For the second time this school year, a Judah student has been given the opportunity to speak at chapel. This time, the student was Braydon Mora.
Students speaking in chapel more often has been a positive change for Judah. The school has previously seen members of the GodTreks Adventure Club as well as senior students speak during chapel, often inspiring the student body, and the Judah community at large, by their testimonies. On January 25, Braydon Mora shared why he chose to put his trust in Jesus this semester.
Here is Braydon’s message:
Good morning, everyone. My name is Braydon Mora. Mr. Neethling and the chapel committee wanted me to talk to you guys about something that happened to me recently.
Before I get into it, let me get into some of my spiritual background. I grew up in a Christian household where God was never really the main priority. We still found time to go to church every Sunday, and before the pandemic, I attended youth group for as many Thursdays as I could. As I got older, my faith was growing slowly but surely, though I had not yet made the commitment to give my life to Christ.
That all changed when COVID hit. Like many people’s testimonies I’ve heard, mine includes a very deep plummet down. The pandemic was that moment for me. I was in seventh grade, and I was finally getting settled into middle school. The community of the school I went to was not positive. I was more focused on getting through the day and going home than I was on my school work, and my grades reflected that.
I also had to get used to a new way to attend church. All of a sudden, the youth group I had been getting close with was a website, and the only way to communicate was in a chat room. To me, this was not the same, and I slowly stopped attending. To make matters worse, my grandma, who at the time was one of the most important people in my spiritual journey, was locked in the house thirty minutes away from me. Looking back now, I realize just how much COVID affected me and my relationship with God.
After the pandemic was over, my parents made one of the most important decisions in my spiritual journey. That was to put me into Judah to start my freshman year. Right away, I felt an effect, but to be completely honest, I wasn’t able to get back to where I once was, and to get stronger, until this year. There are many reasons for this, and I’m going to take you through a few of the most important.
This year, I was able to make a much more brotherly love connection with my close friends and teammates on the basketball team. I feel like this connection has stemmed from everyone making their own improvements, not just in basketball but also as people. That has really helped us grow stronger together. To all you guys on the team, I would like to say just how incredibly honored and proud I am to call you guys my teammates and, more importantly, my second family.
Another thing that helped shape my commitment to Jesus was the addition of the new Bible teacher, Mr. Neethling. He was a huge help to me in making my decision to give my life to Christ, and for that I’m so thankful. Mr. Neethling, I’m not sure if I have told you this before, but if I have, you deserve to hear it again: thank you for what you do for me and the people here at Judah. Not to go on and on about how great Mr. Neethling is, but for me, his Bible class has empowered me to go home and tell my family what I’m learning. It’s even inspired my family and me to attend church regularly.
Another thing that shocked me — and shocked many of my friends who made the decision with me to follow Jesus — was the passing of our beloved teacher, our athletic director, and most importantly our friend Mr. Miller. His death really put into perspective for me what he was trying to teach and show everyone at Judah: that the most important thing you can do with your time on earth is give your life to God and let Him forever change your life. Mr. Miller’s death really made me take a step back and look at how my life was to this current moment. It made me ask myself, would I go to heaven if I passed away today? I had to be honest with myself, and I’m going to be very honest with all of you. I found myself answering that question with a hard no. This led me to make the decision to give my life to God, and it felt like there was no better time to make that commitment than with my brothers on the basketball team during Mr Miller’s chapel.
Something I want everyone to take away from my story is that I’m not completely sure what the future has for me. Not tomorrow, next week, or next year. However, I have confidence that by patiently and honestly seeking God’s will, the future is taken care of.
I never would have guessed that the first week of this semester would change my life. And I wouldn’t be finished if I didn’t tell you guys a little about how Jesus is already changing my life, about how He is being real to me right now. First, I feel God has been gently challenging me to use and grow my gifts when it comes to being a leader. I have been having so many more meaningful conversations with my friends and peers about God. This was not happening in the past. This has been a great thing for my friend group, because it’s bringing us closer together in a positive way.
Second, I have noticed that Jesus is changing the way I pray. After I gave my life to God, I almost immediately became so much more thankful for everything around me. Even with the negatives, I have been able to think of everything as a gift of God. Another thing I have noticed about my new prayer life is that I am no longer just asking for things. I am no longer saying things like “oh, I wish I had this” or “I want that.” My prayer life is more genuine, and that is a huge reason why my relationship with God is growing.
Third — and I can’t quite explain it — it’s like I can sense God nudging me away from acts of sin. This has already had a huge impact on me. It’s almost as if I hear a voice in my head telling me “you know you shouldn’t be doing this” or “go do that.” For example, when I was asked to share my story at chapel, I was very nervous. In my head I could hear myself saying, “There’s no way you’re going to be able to do that. You don’t even like standing in front of the class.” But then there was a voice in my head telling me, “Braydon, you can do this. Be proud of your story, and don’t shy away from this opportunity.” This is why I was able to stand up here and tell you guys my story.
And that’s it. That’s my story. So far at least. There’s more to come; I am sure of that. What I challenge you all to do is to ask yourself the honest question, “Do I really know Jesus? Has He saved me? If not, what is holding me back?” Let me leave you all with a verse, Luke 15:31-32: “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
With every student who speaks at chapel, Judah as a community grows. Mrs. Olauson, a member of the chapel committee, speaks to the value of adding variety into the school’s formula for chapels: “I think it helps the Judah community grow immensely. You guys can share things with one another that if a teacher shared would just be different. We need students sharing to foster community.” Mr. Moxley sees the combined leadership of students and teachers working together. He sees discipleship being taught: “One of the things we want to do is disciple others. We want students to learn how to share their testimony. We want them to reach others for Christ, and that’s something that’s really important as far as our mission goes.”
Chapel is becoming a time when students can share their testimony with others, an opportunity that many in the Judah community hope continues to be seized by those with a passion for sharing what Jesus has done in their lives. As chapel committee member and Newsroom editor Mr. Himick puts it, “Our hope is that one day, a student speaking at chapel will be so common that there’s no reason to publish the story in an article.”
—Talon Fazio, class of ’24