Fortune Magazine once listed Michael Franzese at #18 on its list of the 50 most powerful mob bosses in America. At this summer's Kingdom Bound Christian music festival in Upstate New York, Franzese will give his testimony about how God radically transformed his life.
Originally from Brooklyn and New York City for many years, but now living on the West Coast, Franzese will travel to Western New York to come to Kingdom Bound 2005, being held July 31 through August 3, at Six Flags Darien Lake amusement park in Darien Center, New York, halfway between Buffalo and Rochester. At the festival, he will tell his story of transformation from a life in organized crime, where he was a captain in the Colombo Family, to a better life filled with faith, hope and love.
Franzese's life changed thanks to the power of a praying woman. The former mob man was heavily into organized crime when he met a 19-year-old girl, Camille Garcia, while producing a break dance movie in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, several years ago.
"I fell in love with this beautiful lady," he remembers, "and as it turned out, she was a strong woman of faith. She challenged me spiritually, and ultimately was responsible for me coming to Christ. I knew the life of organized crime was in direct conflict with the profession of faith I made, and knew I had to make a choice"
Cosmopolitan Magazine called Garcia the "woman who changed the face of organized crime." Franzese knows that his wife is one special lady.
"She stood by me when I went to prison, praying me through, raising our children, and she's still my spiritual rock after some twenty years of marriage."
Most mob men die horrible, untimely deaths. Not Franzese. At Kingdom Bound, he will specifically talk about how heï¿½s the only guy to ever quit the mob, not enter the witness protection program or go into hidingï¿½ and live, and do so without testifying or becoming an informant. He'll also talk about how he was convinced by the overwhelming evidence corroborating the bible, the courage of the apostles, and the strength and humility of Jesus.
"My message is simple" he says. "God can save someone like me, there is no one beyond His reach."
Franzese will also talk about something that both churched and un-churched audiences need to hear about: gambling addiction prevention. It's an issue he keeps busy speaking about at NCAA colleges around the country, as well as in front of members and staffs of several professional sport leagues, like the MLB, NBA, and the NFL. With the rise of Internet gambling and the popularization of poker, 85% of today's youth 12-18 have gambled, according to Barna Research. Franzese would like to encourage those with gambling addictions to seek help.
"Gambling addiction prevention is applicable to a Christian audience, too," he says. "Barna Research has found that Christians are as susceptible (to gambling problems) as those not in the Church community of faith."
Franzese is a man on a mission. If you've ever wondered what it was like to be in the mob, you should come to Kingdom Bound to hear about it first hand. In addition, you'll also hear about a God who rescues and improves the lives of those who need Him.
"My guess is that few have ever been around someone like me," he says. ï"Honestly, the only real reason they should come (to see me at Kingdom Bound) is not because of who I am, or was, but because of what God did in my life, to see a living miracle of grace. My prayer is that they bring that friend, neighbor, co-worker that feels too bad for God to love, too sinful for God to save. If God can save someone like me, He can save them too. I'm living proof!"