Life Change Stories

Mikelyn Williams life was forever CHANGED one traumatic day. She is thankful for the 2nd chance God gave her after the accident that day….Here is Mikelyn’s story in her own words…

mikelyn-williamsBefore I CHANGED & gave my life to Christ, I was always sad, depressed, lost, mad, hateful. I didn’t want to LIVE, didn’t want to LOVE, didn’t want ANYTHING. I did drink occasionally. I would drink to get drunk or not drink at all, but I always wanted to. I smoked pot many years ago. Listened to the wrong music & watched wrong things on T.V. Now all that stuff makes my stomach turn if I see or hear it. I was never a forgiving person, even though I was the type to give you the shirt off my back if you needed it. I had so much HATE for my dad. I came from a family of abuse and drugs. Simply put I was ONE MESSED UP PERSON!! Thank you Jesus for saving me and taking all that away!

I am so THANKFUL that The Lord heard my cry for help on the day of the accident! I thought it would be my last, but at the last minute JESUS showed me grace and mercy. Since that day I gave Jesus my life, He has shown me so many beautiful things in life. I know now that nothing in life is worth having or living without Jesus in it. He gave me a second chance with my accident that day, and for that….My heart and all that I am belongs to Him!

I am CONFIDENT Jesus is with me, is for me, loves me, guides me, protects me, teaches me, forgives me, loves me, and has carved my name in the palm of his hand and will never forget me. That means everything to me.

Every since the day Jesus CHANGED my life ALL I WANT TO DO IS GIVE to others! Tell everyone how great is our God!

From Stacy Tillman

Stacy Tillman

Stacy Tillman

I was raised Baptist, my ex-husbands family is Assembly of God, so I went to church with them. I liked it better than the Baptist church because you didn’t have to sit on your hands with your mouth shut! Mike Skipper and Lynette Chandler asked me to come to church with them in March 2012.

I liked it from the time I walked in the door. I always had to go to church by myself, but I knew I would not mind coming to The River alone. Joey Mason, is the first person that caught my eye. He was always smiling and all the other people by him on the right side of church were so bold in their worship. It gave me such a blessing just to watch them all. In July 2012, I joined First Impressions as an usher. Sonia, Brook, and Brittney made everything easy. Pastor delivers his message each week, and you can understand and relate to what he is saying. You know how to relate and can apply it to everyday life.

I have never really had a church that I called mine however, until now!! If I miss a Sunday or Wednesday night of Soul Sistas, I have missed my family.

When Domonic Russo was at The River he had everyone pray for someone and speak a word over them. Brook spoke over me and said not to settle. I had a part time job and was just the book-keeper. That was made very clear. I was not part of their family. A couple of weeks ago Pastor said if you have to take the warring Angels to work with you to be able to go, take them.

So I got up on Monday, prayed, listened to my worship music, and read my Bible When I got ready to leave I prayed again for the warring Angels to come with me. I had a good day, but several people I did not know came in that day and went into the owner’s office. On Wednesday I got a text and asked if I could come in early so we could go over a few things. I woke up the next morning, kept my same routine, prayed, read my Bible, listed to my worship music, prayed for the right words to say. I knew what was coming.

I have never been so excited to excited to not have a job!! I immediately text Brook and told her I had to come tell her something. I knew God was getting me away from somewhere I did not belong. I knew I did not need to settle!!! Thank you God, Pastor Chris and Melinda, Brook, Megan and Brittney for all your guidance and leadership. Now, I am not a Baptist or Assembly of God, or anything for that matter, I am a child of God!! I come to The River to get my water.

Brittney Allen felt the power of God’s promises about tithing… Here is her story in her own words…

Brittney Allen

Brittney Allen

I came to The River in September 2011 and from day one I was hooked on Jesus and wanted more!!!! So I got plugged in a Lifegroup and joined the 1st Impressions Team as a Greeter. I also began to Tithe and as I began to Tithe God began to bless me in so many ways.

Up until this point I had been in between jobs as a hair stylist and as a single mom. By November God blessed me with my own Hair Salon called Shear Beauty Salon that I was able to fully stick with equipment as well as 6 other stylist. God also blessed me with a new home. I was able to move out of my apartment that I thought I would have been stuck in forever.

As I grew in my spiritual walk with God He began to speak to me about going on mission trips. So I began to to sow seeds into other ministry’s whoever God lead me to and as I did that I began to get discouraged and prayed to God and asked Him to just give me the faith that I needed to just believe that He would come through. Within a day of praying this I received a $100.00 check then another $50.00 and I thought wow its happening. Then I received another $1,000.00 and I was speechless. All I could do was praise God and thank Him for doing so much for little ole me!!!!

Mark Chatom’s life was headed in the wrong direction when… Here is Mark’s story in his own words.

Mark Chatom

Mark Chatom

After the tragic loss of my son, I was headed on the road to destruction… Since the day I found The River, God caused a 360 in my life. God gives me hope and a future.

Now that I have given my heart to Jesus and received salvation I have a promise that I will see my son again one day & that gives me such joy!! He showed me that there are people that care – The River. He gave me an AWESOME Christian family I never knew I could have.

Today I serve as a leader of the entire security team at The River, on which God has blessed me with many spiritual sons that I get to mentor weekly. Because of The River I’m alive today and so blessed to call this place my HOME!

Completely broken, alone, and confused; Keri found the strength to PUSH through and find HOPE again… Below is Keri’s life transforming story in her own words…



I came to The River several years ago after Pastor Aaron Jordan invited me and my husband. The Thursday before we attended I miscarried our 1st child. Brokenhearted and lost I still went. From the moment I walked I had hope.

I continue to have hope to overcome. Now I walk with my head held HIGH and I am PROUD to be a single mom. God has already allowed me to be used to encourage and challenge others in their walk with Him. I thank God for the ministry He has given Pastor Chris Farley and the obedience that he shows each time that he stands to teach the Word.

My church is BLESSED with so many people that I’m grateful for. God is doing so MANY great things for this church and I’m so excited to be able to witness it. It’s the best extended FAMILY my daughter and I have been blessed with. One invite changed my LIFE!!! This is my family… THIS CHURCH IS MY HOME!

Kim Chambers knew God had a plan for her life, knowing there was no place to run she gave into His plan… Here is Kim’s story in her own words.

Kim Parker

Kim Chambers

I knew as a teenager God had a plan for me and I ran from it. I went off on my own looking for happiness, but it was a dead end road. I was a mom of two small children. I was in a relationship with a man who didn’t respect or appreciate me.

I was angry at everyone, but mostly myself. I was lonely, even though I was never alone. I felt lost, like I was living for nothing. No goals. No future. No hope. I felt like I was missing something, but didn’t know how to find it.

Knowing everything was at stake, I gave my life and my family to Him. My life has never been the same. My life isn’t perfect or easy, but I have hope. I know that my future rests in the hands of the Almighty Savior. I am encouraged, even though I could be discouraged. I live my life with goals, a better future and hope beyond belief. God saved me from myself. He is continually building my faith and trust. He has blessed me financially in ways that could only be from Him.

He has shown me my talents and gifts and how to tap into them. Gifts of Healing, Intercessory Prayer, Creative Arts, Visions and Words of Affirmation have helped define who I am. He has helped me to be bold in my belief and not to be ashamed of what He has done for me. He has given me a passion for those who lack direction, like I once was.

Brandy Chestang’s life had been turned upside down by TRAGIC events her life…This is Brandy’s story in her own words.

Brandy Chestang

Brandy Chestang

After the passing of my daughter in 2003, I came by The River just to say “thanks” for the support and prayer they had offered. After attending, Pastor Chris’ message confirmed what I was feeling in my spirit so… I decided to stay! The Lord spoke directly, “You need to be a part of changing THE WORLD here!”

During the last 10 years my life was turned upside down… drugs, affairs, death, debt, divorce…!! Little did I know the Lord brought me to a spiritual home that would love, nurture, and carry me and my kids through the difficult journey. The River was the one thing constant in our lives. A rock of God’s presence where we found refuge. We are on the other side now and blessed beyond measure!

I am SOOO glad I obeyed God to stay because not only did The River help carry me & my kids thru a difficult time I also met my now husband here! God blessed me with a great man who loves me and my kids!! I could not fully say how important The River has been to our family, but the Lord knows. THIS CHURCH IS OUR HOME!!

Will & Callie Dufour felt accepted and loved from the moment they stepped on the campus of The River! Callie tells their story below in her own words.

Will & Callie Dufour

Will & Callie Dufour

My husband and I were invited to The River in September of 2011. The first time we visited we felt so WELCOMED!

My husband was not raised in a church like I was so finding a church that said they wanted to “Create a Church That Unchurched People Love To Attend” was AMAZING! We both felt so loved, accepted, and not judged! In August of 2012 we attended the Discover the River class and were able to find the best place for us to begin serving in the church. I am now in the nursery on Sunday morning and my husband does security! We enjoy serving others!!

God has blessed us in so MANY ways since we started attending and serving at The River. We have been blessed in our MARRIAGE, FINANCES, and so much MORE! We are so blessed to have such an amazing church family! Truly, THIS CHURCH IS OUR HOME!!!

Rusty Bartlett found a home at The River. Here is Rusty’s story in his own words.

Rusty Bartlett

Rusty Bartlett

My life has always been a yo-yo effect, up and down. Since coming to The River I’ve gotten grounded. Learning to hang in there even through the valley. This is with the help of great Pastors and leaders! The River has the atmosphere of a small church setting in a large church! The Pastors here have such a passion for the members of this church and community, it’s unbelievable! It was hard to find a church that I could feel at home in, after attending the same church for 30 years but we’ve been made to feel at home here at The River!

Lynn Ortiz was terrified of “life” and what the future may hold, this is Lynn’s story, in her own words.


Lynn Ortiz

Before we started attending The River, I was sooo wrapped up in the fear of current world events that all I did was worry and hoard food! I worried about the rapture and whether my kids would be left behind and constantly drilled it into their heads, “Don’t take any kind of mark!” But once we began attending The River and 212, my focus began to center back on Jesus (and less on the world) and my two younger kids accepted Jesus as their personal Savior! Now my entire household attends, we each have a strong faith and we know God has us in his hand! No more worries! We love our church family!!!

Jim & Leslie knew something was missing….They just could not figure it out..Until…Below Jim tells their story.

Jim & Leslie

Jim & Leslie

When we started attending the River 2 1/2 years ago. We have a great marriage but there was still something missing. Little did I know that a “SMALL” lighting project at The River would become the missing piece to our marriage!

And so the journey begins…

Since we began our journey, we have seen God move in our lives in MANY ways. Through Gods mighty grace , I am a better husband , father, and just an all around better person!

I am proud to say that THIS CHURCH IS MY HOME!

Brandy wasn’t sure how she would raise her son Christian on her own until…Brandy shares her story below.


Brandy & Christian

River Kids has changed my son Christians life greatly. Christians father and I divorced when he was young. His father has chose to not be in his life so until attending River Kids..Christian had trust issues and always worried I would leave him too. He went to River Kids and after we got home that day he already sat his clothes out for church on Wednesday. He loves church, is more confident in himself, and trusts a lot more. He often comes to me and asks me to pray with him. When I drop him off at church now he is ready to go and does not look back. A few Sundays ago he asked Jesus into his heart. I am so proud of him.

Debra Smith was tired of “church” when….Read Debra’s story as told in her own words below.


Debra Smith

When I came to The River I wasn’t new to church. I have gone to church all my life. Most of the time it was just because that’s what I knew I was supposed to do. Out of obligation more than anything. I mean I loved Jesus, I was just burnt out on “church”. I was actually away from the Lord altogether when I was invited here. I came once and I couldn’t stop!! I just couldn’t get enough of The River! I came for about a month before I gave my heart back to Jesus.I immediately signed up to serve.

This is my 8th year here and I am still just as excited to be here! God has taught me so much through Pastors Chris and Melinda. I’m also proud to say that after years of refusing to go to church at all, my husband now attends with me and loves The River. I am extremely proud to say ” This Church is our Home”!!