Meet our Pastor Bill Rieser

Encounter was birthed in 2016 in the Santa Clarita Valley of Southern California. Pastor Bill Rieser and his wife, Carolynn, settled there after spending the previous decade ministering and leading recovery-type ministries in several churches around the country. 

Growing up, Bill played basketball on the outdoor courts in New York City. His 44-inch vertical leap had earned him legendary status among streetball greats on the asphalt playgrounds. But bad choices, life disappointments and a life apart from God had left Bill at an all-time low. It finally took a real leap of faith for Bill to reach extraordinary new heights. 

Bill’s faith journey began with a complete and sincere life conversion in his late thirties. Bill’s was a “road to Damascus” type of conversion, much like the Apostle Paul’s. Not unlike Paul, Bill’s only response was, “Lord, who are you and what would you have me to do?”. Bill’s former life had been ruled by his sinful lifestyle. That all turned around with one amazing Encounter with the living God. Bill invited Jesus to be his Lord and Savior and the Holy Spirit came to be his guide. Bill has been all-in with following Jesus ever since God’s grace saved him. His ministry verse is from Acts 20:24.

“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God”
— Acts 20:24 NLT

Bill and Carolynn have learned that having joyful freedom in this life comes only through a committed and surrendered walk with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. For them, there is no other path to break the chains of addiction and pain that come from adversities in life. They have observed that people can’t change themselves, but they can allow God to transform their way of thinking and coping. The people they have observed to be truly transformed, those who have really recovered from a former life of adversities, are people that really believe God is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do. Those people have decided to authentically follow Jesus and make Him the Lord of their lives. They have learned to replace untruths with truths – God’s truths. Bill and Carolynn believe that following God and His ways is the only pathway to true recovery and joyful freedom in this life.

Bill was introduced to recovery ministries after he became a pastor and saw such a need for it, especially in present-day church and society. He became a great proponent of recovery ministries; the biggest cheerleader for telling others that no one is beyond the redemptive powers of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Most pastors come out of bible college or seminary and offer great wisdom and counsel, yet some may not have experienced the depths of adversity that can come from dark choices or the the consequences of being deeply hurt and wounded in life. While all pastors, just like all of mankind, have indeed faced sin issues – the depth of their sin may not have been as dark as someone with Bill’s life experience. Scripture teaches that, what the enemy meant for harm, God can use for good. That is exactly what God did in Bill’s life, as he grew to love God and began to be used according to God’s purposes. 

Bill’s life experience and God’s redemption of his life and sin have given Bill an authentic appreciation for God’s grace and salvation. Bill knows that God has the power to turn lives around, because God turned his own life around. Bill knows there are no impossible cases, none too difficult for God. Bill’s perspective and authenticity are attractive to people who are struggling in life. Sharing what God has done in his own life helps Bill inspire other people and give them hope that their lives can also be changed and redeemed for the purposes of God.

After a decade of experience in the realm of recovery ministries, Bill is humbled to share some key factors that God has revealed as central to helping one really overcome life’s adversities so they can live in peace with God and others. Discipleship is essential to knowing God and His truths and being able to apply those truths to one’s life. When one becomes a disciple of Jesus and truly follows Him and His teachings, they are in a position to recover from life’s adversities. One recovers better in community with others through encouragement and through sharing with others what God has done in their lives. Those 4 Pillars – Discipleship, Recovery, Community and Evangelism are at the core of what we believe and do at Encounter. 

Encounter is planning to launch its new physical location in Nicholasville, Kentucky, at Church of the Savior in early 2019. March, 2019, is the targeted launch date. We will update this information as it becomes available” and “we hope to resume live broadcasts as soon as possible. Past video recordings can be seen on YouTube. God directed Bill and Carolynn to write a curriculum that is called the Encounter Study. It includes the 12 Anchors of Hope – a pathway to surrender, hope and healing. Those studies are held on different nights and they help people delve deeper into the 12 Anchors of Hope and the pathway to freedom and healing from life’s adversities.

No matter the past - God has a plan, a hope and a future for all who encounter Him and follow Him as their Lord. God changed Bill’s life and he lives to encourage and inspire others that God can and will do the same for every heart and life that is willing to believe and  trust in Jesus and follow Him as their Lord and Savior. Bill’s story is one of miraculous redemption. Bill has written about it in a book entitled "Vertical Leap" by Moody Publishers.