A New Zealand rugby legend has joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jonah Lomu, a 37-year-old who played for the “All Blacks” rugby team, along with his wife, Nadene, joined the LDS Church earlier this year. The couple was recently featured in the New Zealand Herald and NZcity.co.nz for speaking at a church-sponsored devotional last summer.
When he was 19, Lomu became the youngest player to suit up for the “All Blacks.” An article on newzealand.com details how Lomu first gained international recognition at a 1994 rugby tournament in Hong Kong and recaps his career. A year later in the World Cup tournament in South Africa, Lomu gained popularity, fame and respect by scoring seven tries in five matches despite losing the championship game to the host Springboks. Lomu is portrayed by Isaac Feau’nati in “Invictus,” a 2009 Clint Eastwood movie about Nelson Mandela and the South African rugby team.
Lomu scored 37 tries in 63 tests for New Zealand between 1994 and 2002. His health deteriorated in the late 1990s due to a kidney illness. He received a transplant in 2004 from a radio host in Wellington. Lomu made a comeback to professional rugby in 2005, but his body eventually rejected the donated kidney in 2011. He now undergoes regular dialysis treatment while he waits for another kidney donor.
Lomu retired in 2007 and was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.
After they were baptized, Lomu and his wife spoke to church members about their new faith last June. According to Mormonnewsroom.org, the Lomus spoke about how their faith in Jesus Christ and membership in the church has helping them personally and as a family.
“Lomu said that despite some of the choices of his youth, he always remembered what his mother had instilled in him, especially that he needed to pray to the Lord for guidance,” the article said. “He said that missionaries from the church helped answer questions he had been asking for many years and that he and his wife felt that the gospel was right for them and their family.”