Ralph Marinacci Story

Ralph Marinacci is in the retail clothing business in Pitman, NJ.

When I tell you how fourteen Italians got saved in one home, and how rioting, fighting, and hatred turned to joy and peace, Bible reading and love in that home, you will understand why I might be considered by some to be a "fanatic for Jesus." Like the "ten little Indians" in the poem of the same name who were eliminated one by one, God dealt individually with our fourteen-member Italian family until there were no "religious" ones left. They had all been truly "born of the Spirit" (John 3:1-8).

All the members of our family were faithful in church attendance– and I mean faithful! However, my mother apparently wasn't too sure about the keeping power of our religion; because on Sundays after Communion we would come home to a spiritualist meeting conducted by a medium. The result was that we wore pouches of salt on our bodies and put salt pouches on all of the fourteen windows and two doors in our home. This meant that before the evil spirits could get into our home, they had to count every grain of salt in those pouches before daybreak or they couldn't enter. If through some means they did get in, then before they could touch our bodies they had to count every  grain of salt in the pouches we each wore, and do it before daybreak. Every night before we went to bed we checked the salt pouches on doors and windows.

There was Grand pop and grand mom, Mom, Pop and Uncle Al, and then Anthony, Al, Frank, Ralph, Lucy, Angelina, Esmeralda and Violet. We all had meat markets and businesses– and we had religion. But Grand pop imported an Italian knife and taught my brother Anthony how to use it. And did he ever! I saw faces slashed and even saw that knife in Al’s back on one occasion. I saw my mother pick up a chair and  break  it over  two of  her  sons to stop them from fighting as they  tumbled on the floor and tried to beat each other to a pulp, while my four sisters cowered in the corner in fear. Never did I see my mother embrace her children, or sisters or brothers embrace each other. Yet we clung to our religion!  Friend, whether you are Catholic, Protestant or Jewish, if you have a “religion” that’s not changing your life, get rid of it!

One day a woman knocked on our door.  From her, Grand mom heard the Gospel. She believed and was born again– and she talked about it! In about a week she got to my mother. One day I came in and found them in the kitchen praying. They positively believed the Book of Acts! They began to pray and witness.

I had a job playing bass fiddle in the nightclubs and in theaters. I wore the tux and the "fishtails" as a member of the band and of the Loyal Order of the Sons of Italy. I was "in." Of course most of my work was at night, and I would come home at 1:30 or 2:00 in the morning. Talk about prayer meetings! There was usually always one going on in the kitchen. One morning when I came in, I saw that they had gotten my oldest sister Lucy. Now there were three female voices praying! A few weeks later they got to the next oldest sister, then the next one, and so on. Finally, Mom, Grand mom, and those sisters of mine began to pray, "Jesus, save Ralph!" Since Tony was the brother who carried the knife, I couldn't understand why they should pray so hard for me!

I began to hear the terms "born again" and "saved," and wondered what they meant. Those women believed that if you are saved, you should do something about it, so they began going down the streets in South Camden, NJ, knocking on doors and handing out tracts. They didn't go to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh where no one knew them. Oh no! They went next door and right down our street, and people were getting saved-50,100, 150.

One morning when I came home from work, Dad said, "Ralph, play your bass fiddle while they pray. That will disturb them and will get them back to their senses." But the louder I played the louder Mom and Grand mom and my four sisters prayed!  Finally I gave up and went upstairs. When you get that many women in a prayer meeting, forget it!

One night I heard a new voice in the prayer meeting. Walking into the kitchen I saw big Frank. They had won Frank! You tell me God is dead? Man, you've got to meet me at the altar! Frank's arm was around my mother, his sisters were embracing him, and Grand mom was happily looking on.
Another morning, about eleven months after Grand mom heard about Jesus, there was again a different voice in the prayer meeting. I peeked into the kitchen and there was my brother Anthony on his knees. His knife was lying on the table! I don't know how they had gotten to him, but his right hand was lifted up and his left arm was around Frank. One of Frank's arms was around one of my sisters and the other around my mother. Everyone seemed to be hugging everyone else, and they were all singing.

Then my problems really began! They took down the salt pouches and put up tracts in all the doors and windows. They even took down Grand pop’s picture and put up tracts. They must have had a printing machine, because tracts were all over. When the bread man came to the door, they talked to him about Jesus and gave him tracts. The man who sold fruit and vegetables got the same treatment, and so did the mailman. They were not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus   Christ. They even went down to the Loyal Sons of Italy and talked about Jesus. Jesus said, "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me." Well– they were lifting Him up and folks were being drawn by the scores.

One morning another voice was added to the kitchen prayer meeting. Now Grand pop was on his knees praising the Lord, and he and Anthony had their arms around each other. Who says God is dead? It takes a real, live, powerful God to change a bunch of rugged Italians like that!

Because  Grand pop  fully  believed  that if a man is in  Christ  he is a new  creation and old things have passed away, certain traditions in our family had  to  go,  and things   really   changed   around   our   home.

Pretty  soon  Pop,  my  Uncle  Al  and  I were the only ones who  had  not  capitulated,  and  I  was frustrated. Uncle  Al  came in at 1 :30 one morning while I was playing my electric  guitar  and  told  me  to  turn  it up to full  volume; but  the  louder I played the louder they  prayed!  Finally Pop, Uncle Al and his wife all got saved, and I was the only one left. I knew something had to be done. I was still playing in the nightclubs, watching those half-nude showgirls and working in rooms filled with tobacco smoke. I began to compare this with what I was finding out about Jesus, and there was no comparison, only contrast. Where there had been fighting and violence in our home, there was now love and peace and joy. The filthy language, the spirit of hatred, the salt bags in the doors and windows, the suspicion, the superstition, the wine, the knifing had all disappeared.

I began to wonder  what I was going to do to earn a living if I didn't continue playing i the nightclubs. Music was all I   knew. I didn't know that Jesus said to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and He would take care of our needs.

Seeking the kingdom of God means giving your life, your money, and your talents. One  morning  I  came  into  that room where so many  prayers  had  been said. I  didn't  know  any  prayers,  but  I said: "God, I have  seen  what  you  did  to my  brothers  and  the  rest  of  my  family. If you can do anything with me, will you please do it?"

He accepted me, and He kept His promise. There is a successful ladies apparel business in Pitman, NJ, today that started with a dozen pair of nylons! That is what Jesus will do when we seek the kingdom of God. When I asked  Jesus  to  do something with my  life,  I  felt  a  load  lifted. Satan had me bound but Jesus set me free. I and my entire family experienced the infilling of the Holy Spirit, with speaking in tongues! God has given me the authority vested in laymen in the laying on of hands according to His promise, "He that believeth on me, greater works than these shall he do."

This I know, whereas I once was blind, now I  see; life now is sweet and my joy is complete in a risen, living Lord who ever lives to save and keep all who put their trust in Him!

Download Ralph's Story to Print and Share!

Would you like to start a relationship with Jesus? Check out the Salvation - Coming to Jesus teaching, or our survey to find out for about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Also see Mentoring the Joshua Generation.