Raul Ries Bio

Known, now, as a compassionate pastor with a tender mission, Raul Ries was once known as a violent, dangerous combatant. In High School, after a brutal fight, Ries was given the “option” to go to jail or join the U.S. Marine Corps, so at the age of 19, Ries headed towards Vietnam in the 1st Marine Division for a special combat role in a highly trained and aggressive Marine battalion.

As he witnessed the deaths of his fellow Marines, Ries’ anger towards the world grew into fury. His Tour of Duty in Vietnam was from December 8, 1966 to September 15, 1967. After spending six months in Oakland Naval Hospital, he was honorably discharged, receiving two Purple Hearts from the Marine Corps.

In civilian life, Ries became successful in his Kung Fu studio, as a first generation student of Grand Master Jimmy H. Wo. By all appearances, he had everything he wanted, including a wife and children. Nevertheless, what Ries needed was peace, but he was obsessed with violence and angry at the world.

After years of abusing his wife, Ries came home one night to find her bags packed. He took a .22 caliber rifle out of the closet and loaded it. His intentions were to kill his wife and children, then shoot it out with the police to end his life.

It was at that moment that a miracle took place. As he hit the television with his rifle, the program came on and he saw Pastor Chuck Smith talking about the love of Jesus Christ. Ries accepted Jesus as his Savior and had found peace at last.

That peace continued for more than 40 years, as he grew closer to the Lord, until one fateful night in February of 2007. At the Wednesday evening service, Ries knew something was wrong physically but what lay ahead was completely unexpected.

While working on a new documentary, “Taking the Hill: A Warrior’s Journey Home,” to minister to veterans of all wars, Ries experienced flashbacks for the first time since the Vietnam War; he was alone and surrounded by the enemy in Vietnam. All five senses were alert to the sights, sounds and smells of the jungles of Vietnam.

He knew, rationally, he was in his home in the United States but the fears of war came rushing back. Both he and his wife, Sharon, thought their time in ministry was coming to an end, as the flashbacks grew more intense and more frequent. After some medical tests, Ries was diagnosed with seizures that affect the senses. All this took place just weeks before a scheduled trip to Vietnam, returning for the first time since the war.

That could have been the end of his ministry, but his family, the church and Pastor Chuck Smith prayed for him. After much prayer, he felt the Holy Spirit heal him, and his ministry has been enhanced by this experience.

As a Vietnam Marine veteran, Ries has always had a heart for the military and their families. After his experience with flashbacks, his compassion grew and he has been compelled to minister more to the men and women serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world, along with their families.