Miracle at Manchester: New Film Based on True Story Demonstrates the Power of Prayer

Bryce Newman was just a teenager when he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer that threatened to take his life. The new film tells his story of faith, hope and the power of prayer.

By Nancy Flory Published on April 25, 2023

Although he played pretty much every sport as a teenager, Brycen “Bryce” Newman’s favorite sport was baseball. “He was a phenomenal child,” his dad, Rick, told The Stream. The straight-A student also held a black belt in karate. He was just the kind of kid people loved to be around. A young teenager, Bryce was set to represent the United States at a ball game in Japan. But a tragedy in his life was about to unfold.

Takes Your Breath Away

At age 15, Bryce was diagnosed with medulloblastoma — an aggressive and fast-growing brain cancer. “They came in at 2:00 AM and, and literally said, ‘You have a tumor. We have to operate at 7:00 AM [this] morning to save his life,'” Rick explained.

Rick happened to be standing behind Bryce when the doctor broke the news. “I am literally at that point, weak kneed in the sense that [it] starting to well up, but I’ve gotta show some strength that I’m the dad. My son looks straight at the doc. I mean, deadpan, just looked at him and said, ‘Hey, that’s all right, doc. Just sew me up tight, make sure they sew me up tight. I’ve got a plane to catch in two weeks to support my team in Japan.’ And that’s when the doctor said, ‘Son, you’re not gonna make that trip.’

“And that’s when he started crying. So, yeah, it’s, it’s kind of devastating when you hear it. They did the surgery. They had to wait about two days to do the biopsy. He came back with cancer, and we were hoping it was benign, but it wasn’t. And it takes your breath away. Takes your breath away.” 

The Power of Prayer on Film

Miracle at Manchester tells the story of Bryce’s diagnosis and how the community rallied around the young man and prayed for him. The film, which was just released nationwide April 4, 2023, shows the miracle of healing and the power of prayer. 

Not everything was perfect with the film, however. “It was definitely exaggerated in part,” said Bryce. “You know, Hollywood, their kind of spin on it like they do, but they got most of it correct. The main parts were definitely authentic and real and everything. So, yeah, I think they did an alright job.”

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Rick agrees that some scenes should have been different. “The thing that I would’ve changed would’ve been the prayer scene. The prayer scene and his story was powerful. You had almost 1700 people praying over him. Unfortunately, because of budget constraints and things like that, they were supposed to have 500 volunteers for the prayer scene and 15 showed up. God works in mysterious ways, as we all know. This is a perfect example of it. The prayer scene, is, in our opinion, the most important scene of the entire movie. So, Bryce’s mother Nicole went into the auditorium and begged, and we got like a 150 people or close to 100 people. Matt Ruby, who’s the director of photography, was able to crop it and make it look like it was a much bigger scene. Like the true prayer was. But that’s the one thing that I would’ve said, ‘You know, hey, I wish we’d have done a better job.”

Faith in Difficult Times

Faith is a big part of their lives, and was especially so during Bryce’s treatment. Rick confessed that he’d lost his way in the beginning. “I’ll just be perfectly honest with you. I lost faith. I’d still believed in God, don’t get me wrong. … I remember when [Bryce] would go to sleep, I’d literally be [in the] emergency stairwell, and I’d be yelling up at God and just saying, verbatim almost, ‘I don’t know whether I’m gonna be looking you in the eye or, or screaming up from above. Probably more screaming up from above, but we’re gonna have a come to Jesus meeting about this. And put this on me, not on him.’ So, I had lost faith and I still have that guilt today of losing faith. And yet he’s still saved my child.”

Bryce has a different perspective. “I knew from the initial surgery where they just removed the tumor, [when we] didn’t even know it was cancerous that I was going to be fine. I was going to be healed. … I don’t know how to really explain it, but yeah, I just had confidence that God has a plan and He’s going to work it out.”

‘God is Listening’

Both Rick and Bryce hope viewers of the film will take away the power of prayer. “Having that strong relationship in your faith and building a strong community, having that community around you is very helpful and supportive,” Bryce explained. Rick said he wants viewers to hold onto their faith during hard times. “Do not lose faith in God.” He prompted Bryce to tell his story, to give others hope. “[I]f we can save one father, one mother, one family, one child from giving up on faith like I [did] and [help them] realize that God is there and God is listening [it will be worth it].” God heard the prayers of the 1600 students who prayed over Bryce for healing. “God heard them and listened.”

Miracle at Manchester Foundation

Bryce is now a young man in his master’s program in sports management. He wants to care for others who are in a similar position that he was in.

He has started a foundation called Miracle at Manchester Foundation, which is all about giving back. “Our mission is that we donate iPads to children fighting cancer. On those iPads, they can download games to just fight the boredom of having to wait for treatment or for scans or whatever it is while you’re spending time in the hospital. And then you can also connect with your friends through FaceTime or Zoom or whatever it is on those iPads as well, and kind of build that strong community. And through hindsight, I know how important education and nutrition and what you eat is, so [that is] on there. Like the kids can search up specific information on their own types of cancer and really try help fight after or outside of treatments.”

‘He Has a Plan’

“Do not give up on prayer,” said Rick. “Do not give up on prayer. It works. My son is a walking, talking testament of it. Don’t give up on God like I had. He’s there. We sometimes don’t understand why things happen, but He’s there and He does have a plan.”

Watch the red carpet interview:

Watch the trailer:

 

Nancy Flory, Ph.D., is a senior editor at The Stream. You can follow her @NancyFlory3, and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

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