ON 31 JULY, Salvationist Jeremy Lalrinnunga, of Mizoram, India Eastern Territory, claimed India’s fifth weightlifting medal of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games with gold in the men’s 67kg category final, breaking two Games records and setting a Commonwealth target of 300kg. General Brian Peddle, joined by Commissioner Suresh Pawar (International Secretary for South Asia) and Captain Charles Chalrimawia, shared a video call with the young champion to celebrate.
‘Jeremy, I have prayed and thanked God for you,’ expressed General Brian Peddle. ‘Anybody who pursues excellence does, in a very beautiful way, honour God. God is making you to be somebody who pursues excellence in your weightlifting and as a good soldier of Jesus. We are honoured to see you and greet you today and we pray God will continue to bless you.’
Receiving the General’s warm congratulations with gratitude, Jeremy made it very clear to whom the glory belongs for him: ‘This is not my power – this is the power of Jesus Christ.’
Nineteen-year-old Jeremy astonishes with his sporting success, but just as impressive is his deep commitment to his faith and his sincere and humble spirit. The future looks bright and, upon returning home to India, Jeremy will commence training at the Neeraj Chopra Institute of Sports for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. In a question-and-answer with Lauren Westwood, of Communications, International Headquarters, Jeremy shared more of his story:
Jeremy, you are a gold-medal winner and a Commonwealth champion! How does that feel?
‘I feel all the joy in the world. In my preparation for the Commonwealth Games, I spent time with God in personal prayer, but I’m grateful to know that my family and friends have prayed for me too. The Salvation Army and my home corps have been really supportive and I know they have lifted me in prayer. I am certain that my success is the result of this support, and for that I am thankful.’
You mentioned your home corps, The Salvation Army Government Complex Corps in Aizawl, Mizoram. What does this connection mean to you?
‘The Salvation Army has been part of my family for many generations on my mother’s side, and my father joined after he married my mother, so I was born into a Christian home. My childhood was occupied with many Salvation Army activities such as corps cadets. Unfortunately, since moving away from Aizawl, my training regime demands so much that I have had to leave the corps cadets programme, though I am sad to miss this fellowship.’
After your win in Birmingham, you said ‘I could not reach my best performance [because of injury] but Jesus helped me get this gold medal.’ How has your faith sustained you in the challenges and the successes of your career?
‘I have not always been a winner. There have been times when I have known failure, but my family have always encouraged me that God’s plan does not promise constant success. My family and friends would say, “Maybe this is God’s way. Maybe he has a better success in store for your future.” This has given me faith to trust that my future can be bright. Even in moments of success, like during the 67kg lift at the Commonwealth Games, I had a muscle cramp on my thigh which really risked pulling me down. My physical strength is not the source of this victory, but it is the power of prayer that gives me this victory. The times when I am reminded of my own physical weakness remind me of God’s mighty power.’
Do you have any words of advice for people who are striving for excellence in sport?
‘First and foremost, trust that God exists. Challenge yourself to believe in him and 100 per cent believe that he is working. The second thing is that we have a duty to discipline ourselves in hard work. You may have people praying for you to do well, but success – in sport and in other areas – is the fruit of hard work and discipline.’
The Salvation Army world celebrates you and your achievements. Many Salvationists around the world will cheer you on, both as you continue your sporting career and as a young Christian. How can we pray for you?
‘I ask for prayers that I will never surpass the need for God in my life. Of course, I want to continue to achieve greatness in my sport, but I do not want to lose sight of the success that God wants for me. I would also ask for prayers for my family and that I will remain the same person despite my successes as I continue to seek and fully rely on God.’
Report by Lauren Westwood, translation supported by Captain Charles Chalrimawia.