Olympian and World War II prisoner of war Louis Zamperini would "love" "Unbroken: Path to Redemption" — the forthcoming film documenting his conversion experience — as it contains a clear presentation of the gospel, his son has said.
At the red carpet premiere of the film in Dallas, Texas, Luke Zamperini told The Gospel Herald that his father, who passed away in 2014, would be thrilled to know his incredible story of hope and redemption is inspiring millions around the world.
"I think he would love the film," Luke Zamperini said of his father. "What he wanted to have happen, was, for his story to get people to be curious about God, to explore it for themselves, and then come to faith in Jesus Christ. So, he would be so proud that it's actually being depicted on the big screen."
The sequel to the Academy Award nominated 2015 film, "Unbroken: Path to Redemption" begins as Louie returns home after spending over two years in a Japanese prison camp. Haunted by his past and suffering from severe PTSD, he's continually tormented by dreams of the horrific abuse he endured at the hands of a prison guard known as "The Bird." Riddled with anger - both at God and his captors - Louie turns to alcohol for comfort, putting his marriage on the brink of divorce.
"He just couldn't fix the PTSD that he brought home with him from WWII," Luke said. "It took something bigger than himself to rescue him from that."
But Louie's life dramatically changes at a Billy Graham tent revival held in 1949. After hearing the famed evangelist present the gospel, Louie gives up his hatred of the Bird, forgives his captors, and accepts Jesus Christ into his life.
"He was very angry," Luke Zamperin said. "This was the second sermon he'd heard from Billy Graham, and he didn't really want much to do with it. But while he was on his way out of the tent, he heard Billy say something to the effect of, 'When you're at the end of your rope, that's when God is there to get you out of whatever situation you are in.'"
That phrase, Luke said, reminded his father of a prayer he'd made after his plane was shot down, forcing him to survive at sea for 47 days in a life raft surrounded by sharks.
"He'd promised God, 'If you get me home alive, I'll serve you my entire life,'" Luke said. "And it suddenly dawned on him that God took care of his part of the bargain, but Louie hadn't taken care of his part of the bargain."
Determined to live his life in service to God, Louie eventually founded Victory Boys Camp, a charitable organization for at-risk youth. The camp's mission, as stated on the website, is to inspire "disadvantaged youth to take control of their own lives by cultivating self-respect through athletics, survival skills and wilderness experience."
"My father would like to be remembered a someone who tried to help others get a second chance in life. That's why he started the Victory Boys Camp, which we carry on today," Luke told GH. "He was such a great example for me because he was a person who did good deeds and was always helpful to other people."
But more importantly, he said, his father would like to be remembered as someone whose life was transformed by the power of the gospel.
"My father would like to be remembered as someone who was able to overcome all the difficulties in his life through finding faith in Jesus Christ. That would be the crux of what he wanted to be remembered for," Luke said. "We continue to bring his story to the classroom, to the correctional facility, and to the military base. In so doing, we present the gospel to all who hear it, and it's changing lives."
"Unbroken: Path to Redemption" hits theaters September 14. Learn more here.