It was Easter Sunday 1972. Raul Ries was in the middle of his living room with a rifle in his arms, waiting for his family to come home so he could kill them.
Raul was no stranger to violence. His alcoholic father abused him, contributing to Raul being in and out of trouble throughout his childhood. At eighteen, he was arrested and given a choice: prison or the military. He chose the Marines and Vietnam. After 11 months of destructive behavior, Raul was bound in shackles and a straitjacket and spent six months in a naval hospital.
The moment he was released, Raul went right back to his old way of life. He physically abused his wife – pushing her, kicking her, punching her, and choking her. When she decided to leave him, Raul decided he would never allow that to happen. Which is when he decided to execute his wife and kids and then engage the police in a shootout.
That Easter morning as he waited for his family he flew into a rage and destroyed everything in the house. When he struck the television with the butt of his rifle, it switched on. At the moment, a preacher was on the air talking about Jesus. Raul stopped. And listened. The pastor’s words drove Raul to his knees, and he prayed the sinner’s prayer.
Right there on his living room floor an amazing transformation began in Raul.
His story is riveting, and I invite you to hear it on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “From Prodigal to Pastor.” Hear how God transformed his heart by replacing hatred and violence with love.
Tune in on your local radio station, online, on Apple Podcasts, via Google Podcasts, or take us with you on our free phone app. Or for a donation of any amount, we’ll send you a CD copy of Raul’s testimony. If you can’t afford it, please let us know, and we’ll get it into your hands. (Check our website for details.)
To learn more about the Christian faith, I recommend a free online booklet we’ve written called, “Coming Home: An Invitation to Join God’s Family,” which explains what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
If you’re already a Christian, remember that Focus on the Family is here to spread the good news of the Gospel, and to encourage you in your marriage and parenting journey. Raul Ries’s testimony is proof that Christian media can make a tremendous difference in people’s lives!
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Raul Ries is the Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Golden Springs in Diamond Bar, CA, and President of Somebody Loves You Ministries.