For a number of years, Frank Shirk served in the harbor ministry of the Apostolic Faith Church. Here, he uses a megaphone to address sailors on board a merchant vessel in the Portland harbor.

A Happy Winner

July 01, 2013

When this reckless and troubled young man stepped into the mission hall, something in his heart seemed to whisper, “Home at last!”

By Frank Shirk

How I thank God that while He was calling sinners, He remembered me. He was faithful to my heart to open my eyes to see there were better things in life than what sin had to offer. For years I couldn’t see it, and I spurned God’s love. I had upright parents who showed me a better way, but I refused to walk in it. Many times that great commandment in the Word of God would come before me, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37), but I would say in my heart, How could it ever be?

I chose the things of the world, always seeking pleasure and excitement. Raised in South Dakota with ranchers and cowboys, I would go from one ranch to another to ride the wild horses. When there were none, I rode steers. I traveled with a fast crowd and had an adventurous disposition. I was a typical worldly young man; wild, reckless, and always looking for something. You would find me around the pool halls, the bowling alleys, racetracks, and skating rinks—everywhere that a young man seeks pleasure.

I suffered because of that life. I could feel God’s wrath resting on me. He placed real conviction on my life, and I always knew I was a transgressor in His sight. I would come out of the theater and stand on the curb and say, “Here I am in the same old rut, the same old round of defeat.”

The Lord used many occasions to speak to my poor lost soul. One time in North Dakota, during an awful storm of wind, rain, terrible thunder and lightning, and great hailstones, I was warned to take shelter in the house. I refused twice saying, “Don’t worry about me; I am all right.” But I hardly got the words out of my mouth the second time when a blinding flash of lightning seemed to burst right in front of me, striking me in one arm and going out the other. I could smell the “smoke and brimstone.” Surely the Son of God made intercession for me that day and gave me another chance.

God spoke out of Heaven and said, “If this plane goes into the sea, what will become of your lost soul?”

When World War I broke out I could hardly wait until I could go. For two-and-a-half years during the war I served in the U.S. Navy on board battleships and worked as an aircraft mechanic. God was faithful to strive with my heart whether on the sea, on land, or in the air. One day when I was on a plane and everything was going as usual—the motor was just purring along—the officer of the plane turned the controls over to me. I was a young man who delighted in being unconcerned about everything, but as I looked down over the fuselage and saw the ocean thousands of feet below, God spoke out of Heaven and said, “If this plane goes into the sea, what will become of your lost soul?” I was face to face with the real issue. I confessed the truth out of my heart and said, “My soul would land in Hell.” I knew it was true. Thankfully, God brought me home safe and sound.

My father died and left the responsibility of the home to me. One day I was working in the garage, trying to decide if I should join my brother at the University of Michigan as we had planned or go west to see my mother and two sisters. While I was thinking about it my sins rolled up before me as high as a mountain. I saw myself as a poor lost sinner going down to destruction. I let out a cry of anguish, and in despair I said, “How will I ever make it?” Right then I heard a Voice say just two words, “Serve Me.” I knew it was God who had spoken.

I had a good old mother who was praying that God would lead her little flock to His people. God began to answer that prayer. I started over the mountains toward Portland, Oregon, in an old racing car. I thought I was going to see my mother and finish my education. On the way, God was dealing with me. He spared my life twice during the trip, and on one Sunday afternoon in a theater in Wenatchee, Washington, He seemed to shut off that picture and turn on another. I saw Jesus hanging on the Cross for me. It was so real I said, “I wish everybody could see that.”

After I arrived in Portland, I was walking along Burnside Street one night, when I heard a group of Apostolic Faith people on the street corner telling the marvelous story of salvation. They told of the wonder working power of God to save those who were whipped, those who were down and out, and those who couldn’t make the grade. I acknowledged that what they said was true, but I said, “There is no use!” I am glad God gave me another chance.

I took the Apostolic Faith paper they gave me up to the hotel where my mother and two sisters were staying. My mother began reading that paper to my sisters. Afterwards, they were all in tears; God was talking to their hearts, and He was talking to my heart also. Mother asked me if I would go to a service with her and I said, “Yes, I will go.”

As I rushed up the steps and set my feet on the floor of the mission hall, I felt confronted with the Spirit of God, and something seemed to whisper, “Home at last!” I felt as if I had made a good run and had crossed the finish line, coming out of darkness into light. It was as if I had completed a long journey and was home at last. I knew these were God’s people. I listened intently and God had a chance to talk to my heart.

When the altar call was given, I almost ran forward to the place of prayer. I got on my knees at one of those old wooden benches across the front of the church, and gave God what was left of an ill-spent life. I unburdened my heart to Him and He heard my cry for mercy. He wrought a miracle in my life that night. In one moment of time God blotted out all my sins; in one great stroke they were gone. I was born again with a new heart and new desires. I could look to Heaven and know there was nothing between me and my Savior. There was a real praise in my heart for the Savior and what He had done for me. A young man reached his hand over the altar and said, “It is good to serve the Lord.” I found it a fact.

I never dreamed God could take the love for the things of this world so completely out of my heart, for I loved them so well. But He made a mighty change in my life, taking out the blasphemy and the awful temper that caused me to fight even my best friends. God made me a happy winner. He planted peace and happiness in my heart and gave me power to go and sin no more. He rolled away the burden of sin that I had carried for years and I arose from that altar feeling so clean and so free.

You don’t find me in those dives and dens of sin anymore. And my tongue has never slipped in all these many years. That is mighty real. For many years I have worked as an automobile mechanic, but God has kept me. Sometimes the boys would ask me why I didn’t swear or smoke. I thank God that I could tell them about the old-time religion.

I straightened out many a wrong deed. This included confessing to the Commanding Officer of the First Naval District where I served as an aircraft mechanic during the war. While under his command, I had stolen tools and materials, but I paid the money back and they forgave me. I paid for railroad fare where I had cheated the railroad—not because I was broke, but just to get a little “kick” out of this life. I made other things right that were wrong, and now I am happy. I am satisfied and I love to recommend so great a salvation, because I know it stands the test.

About the author

Frank Shirk was born in Ireton, Iowa in 1896. After God saved his soul, Brother Frank was active in the harbor ministry, and also was on a Gospel team that took the salvation story out on the streets to hold services like the one that so markedly impacted his life. He served the Lord faithfully throughout his life, and went home to his reward in 1973.