A day of innocent winter fun ended up with 14-year-old John Smith being rushed to the hospital with no pulse and, according to doctors, no hope for survival. That’s when his mother Joyce took action — and moments later was able to witness her son come back from the brink, leaving doctors in a state of shock. This is the true story of how one young man quite literally came back to life.
At the beginning of the millennium, St. Charles, Missouri locals Joyce and Brian found themselves in two similar situations. They were both middle-aged, divorced parents of adult children. But beyond the rhythm of everyday life, they had something bigger going for them. They both had one thing to be grateful for, and that was their church community.
While some people at a similar stage of life might pass the time by watching Wheel of Fortune, these two were lucky enough to come from a tight-knit community where their church was at the center of it all. They were constantly being kept busy with activities. And it was thanks to these very same activities that something beautiful happened.
Meeting Each Other
Perhaps it was bound to happen. Joyce and Brian eventually crossed paths and were amused by their similar situations. Their common ground eventually turned into romance, and then at last marriage. The Smith family was born. Their lives quickly ascended from the quiet of middle-aged routine and began to resemble their younger years, as they now had more possibilities for excitement.
However, there was something missing in their union. Most marriages kick off with a honeymoon and then eventually go into the direction of children. Given their mature age, having a child wasn’t at all a possibility. This left somewhat of a missing piece in their household. However, all hope wasn’t lost. The two would find significant change while Brian was on a trip to Guatemala.
Bringing Home a Little Surprise
Like many church communities around the United States who volunteer abroad, Brian and Joyce Smith’s church would take an annual trip to Guatemala and build houses for the less fortunate. Over there, many of the poorest live in makeshift homes that consist of stray pieces of metal and wood tied together. They are also without electricity or running water.
It was during one of these trips that Brian got the notion to adopt a child. He immediately called Joyce back in America and asked her if it’d be okay. She loved the idea. When he came back to America, he brought with him John, their new family member. It was clear from an early age that this kid was something special.
From an early age, John was already a vocal and vibrant child. This would be a sign of things to come. In school, he proved to be a kid defined by achievements. Not only would he get great grades, but he was also an extremely promising athlete. While he liked a variety of sports, he found his passion in basketball.
John was not the typical basketball player. When compared to the other boys at his school, he was on the smaller side. However, this wouldn’t stop him from being one of his school’s star players. Anybody who knew him then would have said that John was a kid with a bright future ahead of him. However, John’s life was all about to be turned entirely upside-down.
Walking On Thin Ice
It was January 2015. With Martin Luther King Day falling on a Monday that year, John and his friends decided to make the most of their three-day weekend by having a Sunday night sleepover. The next day would see the three boys walking toward the nearby Lake Sainte Louise.
Given the harsh winter that year, the lake was almost completely frozen over. As the boys played on the slippery surface, it suddenly cracked and gave way. The three boys suddenly found themselves submerged in the icy waters. Two of them were able to climb out. But the third, John, was not to be as fortunate.
Submerged In An Icy Lake
After a brief struggle to stay afloat, John sank to the bottom of the icy lake. It didn’t take long for the police and paramedics to rush to the scene and begin searching for John. After 15 minutes, they were able to pull his lifeless body out of the water.
There was still a chance he could be saved, but to do so, the medical units would need to act fast. John was immediately put into the ambulance, which rushed him to the emergency room. He was left in the care of Dr. Kent Sutterer, who began CPR. After 43 minutes of trying to revive the boy, he came to a dim conclusion.
Probably Won’t Make It
From the moment John entered the emergency room, Dr. Kent Sutterer tried his hardest to revive the boy, but had low hopes from square one. His condition wasn’t looking good. Due to prolonged exposure to the frozen lake waters, John’s body had already begun to turn cold and stiff.
To top that off, the doctor had never seen anyone come back after having no pulse for 25 minutes. John’s lack of pulse almost doubled that time. At some point, he knew he had to let the boy go and to do something that every doctor dreads. There was a long hall in the hospital, and at the end of it was a waiting room with a very worried Joyce inside. He’d have to walk down to her.
Delivering The Tragic News
After trying everything he could and getting no results, Dr. Sutterer went into the waiting room and approached Joyce. One can only imagine what Joyce was feeling as the doctor came upon her, an expression of remorse across his face. He didn’t hold anything back and immediately told her the grim truth. He told Joyce that it was time for her to say goodbye to her son.
He brought her into the hospital room to look at his body and give him a farewell. But Joyce couldn’t accept that her boy was gone. There had to be something that she could do. As she looked at John through an eyeful of tears, he didn’t quite look like the son she had raised for the past 14 years.
Crying To The Heavens For Help
Before Joyce was a sight that was truly heartbreaking. No mother should have to ever see one of her children colorless and stiff. Joyce put her hand on his leg, and it was cold to the touch. Despite this, she knew from the bottom of her soul that her son was supposed to live. She truly felt this couldn’t have been his time.
While she recognized that the doctor had done his best, she knew of an even stronger healer. Joyce fell to her knees and began to cry out to her higher power and pray wildly. She looked to the ceiling and screamed, “Lord, Holy Spirit, just give me back my son!” Almost immediately after screaming that, she suddenly received an answer.
Medical Staff In Shock
Seconds later, to the utter amazement of every person in the room, including Dr. Sutterer, John’s heart began beating. It seemed like a total medical anomaly, but he was back! However, this didn’t exactly put John on a path to full recovery. While Joyce and Brian were rejoicing, the doctor had to tell them that everything still wasn’t okay with their son.
He was more or less out of the fire but back into the frying pan. The human mind deprived of oxygen for such a long period could not make it back to a functioning point. Yet something would then occur that few if any medical textbooks could have prepared the hospital staff to witness. Dr. Sutterer had been in the field for years, but even he was about to be blown off his feet.
Living On Borrowed Time
The doctor told Joyce that John’s situation was still extremely dire, and that he’d likely pass on within a few hours, or at most a few days. His blood’s pH level had dwindled below the level of a person who had even an ounce of life left in them.
The doctor further stated that if John did somehow live through this, he’d likely spend the rest of his life in a vegetative state. John’s condition stabilized after a few hours and he was moved to the St. Louis’ Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center. Feeling desperate, Joyce brought in some men who she felt would be able to help her son.
A Gathering Of Holy Men
On the day of the accident, Jason Noble, the lead pastor at Joyce’s church, First Assembly Church, came to visit John at the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center. He said a prayer and then invited five other pastors into the room to join him.
With its bright fluorescent lights and the stench of disinfectant, a hospital seems like the last place one would go to feel spiritual. However, Noble’s prayer session completely changed the atmosphere surrounding John. During the intense prayer session, Jason saw something over John’s bed that he couldn’t believe. This vision would eventually result in what seemed like a real-life miracle.
Angels At Work
As Pastor Noble looked over the other pastors praying over John, he witnessed something straight out of Scripture. He claimed to have had a sudden vision of two angels standing over John, and over his head was a light. According to Pastor Noble, the angels were doing something that no doctor could do.
Pastor Noble said the following of the extraordinary vision: “What I believe is that God was putting his brain back together again, almost rewiring it.” Meanwhile, the doctors continued to emphasize that if he were to make it, John would never be able to function. Yet not so long thereafter, something incredible happened — once again.
Returning From Beyond
Pastor Noble put it best when he said, “I know that sounds strange, but as soon as it happened, John’s shoulders came off the bed, his eyes opened, and he grabbed my hand. I knew at that point that God was going to pull him through.” The next day, John was unbelievably aware of his surroundings. He was able to dart his eyes from person to person in the room, and could even give a thumbs up to his mother and friends.
Doctors had little idea on how to treat him, as they couldn’t find a similar case on records. The best they could do was keep him on the respirator for eight days, hoping he’d continue to show improvements. When he was finally off the respirator, his friends and family listened up, eager to hear his thoughts and memories.
Many asked John what he remembered about the accident. At the time, the 14-year-old couldn’t recall much. He just remembered going out that day with his friends and then waking up in the hospital. However, as time passed, he’d start recalling snippets of the accident, like the moment the ice broke, and feeling helpless as the cold water painfully filled his lungs.
As his condition rapidly improved, John became vocal about what he wanted. He said that he hated the hospital bed and that he was sick of the hospital’s food. All he wanted was a meal from his favorite restaurant O’Charley’s, and to sleep for an entire day in his own bed. By the time the day of his release came around, many wondered if his accident would have any lasting effects on him.
Back Into The Swing of Things
By the time John walked out of the hospital, he was as good as new. Aside from the few scratches on his arm that he’d received from falling through the jagged ice, he had no lasting mental or physical effects. He had clinically died and come back to life, baffling medical professionals.
Within a couple weeks of the accident, John was once again dribbling the ball up and down his school’s basketball court. His popularity doubled at school and he found new love with a girl named Abby Medaris. Life moved on, and he graduated, but the lake incident would remain a constant topic in his life — in more ways than the obvious.
Being dead for as long as John had been and then coming back to life was no small thing. The teen soon found that he was somewhat of a local celebrity. Along with Pastor Noble, he’d end up speaking about his experience at a number of churches across his state. For many believers, he was a testament to God’s power, while for others he was just a medical wonder.
Joyce also wanted to spread the news of John’s miracle. She began to hastily write a book about the whole ordeal. Titled The Impossible, it was published in 2017, and became an instant hit on the Christian market. As if that wasn’t enough of a blessing, the book would eventually lead to bigger things for Joyce and her family.
John Goes Hollywood
It didn’t take long for Joyce to sell the movie rights for the book. Before Joyce and John knew it, they were being portrayed by Chrissy Metz and Marcel Ruiz in a feature film called Breakthrough. Within two days of its release, the trailer garnered over 30 million views on YouTube. Many were predicting the movie to be a smash hit.
Upon its April 2019 release, it was an instant success within Christian circles of filmgoers, and became the first Christian-themed movie to hit the big screen in years. On the week of its release, the mass response to the movie left the actors and production crew shocked.
With the astonishingly high number of views that the trailer got on YouTube, many were hoping the film would be extremely successful. However, it didn’t fare so well in the movie theaters. The movie ended up being the biggest Hollywood flop since 2005.
It came out later that much of its failure had to do with The Breakthrough’s production company. It was the first movie by Fox under the ownership of Disney. Apparently Disney didn’t give it a proper push because they didn’t want it competing with Avengers: Endgame, which came out at the same time. While it was a let-down for the many involved, John wasn’t swayed by this bad news.
The Future Looks Bright
John has been blessed from birth. While it initially looked as if he’d have a future in the Guatemalan foster system, he was taken in by two amazing parents and given a good life in America. He survived almost-certain death, and got a successful book and movie made after him.
Things only got much better for the kid. He is currently a brand ambassador at American Eagle, he’s going to a Christian college in Minneapolis called North Central University, and he’s engaged to his long time girlfriend Abby Medaris. Luck is clearly on John’s side — and as far as he and his family are concerned, he is truly being watched over.
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