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Community rallies to Breakthrough events


Many people here in Cedar Springs had never heard of the miraculous true story behind the movie Breakthrough, until last weekend. That’s when they not only got to see the movie, which is a Fox/Disney production now out on DVD—but they got to meet the real life characters as well.

L to R: Pastor Jason Noble, John Smith, and his mother, Joyce Smith shared their story with the audience at the Breakthrough events. Courtesy photos

The movie tells the story of the miraculous recovery of 14-year-old John Smith, who fell through the ice on a lake in St. Louis, Missouri in 2015. He was underwater for 15 minutes—and had no pulse for an hour. It was then that his mother prayed for Jesus to send his Holy Spirit and bring her boy back to life—and he did. But that was just the beginning of an amazing story.

A group of community leaders here in Cedar Springs wanted to give people the opportunity to see the movie and hear this inspirational story, so they created a weekend of events and brought the three main real life characters from the movie here to tell their story.

Last weekend’s Breakthrough events totaled almost 1,000 attendees. The events were coordinated by a Breakthrough Committee comprised of representatives from En Gedi, City Impact, Resurrection Life Church Rockford, and The Springs Church along with additional support from numerous community members, businesses, and organizations. 

The first of three events took place at the new community amphitheater located in the downtown Heart of Cedar Springs Park just west of the Community Library on Saturday evening. City Impact’s monthly worship service began at 5 p.m. A free roasted pig and hot dog dinner followed the service for the estimated 600 folks gathered. 

“It was a heart-warming site to witness the many community members and families sitting on blankets and lawn chairs surrounding the amphitheater and visiting with each other under perfect weather conditions,” said Sue Wolfe, and En Gedi representative working on the Breakthrough committee. “I believe this is exactly what was envisioned by all those who worked so hard on making the amphitheater a reality. Having this facility and working in partnership with existing organizations to provide free community-building events is part of En Gedi’s mission.” 

While waiting for the darkness to fall and the movie to begin, three of the real people featured in the movie Breakthrough spoke with the crowd and answered questions. A tapestry of miracles unfolded following John Smith’s accident, which were beautifully articulated by John, his mother Joyce Smith, and their then pastor, Jason Noble. John shared his story of struggling with being adopted, being rescued and brought back to life, and the loss of his opportunity to be a collegiate basketball player. Both his mother and pastor also shared their challenges and victories. 

“Our community is so fortunate to actually have three of the real people from this top ranked movie here to share their personal testimony. John is in his first year of college; Joyce has had some health issues; and Pastor Jason now lives in Oregon. Yet, they coordinated their schedules with a commitment to be here and share their walk of faith,” said Julie Wheeler, who was instrumental in making this connection and part of the Breakthrough Committee. 

Once it became dark enough and just prior to the start of the movie, the crowd paused, stood, and applauded in recognition and thanks for our local fire, rescue, and police officers. The movie features a heroic rescue by the St. Louis area fire, rescue, and police departments that set the stage to be reminded of the men and women who serve our community each and every day. 

The movie was then played on the 22-foot inflatable movie screen, donated by City Manager Michael Womack and his wife, Glenna. 

Sunday’s journey began with two worship services at Resurrection Life Church Rockford featuring Pastor Noble and the Smiths. After that, events took place at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Cedar Springs High School Auditorium, which included showing the movie, personal presentations, and the opportunity to ask questions. Ladies and Men of Honor, a partner with En Gedi, were on hand to share information about their faith-based program of developing honorable ladies and men. 

City Impact co-directors, Kelley Jo and Jonathan Bergsma, along with Sally Hart, Resurrection Life Church Rockford member, and Pastor Craig Owens, Executive Director for En Gedi’s free after-school youth center, were all instrumental with their leadership on the Breakthrough Team as well as securing funding and resources. 

“It was definitely a team effort to bring these events to Cedar Springs, which is what City Impact is all about,” explained Kelley Jo. “City Impact is an outreach organization for our community. I am grateful for all the businesses, organizations, and people who jumped in to help over the past weekend.” 

The Springs Church provided movie-goers with popcorn and had offered their fellowship hall as a back-up in the case of inclement weather on Saturday. Cherryl Rosenberger, The Springs Church office manager, also served on the Breakthrough Committee. 


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