In the past week the news programmes and channels have concentrated on the event in Paris and their developments. Other stories have come and gone without much attention. One such was the death of Jonah Lomu at the age of only 40 as a result of kidney problems. When he appeared at the 1995 Rugby World Cup as a member of the New Zealand rugby team he filled his opponents with dread whenever he got the ball and was able to run at pace. He seemed unstoppable, often brushing aside would be tacklers as if they were not there. Up to this point Rugby Union had been an officially amateur sport but during this World Cup changes were made to allow the emergence of the modern professional game. So when 6 foot 5 inch Jonah Lomu walked on the pitch he was much taller than the average player of his day and their fitness levels were much lower in those days. In one of the pool stages of the tournament they played Scotland and as a Scotland supporter I began to dread every time Jonah got the ball. He seemed to score every time he got the ball. Scotland were not playing badly but they were made to look poor. At one stage the shortest player on the pitch, Brian Redpath, the Scotland scrum-half found himself in the way of one of Jonah’s runs. He bravely tackled him straight and surprisingly Jonah crumpled to the ground. But Brian was knocked out in the process, though he recovered. To his opponents he inspired as much terror as any ISIS gunman, yet now he is gone. Not that Jonah was a violent man and am I not inferring that. Though otherwise unconnected the New Zealand team play in all black the same colour as the Islamic State flag. There is a verse in Psalm 37 “I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a green tree in its native soil, but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him he could not be found.” It may be that Jonah’s passing is a sign that which was once unstoppable will be no more. In the last couple of years ISIS has prospered like a green tree, at least until Russian forces have assisted the Syrians directly. They are well-financed and armed but the very fact that their forces are spread over such a large area there must be places where they are weak. Let us pray that the weaknesses of ISIS be exposed and exploited, that their revenue streams be cut and that their consciences may no longer suppressed by their ideology. It may be that the attacks in Paris were a diversion from losses incurred by recent air attacks. Things are not always as they seem.
David Rose, 2015.