When her 16-year-old son, Brent Lorenz, was shot and killed by a stranger in a drive-by shooting in 1992, Deborah Parnham said she thought her son's hopes and dreams of influencing others for good were over.
But Parnham, of Phoenix, said her son's desires were realized as friends and family accepted Christ as they watched Brent die and listened at his funeral.
And there was more work for him and God to lead her to do.
That work was to forgive her son's killer, whose name was Gabriel. At the moment she forgave Gabriel, she recalls, a power for good came into her life.
"Forgiveness is a choice, an act of the will that can set you free," she writes. "It is a daily choice that Jesus commands of us. Gabriel and I are living in freedom."
The two now are friends.
Her story is one of 71 similar tales of coming to Christ, compiled in a self-published book made available by the Main Street Church of Brigham City.
Sales of the book go to support the independent, nondenominational church and for future publishing and similar projects.
The book, "A New Song: Glimpses of the Grace Journey," is the result of a yearlong team effort by Christians from across the country, initiated by Diane Kulkarni, of Perry, who is a member of the Brigham City church.
Kulkarni, who said she became born again more than 40 years ago, said she was led to a ministry in writing as well as Bible study.
Her latest effort, which drew her to join Christian writing groups from across the country, led her to propose that dozens of members and leaders of these groups help her by writing, editing, photographing, collecting contributions and helping to arrange the publication.
The publication is based around the Old Testament Scripture Psalm 40:1-3 In the Holman Christian Standard Bible, the Scripture reads:
"I waited patiently for the Lord,
and He turned to me and heard
my cry for help.
He brought me up from a desolate pit,
out of the muddy clay,
and set my feet on a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord."
Kulkarni said she gets feedback from those who have read the book that tells her how the publication changes their lives.
She and others have sold nearly 600 copies since December. They have only 50 more to sell before they publish more copies of the book.
"I know that when people sit down to read it, they get inspired," she said.
The book includes photographs featuring the work of dozens of photographers and artists that also tell the story of transformation, hope and God's love.
"I'm truly grateful to God for giving me the idea of creative praise and for allowing me to glimpse into the grace journeys of those who have contributed to this collection," Kulkarni writes in the front of the book. "Their testimonies, stories, poetry, essays, art and photography have brought tears, amazement and the exact encouragement I have been eager to share with others."
The story of the cover art is told by photographer Sue Brooks, of Mesquite, Nev.
She writes that she was inspired by a fierce swelling of the Virgin River just before Christmas 2010. She said when the overflowing banks of the river subsided, it left deep impressions in the sand that created even deeper impressions on her soul.
"How easy it is to leave the firm foundation of the path our Lord has set for us to begin walking our own path in the ever-shifting sand!" she writes. "We exchange security and peace for an arduous and tiring path, leaving footprints behind as we go."
Brooks goes on to write about a doom that ultimately befalls those who leave God's path.
"Eventually, we realize that the temporal things we desperately try to hold on to only slip through our fingers like sand," she writes.
"It is when we finally call out in distress to our God that He pulls us out of the muck, out of the desolate pit, and sets our feet on the firm foundation again."
Another story that leaves lasting impressions on those who read it is by Katie Germer, of New York City, Kulkarni said.
It is the story of Germer's parents, Buzz and Ilene Germer, of Sun Valley, Idaho, who were killed in a single-engine plane crash along with Jay Call, a Brigham City resident who owned Flying J Inc.
"They lost control at an altitude of 9,000 feet," Kulkarni said. "Both of them were gone instantly, but their impact on their family and everyone around them was amazing."
Kulkarni said the only thing the sheriff found at the crash site was Buzz's Bible. Everything else had disintegrated.
"It was amazing what God was saying -- My Word is going to endure," Kulkarni said.
Also included in the book is the story of a woman who was faced with the diagnosis of her son's terminal cancer and the battle for his life that ensued as told by an Ogden woman, Shelly Kancitis.
The story tells of the life lessons the mother, Brenda, learned in the process.
"Brenda would firmly proclaim that she has an infallible, miracle-making, strength-bearing, awesome God who is the source of anything that is good in her," Kancitis writes. "And, she would say, don't forget to read your Bible regularly. It truly is the guidebook for life."
Kulkarni also gets excited about an invitation at the end of the book.
The last words printed in the publication are by Tim Hansel.
They state: "Grace is the central invitation to life and the final word. It's the beckoning nudge and the overwhelming, undeserved mercy that urges us to change and grow, and then gives us the power to pull it off."
The 190-page coffee-table book also invites those who own the publication to tell their own stories on blank pages at the end.
Following Hansel's invitation, Kulkarni said, people come to realize how God's grace is alive in them and how they continue to grow and change.
She said Parnham's story is one such example of continued growth.
"This particular story has the most compelling power," Kulkarni said. "It's a mother's worst nightmare, yet the power of forgiveness and God's love is unbelievable."
Parnham's faith journey has led her to speak to more than 45,000 teens and adults with the organization of a group called Life Sentence.
An independent documentary about her story, "Unlikely Friends," is soon to be released by filmmaker Leslie Neale, of Chance Films.
Those who are interested in ordering a copy of the book "A New Song: Glimpses of the Grace Journey," may do so on the Main Street Church of Brigham City website at mscbc.org. A link to the $18 book (plus shipping) is found by scrolling down on that page.
The link also features glimpses into the book, including the preface and a few of the stories, such as Kancitis' story, photographs and poems from the publication.
More information is also available by sending Kulkarni an email at email@example.com.