At a time when most high school graduates are preparing to go off to college, Brady Bortka, a recent graduate of Taylor High School in Katy, Texas, is preparing for his year as a Missionary in El Salvador, Malawi and the Philippines. Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing this exceptional young man. I would like to thank Brady for sharing his story.
Examiner: As a graduating High School Senior, you have decided to postpone starting college to work with The World Race. What prompted that decision?
Brady: A new perspective on life would be the short answer to that question. I had a really bad Junior year where I fell far away from God; however, at the beginning of my Senior year I came to know Him and recognize the outstanding love He has for me.
I spent the next few months seeking ways to witness for Christ while also praying for guidance. I was led to a mission program called The World Race. For the first time, I felt called to do something specific in my life. After weeks of additional research on the organization, I decided that I was not going to college this next year; but instead would take this exciting step of faith. After a month long process of strenuous applications and interviews I was accepted to the World Race Gap Year!
Examiner: In your blog, you compare yourself to a lost sheep. What was going on in your life then?
Brady: Throughout my Junior Year I had distanced myself from God. The majority of my decisions were being made based on worldly factors; I was not allowing God to play a part. I did not even consider that the Lord might lead me on a different path. At that point in time I was so far away from God that seeking a stronger and more meaningful relationship with Him wasn’t a thought.
Then events transpired which turned me back to God.
On August 1st, 2014 I put myself in a near death situation. I made terrible decisions regarding alcohol. That day, ambulance paramedics and emergency room doctors told my parents that if I had gone 15 more minutes without emergency care I would have died. I was comatose, having seizures, had my stomach pumped, and was hospitalized, unconscious, in intensive care. The Lord showed me his unfailing love through my Christian friends who stuck by my side. They helped save my life. Then they helped steer me back to God.
It took a while for me to apologize to all of the people who I had hurt and to realize I needed drastic change in my life. For the first time in a long time I prayed for help and direction…and I prayed hard. My Shepherd found me wandering and began to bring me home. I began to realize that the only way I could have a happy and meaningful life would be to spend it walking closely with God. Without Him, I was lost.
Examiner: How has God changed your life since then?
Brady: The Lord has completely showed himself to me. I have never been a happier person and it is all because of the love of my Lord and Savior. I find myself very passionate about showing others the power of our Lord’s love. Almost all of my friends now are amazing “Jesus freaks” and I love it.
Examiner: Tell me a little about the World Race and what you will be doing?
Brady: This mission program lasts nine months after an introductory two week training camp. I will be working for Christ in El Salvador, Malawi, and the Philippines (spending three months in each country). I have never been more excited and more sure of any decision I’ve made! My goal is to spread the love of God and the wonderful news that we have salvation through Jesus, through all types of mission work, doing anything and everything I can for the Lord. We do not know exactly what we will be doing until we get to the countries because we basically do whatever we feel like the Lord is calling us to do in the communities there.
Examiner: I see that you have met your fundraising goal. How did you achieve that goal so quickly?
Brady: I spent a long time researching and looking at past World Racers’ blogs trying to figure out what was most effective in fundraising for them. All of the blogs said “send out support letters to friends and family as soon as possible!” I spent almost two weeks writing a support letter that explained what I was going to be doing and why. At the end of the letter it explained how much money I would need to be fully supported for this trip and explained all the possible ways to donate. Then I spent another two weeks making a list of 160 families and friends and sent out the letters to all of them. After about a week and a half of sending out the letters I only had 150 dollars. That’s when I started stressing and I started praying a different prayer. Instead of praying that I would get all the money fast, I started asking God to show me a sign that he truly wanted me on this mission experience. Then within a matter of 3 weeks I was completely funded! Praise the Lord!
Examiner: Tell me about the emotional and spiritual support you have received from friends and family and your friends at St. Peter’s United Methodist Church in Katy.
Brady: I spent a long time writing a letter to my parents explaining my new idea of what I wanted to do. Even though they might have been a little skeptical at first they have given me their complete support. They have never been so supportive of something I wanted to do in my whole life. They are amazing examples of God’s grace and love. My friends from St. Peters are amazing supporters of what I’m about to go and do. The Lord has truly blessed me with amazing friends who stick by my side through thick and thin. Also, my youth leaders at St. Peters (Jason Trice, Jeremy Galasso, and Heather Harmison) have helped me more than I would’ve ever imagined. They have done so much for me and have been such wonderful emotional and logical support!
Examiner: Thank you so much for sharing your story. We look forward to hearing more about your journey.
For more information on The World Race visit www.worldrace.org. To read Brady’s Blog visit www.bradybortka.theworldrace.org.