A Mobster Captivates Our Church

This past weekend was electric at Willow, because of the dramatic story of a convicted mobster named Michael Franzese. Once a captain with the Columbo crime family in New York, Michael spent eighteen years in illegal businesses, making millions of dollars and, in his words, violating the laws of both God and man. Then in l985, Michael’s life took a huge turn when he met and was attracted to a young Christian dancer named Camille. The story of how the mobster gradually surrendered his life to God is a captivating tale of grace.

These days, Michael tells his story in many churches. He is an excellent communicator, and does not seek to glamorize the life of a mobster. He shoots straight, especially with men, about what it means to humble oneself and turn over control to God. Some friends I had invited could not make it, and I sat in church deeply disappointed I had not taken more advantage of this unique opportunity.

What I noticed most was the boldness with which Michael addressed our congregation. He held nothing back. He told the scandalous story of the gospel and stated that if he can be forgiven, anyone can. People lined up for literally hours after the services to speak with Michael. Clearly God used him to spur some folks to take a next step, to quit putting off their need to confess and come clean before their Creator. I suspect there will be new brothers and sisters in the kingdom family as a result of Michael’s ministry this weekend and wherever he goes. It’s just like our God to save the most unlikely of people and then launch that individual into the telling of a grace story. Sunday morning in church I was proud of my church for taking a risk and bringing in this man to give his message – but even more, I was so very proud of the God for whom absolutely none of us is a lost cause, the God who specializes in shocking us with the power of redemption.

Posted on Nancy Beach's blog, Sept. 11

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