Rugby League player Johnny Mannah, who tragically passed away at age 23 on January 18th after battling with cancer, has left behind an enduring testimony. He shared his story in the updated volume, The Prize: Sports New Testament (written in late 2011).
“I accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour when I was 12 years old after coming home from a church service one Sunday. I prayed with my mum and asked Jesus into my heart,” says Johnny, who began his NRL career with the Cronulla Sharks in April 2009 when he was just 19.
“I was close with the Lord and knew His hand of blessing was on me, and I strived to play my best for His glory,” he says. “However, after only 12 games in the top grade I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes. I was a healthy teenager enjoying sport at an elite level, and I was devastated. But I knew God was in control and that He does everything for a reason.
“As hard as it was I learned to trust Him and held tightly to one of my favourite scriptures, Proverbs 3:5-6, which says, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.’
“In the next eight months I underwent 12 treatments of chemotherapy, two with a drug called Mabthira. It was quite a draining time for me and my family, with countless visits to hospitals, blood tests, treatments etc. Even so it drew us closer together and closer to God. I was so blessed by the number of people praying for me, and the support I received from close friends, my church family and the Rugby League community too. It was overwhelming and we were so thankful to those people.”
Johnny had his last treatment on 18 March 2010, and has been in remission ever since. “It wasn’t easy to return to training but I slowly got back into the swing of things, and before I knew it I was playing football again, something I wasn’t certain I would do ever again.”
In round 1 of the 2011 season he played his first NRL game since surviving cancer. “It was a big achievement for me and I can only give God the glory for giving me the ability and the health to be able to do it.”
You can purchase The Prize: Sports New Testament here.