I (Brian) am here in Oklahoma City, OK for the D1 Wrestling National Championships. One of the guys I work with, Nestor Taffur is here competing in the 157 weight class. It’s been so fun knowing him over the last 5 years.
Nestor after his 2nd match yesterday.
Here’s my e-mail back and forth with him:
It has been so much fun to watch you grow and develop as a wrestler and as a man of God over the last 5 years. I’m so happy to be able to celebrate with you. I wanted to send you the text of the story you shared at our dinner a couple years ago. You have now reached the pinnacle of the sport. And I see how the gospel has affected your life on and off the mat. Way to go. What a privilege it’s been to be part of your journey.
I really appreciate you being here. It’s very encouraging to have all of you be part of this journey. I’m excited to compete tonight in front of my family, friends, wrestling community but most importantly before God!
And here’s what Nestor shared a couple years ago:
“Good evening everyone, my name is Nestor Taffur and I’m a member of the BU wrestling team. I am here today to share a little about my story. Prior to becoming a follower of Jesus, my identity was heavily invested in the sport of wrestling. Winning matches and reaching the pinnacle of the sport meant everything to me. Every time I stepped on the mat, I was representing myself and wrestling for my own personal glory. My performance was a big part of how I measured myself because I believed that it was the only way to gain approval of others. It wasn’t until the passing of my grandfather, where I started to question the spiritual life and the meaning of life altogether. I began to notice that I was living life to my own terms and that there was something missing. There had to be more to life than just the physical existence.
“I arrived on campus my freshman year as a member of a D1 wrestling team and wrestling continued to be my identity. It was at one of our Sunday trips to church, a member of a college ministry approached my teammates and I with a chance to get involved. Looking back, this chance was no coincidence. It was an opportunity that I knew I wanted to take because I still had many spiritual questions. It was around then when I started to meet with Brian Ellis and was able to learn more about the spiritual life and what it meant to really know God.
“I started to build a relationship with the Lord and he started to work in my life in ways that I didn’t know were possible. I learned more about his unconditional love for us even though we don’t deserve it. To have someone that cares for you so much regardless of the amount of times you neglect or reject them is truly something special. It really pulled me in to want to learn more. I also began to realize that it wasn’t all about winning or losing on the mat, that God had a better plan for us. He had equipped me with a set of talents that would serve as a useful source for something bigger.
“More specifically, our wrestling team has always been a very close set of guys that truly care for each other. The more I grew in my faith, the more I learned to care about my teammates in a different and meaningful way. I knew that the Lord wanted to use me to help them grow spiritually the way I had in my few years at college. I’ve been recently named one of the captains for the upcoming season and I see this as an opportunity to lead these young guys on and off the mat.
“This spring, I decided to start my own bible study within my own team. The first day I had planned, we had no guys show up and it was a bit discouraging. After more prayers, I gave it another shot and had 8 guys show up, half of which were not Christians. It was a great point in my spiritual journey and I started to truly see the shift in my identity.
“I know that I’m not perfect but my faith has helped me become the better person that I am today. Since I’ve received Christ into my life, I have joined a beautiful community that I have learned so much from. I will continue to use theses experiences and wrestling as a source to grow and reach out to others. For this I am grateful of the Lord and everything he provides in my life. Thank you for your time.”