going to church. I went with her and when I was about 10 years old, or so, I went to the altar and prayed, asking Christ to come into my life. But it was out of fear, because I didn't want to “burn in hell.”

As I grew up, I continued to go to church with my mom, but I recognized that I was missing something. I wasn't totally committed to my faith. And when I went to Southeastern Louisiana, I never totally surrendered myself to following Christ.

"I recruited a devout Muslim"

When I was 30 years old and an assistant at Cal (the University of California), I recruited a devout Muslim. I recognized that the disciplines of their faith were a lot greater than mine. I didn't have that devotion and knew something was missing.

“I had a bad car wreck and totaled my car”

During that time, I had a bad car wreck and totaled my car. I felt like I was all torn up with broken ribs, and in the ambulance on the way to the hospital I prayed to God. I was asking for His help and telling Him that He could have all of me. I would follow Him completely from then on.

By the time I got to the hospital, I felt God’s grace come over me, and they found nothing wrong with me. I had totaled the car, but God had totally protected me. It was a miracle.

Not long after that, I was waiting in line to eat and struck up a conversation with the guy behind me. It turns out that he was the area director for AIA. I started meeting with him for spiritual training and we became really good friends. I began reading the Bible every day and totally surrendered my finances, my marriage, everything to God to follow Him. I was growing in my faith and seeking out God’s will in all areas of my life.

“My wife filed for divorce and moved five hours away”

Now some people think that after you become a Christian, life is easy. But about a year later, I went through several personal problems. My wife filed for divorce and she and our three kids moved to New Orleans, about five hours away. All this happened when I had to change jobs and was a young head coach at Centenary College.

But a year and a half later, I met my second wife and remarried. Now she and my five-year-old daughter travel with me.

As a coach, I've moved around a lot. But now every move I make, in every situation, I seek to serve God in all I do, love my players, and hope that they will see Christ in me—even with all my mistakes.

“I was a winner, but I wasn't a champion”

This year, I spoke to several different churches and groups and I talked about the difference between being a winner and a champion. Doug Collins [former NBA player] says the title of his autobiography should be, “Always a winner, never a champion.” Doug was on the controversial 1972 Olympic team that won the Gold medal, but then they had it taken away.

I truly believe I became a Christian when I accepted Christ into my life when I was young. I was a winner, but I wasn't a champion for Christ. I was just checking it off my list and I was missing out on having a deep relationship with God. I wanted Him to be in control of certain areas, but not all things.

When we do surrender all to Christ, we become a champion and special things happen in life. And when you face hard situations that come at you, you win those battles.

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Beyond the Ultimate
God Guides
Kelly Levatino
A Privilege to Suffer for Him
Dr. James Dobson
Giving Up Control
Beyond the Ultimate
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