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Breakthrough movie

Breakthrough: Redemption and Faith During Crisis

Based on the real-life experience of the Smith family in St. Charles County, Missouri, Breakthrough chronicles a month in the life of student, John Smith. His harrowing accident left him lifeless underwater for over 15 minutes and without a pulse for over an hour! But God miraculously brought him back to life!

from contributing writer Gina McAndrew

But Breakthrough is not about the drowning or the accuracy of the facts. Instead, it is a story of faith and ultimately, redemption: one family’s journey in surrendering to and trusting in God even when everything looked impossible.

Breakthrough breakdown

The movie portrays John Smith as a smart and talented, yet cocky fourteen-year old boy who seems to be going through a struggle with his identity. The underlying issue is obvious. He doesn’t see his own worth through the eyes of Christ but looks to man for approval and is constantly falling short. His mother, Joyce, appears to have strong faith in Jesus, but as viewers looking in, we see that the facade masks her deep pride to control all situations.

As the audience, we are privy to seeing how self-doubt can dig deep into our souls, something we cannot always see in ourselves. The real tears don’t flow until we start to see that glimmer of redemption, something we all long for. When that lightbulb goes off and the characters come to the realization that every breath comes from God. They finally see when the church comes together, it becomes stronger.

Highlights of the film

Perhaps one of the most poignant parts of the movie is when John’s classmates rally together outside of his hospital room in prayer and song vigil. The other comes when the Smith family sees a visual of all of the people God used to impact their lives throughout the horrific ordeal. Unity among God’s chosen never fails to humble, as it is a beautiful picture of what Christ intended for His church.

The struggle to navigate interpersonal relationships is very real and requires daily prayer and Scripture reading. After all, 1 Peter 4:8 exhorts us to “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (NIV) This Scripture was brought to life in the movie through the persistent love of the pastor, and the resulting bond between him and the Smith family. We all need a reminder to not be ruled by ourselves, but to completely submit our will to God’s.

Counter Culture Mom, Tina Griffin and cohost Blu Wyatt interviewed John Smith at the National Religious Broadcasters event in Anaheim, CA. They talked about what John was thinking moments before he took his last breath and how this event changed his life forever.

Redemption and breakthrough for all involved

Redemption through brokenness is the key theme throughout the movie as we watch John grow from an unsure boy hurt by rejection at birth, to a humbled and loving son and friend. Whatever you bring away from Breakthrough, you will have a sounding-board for deep spiritual conversations with your children. Act 17:11 tells us  “…the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Breakthrough offers us a chance to teach others to search the Scriptures for Truth. Every moment with our children is an opportunity to do just that.


Gina McAndrew is the Founder and Director of Potter’s Clay Applied Arts, a program that for over 15 years equips students to glorify God through the arts. As a former upper-level manager and homeschool mom of four children, Gina continuously seeks to implement new and innovative ideas at Potter’s Clay and teaches as an Adjunct Professor at a local university as well.

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