Testimonies of Grace - Frank Sirianni III
["Testimonies of Grace" are the public sharing of what God has done in the lives of the members of Grace Baptist Church. Frank Sirianni III, along with his wife Chrissy, are recent members of GBC.]
My name is Frank Sirianni, and I grew up in a Catholic family that went to church once a year, usually on Easter. Nevertheless, the good thing about being Catholic was that my parents made me go to Catechism classes where I first learned about God’s law, the Ten Commandments. I learned about God how that I had broken His law by sinning against Him.
But it wasn’t until seventh grade while at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes retreat that I first heard the good news (i.e., the true gospel) about how I could find forgiveness for my sins in Jesus Christ simply by putting my faith in Him. At that retreat, I learned that it was not about my works, but about Christ’s work on the cross that saves me. It was during that retreat that I learned Ephesians 2:8-9 which says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” I learned that salvation was a free gift, and all I had to do was receive it. As a result, I put my trust in Jesus to save me.
I remember being pumped about being a Christian. I read my Bible and sometimes carried it to school. I was involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes from seventh to twelfth grade, and even became president my senior year of high school. Perhaps what stuck out the most was that I didn’t drink (and in my high school, that was the epitome of holiness, even though refraining from the consumption of alcohol really has nothing to do with real holiness). That was pretty much the depth of my Christianity. I understood the gospel, but I never really understood how it applied to all of life. The problem was that I was never a part of a good, biblical, local church and therefore never matured in my faith. Having no real accountability, I just kind of skated along as this sincere, shallow Christian.
When I transitioned to life as a college student in Orlando, it didn’t take long before the surrounding temptations began to really pull at me. What the little bit of accountability that I did have-parents, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, my reputation as a Christian-was nowhere to be found. Even worse, I had no church family. Sadly, with one compromise here and another compromise there, it wasn’t long before I had pretty much walked away from the Lord, at least in practice. My life consisted of partying almost every night. I was a drunkard, sexually immoral, and lived only to please myself. I was bitter towards people, and although I knew I was a hypocrite, I knew it was all wrong. I specifically remember waking up one morning after a long night of partying and feeling so dirty that I just longed to be clean. I hurried into the shower, hoping somehow to scrub all the filth of my life away. The problem, of course, was that the dirt that I had allowed into my life was on the inside.
Around this time is when I first met my wife Crissy, and God really used her in my life. The bad thing was that our initial relationship was sinful; the good thing was that we knew it was sinful and that only God could make it right; however, for that to happen, He first had to make us right. Desperate for real peace, I finally repented of my sin and turned back to Christ in 1995. It was then that I surrendered everything to Him and made Him first above all things in my life.
I’ll never forget sitting there on the floor in my room, staring at this workbook that I had purchased many weeks earlier called “Experiencing God.” I had stepped over it 50 times since I bought it and never opened it up. I’m sitting there with this argument in my mind. “Just read it.” “No, I don’t feel like it.” “Read it!” “No!” Finally, I just crawled over to it and opened it up, and the verse for that first day smacked me right between the eyes. It was Matthew 6:33 which says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well.” God used that verse to show me that my relationship with Him had to be first, and until my relationship with Him was restored, nothing else in my life was ever going to be right or in order. With tears streaming down my face and my face in the carpet, I reaffirmed my faith in Christ. God had finally called me back to Himself. The prodigal had come home.
Crissy and I joined First Baptist Church of Orlando and were both baptized on August 13, 1995. At that time, we really started to grow in our faith, and we just couldn’t get enough of Bible study, fellowship, and ministry. I learned the hard way that nothing satisfies the deepest longings of our soul like Jesus. With Him there is true and everlasting peace and joy. Because of His sacrifice, I have peace and joy in my heart because I know that my sins have been forgiven. And because of His resurrection, I know that one day, this corruptible body will be transformed into a body like Jesus. Then I’m going to live forever with my Savior in glory. It is these eternal truths that have gotten me through some tough times here on this earth.
In 1999, God called me into formal Christian ministry, and I have been serving Him ever since. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And He really does. So, that’s my story.