Sam Rodriguez Shares Behind-the-Scenes Miracle of ‘Breakthrough’ After Film Wins Dove Award

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Steve Strang

One of the biggest movies of the year was Breakthrough. The film tells the amazing true story of the modern-day resurrection of John Smith, who was dead over an hour before his mother’s prayer brought him back to life.

Recently, the film won the Inspirational Film of the Year Award at the 50th GMA Dove Awards. Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who was executive producer of the movie, tells me he didn’t even attend the Dove Awards because so many other great films were nominated for that award. He was blown away by God’s blessing.

Rodriguez recently joined me on the “Strang Report” podcast to discuss this incredible honor and the miracle of how God brought the movie to be.

“In addition to that, 20th Century Fox Disney just confirmed in an article on Variety magazine that the only profitable film for them in 2019 was Breakthrough, a movie about the power of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit,” he tells me.

Rodriguez is right! According to Variety, Breakthrough made $50.4 million globally on a mere $14 million budget.

And it’s no wonder. The film tells an incredible story in an honest, believable way. They didn’t blow the supernatural out of proportion. They showed what happened (with minor creative license) and told the simple story of how God raised a 14-year-old boy to life after he drowned in an ice-cold lake.

John Smith was brain-dead with no pulse whatsoever for over an hour. Rescuers almost didn’t find him—until one of them heard a voice telling them to search in an area they had already checked. Of course, they found John there and got him to the hospital.

But nothing doctors did could revive the young teenager. When the doctor brought John’s mother, Joyce, into the room to say goodbye to her son, she instead prayed loudly, “Holy Spirit, bring my son back to life right now!”

Immediately, John came back to life.

“She raised her voice in such a way that everyone on the floor heard her prayer,” Rodriguez says. “She said that prayer and not five minutes later, not four minutes later, not three minutes later, not two minutes later—at that moment she said, ‘Holy Spirit, bring my son back to life,’ every single machine in that room turned on in that moment. That’s the power of the name of Jesus. That’s the power of calling out your best friend, the comforter, the Holy Spirit, to intervene in what happens in your life.”

(I had the privilege of interviewing John and Joyce on separate occasions on my podcast. I also shared my perspective of the resulting film.)

Rodriguez learned about John’s resurrection when he saw his story in the secular news. He was so amazed at what God did, that he preached on the miracle that very Sunday and again later on PBS. Rodriguez preached the story the same way he read the news media tell it—John came back to life after 15 minutes.

That’s when he received a call from Joyce, correcting him by telling him John was dead over an hour. Rodriguez asked if she could get the doctors to verify this, and she said they could.

“At that moment, I was still with God and I just felt the Holy Spirit telling me, ‘Samuel, you’re going to make this into a movie,'” Rodriguez says. “So that was my assignment. God told me to make this into a movie.”

At that point, Rodriguez began asking the Lord who He was going to send to help him with this massive project. God told Rodriguez to tell his close friend, movie producer DeVon Franklin, about his idea for turning John’s story into a movie.

Rodriguez says Franklin initially “shrugged [him] off.” Since Franklin works with secular studios, he told Rodriguez there was no way a secular studio would do a movie about the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus.

But Rodriguez insisted. He invited Franklin onto his television program at the same time as John and Joyce. While he was interviewing John and Joyce about their story, Franklin was listening.

“I kept DeVon on set as I interviewed Joyce and John,” he says. “DeVon stands up at the end of the program, shakes my hand and says, ‘Pastor Sam, we are going to do your movie.’ And that’s how Breakthrough came to be.”

The story of the film’s inception is almost just as much of a miracle as John’s resurrection itself! And it’s no surprise to me that the movie won the Most Inspirational Film of the Year award. It’s such an encouraging story. I would urge anyone reading this to watch it if they haven’t already.

Listen to my full interview with Rodriguez by clicking here!

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