Fury to Freedom, the title of Raul Ries’ autobiographical book and movie, is the most apt description of the change God made in his life. At 64 years of age, Raul has seen his life transformed by the grace of God from an angry kid into a teacher of the Word. Both he and his ministry are built upon the vision that God gave him as a young Christian. Born in Mexico City, Mexico, Ries came to the US when he was 10 years old with his mother, brother and sister, leaving behind his abusive father.
Just out of high school, Ries got into a fight that would mark a significant choice in his life. A choice between prison or the military. At the age of 19, he entered the United States Marines and soon after shipped off to the war in Vietnam. A young man with training in the martial arts, Kung Fu San Soo, he made an excellent Marine and excelled in the physical challenges.
After two years of active combat service and two near death experiences, Ries was discharged and sent home where he married the girl he fell in love with through letters while in the service. Sharon was a young daughter of missionaries to South America and dreamed of being a missionary herself and he was a young man still filled with anger and bitterness. They experienced difficult times throughout their marriage due to his abusiveness and were on the verge of separating when God got hold of his heart and his life. On Easter 1972, thinking Sharon would leave him, Raul waited for her and the kids to come home from church so he could kill them, Ries experienced the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
Once Raul accepted the Lord, there was no turning back. God gave him such a hunger and thirst for the Word that he could not read or hear the Bible teachings of Chuck Smith enough. He took unsaved friends to the tent in Costa Mesa as often as Pastor Chuck taught. God began a ministry in his life with a vision for lost souls.
The ministry began in his home with a Bible study and simultaneously he did outreaches in the high schools throughout the San Gabriel Valley. In time, the study grew too large for the house and moved to Ries’ Kung Fu studio. With God’s anointing that study out grew the studio and moved into a movie theater in West Covina, CA. From there, Raul stepped out in faith and purchased an empty Safeway store and Calvary Chapel West Covina was born. After many years at this location, Raul felt the call of God to move to Diamond Bar, CA. Again stepping out in faith, Ries purchased 25 acres of prime real estate in Diamond Bar and converted an empty office building into Calvary Chapel Golden Springs.
Now in Diamond Bar with a congregation of over 12,000 and many ministries housed under one roof, the vision is still the same, souls for Jesus Christ. Through Somebody Loves You Ministries, Ries is on the radio nation wide on over 350 stations and in New Zealand and travels across the country and internationally with the Somebody Loves You Crusades, seeking new avenues to reach the people where they live. Along with these international outreaches, he heads up his missions ministry, so send I you. Ries travels to South America, Europe, India, Japan and other countries to participate in and organize Pastor Conferences. The great commission that was given to the apostles is always at the forefront of Ries’ mind, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8.