Many may think winning the gold medal as a member of the 1980 Olympic “Miracle on Ice” hockey team would be the greatest moment of my life. While it was an amazing experience, my most significant moment came in 1986 while playing for the New Jersey Devils. That was when I came to understand what it means to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Yes, I was a devil when I became a follower of Christ!
My wife Leslie and I had what most would consider “a great life” — a good marriage, healthy kids, a job I loved and we were financially stable. However, Leslie began searching for God with people who came to our door professing to have a way to God. One day I came home from practice and was met by Leslie who immediately asked me to “just have a good attitude” while she was meeting with these individuals. So I sat down and listened for a while but knew this was not going to work for me when they asked me to join them in [singing] some hymns. Anyone who has heard me sing knows why I wasn’t happy about this.
I had known followers of Christ in the past but really saw something different in teammate Chico Resch. Chico lived out his faith in a way that made me respect and trust him. The next day I asked him if he had any books on cults. He invited me and Leslie to the team’s couples Bible study. Over the next year Leslie and I attended the Bible study and she asked many questions. I also began meeting with Athletes in Action staff and team chaplain, Dave Bratton, for lunch each week. This was where I got my questions answered. One day driving home from practice I realized I needed to make a decision. I pulled over to the side of the road and asked Jesus into my life.
Though I’ve had many great moments as a hockey player and coach, the truth is the happiness of victories fade, but my relationship with God gets stronger. In the world’s eyes you are only as good as your last victory. I know that my value doesn’t lie in winning championships, but in who I am in Christ. God’s love for me and Jesus’ death and resurrection are the real miracles.
— Mark Johnson, USA ice hockey player