ATLANTA — Most would say Chuck Norris has reached the pinnacle of success. A six-time world karate champion, he starred as the hero in more than 23 films and wrote and produced his popular television series, "Walker, Texas Ranger." But success couldn't rescue the Norris family the night they faced a life-threatening crisis.

Norris felt absolutely helpless when his wife, Gena, went into pre-term labor with their unborn twins. But Norris also knew he could rely solely on God. He recounts the events of that frightful night in his new autobiography, "Against All Odds: My Story" with Ken Abraham, published by Broadman & Holman.

"I had earned millions of dollars over my lifetime," he writes. "I'd been a friend to several presidents, yet all the money in my bank account couldn't help me now.... There was only one person to whom I could turn." It was God. He'd been with Norris throughout his life, and this would be no different.

'God Has a Plan for You'

Carlos Ray Norris was born into a family struggling to survive, led by an alcoholic father who moved the family 16 times by the time the future actor turned 15. Norris' mother, a strong Christian and prayer warrior, never gave up or let her children give up despite living in extreme poverty.

"God has a plan for you," she told her son daily, convincing him he could, indeed, beat the odds.

His mother's enormous faith was a great example for the young Norris. It was she who insisted the family go to church wherever they were living. Norris began a personal relationship with Jesus Christ at an early age, and he rededicated his life to Christ as a young adult when he attended a Billy Graham crusade. 

Norris says his mother continues to be a great influence in his life.

"She loves Jesus with all of her heart and soul and made sure we understood that [growing up,]" he said, following a book signing in Atlanta. "She influenced me spiritually and instilled in me a sense of responsibility that carried over in my later adult life. She always told me 'God has plans for you,' and I didn't know what she meant. I think I do now."

Finding Forgiveness

You could say the action star's career "kicked" off as a young airman stationed in Korea studying martial arts. He wasn't initially strong, and success did not come easily, but within eight years, Norris became a martial arts world champion. He holds the distinction of being the first man in the Western hemisphere to receive an eighth degree black belt grand master in Tae Kwon Do.

The chain reaction that followed his success in karate moved him rapidly up the ladder of recognition. His karate championships led him to open a successful chain of karate schools and gain appearances on television, including "The Tonight Show." Eventually Hollywood took notice, and it wasn't long before he was cast in his first feature film.

But while his career path was leading to fame and fortune, his personal life bore the toll. Norris and his first wife, Dianne, divorced after 30 years of marriage. When their two sons grew up and moved away, the long distances and times apart adversely affected their relationship. Despite the divorce, he and Dianne remain friends.

Ten years later, life took a life-changing twist. A letter from a daughter he'd never known turned up in his mailbox. In his first year of marriage, Norris had committed a one-time extramarital affair while stationed away from home. He'd never known the experience had made him a father.

It would be hard for many people of Norris' stature to relay struggles in a book for all to read, but Norris and his new wife see the theme of forgiveness as a big part of their story. His daughter Deanna and her husband are now a part of the family, and there's been emotional healing all around – between Norris and Deanna's mom and Norris and his former wife, and new relationships between his sons and their half-sister.