The Stories

Stories of Encounters is a docu-reality video series that will retell the incredible and true stories of ordinary people who were touched and transformed by an extraordinary God. The first season will consist of 10 episodes, retelling 10 amazing stories.
Below is a selection of amazing stories that will be featured in the first season of Stories of Encounters.
Dr. Jim Richards

Dr. James Richards’ Story

The God Kind of Restoration

James Richards was raised in extreme poverty. He experienced horrific physical and mental abuse as a child, and grew up believing that he was unlovable, convinced that he was a total failure, he was heading for complete destruction.

 

This is Jim’s story …

 

Poverty was the norm for us. We were one of those families that you passed down all your old clothes. My dad didn’t live with us, but he’ll come back sometimes and break into the house, steal all the food that we had; steal all the heating oil in winter. I was only 4 years old when he tried to burn us all alive in a drunken rage. At a later age, my step-father broke into my bedroom and stabbed me in my sleep intending to murder me. I was sent off to live with my grandmother who was completely crazy. She abused me physically and mentally, and convinced me I that I was totally unlovable.  I finally ran away from home at 14 years of age and lived on the streets. I did every wicked and despicable thing just to get food to eat and to survive. Everything I got into failed. It didn’t matter how much drugs I took, at the end of each day when I got into bed, my heart was breaking, and I was just barely able to breathe from the pain.

At some stage I started a band. By this time I was heavily into drug abuse. One day our drummer was enraged because our drug supplier in Atlanta has gotten saved. That was our party time and that was how we made money. This guy was so upset, he was cussing and ranting and raving about Ernie getting into religion, and believing in Jesus. Now through this whole conversation with this guy, what was really interesting, was that this was actually the first time in my life that I have heard the Gospel.  The key thing that he said that captured my heart was, he said that “Ernie told me that if you were not  #*$%! for God, you were *#$%!  against God. That got to me. That was the turning point in my life. Man, when I got out of that car, for the first time in my life, I knew there was no neutral ground. I was 21 years old, I didn’t know what to say, but I prayed. I said: God here’s the deal, I don’t understand this, but this has something to do with Jesus dying for me, and I don’t know what that means, but if you help me, I will give you my life. But there are two things, number 1, I’m not going to believe anything anyone says about you unless I see it in the Bible myself, and number two, I’m not going to play church. This is going to be the real deal. I’m not going to play games.” And you know, from that very moment I was a different man. My life turned around completely. I had a revelation of the love of God. I knew I was loved by God, and that transformed me right there and then.

His dramatic conversion and passion to help hurting people launched him onto the streets of Huntsville, Alabama. Early on in his mission to reach teenagers and drug abusers, his ministry quickly grew into a home church that eventually led to the birth of Impact Ministries.

With doctorates in theology, human behavior, and alternative medicine, and an honorary doctorate in world evangelism, Jim has received certified training as a detox specialist and drug counselor, as well as a trainer for the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA). His uncompromising yet positive approach to the Gospel strengthens, instructs and challenges people to new levels of victory, power and service. Jim’s extensive experience in working with substance abuse, codependency, and other social/emotional issues has led him to pioneer effective, creative, bible-based approaches to ministry that meet the needs of today’s world.

Sherry Silver - Miraculously Healed

Sherry Silver’s Story

Miraculously Healed by Jesus

The car rolled 3 times. The end of her left hip was broken right off. Her left leg was dislocated, and her face and left arm where shredded with glass from the windshield. Worst of all, she was 6 months pregnant …”

 

This is Sherry Silver’s Story …

 

“Let’s start with my childhood. I had a wonderful loving family with a stay-at-home mom and a hard working accountant dad. They took us to church and showed by their actions how to have a relationship with God that was real and powerful.

 

When I was 16 years old going into my senior year of high School my father was killed in a freak accident. I was such a daddy’s little girl and we had an amazing relationship. His death obviously impacted my life in a gigantic way. I remember wondering if I was ever going to be able to breathe normally again because the pain in my heart was so great and seemed to press on my chest – I always felt as though I was grasping for air. God was so tender to me during this time.
I ended up meeting wonderful people during my senior year that walked with me through my grief and taught me so many wonderful things about God. I could even laugh again by the end of the school year and hope for the future had filled my heart too.
Then I ended up going to Oral Roberts University. After one year of college, came another hard summer for me. My mom got married again and my brother died less than 3 weeks later. I had the honor of finding him in his room.
Two months after this event, my little sister and I would be huddled together in our own apartment at the young ages of 17 and 18 all alone and on our own. My mom had moved off to Africa to be a missionary. (Not saying it was a bad thing, just hard for us) My younger sister had already graduated high school but our dad, brother, mom, our house and almost all of our childhood possessions were gone.
This is one reason I can truly say, God is always with me. Even in the darkest hour of my life, God was greater still. This is also a reason my sister and I share such a strong bond that many just don’t understand. With everything else we had been through together, it is the next few years that bound our hearts forever.
The next year, I ended up moving to Harare, Zimbabwe, Africa with my mom to help with missions. They had taken over Bob Bosworth’s bible school in Africa. I lived there for about a year. I was able to really get to know Mr. Bosworth and more about TL Osbourn as well which has stuck with me like glue.
I returned, and the moment I arrived home, I began kissing the ground and crying with thanksgiving for all we have here in America!
Next I began going to and eventually graduating from Bible College. I learned and got grounded in some fundamental beliefs here. It wasn’t exactly what I thought but I wouldn’t go back and change anything.

It is at this point that I met my crazy abusive ex-husband. He was in bible school and also ministry. One thing is that, I never knew this would happen to me. I don’t enjoy being treated badly and I had no idea of it before we were married. When you wake up realizing you are in a very abusive relationship and/or calling the police for protection from your spouse, or you’re in the hospital because of him.…..it just makes your head spin, heart ache and start asking a bunch of questions. My ex chose daily his actions and suffered the consequences of losing me and his family.

In 1999 I was in a terrible car accident that my ex caused through road rage. The car rolled 3 times, and I ended up breaking the end of my left hip right off. My left leg was dislocated, and my face and left arm where shredded with glass from the windshield. Worst of all, I was 6 months pregnant …”

 

Once they air-lifted us to the hospital, they had to dig the glass out of my face, pull my leg back into socket, and monitor my un-born son since they believed I was going to have a stillborn baby as well. I was in terrible condition and had to face the fact that my ex did this to me. Can we say…. DARK HOUR!

However, Jesus was with me. He gave me such a peace that I knew wasn’t natural; Jesus seemed to send birds my way, a kind word…something to let me know he was there. I was in a hospital bed and wheelchair for 2 weeks without real hope from the doctors. They were saying my face and arms would be horribly scarred for life, plastic surgery might help, I probably couldn’t have a natural birth, it might take years to walk normally again and I might still need surgery after the birth to pin the end of my hip back together. What did I do….I contemplated Christ’s love for me and sang softly to him a lot! I decided that every bad word spoken, I would replace it with 10 good things about my Lord and His promises.
One day at that 2 week mark I wheeled myself with the wheelchair into the bathroom. It was one of the first few times I was allowed (or more like told them I was going to do this like it or not :-p) to use the restroom alone, I was humming a love song to Jesus as usual and an overwhelming feeling of how much Jesus loved me.. ME… came over me that I shed a some tears. While I was experiencing that, I started leaning on the sink trying to wash my hands very carefully only putting weight on my right leg and attempting to deal with the pain I was in.
Then it happened. I heard the words which seemed to be as loud as day… “STAND UP!” I had been in horrific, let me say it again, horrific pain and couldn’t stand on my own.
I obeyed right away having seen my Jesus move this way in Africa before. I felt as though I stepped down into hot honey. No pain, the anointing that really did feel like hot honey, very slowly traveled up from the bottom of my foot to the top of my head. As it did, I was completely and instantly healed!!! I had NO scars on my face, OR my arm, my leg had NO pain and I Walked out of the bathroom! Even typing this gives me chills….it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
I showed up at the doctors two days later and he wasn’t even able to speak when he saw me. He kept stuttering; this is remarkable, unbelievable….. They couldn’t even find any evidence that my hip was ever broken. 🙂 It was amazing to see the x-rays and the total re-recreation of my face and arm proving what Jesus had done for me.
This same Jesus who helped me and healed me….. can help you too! “And they overcome him by the Blood of the Lamb and by the Word of their Testimony…” Rev. 12:11

Clint Byars - Rescued From the Claws of Satan

Clint Byars’ Story

Rescued From the Claws of Satan

Trapped for months in a living hell on earth, mentally torment day and night and finally… rescued by the power of God’s infinite love.

 

This is Clint Byars’ story …

 

“By the age of 13 I already made my way into heavy drug use. I had an affinity for LSD and other hallucinogens. I had no “church” background or family influence to teach me about God, I think I went to church around 12 times before I was 21 for things like Easter and such. It was never to a church that gave an opportunity to be born again, so the encounter I’ll describe happened before I was a believer or ever born again.
At this point in my life I was agnostic, believing more in aliens than any sort of god. I found myself one night on a drug trip when I began hearing voices. I had done this drug many times before and I could tell something was different. The voices started outside of me, sounding like a distant cocktail party but quickly became much darker. As I focused on the voices, big mistake by the way, I began to hear audible words and phrases telling me I was going to die this night.

At a certain point the voices actually convinced me that I had died. I spent the next 12 months believing I was dead in hell.
About 6 months into this 12 month nightmare I began to question if what the voices were continually telling me about more severe torment upon passing into deeper forms of hell, was true to not. I somehow got it in my mind that maybe I was alive and I could live. During the first 6 months I would try to pray, even being aware of the presence of Jesus at times but I was mostly confused and afraid.

At some point, around the 6 month mark, as I questioned my hell reality, I became more and more aware of the presence of Jesus with me. I had no church background, I didn’t know how to pray, I didn’t know what to say to him, I just knew I felt better when I was aware of him. I started talking to him and at times he would speak back to me, but mostly I just knew he was there with me. The amazing thing was he never made me feel afraid of him, he never tried to make me feel guilty, he never told me how bad I blew it, he was just there and I felt better when I would see him.

Keep in mind, it wasn’t a stretch for me to now be talking to Jesus because I’d been hearing demons for months, audibly, carrying on conversations with them. Those conversations were full of accusation, ridicule, confusion and then some, but Jesus never made me feel that way. There were times in this process when I would wake up in my bed paralyzed, feeling one demon pulling my legs and another sitting on my back shoving my head into my pillow, but when I would say the name of Jesus they would go away.
I learned before ever reading the Bible or going to church that Jesus was more powerful than anything. I learned the devil was a liar and I learned that Jesus would not leave me, even in my darkest time. Later on when I read the Bible I would come across passages describing Jesus this way and it made sense because that had been my experience.”

Jeff Elkins - Prisoner to Pastor

Jeff Elkins’ Story

Prisoner to Pastor

Jeff Elkins was imprisoned for killing his friend.  15 years later, in San Quentin Prison, Jeff gave his life to Jesus and was set free from the demons controlling his life. From that day on prison became seminary.

 

This is Jeff Elkin’s Story …

 

“I was about 8-years old when I decided I wanted nothing to do with God and started running from Him. My running led me to become a teenage alcoholic, a drug addict … and a murderer. At age 19, I took my friend’s life for his drugs and money. 5 days after I turned 21 I was sentenced to “25-years to Life” in prison. I thought God was done with me because I committed the unforgivable sin, and for the first 15-years in prison I lived a very ugly life.

 

In 1994 I found out that God has always loved me dearly, and that He still had a plan for my life. I gave my life to Jesus on July 24, 1994 in San Quentin Prison and was set free from the demons controlling my life for so many years. I was baptized in water October 16th 1994 and from that day prison became seminary for me. I was raised up and well trained in ministry and became an associate pastor right there in prison.

 

In 1998 Jesus worked a miracle and brought me the woman of my dreams from India and we were married in the visiting room of San Quentin. I spent 27-and-a-half years in prison. At one point the Governor said my crime alone was enough to keep me there for the rest of my life. But by the grace and mercy of Jesus that was not God’s plan for the rest of my life.

 

When I was in San Quentin serving the Lord, not knowing when or even if I would ever get out of prison, on three separate occasions, it was prophesied over me that God was going to use me to be a witness all over the world and that Jesus was going to send me to many countries.

 

Through a series of miracles I was released from prison on November 8, 2006. Shortly after my release I was hired as Pastor of Prison and Caregiving Ministries at Cornerstone Fellowship where I served until March 2011 when I was laid off because of budget problems. I was discharged from parole by more miracles in July 2010.”

Ed Elliott - The Vagabond Evangelist

Ed Elliott’s Story

God Confirms His Word With Signs Following

He is the vagabond evangelist, going where Spirit of God leads him, ministering to the underground Churches in Asia. God is with him, miraculously touching and transforming the lives of people …

 

This is Ed Elliot’s story …

 

“I have been in Laos for twelve days traveling on a motorcycle through hundreds of small villages, preaching and encouraging people within the underground churches who have gone through some incredible difficulties just to survive.
I was in search of a pastor I had heard about, and felt I needed to contact. It is not an easy thing making contact with someone who does not know you are coming, or even knows you.

 

I found the first guesthouse I’d seen since my last stop; neon lights have never looked so good! I was beginning to think I might have to gate crash a village hut and sleep with the pigs. The guesthouse was basic but had mosquito nets, a bed, a hot shower in the outhouse and squat toilet too.
The following morning after much searching I found the gentlemen I was looking for, and to my surprise his English was excellent. We spoke about God for hours and he was very surprised someone from outside would want to come and help – that was something new to him. I explained how evangelistic outreaches work, and he immediately liked the idea, but understood the risk involved as it was illegal to preach Christianity in Laos. He explained this area was controlled more by the Buddhists than some of the other areas I had been in, and we needed to be very cautious. He went to make arraignments for an outreach meeting and I went to a nearby town to find a place to stay.
(These underground outreach meetings can be held in a house or outside by a large fire, it just all depends on the situation. Attendance can be a handful to a few dozen, nothing like our outreaches in Africa where a football-sized-field was filled with people night after night.)

 

The evening was wonderfully surprising. There was a very nice turn out – the largest so far in Laos. The pastor’s son did the translation for me, and we had a great night where God confirmed his word with healings and miracles, and many people accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.
At 6 am the next morning I was suddenly awoken by some very loud and aggressive knocking on my door. It was my new friend the sales manager and he had a very concerned look on his face. He explained that one of the ladies whose son had his hearing restored after prayer, and she herself became a believer as a result. She went home to tell her husband the good news and he was not happy and was very upset by what had happened and took off to inform the authorities that we were in their territory without their approval. Word got back to my new friend and he did a little of his own investigation and soon discovered there were road blocks set up to try and intercept me when I left town.
With this news we prayed about our situation, since working for God I have always known Him to always have a solution to whatever problem or difficulty I may find myself in. The Holy Spirit put it on our hearts that I should leave town by boat. We went down to the river and the God gave us great favor with a captain, and after some negotiations we came to an agreement on the fair for me and my bike to take me down river to another city. I quickly packed said my goodbyes to my friend and prayed with him about his own security and then drove the bike down to the boat where it was loaded and secured. Soon we were off cruising down the Mekong River.
Eight hours later we pulled into a small town and the bike was quickly unloaded and I repacked it as fast as I could and was soon looking for a safe guesthouse to stay in. I found one where I could hide the bike from view and lay low for a few days. Truth is I needed the rest, it has been a very busy time here, I fell asleep that night and slept through 12 straight hours, I guess I was more tired than I had realized.
I only go out twice a day early to get breakfast and after dark for dinner. It has been three days since I have arrived and all looks fine for me to continue on to my next destination.”

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