The story behind the story…
17-year-old Brian Moore had only a short time to write something for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting. It was his turn to lead the discussion so he sat down and wrote. He showed the essay, titled “The Room” to his mother, Beth, before he headed out the door. “I wowed ’em.” he later told his father, Bruce. “It’s a killer, It’s the bomb. It’s the best thing I ever wrote.” It also was the last.
Brian’s parents had forgotten about the essay when a cousin found it while cleaning out the teenager’s locker at Teary Valley High School. Brian had been dead only hours, but his parents desperately wanted every piece of his life near them — the crepe paper that had adorned his locker during his senior football season, notes from classmates and teachers, his homework.
Only two months before, he had handwritten the essay about encountering Jesus in a file room full of cards detailing every moment of the teen’s life. But it was only after Brian’s death that Beth and Bruce Moore realized that their son had described his view of heaven. “It makes such an impact that people want to share it. You feel like you are there.” Mr. Moore said.
Brian Moore died May 27, 1997, — the day after Memorial Day. He was driving home from a friend’s house when his car went off Bulen-Pierce Road in Pickaway County and struck a utility pole. He emerged from the wreck unharmed but stepped on a downed power line and was electrocuted.
Brian seemed to excel at everything he did. He was an honor student. He told his parents he loved them “a hundred times a day,” Mrs. Moore said. He was a star wide receiver for the Teary’s Valley Football team and had earned a four-year scholarship to Capital University in Columbus because of his athletic and academic abilities. He took it upon himself to learn how to help a fellow student who used a wheelchair at school. During one homecoming ceremony, Brian walked on his tiptoes so that the girl he was escorting wouldn’t be embarrassed about being taller than him.
He adored his kid brother, Bruce, now 14. He often escorted his grandmother, Evelyn Moore, who lives in Columbus, to church. “I always called him the “deep thinker”, Evelyn said of her eldest grandson.
Two years after his death, his family still struggles to understand why Brian was taken from them. They find comfort at the cemetery where Brian is buried, just a few blocks from their home. They visit daily. A candle and dozens of silk and real flowers keep vigil over the gravesite.
The Moore’s framed a copy of Brian’s essay and hung it among the family portraits in the living room. “I think God used him to make a point. I think we were meant to find it and make something out of it,” Mrs. Moore said of the essay. She and her husband want to share their son’s vision of life after death. “I’m happy for Brian. I know he’s in heaven. I know I’ll see him again someday.” Mrs. Moore said. “It just hurts so bad now.”
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there. On May 27, 1997, Brian Moore, a 17-year-old student at Teays Valley High School, about 15 miles southwest of Columbus, Ohio, survived hitting a utility pole with his car, only to step on a live power line while exiting the vehicle. He was killed instantly. Hours after his death, his bereaving family found the story of “The Room” in his locker at school. The essay was read at his funeral and friends and family, in their grief, began forwarding it to others in earnest. It was published under Brian’s byline in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch on June 1, 1999.
Unfortunately, Brian did not write “The Room.” On June 2, 1999, the Dispatch, ran a follow-up piece in which they revealed that Moore was not the author. Rather, it was written two years prior by Joshua Harris, an author and, now, senior pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD. “The Room” was originally published in the Spring, 1995, issue of Harris’ “New Attitude” magazine.
In the Dispatch article, Beth and Bruce Moore admitted that their son, Brian, had told them he wrote the essay as an assignment for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “The Room” was re-printed in April, 1997 – just one month before Brian’s death – as part of Harris’ 1995 book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. “I’m positive he said he wrote this,” Brian’s mother is quoted as saying. “If he was here, I’d wring his neck.”