By Mark Ellis —
Karen Dunham had a turbulent youth that involved abuse, illicit drugs, foster homes, abortions and eventually prison. After her incarceration, she managed to turn her life around, until she stumbled into a corruption scandal that nearly took her life.
As Dunham put her past behind and charted a new course, she discovered she had an ability to make money. First she sold cars. Then she began buying and selling real estate in central Florida.
Her brother asked for her assistance when his house was mistakenly sold to satisfy a judgment. As she went poking around the courthouse to see if she could help her brother, she was shocked to uncover a morass of foul dealings.
“There was big racketeering,” Dunham says. “They were manipulating court files, falsifying judges’ orders, playing with the docket,” she says. “Shopping centers were being taken over and names were being changed.”
“I knew these people were stealing a lot of money and property out of probate. I also knew that at least one man had been killed to cover it up.”
Dunham decided to take her newfound revelations to the FBI. Two agents were assigned to her case, but whenever she inquired about its status, she was told the agents were working other jobs. “No one seemed to know what was going on.”
Frustrated, she called the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. After she explained what was happening, the man at the other end of the line said coldly, “If you stop, they’ll stop.”
Gripped with a determination to fight for justice, she became her own one-woman anti-corruption squad. She reported the attorneys involved to the Florida bar. “Every day I filed a complaint with some government office. They couldn’t take any more and they came after me.”
Suddenly strange things began to happen around her house. A single mom, she sat on the couch one night with her nine-year-old son Blake and noticed a dark gas flowing out of the vents in her living room. She quickly covered Blake in a blanket and peered through her window. She saw a large man standing outside her door.
She grabbed a loaded pistol she kept in the house. “I wanted to shoot through the door at that man standing on the other side, waiting for me to come out,” she recounts in her book, “Pushing the Pillars” (Living Bread International Church). “I knew no matter what I said, I would end up back in prison if I were to fire one shot.”
Dunham cut off all the electricity in her house and kept going to a cracked window to get air. She watched the man through the window until he finally left.
She and her son suffered no apparent ill effects from the frightening incident, but the terror was palpable. “My teeth were rattling with fear,” she recalls. She carried a gun whenever she left the house.
In the ensuring weeks, she received threatening phone calls, saw men standing outside her house repeatedly at night, and even thought someone had poisoned the food in her refrigerator. When she attempted to call 911 on one occasion, a man intercepted her call and said, “If you quit, we will quit.”
A friend’s boyfriend talked Dunham into having her jeep serviced and she was offered a loaner car during her wait. After she drove the loaner to her friend’s house, she happened to look inside the trunk. It was filled with narcotics, needles, and syringes. “I knew from my previous time in prison that the trunk had enough drugs in it to have me put away for life,” she notes.
“I realized my friend had sold me out to the mafia, because she was desperate to get her busted son out of prison,” Dunham says. “I could not believe what was happening. I went into shock. It was like being in a horror movie and not waking up.”
During this period of tremendous stress, she sensed the devil whisper in her ear: You’re going to die and you’re going straight to hell. Strangely, she experienced this brush with Satan in a tangible way. “When he opened his mouth his breath was on my shoulder and I could smell dead bodies,” she says.
Dunham’s sister-in-law, Wendy, a strong Christian, invited her and Blake to spend the night. She accepted, certain the change would be helpful in her traumatized condition.
As they sat in the living room together, Wendy said, “Do you want Jesus to help you?”
Dunham suddenly realized Jesus was the only one she hadn’t asked for help. “Yes, I do want Jesus to help me,” she replied.
“To get Jesus to help you, you have to get down on your knees and ask Him to come into your hearts,” she said.
Dunham and her son both fell to their knees. “Jesus, come into our hearts,” they cried out together. Suddenly, Dunham felt a “blanket of peace” envelop her body. Her fears seemed to evaporate. She had no fear of the mafia for the first time in six months!
“My teeth stopped rattling and the adrenaline rushes were gone,” she notes. “The terror seemed to have disappeared.”
Dunham faced rejection from her parents after her conversion. “They thought I had some serious mental issues. They kept saying, ‘We want the old Karen back.’”
After this, Dunham decided to leave central Florida. She sold all her belongings except for her jeep and a motor home and hit the road with her son. They stayed for a time in a Christian campground in North Carolina, then in a KOA in Atlanta.
“At that time I started having radical encounters with God,” she recalls. In one vision, God the Father appeared with Jesus and gave her this message, My Son wants you for a bride.
The next day the love of God infused her heart. “An incredible amount of love was pouring out of Him. I was saturated with His love, dripping with His love, and I began to shake. It was like lightning bolts from heaven shooting through my body.”
In the days that followed, she basked in a rapturous afterglow. “His love drove all the fear out of me. His arms were around me. It was like being in heaven.”
“Once my body had tasted His amazing love, there was no way anyone was going to take it away from me. It was greater than any drug or any fine wine. To this day His love controls me and will never let me go.”
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here
Dunham’s amazing ministry journey into the Middle East, where she has ministered in the refugee camps in Jericho and Gaza, is chronicled in a subsequent article. Karen and Blake founded Living Bread International Church and produce the Door of Hope TV program. She has offices in Jerusalem, Jericho, Gaza, and the U.S.
If you want to hear more about Karen Dunham’s life, listen to episode 1 of our Best of God Reports Interview Podcast with journalist Mark Ellis, go here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-1-karen-dunham-ministry-in-refugee-