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New Caledonian Footballer Shares How He Became a Mormon

In the middle of what had become his 'normal' life, something was stirring inside Loka.

Even though he was playing football, a game that he loved, Loka Manuopuava started to feel something in his life was missing.

Playing for the Flying Foxes in Noumea, New Caledonia, his life was occupied by the game, the celebration parties that included smoking and getting drunk and sometimes street fighting.

He knew his choices had distanced him from his wife and two daughters.

In the middle of what had become his “normal” life, something was stirring inside Loka. He was slowly beginning to understand that even though his dreams of playing football were being realised, even though he had the notoriety of being a recognised football player and despite having a brotherhood of friends who shared the same interests, there was an emptiness that had become too obvious and pronounced to ignore.



During this time of self-examination he began to notice that there were men on his team who celebrated with the other team members, but did not smoke or use alcohol. They were not vocal about it, but were quietly influencing him by their good-natured and quiet ways of celebrating victories without the raucous behaviour.

This same group of men also called the team together at the beginning of each game to pray for success and safety. Everyone on the team participated by bowing heads and taking a knee.

He was drawn to their quiet but strong ways of living and found himself wanting to spend time with them.

“It was during this time that I decided to look for God,” said Loka. “ I attended different churches and tried to incorporate the good things that they taught.”

Even though the original team was disbanded, these same great players and examples ended up with him on the new team he formed called the Tamatoas.

One weekend at a camp, Bobby Moutham, a player on the team, approached Loka and asked, “How come you are changing? We’ve all noticed that you are changing.”

Loka explained that he was searching for meaning in his life and he had been attending various churches. He asked Bobby what religion he was. It was then that Bobby revealed that he was a Mormon.

In September of 2017 after a discussion on the miracles of Jesus Christ, Loka accepted an invitation to attend church with the Mormon players.

His wife, Anne, was not excited about the invitation, but felt prompted to attend with him despite her doubts. She and Loka felt welcome at the meeting, and were at peace with their decision to attend.

After being taught by his team members and the missionaries, the Manuopuava's were baptised members of the Church on December 23, 2017.


He has many opportunities to influence the young men and women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as he serves as a youth leader in his Mormon congregation.

Loka hopes that through his lay service he can help young people make good choices in their lives.

Watch a short video on the teachings of Jesus Christ.


Mormons believe that as Jesus Christ taught us to "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.." many times our examples become the best teachers.

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