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From Prodigal to Pastor

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
May 20, 2022 6:00 am

From Prodigal to Pastor

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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May 20, 2022 6:00 am

Raul Ries grew up with an alcoholic father who physically abused him and his mother. Raul himself became a very angry and violent young man. After his wife had threatened to leave him, he intended to kill her. Raul was bent on a murderous rampage when he had a dramatic, life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. In this broadcast, Pastor Raul share his fascinating story about the amazing grace of God and its power to transform even the most hardened hearts.

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I just by faith prayed a prayer and I felt a complete change in my life.

As I got up from my knees, I wiped off my tears and I took out all the rounds, put away my gun and I got in my car and I went looking for my wife because I wanted to tell her what happened to me. My, we're just a few minutes away from that story and how Raul Rees went from a terrible, desperate place to becoming a believer in Jesus Christ. This is Focus on the Family with your host Focus President Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller.

This is an amazing testimony and it illustrates how much God cares about every single one of us. Let's get right to the message, John. All right, here's Raul Rees and as you can probably tell, this is not going to be appropriate for younger listeners.

Raul is speaking at Calvary Chapel Golden Springs in Southern California on today's episode of Focus on the Family. My father had a very bad, bad habit. He had a problem with drinking, big time drinking. Started drinking when he was about nine years old and just really a time of chaotic because what happened in our home, our home was not a normal home. Our home was a home where, you know, as far as I can remember back when I was a little kid where my father would come home and would be yelling and cursing and slapping my mother and physically abusing my grandmother and my mother at the same time, which was his mother.

And I remember us when we're little kids screaming and yelling because we were so frightened by this whole thing. And at the same time, I remember my dad taking me at the age of five years old because I was his eldest son, taking me to the nightclubs and the bars. And I remember my father just, I mean, he was a brawler, you know, he used to like to fight.

He had a beautiful job at the Bank of Mexico. But at the same time, the problem with drinking led him to violence. And I remember sitting outside while he would go inside and drink for three, four, five hours, sitting outside in a little newsstand waiting for him to come out as he would leave me there with his, with these people to wait for him to come out.

And when he would come out, he would be so drunk that he used to have one of these European scooters and he got on it and we, and by the grace of God, we never got, we dropped it a couple times and we got home every time by the grace of God. But through this whole experience as I was growing up, it was just a time where I remember my dad, you know, with me also, by the time I was about eight and I mean physically just taking me and hitting me and just beating me, you know, because I was so rebellious against everything that was going on. And I remember at the age of eight or nine years old thinking, you know, one of these days I want to kill my dad. That was, that was my life. I wanted to, my goal was to kill and execute my father.

That was my whole goal in my life. In 1957, we, right after the major earthquake in Mexico City, which was a real big earthquake, my grandmother, my mom's mother and sister and my grandfather were living in LA. And so they gave my mother an invitation to come up and leave my father.

So one night when my father came home, totally passed out, drunk, and he came drunk and he passed out on the bed. That night my mother woke us up early in the morning, about four in the morning and told us to get dressed. We got dressed and we went to the International Airport in Mexico. And in 1957, they had those single engine planes, you know, took eight hours to get from Mexico City to LA.

Today it takes three and a half hours. But I remember the, going to the airport and getting on his plane and leaving Mexico City at the age of 10 years old and coming to America and being in America. And I remember how happy I was because man, now we're rid of my dad, no more drinking, no more cursing, no more violence.

And now we're going to be so joyous being here in America. And I remember in 1959, my father began to write in 1958 to my mother that he wanted to change his life and that he wanted to come to America and live with us because he missed us so much. And I remember being a little kid 10 years old, hating my mother because my mother said okay to my father. And I didn't want my dad to come and live with us. But she went ahead and got his, because she was an American citizen.

And so she actually worked out his papers and got it all set up. Took about nine months and finally my dad came up to the states. We were living in LA. And I never forget when he got there, I mean, I didn't have any feelings for him. I was so bitter at him at the age of 10.

And again, he began to drink and began again to abuse my mom. And I remember at the age of 15 having a lot of confrontations with my father. And so I began to become violent. I began to, you know, take my frustrations and the anger that I had in me when we would go to parties, when we'd go out on the streets and I would start, you know, beating up people or hurting people.

And it just became a consuming fire in my heart where, I mean, you know, by the grace I am, I mean, just that I didn't kill you on the streets, but I mean, there were times that we left people laying there and we thought they were dead. And this went on for the four years of high school. I played sports.

I was an athlete and played baseball and doing very well in baseball. And my grades were not that good because I didn't really study. I partied a lot, you know. And so by the time I was a senior, I already had been in and out of jail, but never once broke by the grace of God because we knew the cops and the cops used to let us go. And so what happened is that on my senior year, when I was down in West Cabina, I got in a brawl with this guy that was doing something, you know, with one of my girlfriends and I went and got all my friends and we came to the party and we ripped the party.

I mean, we ripped people and this guy almost died. So they came to the high school the next day and the police came and picked us up and they took us in and they booked us and we had to go to court and the whole thing. And at the time I was 18 already, we were seniors and we were just about to graduate and I got put in a position where either I was going to go to prison or I would have the opportunity the judge gave me to go into the military. Well, at that time I said, you know, why Vietnam was going on. I said, well, I just go to Vietnam, you know, license to kill.

I can do whatever I want to do. And I remember when we got to Da Nang and they actually separated, there was 5,000 troops on the US Gaffey and they sent us to our own units and I went to Alpha Company 17 and they put me with the 7th Marine Division, 1st Marines, and they put me on this platoon, which was a platoon that went actually on special missions. There were seven of us, we were called the Bounty Hunters, and we would go down to the riverbeds and we would set up camp and we would watch and we would click to see how many VC were coming down to the trails. And then we would report back and it became sort of a, sort of like a, I can't say a game, it became part of a, a part of my life where as I begin to see some of my friends get killed, the hatred that came for the Asian person. And finally after 11 months of being in Vietnam and doing all the things, they finally, they finally caught up with us and the government, they called us in and they sent us first of all to a psychiatrist to make sure that they would check us out to see what was wrong with us. And when I came to the psychiatrist, he looked at me and said, well, you know, what seems to be your problem? I said, well, I think first of my problem is you, you know, I don't like you. And I said, all I want to do is I want to get out of this place.

I want to get out of this place. And he says, well, I don't think that's possible. I said, I said, if you don't make it possible, I said, I'm going to kill you right now. And so he got a piece of paper, started writing all kinds of stuff down, you know, and so he wrote pretty fast. And then he gave me this piece of paper and he says, I want you to go to the captain and give them to your platoon leader, give him the piece of paper. So when I went back, I didn't know what he had written, but they told me to pack up all my sea bags, get my locker box, everything that I was leaving town, you know, so I got everything packed up and they sent me back to Da Nang. And then when I got to Da Nang to the airport to actually board a C-130, they came out the end piece and they put shackles in my feet and my hands. And I thought I was going home, but I guess I was not. They put me in this plane and they tied me up and flew me to Japan and from Japan to the Philippines and from the Philippines to Guam and from Guam, they flew me to Travis Air Force Base up Northern California. We landed and there was a paddy wagon waiting for me and they put me with my shackles inside and they put a straight jacket on me and they took me to Oakland Naval Hospital, which I spent six months of my life under psychological care, but most under drugs and being in a jacket because I was so violent. It's like Satan had taken possession of my life.

At that particular time they were starting in the 60s what was called synonym. They were like therapy sessions where you come in in a group session and you talk and you tell them your problems. Well every time it would come to my problems I would become so violent and start beating up on everybody. They'd take me away and you know put me away and they just couldn't talk. And so after six months Dr. Wilson decided that I was not fit not only for the Marine Corps, but I wasn't fit to go back to Vietnam for a second tour, but I was only fit to be discharged with a dishonorable discharge.

So I said well whatever happens happens. I said you know I just want to get out of here. And they sent me out to Camp Pendleton to the 5th Marine Division and they were recommended a dishonorable discharge my life. And I remember when I was at Camp Pendleton they had me actually locked up and that's when my wife was in high school with me and we had actually fallen in love through letters in Vietnam.

And they allowed me to have a couple of times you know off where I can go and you know and see my my family. And that's at that time when me and Sharon got together and she got pregnant. And so they gave me a time to get married and I was still in the Marines and my district hadn't come back in. I was real against the whole thing and finally it came back in September 15, 1967. I'll never forget that day when they called me in and said hey your discharge is back and it's an honorable discharge by the convenience of the government.

I said wow. And I got out and I went out and went and saw my wife and told her that I was out of the Marine Corps. Got a job in LA working for the Union Bank and you know started doing my thing. And the moment I got out immediately I started going back not only to my old friends but I started going back to my old life. But this time I was a little bit older even though I was only 21 years old at that time. It's amazing how the war had matured me tremendously. And I wasn't afraid to kill now. I was afraid to do anything.

And so when we would go to parties or whatever we would do it was just chaotic and the things that we would do. And every time I mean that I mean I remember you know the opportunities that God gave me. And my wife would never preach to me. She would share the gospel with me by by sharing you know her love with me. But never giving me tracts or you know putting tracts in my sandwiches and I bite down and you know Jesus loves nothing like that.

Or putting secrets of memories like that. But just her life living and and one thing that I never wanted to do I never wanted to be like my dad. Where I would become a physical abuser.

Well I did. The first thing that I did is I started you know pushing around and kicking her and punching her and pretty soon I was choking her. And by the grace of God the angels protected her. And it went on for about four and a half years until finally she finally decided that she's gonna leave me. And when she was gonna leave me I decided that nobody would ever have her and I would I would chase for my kids. And the best way to do that is to execute her my kids and kill myself as the police would come. I just shoot her out with the police that would be in the end of everything.

And then nobody wins. And so when I got home she already had gone to church. As a matter of fact it was Easter Sunday April 15, 1972. And I already had made up my mind I was gonna kill her. So I came home and I saw her bags were packed on the side and I walked into the house and went to the closet and got my gun and loaded up my gun with 18 rounds. And I started walking around the house I started destroying my whole house you know just knocking on everything. And I went next to the tv stage to the tv and I was standing there and I mean I was so angry and so mad inside that I took the the butt of the rifle I hit the tv and when I hit it it came on. And when the tv came on there's a this was this guy bald-headed guy talking about about Jesus.

It was Chuck Smith and he was with Kathryn Kuhlman you know in one of those programs with all the hippies. And I was listening in the minute I said man I wanted to shoot him you know with my gun I couldn't pull the trigger. And it seemed like when he talked to when he was talking to the tv he was talking to me you know how that is it's like a bow was being pulled back and the arrows were letting go and they were stabbing me in the heart. And I kept saying man why don't you shut up what are you trying to say you know. And all of a sudden I found myself that I I began to put my ear more to it and then I found myself that as I was listening I found myself on my knees and for the first time in my life I began to cry like a baby. You know it's not too cool to cry when you're heartened. And I just began to tell God God if you're really real and you're a real God and you are a God that can save people as you save my wife I want you to come into my life. And you know what blew me away I didn't see lightning I didn't see any I didn't have any feeling or anything emotional. I just by faith prayed a prayer and I felt a complete change in my life. And as I got up from my knees I wiped off my tears and I took out all the rounds put away my gun and I got in my car and I went looking for my wife because I wanted to tell her what happened to me. I couldn't find her. I got to the church where she was and they were actually at that time they were having the altar call so I just went up to the altar call and once they counseled me the whole thing I went home and when I got home I knocked on the door the light was on already my wife was at home and I heard her weeping and crying inside and I knocked on the door I said Sharon open the door it's me and she was just you know crying the whole thing and what she did she put the latch on the door she opened the door and she said what do you want I said I said I'm born again I accept the Christ she shut the door in my face you know she didn't really believe it and so I knocked again and I and I said honest I accept the door I'm gonna change my whole life and she finally opened the door and it took probably about a year and a half to two years for her to watch my life change to really watch my life change but what blew her away is that immediately I mean I got saved man I got saved I went the next day to a Christian bookstore and I bought me a bible and I didn't know anything about bibles so I was looking at bibles there were little bibles big bibles you know huge bibles and so I got me the biggest Bible I could because I wanted to be you know a Christian so I got me this big old family Bible and at that time you know the hippies we had long hair and stuff and they had these fishes that you have the Greek writing Jesus Christ God Son and Savior in Greek and they had little ones and middle medium-sized ones and then they had these big sharks you know they were like that I got me the biggest one I could with a leather thing and I put it on I didn't even care I just wanted everybody to know that I was a Christian and can you imagine a big Bible big fish walking around you know and so as we were doing this whole thing I got home and I just every morning I began to read the Bible and I started going to Chuck Smith's church and I got down there I began to get rooted and grounded and buy the tapes and buy the books and read and then the Lord called me this was weird about a week later the Lord called me and I mean I didn't hear his voice but I had like I was sitting there reading my Bible and praying and I had like a vision I've never had a vision in my life I don't even know what it was but I saw myself awake and half asleep and I saw my old high school and I saw my principal and my vice principal and I saw all these hundreds of kids and the Lord told me I want you to go back to your old high school I said okay so I waited and I prayed and then I went to Baum Park High School 1972 I remember I walked on the campus and Dr. Hollenbeck and Barnhold was the assistant principal and he was my baseball coach before and I remember walking up and I had the fish the tuna the Bible and I walked in and the next thing I know is the police are escorting me off the campus because they think I'm nuts they don't want me on campus and so I went home totally bummed out man thinking oh man what's going to happen now and so I went home and God spoke to me again go back to Baum Park High School oh Lord they just kicked me out they called the police the police told me if I come back again they're going to put me in jail go back to Baum Park High School okay I'm going to go back I went back the following week and Mr. Barnhold and Mr. Hollenbeck took me in their office and they talked to me and they gave me permission to be on campus let's check this out to be on campus and to go into the classrooms and to be outside of the classrooms on the mall area and I could talk to people about Jesus Christ because they knew me from before so I started at lunch time I would sit out on the grass area and all these kids would look at me with my fish and my Bible and they hated me and all of a sudden man incoming missiles cake milk and they were bombarding me with stuff man I was so mad I go I don't need this stuff I don't even want to be here and the Lord told me to be there so a couple of years ago I was and the Lord told me to be there so a couple of weeks went by a couple of months went by and I stood there faithfully every day and then all of a sudden and the Lord began to open the doors as kids begin to come and talk to me and I talked to them and then one day on the mall area at Baum Park High School the Lord told me at lunch time you know how lunch times are at high schools everybody's doing their own thing and we have no PA and I'm not a screamer and he says get up on this picnic bench and I want you to talk to him about me so I got up there and started hey for God so loved the world man that he gave his only begotten son Jesus Christ that whosoever would give you know I'm just this whole thing and as I was talking making a fool of myself I thought the Holy Spirit was zapping people the Holy Spirit fell in our school so heavily that all of a sudden as I looked out there were about three to five to six hundred kids sitting on the grass listening what blew me away is I didn't expect God to use my life because who was I and as I began to just share with them God's love I said anybody here wants to accept Jesus Christ five hundred kids got up and came underneath and gave their life to Jesus Christ and I mean the school is totally blown away and then Gladstone High School opened up Azusa High School opened up Charter Oak High School opened up Glendora High School opened up and I was doing seven high schools a week just going on the streets so my ministry started I never thought I never expected that God would do such a tremendous work that he has done over the last 25 years I never dreamed that God would do such a thing and I'm only telling you this tonight because I know there are some of you here that God wants to use your life and I've been you know I mean just in incredible places that I never thought that God would take me and how my book and my movie has not only gone into so many languages but I mean it's gone all over the world and how God has used that testimony and yet is because of Jesus Christ but one thing that I have learned in 25 years that it's important that we become obedient to the call of God because 25 years of my life has passed me on so fast so fast that I figure maybe I got 10-15 years left if the Lord tarries or maybe more depending whatever he has that if I don't give my life completely to him now and we don't go for it completely then what's going to happen to the world what's going to happen to our loved ones and our friends if we're not sold out to Jesus Christ what's going to happen they're going to go to hell that's why it's so important young people and mothers and fathers that you're totally committed to the lordship of Jesus Christ I don't care what you've done God forgives us we've all blown it but God is a God of second and third and fourth and fifth and a hundred and thousand chances if we're sincere in our commitment to him don't waste any more of your days or your years in the Lord get rooted get grounded get a hunger get a vision in your life and ask God God what do you want me to do for you and I guarantee you that he will tell you if you're willing to do that he will do to do that you know why because he loves you he loves you so much that he's not willing that any should perish but all should come to repentance and I just pray for each one of you that you would give your life completely to him don't play games with them anymore and I think that God wants to do some tremendous thing I believe God's going to send a revival if we his people will humble ourselves and repent and if we humble ourselves before God and if we confess our sins before God then he will send his Holy Spirit and he will begin to do things that you can even believe but he needs your heart first he wants your life completely today on Focus on the Family we've been hearing from Raul Reese senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Golden Springs and president of Somebody Loves You Ministries wow what an amazing testimony of how the Lord can change a person I mean Pastor Reese went from wanting to kill his wife and kids to being an evangelist and the pastor of a large thriving church that's evidence God is so good and I just keep thinking about how Pastor Reese described that Easter morning going through his own house smashing things with a loaded rifle until he hit the tv and it came on what are the odds of that and right there on that television set was Pastor Chuck Smith the founder of Calvary Chapel talking about the love of God and his words knocked Raul to his knees and the amazing transformation began right there on his living room floor and boy if you're on the fence about Christianity I hope you really heard what Pastor Reese was saying there and that you'll give your life completely to the Lord Jesus Christ he has the answers that you are seeking and he is waiting for you to turn to him if you'd like to learn more about the Christian faith and what it means to be a Christian we'd recommend our free e-booklet called coming home it will give you all the information you need and there's even a prayer included if you'd like to ask Jesus into your heart you'll find the link for the coming home booklet in the show notes and if you're already a Christian let me remind you that focus on the family is here to spread the good news of the gospel and encourage you in your marriage and your parenting journey of course there are costs involved in getting these radio programs on the air every day so please support this broadcast if you can Pastor Reese's testimony is living proof that Christian media can make a big difference in a person's life their eternal life in fact over the last year over 170,000 people said they made a decision for Christ because of focus on the family join us as we help those families thrive in Christ and when you give a donation of any amount we'll send you the cd of this testimony from Pastor Raul Reese with extra content and if you can't afford to make a donation right now please just let us know and we'll get it into your hands we'll trust others we'll cover the cost of that get in touch with us today you can call us or stop by our website our number is 800 the letter a in the word family 800-232-6459 or donate to the work of focus on the family and request your cd the links are in the episode notes let me mention that Pastor Reese has asked us for prayer join us in praying for him he's struggling and has been for several years with a medical issue that affects his speech pray for him his church and his family please well have a great weekend with your family and your church family as well and be sure to join us on Monday when Carol Kirkendall offers some hope and encouragement along with personal stories for launching your teens into adulthood I just would want to encourage mothers and fathers who are going to be in the family and encourage mothers and fathers who are going through this that the best is yet to come that letting go of your children and helping them become confident adults is the bridge to the very best season of parenting and that is to be friends with your adult children on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team I'm John Fuller thanking you for joining us today for this focus on the family take a moment give us a rating if you would and share about this episode with a friend and plan to be with us next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ messing up at school can be embarrassing but average boy is used to it he tries fails and tries again thanks to help from his friends Billy Jenny and Sarah join average boy in his very first fun-filled novel called average boys above average year he deals with bullies homework and more while following God and showing God's love to others check out this book perfect for the 8 to 12 year olds in your life at averageboy.org that's averageboy.org
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-16 06:24:09 / 2023-04-16 06:35:19 / 11

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