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The Incredible Story Of Bearcat Forward John Manga

Once a refugee from the First Congo War, John Manga found his way to Lexington, Kentucky and eventually to the University of Cincinnati on a soccer scholarship. To put it plainly this is an incredible story that you have to read.

Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

A few excerpts from the UC magazine story.

Christine and her four sons — the oldest, age 12 — fled for their lives. They would later find out that rebels shot their neighbors in the streets, set up camp in their home and were driving the family car. They also would come to discover that their father, Jonathan, had been kidnapped when he attempted to return to search for his wife and children.

Mom and the boys found safety in a Catholic mission, which would become their refuge for the next two years. Until tragedy revisited. In June 2003, John’s brother, Jacob, left for school, but he never returned. Rebels had taken over his school. Until recently they assumed he had been killed.

Eventually alone in the jungle, the three brothers — already having endured the loss of half their family — were now forced to trudge 180 miles through the world’s second largest rainforest, a place known for its cobras, puff adders and pythons, just to name a few of the deadly snakes. They traveled for many days and nights while doing their best to ignore the screeches of baboons, grunts of wild buffalo and even the watchful eyes of a lion that was only 10 feet away, yet allowed them to scurry by unharmed.

"The moment I knew God was with us was when we made it to this fairly wide river," Pierre writes. "It was at the end of the rainy season, so it was full and moving quickly. There appeared to be no way to cross. I tried making a rope and holding onto it and the boys, but I nearly drowned us all.

"I remember sitting down and praying, and then just waiting. Several hours must have passed, and then God answered my prayers. A large tree fell across the river and formed a bridge. The boys and I climbed across on our knees."

It only gets more incredible from there. Do yourself a favor and go read it in its entirety.

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