Hoping for greatness in rugby left young Kiwi-Australian Orion Ka exhausted and desperate for true satisfaction.
After years of strict training and dieting in hope of becoming a rugby professional, Orion explains: "I still did not make it, and I literally bawled my eyes out for days."
In the Maori and Cook-Island culture of New Zealand there is a strong tradition of playing rugby and Orion felt the pressure to do well.
When his father introduced him to rugby as a boy, playing the sport soon replaced going to church on Sundays.
Over time Orion says he departed from his childhood belief in God and nothing changed when he moved to Australia with his family at age 17.
"I'm not going back to church," he recalls thinking to himself, "Why would I? I've got rugby league. I could be anywhere, doing my thing. Why on earth would I go back to God?"
Instead, Orion says, "I did all that I could to make it or break it in rugby, but I still did not make it."
Looking back on this, he now realises God was letting him choose to accept or reject Him.
"Jesus allows us to go through things because it wasn't until I got to that 'break it' point that Jesus said to me, 'You want the world more than me, then have it! But you cannot have Me at the same time.'
"I knew about Jesus – where to find teaching about Him and look up His name on the Internet.
"But I never really knew Him until not so long ago."
Orion says he knew that Jesus was the right way, but he was only able to overcome temptations to disobey God when he surrendered his life to Jesus.
"To our brothers out there, struggling with temptation, thinking that 'I cannot do it' – we are letting you know that there is hope for the sinner when you give your heart to Jesus," he tells others now.
"You [need] someone who knows what righteousness is about, who knows a life without sin (wrongdoing). There's only one way you and I can overcome temptation that is through Jesus.
"The sacrifice of Jesus for sinners, so that the sinner can stand before God righteous, is what is going to save a person. Only Jesus Christ can do that. Only He is the answer to all our problems."
Orion is now managing director of www.preachingplace.com, a website dedicated to helping young people *to share their love for Jesus with others.•