Joe Rokocoko

Joe Rokocoko
Left Winger

Being Fijian, my family and I always went to church and Sunday School. I went, but I didn’t really think about why we were going. My parents never told us the reason we went on Sundays. I believe they thought I would understand from the youth leaders and Sunday School.

I started to be noticed for my rugby by being selected to the New Zealand Sevens Team in 2002. There was a very loose culture on the Sevens Team and I got involved in drinking with the boys. I then moved on to making New Zealand U21’s Team. During the quarter finals in South Africa I broke my leg. My first thought was, “Please Father, protect me!” I cried out to God, but up until then I was thinking I could control things my way with my rugby. As I was sitting at the airport to come home, an old man was staring at me. He stood up from his seat and said, “Don’t worry, God will still bless you and He’ll forgive you for whatever you’ve done. Just have faith in Him.” After that I started to pray and thank God for where I was in my career and for Him to heal my leg. After 1 ½ months into my expected 3 month recovery, I was listening to gospel music. I had a sense that God had healed my leg and I took off the boot the doctor had me wear for recovery. I started to jog in place and had no pain at all! It was all about my faith in God and I was surprised how little faith I can have and God still answered my prayer. My leg was completely healed and I returned to play rugby 1 ½ months early!

My career took off with the Super 12 for the Auckland Blues in 2003. After that I made the All Blacks for the first time. I then played my second season with the Blues in 2004 and was selected for the All Blacks again. My career was going great, but my spiritual life was going up and down.

At the end of 2004 I realized I had to do something about my spiritual life. I knew a church youth leader and I asked him to help me. I knew I wanted to get my life right with God. He told me he was leaving the next morning to go overseas at 4 am. I didn’t care and I met him at an airport café and I prayed with him to give my life to Christ. From that point on, God put me in many situations with other Christians to help me grow in my relationship with Him. God proved to me how strong our prayers can be and how faithful He is if we’re patient. I always give thanks for all He has done for me. I still have struggles from time to time, but God is there to give me the strength and help me through them. I don’t have to worry any more!

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My favourite verse from the Bible that has really helped me is Isaiah 40:30-31. It says, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.