News Story

Professional Wakeskater Changes Direction 

Zac Wood, a professional wakeskater with blonde dreadlocks, from Penrith, New South Wales, made the decision to change his life and serve a Mormon mission at age 19.  He was “the face” of a major sporting goods company, and gave up his lucrative two-year contract with them, he says, “for the joy of serving the Lord for two years as a missionary.”

While recovering in the hospital from a serious wakeskating accident, Zac reflected on his life. He realised he wanted to align his priorities with that of his family.  “My family is the most important part of my life and I want to be with them always,” said Zac.

Knowing his professional lifestyle was not always in harmony with the standards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Zac prayed about what he should do.  He decided to meet with his bishop [congregational minister] to discuss his interest in serving a mission.

“I had the desire to go on a mission,” he said, “and I knew there were things I needed to be doing at this time more important than my career in sports.”

Zac was involved with his Mormon faith and studied his scriptures as a young boy, as well as attended church meetings with his family.  But he let his interests and friends from the wake boarding culture influence him to lose interest.  His brother and brother-in-law had served missions, and his parents are devout active members in the Church.  However it wasn’t until his decision to serve a mission that Zac realised how much his faith and the love of his family meant to him.

Assigned to the Australia Melbourne Mission, Zac is helping change people’s lives for good.  One woman looking into the Church, Colleen, says that Elder Wood [as he is called as a missionary] and his missionary companion have helped her a great deal.

In a letter sent to young members of his ward, Elder Wood wrote, “Wow, where do I even start!  My mission is amazing and it is the best thing I have ever done in my life.” 

He is also very excited about more young people choosing to serve missions. “Now the minimum age has been dropped to 18 for young men and 19 for young women, how great is that?  Going on a mission will be the greatest decision you make, you won’t be sorry for a minute.  If I can do it, you can do it.” 

“All I can say is that you are needed out here!  We need you and the Lord needs you!  So to all those who read this, please prepare!” Zac said. 

“I have come to learn this the hard way, and know that as you pray and humbly seek and listen to the spirit, the Lord will show you all things.  As you prepare in studying the scriptures, think of me and remember it will be worth it.  It has changed me and made me a happier person.”

In October 2012 the Church’s worldwide president Thomas S. Monson’s announced a lowering of the ages required for missionary service.

President Monson said, “I am pleased to announce that effective immediately all worthy and able young men will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of 19… As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve.  Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21.”

There are over 55,000 full-time Mormon missionaries currently serving in the world today.  Australia has five missions with over 1,000 missionaries serving throughout the country.  Many young men and women choose to devote their time and resources, usually at their own expense, like Zac Wood

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