The tale of Destiny Image began late in the summer of 1982. It didn’t start with corporate funding. It wasn’t founded by a successful businessman with a fool-proof business plan and millions of dollars in venture capital. It was started by a man who heard from the Lord.
At this time, Don Nori was co-pastor of a vibrant, growing church in south-central Pennsylvania. Don functioned as the prophet arm of the five-fold ministry for this fellowship of believers. He also worked in the advertising and sales department of a local newspaper.
One hot afternoon as Don was driving home from meeting with an advertising client, the Spirit of the Lord filled Don’s car. The presence of the Lord was so great that it startled Don; and the burden calling Don was so heavy that he soon pulled his car off Interstate 81 to pray. The next four hours were filled with the most intense visitation of the Lord’s presence that Don had ever felt. One after another, the Lord revealed visions to Don of a publishing ministry.
Sitting in his car, Don felt that the heavens were opened to him. A magnificent, unearthly praise filled his mind. The choirs of Heaven sang glory to the Lord Most High. In his mind’s eye Don could see that the heavens were alive with the joy of the Lord with an anticipation and an eagerness of fellowship that spilled into the car and into Don. Then God began to speak:
“I have much to say to this generation, but nobody cares. Nobody seems to know that I have much to say.” His voice filled with a great, unspeakable pain, the Lord continued, “No one cares about My heart. No one cares about My heart.”
As the Lord spoke, a vision was revealed to Don. He was in a great room that buzzed with a tremendous flurry of activity. Although Don had never been to a trade show, he knew instinctively that he was now seeing a Christian trade show. Buyers scurried over the floor. Sellers hawked their wares loudly. Everyone was too busy to notice Don and the Lord walking among them.
“Look at them,” the Lord began sadly. “They are all so busy. They all think they are doing My work, building My Kingdom, but none of them care about My heart. But none care about My purposes. No one cares to know what I am doing in the land.” The Lord paused as he allowed His words to sink into Don’s heart, then continued. “They are building their own kingdoms, securing their own place in the market. None care about My heart.”
With tears running down his cheeks, Don looked up to the Lord and cried, “I care about Your heart! I care about what you have to say! You know that I treasure Your words! You know that I melt at the sound of Your voice!” Yet there was no answer. It was as if the Lord had never heard Don’s cry.
The convention floor began to fade, the images of people hurrying to and fro slowly fading out of sight like smoke being blown by the wind. No sooner had the first vision ended than another began. This time, Don found his mind’s eye looking into a small, cluttered room. An editor sat at a desk in the center of the room, his sleeves rolled to the elbows and a visor on his brow to shield his eyes from the glare of the fluorescent lighting. The editor was busily working on a ream of paper in front of him, changing words, correcting spelling, and muttering quietly to himself.
Slowly, the door to the room swung open, and a man wearing a long, flowing robe walked in carrying a very large stack of paper. Instinctively, Don knew that the man was a prophet. Quietly, respectfully, the prophet walked slowly to the editor’s desk, his sandals flapping softly with every step.
Without a word, the prophet placed his tome in front of the editor, bowing low as he backed away from the desk. The prophet stood nervously, pulling at his long beard as the editor put aside what he was doing and reached for the prophet’s book. Without once looking at or addressing the prophet, the editor went to work. Muttering to himself, the editor began to scratch out large portions of text with his editor’s pen. “No one wants to hear this.” He occasionally crumpled up entire sheets filled with words. “You can’t say that and get away with it.” The prophet stood silently as the editor worked and mumbled, “You have to tell the people what they want to hear.” The prophet never interfered, but lowered his head submissively and occasionally cringed as the editor dismantled the word God had given him. In his mind’s eye, Don knew instinctively that the prophet was willing to do anything to get his work published, even if it meant compromising what God had given him.
The voice of the Lord resounded with deep indignation as He spoke to an amazed Don, “This is an abomination. It is an abomination for My prophets to submit their words to mere mortal men.” The last three words issued from the mouth of the Lord as though the taste of them was bitter. Once more the Lord spoke to Don’s heart: “I am looking for a prophet to publish the prophets.” In the heat of that early August afternoon along Interstate 81 Don found himself crying out to the Lord: “I care about what You have to say!” Without quite knowing what he was saying, Don responded to the call of the Lord. “I’ll do it! I’ll publish the prophets! I care about Your heart! I’ll do it!”
Again, like smoke being blown by the wind, the vision faded. The sounds of angelic choirs, the heavenly anticipation, and the overflowing joy of the Lord all sank away, leaving Don alone in his car. All was quiet, except for the dull hum of cars and trucks passing by on the highway. Don was alone. For a moment, he simply sat in awe at what had just happened to him. Then the abrupt end of the visions began to worry him. “Did I say something wrong?” Silence. “Did I say something out of order?” Silence again.
For the longest time Don sat pondering his next move. Had it been a dream? A hallucination? Perhaps it had merely been an overactive imagination. Without warning the heavens once again opened to Don as he sat in his car. The glory of ageless wonder and magnificence enveloped him, and a music that was beyond beautiful once again flowed into his mind. “If you will guard My word as silver, and your integrity as gold, I will cause you to publish the prophets.” The deep, resonant voice of the Lord spoke to Don’s heart: “I will cause you to be to this generation what I intended another before you.”
As quickly as it had come, the presence of the Most High was gone, and again Don was left alone in silence. After a time, Don eased his car back onto the highway and drove slowly homeward, there to face the first challenge to the burden God had placed deep within his heart: his wife, Cathy. Cathy sat in stunned silence as Don related to her, as best he could, what had happened to him. “I think I need to do this,” Don told Cathy, seeking approval or denial of his burden.
It was Don’s turn to be stunned when Cathy revealed to him that the Lord had spoken to her also. “This is our purpose,” she said. “This is what God has laid upon our hearts for us to do.” So Don and Cathy, their minds full of the fear of the unknown and their hearts at peace in the Lord, began planning.
For several days afterwards Don felt the presence of the Lord rested heavily on him, continuing to reveal more of the Lord’s vision for his life. Whispers of things many years distant echoed in Don’s mind. Every time the Lord touched Don’s heart, Don repeated, “I’ll do it. Whatever you want of me, I’ll do it.”
With Cathy pregnant with their fourth child, Don spent the next five months diligently lining up prospective clients so he could support his growing family as the Lord led them into ministry. While Don had two degrees, one in education and another in environmental studies, he knew nothing of publishing. Don spent his time selling printing jobs, printing equipment, and other items related to printing and publishing as he waited on the Lord to direct his movements.
As Don’s last day at his regular job approached, Don asked the Lord what to call the company he was being led to start. Almost immediately the voice of the Lord spoke strongly to him, “Destiny Image, because you are destined to be conformed into My image.”
January 1, 1983 arrived, and with it the birth of Destiny Image Publishers. A small wooden desk purchased from a local auction house and a black rotary phone found their way into the family’s living room, now also the headquarters of what would eventually become one of the largest and most well-respected companies on the Christian landscape.
The birth of Destiny Image was followed a scant two months later by the birth of Don and Cathy’s fourth child. Running Destiny Image from the living room of the Nori household soon became a finely choreographed ballet of silenced children and muted television when the phone rang, so that Don could answer the phone with some semblance of professionalism.
Those first years of working out of their living room brought Don and Cathy trials of fear and uncertainty as God was faithful to test their resolve again and again. Ultimately, the burden of the vision of Destiny Image was burned so powerfully into Don and Cathy’s spirits that they would never again ask the Lord, “Are You sure we heard You correctly? Are You sure we’re the right people for this?”
There is an ever-growing sense of the moving of God’s sovereign hand in all that is done. From these obscure beginnings in 1983 God has raised up a company of people who share the vision of Destiny Image, who through their faith in the Lord are changing the world.