A Gangster for Christ – Part 1

In August of 1944 POWER magazine, distributed as a Sunday School take-home paper, published the following testimony of George Mensik. George was a deacon in my dad’s church, Marquette Manor Baptist, when we arrived in Chicago in 1954. As a 13 year old kid this amazing man made a powerful impact on my life. Here is George’s testimony.

This story will be shared on gracejourney.blog as a two-part series. The second part will include an audio recording of George’s testimony given during a preaching occasion.

When POWER heard the remarkable story of George Mensik’s conversion we knew at once that it would be of intense interest to all our readers. But POWER well understands and thoroughly sympathizes with George Mensik’s desire to keep his past in the past. There is only one reason now why he permits the story to be published here; that it might help some teen-ager turn to his Saviour.

Danny Stanton, notorious big-time gangster in the Chicago area for a number of years, had been filled with shotgun slugs and the police were on the prowl to pick up the most likely assassin. They were sure they saw one in the person of George J. Mensik as he drove his along Washington Boulevard that Saturday afternoon on his way to the Fisherman’s Club in Cicero.

Actual Chicago Trib front-page headline from May 6, 1943

The police forced him the curb, asked what he knew of Danny Stanton.

“Haven’t seen Stanton for six years,” responded Mensik.

“Where ya’ goin’?” they demanded.

“To the Fisherman’s Club in Cicero,” Mensik replied.

“Likely story,” said the officer, “There are no fishermen out there! They’re down in the lake.”

“These fishermen are Christians who call themselves ‘fishers of other men,” explained Mensik.

By this time Mensik had been frisked for concealed weapons. One of his pockets yielded his Bible, another a package of tracts. At the police station he was plied with more questions because it was known by headquarters that at one time he was a Danny Stanton henchman – before he had taken Christ as his Savior. Mensik urged the officers to phone the Fisherman’s Club at the Cicero Bible Church and check up on him. They did, and E.F. Gibbs, business manager of the church, picked up the phone.

“Why, yes, we know George Mensik,” said Gibbs. “He comes here nearly every Saturday afternoon for a meeting of the Fisherman’s Club. Its members are men who have been saved from sin by…” The officer hung up. He had heard enough. Mensik was released immediately. But before he left he had given his stern captors a straight-from-the-shoulder testimony as to why he left the underworld and became a Christian.

He began a life of crime at the ripe age of nine. George came from “back o’ the yards” in Chicago, which meant a very tough neighborhood. He was one of 12 children. He knew nothing of the Bible; in fact, hadn’t looked within its pages. Wasn’t his religion to take him to Heaven? George thought so!

From nine to eighteen George developed big-time technique. He organized his own gang and was in and out of reform schools like jack-the-box. During prohibition days he turned to beer running, driving a truck for a notorious bootleg character.

There was a string of burglaries to the gang’s charge. Ransacking homes became routine, stealing cars simply a change to break monotony. He and his gang were picked up periodically, but the police couldn’t prove anything. There always was a lawyer smart enough to get them off, one who knew how to “get to the judge.” The cost was heavy, of course, but it was a lot better than serving time.

A payroll stick-up was one job on his gang’s schedule. They carried machine guns neatly wrapped in newspapers laid across their laps as they drove to the scene. Their plans miscarried, however, for the truck bearing the money failed to show up.

The notorious Al Capone – Mugshot from the Chicago Police archives

On another occasion George drove the car which carried a contemporary gangster on what was to be his last ride. The body was dumped off right in front of the hospital. The intended victim lived. Some six months later, as George and another underworld character who was primarily responsible for the attempted bump-off, stood together is a saloon, the now recovered “corpse” walked in. George’s companion and the newcomer saw each other at the same instant, drew their weapons, and a few minutes later both lay dead on the floor. By the time the police arrived the “evidence” had vanished – mysteriously.

George Mensik lived with his wife and five year-year-old daughter on the south side. Mrs. Mensik was not well and in 1935 faced a serious operation. At the hospital a few days before the operation she began to tap the ether waves, via her radio, for a program offering help and comfort. She brought in the noonday broadcast of the Christian Business Men’s Committee from a downtown Chicago theater. The Gospel message touched her and she accepted Christ as her Savior a few hours before being wheeled in the operating room.

Six months later little Shirley, seated at the radio listening to the KYB broadcast by Aunt Theresa over WMBI, also opened her heart top Christ. That made two Christians in George Mensik’s home to pray earnestly for his salvation.

George saw a change in his family. Something had taken place. One day he came upon his own little girl praying.

Fearful, lest he would be angry, she timidly explained, “I’m praying for you, Daddy.”

Surprised, he asked, in a less harsh tone, “Why are you praying for me?”

“Well,” she said, “I love you, and Jesus love you, and we want you to be saved.”

Deeply touched, the hardened father stammered, “You just keep on praying for Daddy.” Every time he recalls that scene today, tears fill his eyes.

Evangelist George Mensik – Missionary to the Prisons of America

Part 2 will finish the story of George’s thrilling and life transforming testimony.

I wrote earlier about George Mensik at: https://gracejourney.blog/2019/04/20/grace-walk-becomes-a-grace-journey/

7 thoughts on “A Gangster for Christ – Part 1

  1. logosman

    Thanks, Gerry. He was at one time appointed as a missionary under the auspices of Baptist World Mission. Interesting! Was he ever a guest in your home when you were growing up??

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. George was the very first missionary of WCBM (as it was first known) and my mom was the first office employee. George was probably in our home, and I remember going somewhere in a car with him.

    He took Connie and I, plus Roy Vasquez, to the Sweden House for a meal when we were in seminary. I knew his wife and daughter Shirley very well. His son-in-law Roy Meeder was my Boys Brigade commander. George was one of a kind.

  3. You might be interested in my research and the process I followed to seek approval/clearance from David C. Cook to republish this article. I found out that the author is deceased, but he was an editor for Scripture Press in that day. David C. Cook basically communicated that they have no rights to the piece and emailed me a statement to that fact. They were very helpful, professional, and appreciative.

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