NEW MILFORD – When the economy first began to tank in 2007, so did Frank Santora’s faith.
Santora, pastor of Faith Church in New Milford, felt bankruptcy closing in on him. Because of the recession, parents began pulling their children out of Faith Preparatory Schools, which he was president of, and church donations began to drop. During that time, Santora also learned that his closest friend had embezzled money from him. In an instant, Faith Church lost 25 percent of its budget.
One morning, as Santora laid awake, he says he made a decision to stop agonizing about finances, and instead turned his attention to worshipping God.
“He spoke to my heart instantly,” Santora says. “After months of complaining – nothing. And in only moments of worship, God spoke.”
Romans 8:28 began to ring in his ears, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
A sermon idea was spinning in Santora’s mind as he scrambled to find a pen and paper. All he could find was a piece of cardboard. He began jotting down thoughts that were suddenly springing up within him. Before he could finish writing, Santora says he knew that God would deliver him from his financial nightmare.
“God is changeless. What happens, is we change,” Santora says. “We have to learn to trust him, and he will make the good come out of it.”
Since that restless night in 2008, Santora’s message has been that God can bring people through the worst of circumstances. His idea for a sermon series quickly turned into a book, and this month Turn it Around was released (Howard Books).
On Sunday, Santora preached from the book as part of a 3-part sermon series. He told his church, which draws in 1,700 people each week, that God is writing their lives.
“You may not like the chapter you’re in right now, but remember God writes thriller endings with twists and amazing outcomes,” he said. “God turned my mess into a miracle, he can do the same thing for you.”
Faith Church is living and breathing Santora’s book right now. It’s on sale in the lobby and in the bookstore (both in print and in audio) and wall-sized posters of the book jacket ornament the stage. Before and after services, Santora signs the books – carefully writing “Romans 8:28” on the inside cover of each one.
Santora admitted that he gives “shameless plugs” for the book throughout his sermons. He says it’s a book people need to read to find encouragement.
“When you’re going through a crisis…you have to have somebody speak hope into your life. It’s so refreshing to know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, no matter the circumstance,” he said.
In the book, which blends life experiences with well-known biblical narratives, Santora explains key elements that promise to transform what appear to be life’s roadblocks into victories.
“As Christians, we all go through trials and tribulations so it (Turn it Around) is God’s word to us on how to through life and still do work for the kingdom,” he said. “The book will help us walk in victory, and turn it around.”
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