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Adam Williams’ improbable journey to Elkhart began in a hail of bullets on a dark road in the Mississippi Delta at 2 a.m. one morning in 1992.

“I just didn’t even believe it was happening,” said Williams, 35, who with his wife, Maggie, 31, now owns two popular Elkhart restaurants and is planning to open a third.

Leaving a nightclub with his brother, sister and sister’s boyfriend, Williams watched what seemed like a surreal slow-motion video as two vehicles full of masked gunmen drove by each side of their car with automatic rifles and handguns blazing. Then the attackers turned around and made another pass.

His sister was shot seven times and her boyfriend also was hit, wounds from which they recovered. Williams and his brother escaped unscathed from what was likely payback for an earlier fight.

As he lay on the floor of the bullet-riddled car, Williams felt, “It was almost like God wrapped his arms around me. I knew from then basically that I had a purpose.”

Williams’ journey is one that began, like many, with a dream. Stunted by poor choices, it was nourished anew with faith and love and now flowers with redemption. It is a story from which Elkhart and the nation might take a page as they struggle to make fresh starts in these troubled times.

The dream was simple. From childhood, “I knew I was going to be a chef and own a restaurant.” Growing up in Shelby, Miss., a town of about 3,000 where half the residents live in poverty, that seemed a tall order.

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