Jerry De Florio

Jerry De Florio

Jerry De Florio was the seventh of nine children born in an Italian family. His family was so poor he used to borrow clothes from the neighbors in order to have something to wear to school. So as early as fourth grade, he began to feel the effects of stress that go with the fear of never being able to measure up.

   At the age of 27, when he found himself the co-owner of an auto body shop with his brother, he thought he had it made. Then unexpected problems hit. Not even knowing how to write a repair estimate, Jerry had to take over the front office. There he struggled to learn administration while battling both problems at home and a heart ailment which was greatly aggravated by intense stress.

   But after his salvation, God both prospered his business and showed him how to put his family life in order.

   I stood alone at my desk, tied into knots by my jangled nerves. Tears gushed out of my eyes.

   "God, I don't know what to do," I said, thankful that all the employees in my auto body shop had gone home. "I've never been anything in my life, except ridiculed and laughed at. Please help me, God. I feel like I just want to take off, leave my family and everything else behind. The responsibility is too much of a burden."

   When I cried out to the Lord that December evening in 1977, I didn't know about the Scripture which says that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. I just knew I needed help.

   After dropping out of high school at 16, I bounced around odd jobs for a couple years before learning the auto body trade. Then my brother asked me to go into business with him. My first response to this was fear and insecurity. I told him I didn't know if I could be his partner because I wasn't a businessman, but he wanted me to try it anyway.

   Since he had experience managing the body shop at a car dealership, I depended on him to run the front office while I customized, painted and repaired dented cars. After opening in 1970 in an isolated, two-bay facility, three years later we moved to the main highway and doubled in size.

   Everything ran smoothly for a few years, until my brother's wife decided she didn't want to be married anymore. Since he had married young and had five children, the stress tore him apart.

   Suddenly, routine procedures were being ignored. Parts shipments would arrive and the customers wouldn't be notified. Payments were late or not even paid. Bank overdraft notices (unheard of in the past), began showing up, and soon I was taking out loans to pay loans. It got so bad my brother couldn't pay his rent.

   In the middle of this nightmare, he asked me if I would buy him out, since the pressure on him was too heavy.

   "I was taking out loans to pay loans… Then things got worse."

   "Just what I need," I thought after we talked.

   Then things got worse. One morning as I walked into my kitchen, a tremendous pain seized my chest, forcing me to go see a doctor. He diagnosed it as pericarditis. This was a virus which would have caused pneumonia if it had settled in my lungs, but instead it entered the lining of my heart, inflaming and enlarging it.

   This physical setback touched off a raging fear of dying. Despite many assurances by the doctor and my wife that I was going to be fine, I refused to believe them. My alcoholic father's frequent absences from our home had planted the seeds of fear and insecurity in me when I was very young. Now they were bearing fruit.

   In order to relax during a forced eight- day break from the business, I took more Valium than my physician prescribed. It worked. Soon I was walking around the house higher than a kite. But this dream state during the day didn't prevent me from waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.

   "You're going to die," a sinister voice hissed in my ear at that time. "And when you die, no one's even going to miss you.”

   All these pressures were caving in on me, and that afternoon 1 wept before the Lord, not knowing if He even heard. But two days later, unexpected help arrived when I went to see my accountant. I thought the guy was fed up with me for all the times I walked in without a business ledger, carrying only loose slips of paper with notes jotted on them.

   That day, he looked at the pain oozing from my face and said, "Jerry, let's put all the business stuff aside and have a talk. You need Jesus."

   Who is this guy? I wondered.  Is he Christian secret service agent? Now come he never talked to me about the Lord before?

   He invited me to attend a prayer group he led at the Methodist church, but because of my Catholic background, I wasn't sure if it was all right to go. Finally I decided to drop in. Since nothing too strange happened there, my wife and I accepted his invitation to also attend a Full Gospel Business Men’s meeting.

   I didn't know who these people were,   they had something I needed. That night, the testimonies of healing touched me, but what brought me out of my chair was the speaker's question, "If you died tonight, would you go to heaven?"

    I looked at my wife, then at my accountant and bolted up the aisle with a prayer request for my business. Nothing happened to me that night, but I was still receptive when my accountant later asked me to attend the Full Gospel Business Men's World Convention in Anaheim, California, in 1978.

   At my first breakfast meeting, I was stunned by the vast number of men sharing about family healing, love, and how God had put their businesses back together. When they gave the altar call, I went forward again. This time I definitely wanted to know more about this Jesus!

   But the thing that thrilled me most occurred several days later when nearly 300 of us rushed forward at an invitation to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. We were then led into a room behind the main ballroom where a tall lanky man wearing a cowboy hat (who turned out to be from a town in Connecticut just 70 miles away) came over and put his hand on my head. Suddenly a power hit me and warmth flowed through me gently. I felt a load lifting off my shoulders, stress rushing out of my neck and the fear of dying fleeing. For good.

   I could have flown home without an airplane, feeling high on Jesus. Now there was no doubt in my mind that Jesus was real and that He loved me! As soon as I returned home, my business began picking up. Although I still felt ill- equipped for office work and was barely muddling through many of the administrative details, God filled me with an unexplainable peace. Little by little, as I asked for His help, I became more knowledgeable.

  ["We had to forgive each other for not taking our proper roles in the family, as well as forgive our parents for not teaching and showing us the way a home should be organized."]

 By the time I had enough confidence to buy my brother out; the flow of customers had improved so dramatically that I tripled the size of the shop to 13 bays and canceled my Yellow Pages advertising. We already had all the trade we could handle via word of mouth.

   In addition, I resolved the problem of bank overdrafts by giving to the Lord. One afternoon, I felt led to write out four checks totaling $450 to Christian minis-tries, at a time when I only had $900 in the bank. The overdrafts disappeared.

   But the Lord's most impressive work in my life was yet to come. Like many men in our topsy-turvy society, I was failing to assume a key responsibility as the head of my home. Even after I had been saved, was an elected officer in FGBMFI, and had led dozens of men to the Lord in my office, domestic turmoil wrecked my life.

   As I mentioned earlier, during my boy-hood, my father disappeared for weeks at a time on drinking binges. When he was around our home would be filled with verbal abuse. As a result, I was extremely close to my compassionate mother who longed for peace and quiet.

    Because my father contributed so little support, I was even granted a hardship discharge from the Army to help her. I was so locked into this, that when my wife, Donna, and I got married, I felt so guilty about leaving my mother alone that we lived with her for the first six months of our marriage. That's not the greatest way to start a lifelong partnership!

   Then I was quickly propelled into fatherhood, a role for which was ill pre-pared. I had an awful problem trying to relate to my three girls because I'd never had a positive male role model. As they started to grow up, I found it difficult to make decisions concerning their up-bringing or how to discipline them. The burden got to me, and I was confused.

   At this point, my wife had no choice but to take over the headship of our home herself. Seeing this, something inside me ached, but I didn't know why. All I knew was I felt miserable when I was home ... like a confused little kid.

   The reason was my priorities weren't in order. Instead of being the leading disciplinarian, as the Bible instructs, I was the compassionate softie. If my oldest daughter was misbehaving but wanted to go out, I'd let her. This would create a confrontation with my wife who would yell, "Why did you let her go? You know she's going to get into trouble!" And she did: she got into drugs.

   Yet every time my wife would raise her voice, it would trigger memories of my father coming home drunk and raging on and on. So battling tremendous inner anger I'd plead with Donna, "Don't do that!"

    Sure, my business was going well. Sure, we had money. So what! I was losing my family and I couldn't take it.

   Meanwhile, all this was affecting my smallest daughter, Sheri, too. I would try to hug her and hold her close while my wife was yelling and trying to put her in her place. This made Sheri turn on me. Sometimes she would say, "I hate you Daddy." I know she didn't mean it, but how it hurt! She would always go to her mother instead of me, although I was the one who was desperately trying to win her love.

   This crazy situation went on for years. Finally I realized what a mess existed in my home, and decided to talk to Donna and one of my daughters about it.

   "I've had it," I said. "I can't always come home to strife and these arguments. I've been asking God for a long time to help me."

   Soon afterward, Donna heard about a Christian couple who counseled people with marital difficulties and suggested we meet with them. I was in a bad mood at the time and responded, "Yeah, why don't you go see them? You need counseling anyway."

   So she went. In their first 90-minute session, they told her what she needed to know about her correct place in the home, and my role as well. When she told me what they had said, I knew these folks possessed some extraordinary    wisdom. Grasping for hope, I agreed to accompany Donna to the next counseling session.

   The first thing they instructed us in was forgiveness. We had to forgive each other for not taking our proper roles in the family, as well as forgive our parents for not teaching and showing us the way a home should be organized.

   Although my father had died in 1974, I also had to forgive my father for all the hurt he had caused in our home. Strangely, I didn't hold any bitterness against him; I just never knew him or figured out how to relate to him. But I'm sure that deep down I did resent him for the chaotic nature of our family — the close brother I lost to suicide, the divorces that have plagued my other siblings, and the problems with my many troubled nieces and nephews including two more suicides and drugs.

   Once Donna and I had forgiven those past sins, the door opened to God's ministry and His love.

   "God is going to teach you and show you wisdom," the counselors encouraged me when I told them how inadequate I felt at making the right decisions in my home. "He will be your teacher. Don't be surprised if you start saying some things you've never said before, because God will bring them to your mind. If you make a wrong decision, don't worry about it. He's bigger than wrong decisions."

   They also cautioned us not to get too excited if at first Donna fought the idea of me assuming my proper role. Even though she resented being thrust into the leadership position, giving it up wouldn't occur overnight, they explained.

   Their prediction proved quite correct, but as I have become a godly husband, it has decreased my wife's burdens and both our stress. The change has been positive and has affected our children, too. As they observe the working of authority as God intended, they have begun to respect us, diminishing their rebellion.

   Why God chose to heal my business before He healed my home, only He knows. But despite my own experience, I'm a firm believer that unless your house is in order, your business won't be fully straightened out, either.

   For now, I just praise the Lord that He chose to save me and perform supernatural miracles in my life, as well as the lives of those closest to me. Believe me; He can do the same for you.

   Jerry De Florio now has seven employees at De Florio's Auto Body, where testimonies and Voice magazines decorate the walls of his front office. In a separate, private office, he also prays with people and they get filled with the Holy Spirit. Now in his third year as the International Director for the Connecticut chapters of Full Gospel Business Men, he formerly served as president of the Norwalk Chapter for six years and as a field representative for two years. He is also on the board of Women's Aglow for Fairfield County. Jerry and his family attend a church operated by Bright Cloud Ministries in Bethel. He and his wife, Donna, have been married for 22 years and have three children: Kim, 22; Michele, 17; and Shen; 5.

 

Jerry and Donna De Florio are an                                                                                                                                                                           obviously happy couple now that their role structure has been rearranged by the Lord.

HOLY SMOKE HANGOUT

An Arm of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship in America

Holy Smoke Hangout is a youth and youth adult outreach ministry in Norwalk, CT.

How it Began

   Holy Smoke Hangout Ministries was birthed out of the heart of Jerry DeFlorio in 2012. It was always on Jerry's heart to reach the young people, and to bring them hope and direction in their lives. When his good friend Joseph Corley caught the vision of what God wanted to do with the youth, he teamed up with Jerry, and they began working together. Jerry saw that we were losing a generation of young people, caught up in a promiscuous society as referred to in the Bible: 

   "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:1-7, NKJ).

   Jerry then began praying with a team of five people for about a year for a lost generation, asking God what to do. Shortly after, he attended a prayer meeting in Stamford, CT where the guest speaker that night prophesied over Jerry that he would start an outreach to a lost generation. The following week Jerry attended another prayer meeting, which he attended often. While he was there he shared about what had been prophesied over him and he received a large donation to start it up. It was at that time Jerry believed God had opened the door for him to start Holy Smoke Hangout. He immediately went out and found a place to meet that would hold up to 150 people. The name of the place was called, "Eunice Van Zilen Hall," in East Norwalk. The cost was very low, and the place could be used to meet on a monthly basis. This was another door that God opened, which showed Jerry that he was on the right track.

   Together, Jerry and Joseph persevered in prayer and encouragement for each other to keep moving forward. When the meetings finally got started it was amazing to see young people show up out of the blue with such little advertisement. Now the meetings still continue to this day, and are very successful with so many attending that we need to expand further. Youth are being reached, talents are being shared, people are being connected, everyone is having fun, and God is being glorified! Since this outreach continues to grow, Holy Smoke is now looking for a larger facility to accommodate the ongoing growth of this ministry. Holy Smoke has become much more of an enlarged ministry than we could have ever imagined, and the reason is simply because God is in it!

   Joseph and his wife, Mara, have been a huge help. Their simplicity, wisdom, and experience helped Holy Smoke to get off to a great start. Tommy Kodel has also come alongside to help with Holy Smoke since the beginning, and is growing into a responsible young leader for the future of this Ministry. In addition, many others have graciously helped out along the way through volunteering, giving financially, spreading the word, sharing their gifts and talents, and encouraging the growth of Holy Smoke Hangout. We are amazed at what the Lord is doing through this ministry so far, and we are even more excited for the things to come! 

http://www.holysmokehangout.com/

Jerry De Florio Hearing His Voice Testimony