ENCOUNTERS WITH THE DIVINE

Social networks are wonderful things. How else could I make the acquaintance of a Mormon who lives in Vienna, Austria or receive a friend invitation from Jennifer Skiff, a former award winning investigative correspondent for CNN.  Jennifer contacted me via Facebook because we have something in common:  God Stories. The series I titled God Stories which caught Jennifer’s attention were short videos of pastors from the Greater New Orleans Pastors Coalition discussing what God had done in their respective ministries. Jennifer’s bestselling book, God Stories: Inspiring Encounters With the Divine was released November 2008.

The first time I walked into a protestant church, the people were giving testimonies; a story of something positive that happened through God’s intervention.  When I started writing about God’s influence upon human lives, I also called them testimonies. Most of my entries on NOLA’s faith blog are stories New Orleans natives have shared with me.  I write their stories from my Christian perspective colored by thirty-five years of faithful church attendance.  The God Stories in Jennifer’s book are written by the individual contributors which Jennifer edited and assembled into themes. She considers herself a Christian but choose to draw near to God through the beauty of his creation. Her journey has been purely spiritual and her selection of God stories untainted by religious bias.  

Reverend Millie Landis of the Fraternal Spiritualist Church planted the seed that blossomed into a book when she asked Jennifer if she had a God Story – a miraculous event that proves God exists. Jennifer was intrigued. She had three encounters with the divine that she had never talked about. The first encounter came through an out of body experience when she was twelve years old. Ten years later, she planned to drive from Florida to California and had a recurring dream about an accident. Her mother suggested taking a flight instead of driving. Jennifer opted to bring a friend on her road trip hoping the change in plans would change the outcome. Her friend was driving when they left San Antonio for El Paso. Jennifer fell asleep but felt like the car was rolling. The car suddenly stopped with a thud awaking Jennifer. Jennifer’s friend had fallen asleep as well. They got out of the car and a man pulled up behind them. “Are you alright,” he hollered. “Your car went up an embankment and flipped in the air three times but it looked like God took your car in his hand and set it on the highway.”  Her final experience was the miraculous healing of bone-marrow cancer at the age of thirty-two. A survey of friends revealed more God Stories and convinced Jennifer a Divine intelligence many call God exists. When her cancer proved benign, she was persuaded God had intervened, so she could live and work toward positive change in the world.

I laughed, cried and cringed through God Stories. Most of the stories were truly inspirational but there were a few I would not have included. If you enjoy reading the testimonies I post to NOLA’s faith blog, you will enjoy the encounters with the Divine in Jennifer’s God Stories.

Jennifer Skiff began her career as an editor and reporter for WTVX-TV in Fort Pierce, Florida. She went on to work as a news reporter in Bangor, Maine and Salt Lake City, Utah before becoming Assistant Managing Editor of a nightly national news program in New York City. From New York, Jennifer began traveling the world as a Correspondent for CNN, WTBS and CNN International specializing in environmental investigative reporting. She worked for the network for 14 years and is a contributor to CNN’s general news division. She has received the Environmental Media Award, a Gold Screen Award and has been nominated for the coveted Cable ACE Award for her writing and producing. Jennifer’s passion is animals and their welfare. In 1986 she started Dingo Productions to produce educational programming about animals and the environment. Her first series, “Wildlife Minutes” was picked up by The Discovery Channel and aired for ten years in syndication throughout the world. After witnessing atrocities against bears in the country of Laos, Jennifer, with the generous help of friends and the World Society for the Protection of Animals, initiated a campaign, worked with the communist government, and built the first bear sanctuary in that country. She is currently the President of the largest dog refuge in West Australia. Jennifer Skiff graduated from Texas Christian University in 1983 with a degree in broadcast journalism. Her second major was criminal justice. She divides her time between Maine, London and Australia where she lives with her husband Dr. Jon Sainken and their dogs, CousCous & ChickPea.

About Teena Myers

Teena is the Vice Chairman of the Southern Christian Writers Guild, author of three books and a freelance writer.
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