Christian Encounters, a series of biographies from Thomas Nelson Publishers, highlights important lives from all ages and areas of the Church. Some are familiar faces. Others are unexpected guests. But all, through their relationships, struggles, prayers, and desires, uniquely illuminate our shared experience.Francis of Assisi has inspired the church for centuries. Francis took the gospel literally, following all thatJesus said and did without limit, and his devotion led to a life filled with miracles and wonders.Born to a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, Italy, Francis didn't seem destined for the life of prayer and poverty that he chose. Bankrolled by his father, and with natural good looks and personality, Francis indulged in worldly pleasure. He had a ready wit, sang merrily, and delighted in fine clothes and showy display. Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking ways and led him to a life of prayer and unbridled devotion to Scripture. He gave over all his possessions to the poor and embraced a life of simplicity and poverty, transforming him from a self-centered youth to a man living for God and a model of complete obedience.