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June 19, 2021 3:00 am
In his past life, Michael was one of the richest and most powerful mobsters of his day, earning tens of millions of dollars from various criminal enterprises, but this is not the most incredible thing about Michael Franzese. By God’s grace, the impossible happened in Michael’s life: he quit the mob and lived. Christ transformed him from hardened criminal to follower of Christ.
This is an amazing and encouraging story giving hope that no one is beyond Christ and His transformative power.
This interview previously aired exclusively on A New Beginning radio.
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Everybody Greg Laurie here.
You're listening to the Grigori podcast and my objective is to deliver hopefully compelling practical insights and faith culture and current events. From a biblical perspective to find out more about our ministry. Just go to our website harvest.org so thanks for joining me for this podcast is sitting next to me is Michael who's become a good friend and you know of all the stories and testimonies approved over the years I've never heard one quite like this. I mean I've heard of guys coming out of a life of crime. I've heard of guys coming out of gangs. I've heard of people coming out of drug addiction, but I've never spoken to a person that was a made man, i.e. a good fella and sometimes we talk about the mob we call it the Mafia, but the Mafia is really describing more. The Italian arm of organized crime or my wrong and that know the Mafia really exists in Italy. Yet an American scholar. Cosa Nostra means this thing of ours and or similar organizations, but if you're made man in Italy not automatically made in America define a made man made man's need you. You propose into the family you take a blood oath and you commit your life to look Cosa Nostra took the blood oath. I did so this life of crime, which can appear so glamorous because of movies like the Godfather or Goodfellas and others that make it look like such an appealing life, even the young men today. You had that initial excitement and you were making millions and millions of dollars you are, what they called in the mob and earner correct correct.
I was totally exhilarated tonight. I took the oath was Halloween night 1975 and you know just want to be a made guy and I started out as a soldier rose to the position a couple to jam a couple is very powerful position and at life. So in the end of the organized structure of a family you have the Don who we might think it was the Godfather loss right a boss okay and then we have the what underboss the underboss and then we have the Will you have a Consol year Yahoo is the advisor allegedly to Robert is all in the Godfather correctly what he was fiction yes because he was anytime you have the Italian to be an outline all really. Your father has to be a test so your forth in command effectively correct and then are you going to move up the ranks, depending on if the boss is killed or something happens is is that sort of the.
The road to getting to the top and that structure is normally every boss was a cop regime.
First, just to show you reach the level of capo and exposition really could be the boss.
So you're made man your couple regimes that I say correct okay but you're making millions of dollars. You're becoming very successful and actually that becomes problematic because when you're to successful now you are potential threat to some of the other members of your family, or maybe even the other families right double edge sword Greg when you start to gain that power and and you know that recognition people in your own life start to look at you because it's a treacherous life. People are always looking for power and control and of course have a bull's-eye on your back from the government and I had it both ways.
So you were eventually arrested and what were you arrested for was indicted several times, twice or to federal racketeering cases RICO statute very serious.
Rudy Giuliani was first to indict me and went through a very lengthy trial had fortunately I was recorded in the Giuliani case and he had told me if you convicted Nguyen to give me 100 years as a kind of time that would give them up guys back in the 80s but I was recorded in that case and then within a year I was indicted again in Eastern District of New York for another racketeering case so you eventually serve time and what presence I was in federal prison.
So they really move me all over the country, but mainly my time was in terminal Island, California and at Lompoc health and one of the big things that can happen when you are rested his you're going to give evidence to the authorities so you can reduce your sentence or maybe get the relocation program but you never as they say, ratted out anybody. Did you know the government put a lot of pressure on me. They wanted me to turn become an informant because they knew that I was trying to make an exit from that light out wasn't what I was interested in doing how much time did you serve in prison about eight years eight years. So when you were in prison they put you in solitary confinement that you describe as the whole right right tell us what it's like in the whole. How big is that room.
What is it like in a typical day to be in a place like that well in federal system.
It's a 6 x 8 shell and you there 24 seven.
They let you out maybe five hours a week to take a shower and maybe hit the yard and it's you and for Walsh and really that's it.
So here you were at the top of your game. The media described you as the Prince of the Mafia, the yuppie Don making all this money now. You're rested now you're in solitary confinement in the small cell called the hole and there was a guard that did something significant for you when you were in the hall. Tell us about that and would happily grade that was my second stint in prison. I done five years was out 13 months and then they rearrested me and said it wouldn't put me away for the rest of my life so that first night in that cell. I can't even describe emotionally just how I had bought it. I mean it wasn't so much being in the cell because I'd been there before but it was the loss of everything. My wife, my children, my freedom everything that was there and we did mention that you are married at this point how many children said you married with the with the three children point and so I just thought it was all over 37 years old I'm losing everything. It was done and now is laying on the cylinder unit you know I say this at one time I was I would demean people that were suicidal. I would call them week and that night I wasn't suicidal but my heart hurt so much I wanted a close margin of Waco was too painful to think that's the kind of condition I was in and out prison guard walk by myself and put a Bible pursuit through the slot on the door fell on the floor and that's when I started to have my encounter with the with the Lord that you've read the Bible before never worded to start I could. Coincidentally, I would say I opened it up to the book of Proverbs and I saw a verse there that as I started reading. I was impressed by the brilliance of Solomon some kind of an analytical type of guy I thought was a brilliant book and then I came to a verse that just kind of stopped me cold, which was, it was Proverbs 16 seven says when a man's ways are pleasing to the Lord.
Even his enemies are at peace with him and I think when you have a lot of enemies and nothing but Anthony said the government had in Clermont you know side. It was really just stop me and it said will my ways are pleasing to the Lord, I'm a sinner and a bad guy and it just motivated me to read on a little bit more and you know I just kept reading at night and God had an impact was a first time that he spoke to my heart that I listened. When did you make a commitment to follow Jesus Christ prior to coming in the prior to that night I had made a commitment to because my mother-in-law, my wife will hold strong Christians had me accept Christ but quite honestly, it was self-serving.
I want to.
My sins forgiven. I had 1 foot in 1 foot out. It was more self-serving than anything else, but it was during enemies are interrupting is that when your mother-in-law said that she felt God was going to use you to preach to people all around the world. Yes. So here you are just brand-new in your faith, not even totally committed and yet she makes a prediction that ends up coming trip CS Lewis I thought she was in sandwich I that statement. I looked at my wife and I said no it's reports from other on an output. She saw something she was very godly woman and you know during that time in the cell. As I started to read more about Jesus and focus on Jesus. I was just so impressed with his manhood more than anything else. At that point and he gradually brought me along and I really just interesting. His manhood took the key you're a man's man.
No question about that. But what about the manhood of Christ impressed you would he mean by that.
We know growing up in that life all I was ever told is that I had to be a man's man that was the standard I had to live up to in life and so I looked up to a lot of guys.
My father the bosses and some of the families that they were men's men and so coming to Christ. For some reason I always had a a wimpy impression of him.
I don't know I just did the religious art portrays him as for the scrawny anemic guy yeah like he was in a real tough guy remand and so I separated his deity from his manhood, and I started to just focus on his character as a man I was just so impressed nights is wisdom. The way he conducted himself.
The way others followed him the strength he had during the passion and he really turned me on, will speaking of the passion of the Christ. Michael you of the film that's coming out in fact it was screened at the Cannes film Festival at the powerful film I've seen the early part of it. I've been privileged to have a small part of it myself. Talking about your amazing life but you give a great part of your film to showing what Jesus suffered, you have a crucifixion scene.
It was shot very professionally. It's very moving and you tie that in your own story this that this is a very important aspect of the gospel to you the manhood and the suffering of Jesus isn't yeah and I try to let men understand that no following Jesus you're following the greatest minute of water in the face of the earth in every way and the way we found it. We found it in a way to show how this man Jesus the man Jesus had an impact on this X mom guy and how we can have an impact on any man. So there's a man listening right now anything I don't need this religion. I don't need Jesus Christ that's good for other people. I what would you say to that guy that thinks he doesn't need God. You know, I never impose my faith or anybody you try to turn anyone into a Christian greatest not what I do, but I really encourage people to look at Jesus the man and understand how he was a dynamic person in every way and of course, him being our Savior.
I can only say that for 15 years of my life where he's brought me from to where I am now. I attribute that all to my faith in him. No doubt he was fully God and he was fully man. He went to the cross he died for our sin, he rose again from the dead need change the life of Michael frenzies when you were in the whole Michael you were able to receive our radio program and since were listening on radio right now. I thought it would really be helpful for our listeners to see how God has used this program to reach the most unexpected people in the most unexpected places. Tell us a little bit about the impact of a new beginning when you were in solitary wash did not hold today they came in every 29 months and seven days you count the days when you're in there and I've been given a Sony Walkman. That's one of the few items are allowed to what here was that this was in 991 and I started I never heard of your grade. Honestly, and I started listening to your radio show and I tell people you can imagine the impact that you had on me.
That's why I was so ghetto encouraged to meet you when I finally came out because your interpretation of the Bible.
I tell people it's not only reading the Bible, but those that are blessed like yourself to be able to interpret the Bible and let it come to life and really have meaning for me and I can honestly say you did more for me and that whole than anybody else because you you made what I was reading come alive and you put substance to it and it just help me so much and three years. While it is the Lord, you know, I first heard about Michael. He spoke of the church in the area and some of the others. This guy used to be a mobster. He talked about listing your radio program and he wants to meet you, and I'm thinking it's a little pensive at first and I understand why we have been and I was thinking is this real is this guy legit. I mean, how could you be a mobster and be out talking about. It seems like most of these guys are involved with organized crime are either serving time or they're gone.
They been whacked as they say, but you're out in this I got to understand your story how you serve time I really got it done in your life.
But I'll tell you when I first met Michael at three minutes. After talking to my thought this guys legit. This guy is the real deal. And this is a radical conversion. One of the most amazing conversions I've ever heard of.
I would compared to the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, the Christian color amendment renowned for his hatred of believers who meets Christ on the Damascus road and effectively. That's what's happened to Michael frenzies and and listen. If God can reach Michael God can reach anybody. I don't care what they've done. I don't care what sins they committed what crimes they've committed it all can be forgiven because of the death of Jesus Christ. As Michael described them the man's man on the cross. Yeah Pastor Greg today we are short of completing a circle. You know your teaching help change someone's life for number of years ago, a prisoner at the time and then he's gone on to have a successful ministry of his own and has written a book that were making available to our listeners so that these other people will see their lives changed. It submits a big circle of God is completed today. Yet, say it's a circle and it's a fulfillment of Michael's mother-in-law's prophecy if you will. Her prediction that he would reach people all around the world because he's doing that it Michael you travel all around the country speaking in all kinds of things don't you speak in prisons to write speaking prisons and you know just add something to this book, you really put my heart in this note because I believe anybody is really struggling and really needs encouragement. I kinda show them what I went through and how the Lord basically just pulled me out of this mess and know something I want to mention it's important. When I left the life in 1995 everybody and I mean everybody. The media, the government guys on the street all predicted my death camp because you don't walk away from that life publicly like ident without entering a program or something like that and live to tell about it and it's been predicted all over that I would never make it and I didn't know myself I was going to go because I don't ever so short the guys from my formal life and they put a contract on me. My father disowned me a minister was a bad time that we had with the Lord is taken me all through this and I put my faith in him and I used what resources he gave me to to survive this so you know, people should understand the matter what problem you're in your life no matter how far you think if soccer how you know sinful you think you might be the Lord can change all of that and hopefully an example that you are absolutely an example of Michael. If you would give these broadcasts.
These new beginning broadcasts are reach a lot of prisoners.
We hear from so many of them and that there's somebody right now listening to us and that there identifying with you.
Maybe you could speak to them in the position that there in and and let them know reassure them that God can meet them right where they are yes and in this book that I wrote that I really had a heart for inmates. Understanding what they go through not only on a daily basis but on an hourly basis and that is survive and to get through it emotionally, physically, and everything else and all I can say is that I was there I had reached the bottom. I understand how horrible it could be but in the three years that I spent in a whole. I actually had joy in reading my Bible and reading and realizing what God can do what he ultimately did do for us. So I tell people don't run away from God you know run towards him because he will he will lift you up when you're in your worst position there and at some point in time.
He does have a plan and a purpose for you and it will work out. I can say this. I've been in some hard-core prisons were guys will be in there for the rest of their lives and those that have set accepted Christ to have a joy in them that just blew me away. I mean, it would doing like they were never coming home, but they were at peace.
They had joy they want about their business and they seem to be happy with the knowledge that God has their back, so to speak.
I'm sure there's somebody listening to you right now who thinks that they just have too much baggage for the Lord to forgive them their thinking yeah yeah yeah but you don't know what I've done.
Speak to them in the situation at therein. What can we say that at some point in time just about anywhere I go. I was the worst person in the room. I mean I was hard-core mob guy. This was my life. I hated the government hated police and I was that kind of guy did what I had to do and that life and you don't do good things all the time. And if God can save me not only save me but give me my life, my freedom a wife that I adore children I love in a ministry that I never asked for if he can do this for me and he can and will do it for anyone you know I often hear in the movies mob guys talking about how their wives are saints and all that you've been through. I have to say your wife must be a saint. Well, if she's listening.
I'll be in trouble tonight by saying yes if you want more out of a big you know I she was a blessing.
I was tell her you replant God put you in my life and she says you're darn right but she's been amazing. You know just how she held me up in prayer and how does my order for all that time the student by me and you know she will tell you we had some tremendous struggles in our marriage. You don't go through. We went through eight years in prison and death threats. I mean, they even one point arrested her to try to get to me to have me take a plea and and cooperate with them and she will tell you that as much a she loves me if God wasn't in the foundation of our marriage, we wouldn't have made it through and and I love the Lord for that because I love this woman and we been together 29 years and four children now and were still going strong. I think and she was the first Christian that you'd actually met is not correct. I never even never met a Christian before her and she was a 20-year-old girl in your faith impress me as she did all talk to me about. I wasn't buying into our faith, but I respected her and eventually God got to me through her one-story house yesterday. It really is none thinking of ladies out there right now the maybe you're in a tough marriage and they're wondering if they can get through it in.
He is your husband serving time in prison. I mean, there's a TV show called mob wives. I don't think any I've ever seen it but I don't think any of them are actually mob wives, but Kami Michael's wife was a mob wife and she kept love and her husband and look what happened. So I'd save you ladies out there and marriages with guides that are totally walk with the Lord right now. Don't give up because look what God did for Michael and Camilla, well, I just have one final question Michael before you wrap up in our time is just about gone up by having you on the program today. Does that mean the pastor Greg and I are about to get whacked.
No, actually about to add to give you the oath and you get to be diagnosed with friends about us has had were in a new mob and God is the father and were out there spreading the gospel. Everybody Greg Laurie here.
Thanks for listening to our podcast and the learn more about harvest ministries. Please subscribe and consider supporting this show.
Just go to harvest.org. By the way, if you want to find out how to come into a personal relationship with God. Go to know God.org that's key NOW GLD.org