God was working on George Mensik. One day early in the year of 1937 he told his wife and little girl that he would go to church with them. They had not attended church since they became Christians and did not know just where to go. The radio provided their “church.” So a letter was written to the office of the Christian Business Men’s Committee asking for a suggestion as to what church they might attend. Instead of a letter, the Mensik’s received a visit from E.G. Zorn, at that time executive secretary of the committee. Then he learned the story. He then recommended the Marquette Manor Baptist Church, not only because it was close by, but because it also stood for genuine Christianity.
That is why on the morning of February 28, 1937, Mr. and Mrs. George Mensik and the daughter walked in the church. Rev. M.A. McCone was preaching during special services. Back home at the dinner table, George looked at his wife. “Did you ever tell that preacher anything about me?” he asked. She never had seen or known the evangelist before. Her husband was curious. The preacher seemed to talk about him all during the sermon. George decided he would go back that afternoon to check up. Again the message seemed for him alone. Mensik left the services deeply stirred.
Marquette Manor Baptist
6001 S. California, Chicago, Illinois
At the door Pastor E.O. Odegard grasped his hand very warmly. He asked Mensik if he were a Christian. George assured him that his wife and daughter were Christians. Mr. Odegard saw at once that he had a real opportunity to present Christ and pressed his advantage. He then invited Mensik downstairs to a quiet room where they might talk man to man. Before they left the room another sinner had turned to the Savior.
The announcement at home struck joy to the hearts of his family. Now the three could be united in fellowship and prayer. But George knew only how to make his living with his wits. At that moment he was a card dealer in one of Danny Stanton’s gambling joints, and for two and a half months afterward he worked steadily at his job. Then, one afternoon God spoke to him: “What are you doing here?” George stopped, realizing for the first time that as a Christian he had not business in such a place. He shoved the cards across the table to the boss and said he was through.
“What’s the matter, aren’t we paying you enough?” asked the surprised operator.
“I’m getting plenty,” explained Mensik, “but I took Christ as my Savior a couple of months ago, and I don’t belong here. I’m leaving!” And he did.
When he told his wife he had given up his place as a card dealer, she said, “Thank God! I’ve been praying that you would.”
The first job George landed was as a night watchman with a mail order house. Several months later he was told he would have to carry a gun. That meant obtaining a permit from the detective bureau. Apprehensive of what might happen next, George went with a company official to the bureau where he was listed under his right name and several aliases. In a few minutes his record was dug up. It was bad. There would be no permit. The mail order official was rather sympathetic but told George that, of course, the job was off until he could clear up his record.
Back home he sat down and wrote a letter to Chief of Detectives Allman, acknowledging his past life, but recounting his conversion and asking if the chief wouldn’t intervene on his behalf. He needed an honest job. That night George took the letter to prayer meeting and the entire group went to its knees.
A few days later a reply came from Chief Allman. Mr. Mensik was to return to the Detective Bureau and renew his application. He asked for Christian business men to accompany him as character witnesses. There, before his amazed eyes, the bureau officials not only granted him the desired permit, but removed his finger prints and photographs from the crime files, and destroyed them.
Mr. Mensik heard about the Fisherman’s Club in Cicero and began to attend Saturday afternoon meetings. He was thrilled with the testimonies of twice-born men, some of whom were saved from lives of deep crime. Their fellowship gave him courage and zeal to win others. He applied for membership and found that the application form had a “catch” in it for him. No smoker could be allowed as a member! George was a heavy smoker, chiefly of marijuana. The form stayed in this pocket for six months. One Sunday evening as he stood outside the church he decided on the basis of Philippians 4:13 that he could get along without smokes. He destroyed all he had.
Today this man is greatly used of God to point other men and women to his Savior. Frequently he is invited by churches in other cities to spend a week-end there, testifying for Christ. He has witnessed in a great many rescue missions, hospitals, jails. For four and a half years he has been employed by a steel company in the Chicago area.
His employers permit Mr. Mensik to carry on his Gospel work in whatsoever way he desires. Once a week at two company plants he holds a shop meeting. The company pays for all the supplies for a tract rack maintained in the plant, and they have provided him with $150.00 to spend for soldiers’ Bibles. Every afternoon a prayer meeting is held by 17 plant Christians, some of whom are Mr. Mensik’s converts. George Mensik is a living demonstration of the power of God in the life of a man saved from sin.
This account was published originally in “Power” magazine in August of 1944. That publication was produced and distributed by The Scripture Press of Chicago. Today Scripture Press is owned by David C. Cook of Colorado Springs, CO. The story was also reprinted in the book, “I Was Born Again” in 1947. That book was a collection of “Conversion Stories” compiled by Norman Wingert, and published by E.V. Publishing House of Nappanee, IN.
George Mensik went on to become an evangelist for the famous Pacific Garden Mission. And then became the very first missionary appointed by the Baptist World Mission, as a missionary to the prisons and prisoners of America.
3 thoughts on “A Gangster for Christ – Part 2”
An excellent and inspiring account of the reality of God’s grace, Dr. Carlson. Thank you for sharing it.
Great story! Thanks for sharing it and retelling it for today’s generation, Gerry! Have a great weekend.
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I remember as a young girl how thrilled my sisters and I were learning that George Mensik would be speaking in our evening service at Marquette Manor Bap. Church.
We loved the stories he told of leading people to Christ in the prisons and getting “rubber legs” for the children he knew who had no legs. He would always cry and say, “I just want to be a little prison boy for my Lord.” Such a blessing to read his testimony again after almost 60 years.
Francine Saunders Lowe