John Smith’s story is an amazing one. The 18-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri, has had his life made new by God after he was dead for an hour. In 2015, John Smith fell through the ice of a frozen lake, and he was trapped there fifteen minutes before he was miraculously pulled out of the freezing water by a search and rescue team from the local fire department. But miracles weren’t done happening for Smith, who lacked a pulse for 45 minutes after he was out of the lake.
How Smith lived against all odds is the subject of a new movie “Breakthrough.” The film, which is out on April 17, stars “This Is Us” actress Chrissy Metz as Smith’s mother, Joyce, whose powerful faith calls down the Holy Spirit to save her son.
Faith Family America sat down with John Smith to talk about what it’s like to have his life be the topic of a new movie, how God has transformed his life since the accident, and what he sees as his purpose in life.
What was it like to see such a powerful moment in your life on film?
I was more concerned about my mom and my dad and my pastor because I had always heard about it, but I was unconscious so I wasn’t around when everything was going on within the hospital. So seeing that breakthrough on film, seeing how the characters interacted, and [how people] were so emotional, hit me harder than what had happened to me. When they would cry, I’d be bawling because I’m so close to them.
Would you say your accident has impacted your life and continues to this day?
Falling in the like, I was not saved. Coming out of the lake, I still wasn’t saved. It took a lot of me giving up control and me giving everything to God. With me doing that, I have seen just incredible things. He has blessed my life way beyond anything I could ever imagine.
Do you feel like God has a special purpose here in life?
Yes. He’s calling me to ministry, and I’m excited to get to witness to people. I’m excited to get to have people get saved and to lead them to Christ. It’s not about me—it’s never been about me—it’s about what God did for me. I’m just excited to see where God is going to take those people.
Why do you think the accident gives you a special way to witness?
Because not many people have died and come back to life. Not trying to say that arrogantly, but it’s true. My generation specifically is hungry for the supernatural. When they see me they’re like, “Whoa bro, you died and came back to life.” Well, yeah, now I have an opportunity to tell them how God did it all, not me.
What do you hope people learn from your story?
That there’s hope; that there is a God. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the chaos right now. Turn on the news, and you see a shooting or political things. This story shows people that there’s hope in something so much greater than what we can do here on earth—so much greater than the earthly treasures. Instead of going for the earthly treasures, why aren’t we going for the heavenly treasures? Because everything here is just so temporary, and I don’t think people understand that. So the story is just a beacon of hope.
What was it like for you when you first woke up in the days and days and weeks afterward?
When I first woke up, it was really scary, and I was really nervous. I didn’t know what was going on. I had a feeling that I’d fallen through the ice, but I didn’t understand what had happened from there.
[The accident] has affected everything. The journey to recovery was not easy. You know, I was not out of the water. I had to keep fighting, you know, for my strength and everything.
In the film, your character struggles with why, why did God save me? How did you come to grips with that?
I always struggled with that “Why me?” That was just something that I had to just give to God and let Him define and not my friends and not my family.