‘Breakthrough’ movie refreshes with faith-affirming salvation message

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By Jeri Ballard —

“Breakthrough” is based on a true story about a boy, John Smith, played by Marcel Ruiz. After falling through the ice and being oxygen-deprived for 10 minutes, he was saved by God through the prayers and determination of his adoptive parents, friends and community.

This movie deals with themes of family, faith and perseverance. Smith’s mother demonstrates determination by overcoming trials sent by God to test her faith.

The theme of family is interjected through little John’s identity crisis, which stems from his adoption in Guatemala as a 6-month-old baby after his mother and father went on a church mission trip.

John overcomes his own fight against death through the power of God, making a miraculous recovery that surprised all the medical professions working with him.

When John was pulled from the frigid waters below the ice, his adopted mom posted prayer requests on social media that went viral. Families and communities throughout the nation join in prayer. Incredibly, the boy — whose chances to survive were slim to none — returned to consciousness.

The man who rescued John from the ice found salvation himself after hearing a voice that told him to go back and keep looking for the body. At first, Tommy Shine believed the voice belonged to his Fire Department chief. But when he was told that his captain told him nothing on the scene of the rescue, he embarked on his own spiritual journey to discover the God he doesn’t initially believe in.

At the end of the movie, John returns to the lake that almost claimed his life to seek answers about why he was rescued. Waiting at the lake by divine appointment is Tommy Shine, the man who saved him.

The pair, rescuer and rescued, discuss both their life journeys. John thanks Tommy for saving him physically, and Tommy thanks John for being a part in leading him to spiritual salvation. The movie ends up going full circle with all of the characters learning that Jesus saves all.

This movie was executively produced by Steph Curry, the international basketball superstar who himself is a devoted Christian. Curry admits he was touched deeply by John’s story.

“John’s story is nothing short of incredible,” Curry told the Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a story about the power of prayer and perseverance and one I immediately connected to. After reading the script, I knew I wanted to be a part of bringing it to life on screen.”

This movie, which is in theaters now, will touch many because of its central message: Jesus freely offers salvation to all. It will encourage the faith of those who have decided to follow Christ. Amid a barrage of meaningless movies that mock values, it is refreshing to be encouraged by a true story offering real life lessons.

Jeri Ballard studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Los Angeles.