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Former Oakland Raider recounts LDS conversion

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  • buryme Mesa, AZ
    May 30, 2013 6:49 a.m.

    great article---congrats to the Owens family. As much a pioneer family as those that entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.

  • higv Dietrich, ID
    May 30, 2013 6:51 a.m.

    I haven't seen VAi's view for sometime on here but the Sunday issue he didn't want his kids to play on Sunday but he did as did Burgess. That is one of those I guess what is better descision for the time and it was there occupation. One that they chose. Great story. I remember reading about it in some book a long time ago too.

  • Frozen Chosen Savage, MN
    May 30, 2013 8:09 a.m.

    I hope this story causes people to think before judging athletes whose profession requires them to work on Sunday. Obviously much good came out of Todd Christensen's NFL career.

    Having said that, the number of teenagers who go on to play pro sports is very, very small so you can't necessarily use that excuse to let little Johnny play sports on Sunday.

  • thebigsamoan Richmond, VA
    May 30, 2013 8:32 a.m.

    Beautiful conversion story! Thanks for sharing. I'm sure the Christiansens are no doubt experiencing already the joy of that promised blessing told in scripture, "...if it so be that you should labor all your days...and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father." Sounds like the Owenses are a very special couple and judging from the strength of their faith and testimony since joining the Church, they are indeed great assets to the Lord and his work. Again, thanks for sharing. This makes my day!

  • SLCWatch Salt Lake City, UT
    May 30, 2013 8:37 a.m.

    I'll tell you how the Christensens did it. It's almost a foolproof method and it snares lots of people when used by just about anyone. Sneaky as all get out too. The Christensens do this to lots of people. They were friends! Can you believe that? They actually cared about others, had interest in their interests, shared time and truly cared about some one not aligned with their personal agenda. How sneaky is that? Why if people started doing that we would have kindness, generosity and service up to our ears? Pretty soon we would have people actually knowing about each other and knowing they can always get help or give help without obligation. Of course this might lead to people considering a life changing decision but then again many just might know they were loved without agenda or guile. Wow, who needs a friend without an personal selfish agenda?

    Just thought I would warn people about what happens if they are....true friends.

  • Cougar Passion Salt Lake City, UT
    May 30, 2013 9:17 a.m.

    @SLCWatch: I don't think we stress enough in the church that the two great commandments are to love the Lord with all our heart/might/mind/soul/strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. The "loving your neighbor as yourself" part is not contingent on whether the neighbor is a church member, or whether he or she might become one. But a great many of our neighbors will eventually find the joy of living the Gospel if they see us practicing it toward them first.

  • DEW Cougars Sandy, UT
    May 30, 2013 9:22 a.m.

    What the Christensens did was they only planted just a little seeds at a time and things blossom

  • teleste Austin, TX
    May 30, 2013 10:11 a.m.

    As one who has harped on the Sunday thing...

    My qualm has never been with the Athletes. I would have played on Sunday too in a heartbeat given the chance. They can be great people in spite of playing on Sundays.

    That said, the problem as I see it is with the members and church leaders who make idols out of these pro athletes who pass up missions and choose to play on Sunday. (This is not the case of Mr. Owens BTW, I am well aware.)

    The BYU Womens Rugby team can't be heroes for not playing on Sunday while Steve Young is a hero for doing it. You can't have it both ways. Playing Sports on Sunday is 100% a choice as proven by the Womens Rugby team (and it is the Wrong one, as per God's commandments). Don't pretend like it's a vital job.

    It is *not* Missionary work (at best it is just PR) and even at that why ask for PR brought by way of commandment breaking?

    I liked this article. Owens' conversion story is an inspiration...and not bc he was an athlete but because of his faith.

  • Wookie Omaha, NE
    May 30, 2013 10:35 a.m.

    Who can deny the peace that is afforded by His Gospel? It is true, once your heart has been opened, the peace that it offers in a very disturbing and challenging world is inconceivable at first, but irreplaceable thereafter. Godspeed Mr. Owens!

    GO LDS!!

  • Herbert Gravy Salinas, CA
    May 30, 2013 11:31 a.m.

    @teleste: Is it OK if I have my "sabbath" on Saturday or Monday instead of Sunday? Just asking.

  • LetsDebate PLEASANT GROVE, UT
    May 30, 2013 11:34 a.m.

    Thanks for the sermon, teleste. One important point of living the gospel is being honest. I highly doubt you've heard a single person make a claim that Steve Young is a hero for playing on Sunday. For being a highly gifted and acclaimed athlete and holding to high moral standards in the midst of a hedonistic culture, yes. But, I do not believe for one minute that anyone attributed his "hero" status based on the day on which he played.

    I think most of us would just prefer that you keep the sanctimony to yourself, and maybe work on the logic and truthfulness of your debating point.

  • CT98 Saint George, UT
    May 30, 2013 11:36 a.m.

    WOW! Beautiful story about perspective. It is difficult to understand why certain things happen but while we may not understand all of God's ways, we know we are children of a loving God who knows us and loves us. God works in mysterious ways and always hears our prayers. The Owens listened to the promptings of the Spirit of God and have reaped tremendous blessings as a result. Total respect goes out to them and their family.

  • teleste Austin, TX
    May 30, 2013 12:07 p.m.

    @Herbert Gravy

    You can have your Sabbath on whatever day you want. Again, my problem is with the members/leaders who ream me for watching the NFL when I should be keeping the Sabbath Day Holy and then who look upon Jimmer Fredette a great "missionary". (Deseret News, Sunday, Feb. 13 2011) They, not you, nor the athletes, are who I see as inconsistent and tire of.

    @LetsDebate

    I agree Young has great qualities that makes him a good person. It still doesn't mean it was OK for him or anyone else to pursue football on Sunday. (Or if you make enough money is it OK?)

    I've heard it on these discussion boards. It is usually said along the lines of "His way of being an example and missionary".

    I am not anyone to be on a soap box, I am "telete" ha ha. Even so, the fail in logic is that it is OK for some people to play on Sunday and for others it isn't--especially when it is then preached both ways. That's my complaint.

  • BigCougar Bountiful, UT
    May 30, 2013 12:48 p.m.

    @higv
    "but the Sunday issue he didn't want his kids to play on Sunday but he did as did Burgess."

    Burgess wasn't a member of the church when he played on Sundays. If you read the entire article he joined the church on New Years Eve and then retired from pro football in April so he didn't play on Sundays as an LDS athlete. Also, he went back for the entire previous year's income and paid a full tithe even though he wasn't a member of the church during that time.

    Talk about getting it. What a great man.

  • LetsDebate PLEASANT GROVE, UT
    May 30, 2013 12:53 p.m.

    @Teleste - yes, we understand with every article involving professional LDS athletes, there comes the automatic lecture about Sabbath observance from someone who should probably be in charge of professional LDS athletes' temple recommends.

    If you feel good about watching NFL on Sunday, tell those who "ream" you to mind their own observance. I've heard comments about caffeine, R movies, vegetarianism and the Word of Wisdom (both sides), worthiness of gay members, sanctity of Monday evenings (FHE MUST be held on Mondays!), taking political sides, etc., etc., that don't line up with my interpretations of the gospel, yet I don't feel the need to correct everyone who may feel differently. Almost always, they're casual passing comments, but I know there are those who feel "reamed" if they ever hear such comments.

    I suggest you develop enough confidence in yourself to allow others to seek their own inspiration and live by their own integrity without judging them.

    You may have noticed that Gifford Nielson was just called as a General Authority. I haven't heard anything about the repentance process he must have experienced to overcome the stain of having a former professional football career.

  • Herbert Gravy Salinas, CA
    May 30, 2013 2:49 p.m.

    @teleste: Are you ABSOLUTELY certain that the likes of Steve Young, Jimmer Fredette and other professional "Sunday players" don't (didn't) observe the "sabbath" on a day of the week other than Sunday? Again, just askin'. If they do (did) could they still be a "great missionary"? Which leads me to ask another question: How do YOU define a "great missionary"?

  • Tom in CA Vallejo, CA
    May 30, 2013 3:07 p.m.

    LetsDebate:

    Ditto.

    teleste:

    You might want to quit while you are still ahead.

  • Tiger5 Cache county, USA
    May 30, 2013 4:09 p.m.

    It's nice to see a Mormon story excepted in the DN. usually they are a negative for some folks. But this one falls under a different subsection.

  • Cougar Passion Salt Lake City, UT
    May 30, 2013 5:01 p.m.

    @teleste: Interesting points you make. I for one have never heard anyone bother anyone else about watching football on Sunday, but I guess that sort of thing exists. I look at it something like this: I have a vast collection of songs on my MP3 player. I have noted that, over time and as I have tried to live the Gospel more in line with what I think Heavenly Father wants me to, there will be the occasional song I delete after I realize I probably shouldn't be listening to it, although that thought hadn't occurred to me in the previous 30+ years. The same thing has happened with movies, and with matters related to paying attention to sports (either on TV, online, or in the newspaper) on Sunday. I think the important point is to ask ourselves if what we are doing falls in line with God's will. Often that even means substituting something that is better for something that might not be particularly bad. Is watching sports on Sunday the best Sabbath-related activity you could do? That ultimately is between you and the Lord.

  • Cougar Passion Salt Lake City, UT
    May 30, 2013 5:14 p.m.

    @teleste: One more point: I don't like the idea of working on Sunday, but I have had jobs that required that. I really don't know what choice I would make if given the opportunity to quickly secure my family's financial future and, yes, be a positive role model and potential missionary if it meant working on Sunday. I think that would again come down to whether one felt it was in line with God's will. I would note that it can't be a black-and-white issue, given that President Hinckley highlighted Dale Murphy (and Peter Vidmar) as a great example at a Priesthood session years ago.

    I will say that I *do not* agree with a professional LDS athlete who, once his playing career is over (and no longer has to work to support himself and his family), then chooses to go into another career that requires working on Sunday. But the fact that I don't agree with it doesn't necessarily mean it is entirely out of the question in the Lord's view.

  • G L W8 SPRINGVILLE, UT
    May 30, 2013 6:32 p.m.

    Sabbath observance? Very simply put: "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Leave it between each of us and the Lord. He is wiser than all of us put together, and will do the right thing for each and every one of his children.

  • ed in atl Duluth, GA
    May 30, 2013 9:36 p.m.

    Loved the article. I love reading conversion stories like this that inspire me to be a better member missionary.

  • kitsutsuki South Jordan, Utah
    May 30, 2013 10:23 p.m.

    As a young man I had the opportunity to watch Todd Christensen play at BYU - Fullback as I recall. His example has clearly extended far beyond his football days.

    Conversion stories like this always make me feel "warm & fuzzy". Congratulations to the Owen's family for their faithfulness over the years. Their influence has been felt by many family members, friends and associates alike, for which I am sure they will be blessed.

    As far as Sunday play - chill out folks. Trying to equate a BYU athletic team that doesn't play on Sunday to an individual simply doesn't work. BYU will never give into Sunday play - never. Individuals, however, have the God-given right of free agency and must choose what they will do.

    My feeling is shame on anyone who hypocritically judges an individual for a decision (particularly a job-related decision) he or she makes. Don't we all have enough to worry about in our own lives instead of casting stones at others? I for one applaud Players like Steve Young, Ty Detmer, Eric Weddle, Dale Murphy, etc. for the wonderful example and influence they have been to countless people.

  • Sneaky Jimmy Bay Area, CA
    May 31, 2013 9:12 a.m.

    Could someone please explain the don't play on Sunday rule? I think its becoming one of the "tells" as to whether one is a "good" Mormon. They way I look at it athletes like Steve Young and others have done much to help Mormons be accepted as relatively normal members of society. I also agree that BYU should not play on Sundays but the league they are in knows that up front and works with it. What I find hypocritical are people that participate in athletic programs and then refuse to play a game that is scheduled on a Sunday.

  • LetsDebate PLEASANT GROVE, UT
    May 31, 2013 12:00 p.m.

    @Sneaky Jimmy - you may need to consult the Scribes and Pharisees handbook for the "No Sunday Play Rule." The LDS Church policy is that any affiliated organization won't play sporting events on the Sabbath, and individual members are encouraged to read the scriptures and General Conference talks, pray for guidance, and make their own decisions.

    I find it odd that you think it's hypocritical for someone to hold fast to their religious convictions when making playtime decisions. Isn't that the opposite of being a hypocrite? To quote Inigo Montoya from Princess Bride, "I do not think it means what you think it means."

    Or, are you against all religious accommodations, or do you believe religious people should totally exclude themselves from activities where they may need a religious accommodation for a portion of the activity? I think that's highly intolerant, and probably illegal discrimination in some cases.

  • washcomom Beaverton, OR
    May 31, 2013 6:09 p.m.

    "Yet, in their midst, was a black, athletic, knock-your-teeth-out safety who now holds the priesthood and is sealed to his wife and children for time and all eternity. Amazing, isn’t it?”
    It certainly is. I've always wondered whatever happened to a young black man named Mike who LOVED coming to church with our family in the late '70's, yet moved away before he was 18. His mother wouldn't let him get baptized. He was a gem of a guy who had a testimony.
    This just brings happiness to my heart to know that even the tough guys end up being the nice guys.

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    June 1, 2013 1:10 a.m.

    Good point, teleste. Any active member knows the "Sabbath" prohibitions. They come from church leaders, period. Nothing about them are Biblical, however. So you might wanna consider the sage advice about ethical exit...

    Earth to the debaters: The Sabbath always has been and always will be the Seventh Day, Saturday, (Genesis 1,2). Just because anti-semitic Catholic leaders changed it to the First Day, Sunday, does not change God's Word. Biblically Sunday was and is called "The Lord's Day", commemorating Christ's Resurrection, and early Jewish disciples and believers(new converts) worshipped with our Lord's communion on that day. (Acts 20:7 and several other refs.)

    So choose to follow man-made changes or enjoy your true freedom in Christ. Nothing on Sunday has any Sabbath restrictions to be concerned over.

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    June 1, 2013 1:31 a.m.

    I do find this conversion fascinating. Mine is just the opposite. And I have both Muslim and Jewish friends who converted from Christianity to their current faiths- after deep spiritual searching and study, also. We all must follow our conscience and respond honestly to what we consider "the Lord's voice".

    I am the same age as Brother Christensen, so I lived through all the bad LDS publicity of the black restriction, and remained faithfully LDS for 35 years. I had many spiritual experiences and temple blessings, even quit a lucrative job for "Sabbath" reasons and was blessed with a better one...

    I never dreamed I would have a "born-again" experience and certainly never sought it. So I must say I am happy that the Christensens have enjoyed their LDS conversion. I experienced all the love and Mormon fellowship they have. But just ask a born-again (former) Mormon which spiritual existence they prefer. There is no comparison to the In-dwelling of the Holy God of the Universe residing inside you. The best part is that you can't undo that birth. (John 1:12-13)

  • CTJ fan Salt Lake City, UT
    June 1, 2013 6:15 a.m.

    Teleste, first of all there's many members who have to work on sundays to support their families, and it's not a bad thing. Don't tell me if you had a job opportunity that came your way that would set your family up for life but you had to work on sundays that you wouldn't take the job. If someone is chastising you for watching sports on sunday that's none of their business either, I doubt the first thing God will look at on judgement day is what did you do on your sundays. There's many people who keep the sabbath day holy but never help a soul or who are into themselves more than helping others, I'll bet you that someone who works on sunday but influences many people for good will fair better in God's eyes then the others. So many in the church unfortunately keep commandments yet pass judgement and gossip about others. God has taught us not to judge others yet many think they can because they think their better. This damages more people than it helps. So look into the mirror before you judge.

  • Owl Salt Lake City, UT
    June 1, 2013 9:33 a.m.

    Those criticizing another's journey of faith are strange. Take this story of self awareness and conversion at face value. Being "reamed" for watching football on Sunday is a personal matter and those who are hung up on it are in danger of throwing out the baby with the bath water. Do what is right let the consequences follow.

  • Filo Doughboy Bakersfield, CA
    June 1, 2013 11:08 a.m.

    I don't know what you're watching in SLC, but you definitely don't have a crystal ball, Brother Watch.

    There are many ministries with a specific LDS outreach; in our city alone there are over 20 churches that teach classes on "Mormonism vs. The Bible". We aim to keep the discussion honest, factual and cordial. We run into members with your attitude often. We just hand them a fact-sheet test on LDS teachings from 1830-present and see how much they know. Then we present the Biblical gospel, keeping the Mormonisms separate, and allow people the opportunity to see where their LDS friends may not have shared all the information on current theology.

    Just as you target our homes and churches, we target yours- for the same reasons. We love you and also want to give you the opportunity to hear God's Truth, from the purely Biblical perspective. You don't have a monopoly on missionary, personal friendshipping, Biblical evangelism or the mandate of Christ's Great Commission, (Matthew 28:19).

    There are more than one family in our community that are former LDS. FYI: we often notify each other of interesting DN stories to comment on.

  • SLCWatch Salt Lake City, UT
    June 1, 2013 3:54 p.m.

    @Shazandra
    You raise an interesting point. I have asked many, many of my "Born Again" friends who converted to the LDS faith which spiritual existance they prefer (Notice the Owens which this article is about are a perfect example) and they prefer the LDS version where they also received the "In-dwelling of the Holy God of the Universe" for which they say their is no comparison.

    So, I understand you have had a great experience. Guess everyone like you said follows their own spiritual promptings. Don't discount what others have because you think you have found better, it's personal. Just be happy. They are too.

  • Johnny Moser Thayne, WY
    June 1, 2013 10:36 p.m.

    There are men and women that "CHOOSE" to work Sundays and it is only the hypocrites that condemn them because they don't like the way they sin.
    Is there really any difference between the athletes that work on Sunday and the firemen, policemen, pilot, and all of our service men and women in the armed forces?
    I think not. I doubt that most of us will ever understand how difficult it is to reconcile what we know to be true with the actual requirements for mandatory sabbath work. Once the choice is made the consequences are accepted, whether you sit in a firehouse, patrol car, locker room, hospital ER, tent in Kandahar, submarine control room, aircraft carrier flight deck, airplane cockpit, etc.
    The fact remains that we're all required to make choices and to live with the consequences. I respect those that have the ability to choose for themselves, I understand that it is probably something that they are conflicted about as they look at how they can best meet their professional obligations, family obligations, and still reconcile with their God. I chose not to condemn their actions, that is not my job; it is not yours either.

  • higv Dietrich, ID
    June 2, 2013 9:43 a.m.

    Since the LDS church believes in modern revelation they teach that Sunday is the Sabbath. I am typing this on Sunday. So you can't call Tuesday your Sabbath. The 7th day Adventist do have history on there side. People that live by the tenants of there faith should be free to worship on there Sabbath. I did tract into a 7th day Adventist on Saturday headed to the beach once.

    The church does not proselyte in the Middle East but for expiatre members they do observe local Sabbaths. Read where Harold B Lee said couldn't do it but changed later on.

    Gifford Nielsen didn't go on mission and worked regularly on Sunday for 10 years as player and commentator and I am sure some later on but is now General Authority. I think in Vai's view he explained how his job required sunday work but didn't want kids to play soccer on Sunday. It is doctrine when possible not to work or recreate on Sunday.

    That is one however that comes to much interpretation. Owens found the gospel and family great members of church now. Some jobs do require Sunday labor too.

  • spudontheweb Aberdeen, ID
    June 3, 2013 9:01 a.m.

    yeah the jews used to not allow anyone to take more than a thousand steps on sunday until Jesus came along....maybe we need to enjoy the spirit of the law.