Mitch Davis was camping with his 9-year-old son, two other little boys, and his dog, Pluto, in the remote mountains of Colorado when tragedy struck – literally.
"The actual memory of the moment is completely erased, but the boys tell me that lightning came through the roof of the tent, hit me in the heart, and I flew back," Davis told The Gospel Herald in an exclusive interview. "A significant portion of the lightning that was in my body went out of my right hand and into the kid next to me and bounced around from kid to kid. They tell me that I was on my back and my eyes were wide open, but they were rolled back into my head and they didn't think I was breathing. They thought I was dead."
He continued, "During that period I have no memory of anything except after several minutes, I began to be able to hear. I could hear the boys crying, screaming, and praying for me. I heard my son say, 'don't die, dad! Please don't die.' I heard one of the boys promise God he would never do another bad thing in his life if I would just wake up. I could hear them, but I couldn't respond or react."
At that moment, darkness came over Mitch, and he began to die.
"I could feel that I was leaving the scene and that I wasn't going to come back," he recalled. "And that was a very frightening experience. I instinctively felt that if I could pray, I somehow would be released from this darkness. But, I couldn't – it was like my tongue was bound, I was just completely unable to even formulate a prayer in my mind because I felt like I was being smothered."
However, God had other plans for Mitch's life. As he lay on the ground, dying, he heard a voice – God's voice.
"He expressed his love for me, his approval of me, and then said very clearly, 'Ask in confidence,'" he said. "I felt encouraged by God to just pray and expect a miracle, and so I did."
Mitch was able to say one word – "Father" – and as soon as he uttered that word, he was released from his paralysis.
"My eyes rolled forward, I stuck my head up, I looked around, I was conscious, the darkness was gone, and I was alive," he said. "It was very much a message from God, and the message was, 'I love you, you're good enough, ask in confidence and I will hear your prayers and I will answer them.'"
This terrifying experience serves as the climax of Davis' upcoming film, "The Stray", hitting theaters this October.
Based on a true story, "The Stray" tells of how a stray dog, Pluto, entered the Davis family just as they seemed to be on the brink of falling apart. Mitch, played by Michael Cassidy ("Argo", "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice"), is a career-driven personality who's unwittingly neglected his marriage and family. Michelle Davis, (Sarah Lancaster; "Everwood", "The Judge") is at her wit's end raising three young kids.
The last thing they need is another mouth to feed. Or is it?
In just a short time with the Davis family, Pluto manages to save a lost toddler, bring comfort and companionship to a hurting 9-year-old boy (Connor Corum; "Heaven is for Real"), help restore a marriage, and repair a broken father-son relationship.
Pluto, Mitch said, was more than a dog – he was a guardian angel who exemplified the kind of love Christ has for His children.
"Pluto showed up when we needed him, healed us, helped us," he said. "I think God ministers to us in many ways and through many means. The Scriptures teach that we have all entertained angels unawares, and whether or not God specifically sent Pluto, there's no question that he performed an angelic function in our family."
And while he still bears the physical effects of the lighting strike – including a damaged right eardrum – Mitch said his strength in God was "extraordinarily fortified" through the experience.
"I could never deny that I was rescued from a force of darkness the likes of which I've never before or since experienced," Mitch said. "The Bible refers to it as death and hell, and that's what it felt like. I felt like I was overwhelmed by a force of darkness that sought my utter destruction. It wasn't a gentle thing at all."
He added, "The key awareness of God's love for me individually, I just have thought – it probably couldn't have been in a more remote location if I had tried, I had driven for half an hour on four wheel drive trails, I had hiked for 2,3, hours up in mountains, and I was a micro dot on a mountainside in the middle of nowhere. Yet, God knew I was in trouble and I needed his help, and He reached out and saved me."