I was a fanatic supporter of a soccer team




My name is Illuminato Butindaro. I was born in 1966, and I live in Rome, precisely in Acilia, where I came in 1990.

I was born in Noyon (a little town in France, where the Reformer Calvin was born). My parents had emigrated from Italy to France to find a job. They were (and still are) Pentecostals and so they grew me up teaching me to fear God. However I lived in France just for a short time, because after a few years my parents returned to Italy; they went to live in a little town called Lavena Ponte Tresa, in the province of Varese, which is at the border with Switzerland.

I attended the meetings of an Evangelical Church, but I was lost. I believed in the existence of God and I never dared to blaspheme His name. I liked the Evangelical Church, while I was disgusted by the Catholic Church. I hated the places of worship where the Roman Catholics gathered together, they were full of statues and images, which are idols in the sight of God, they were full of lighted candles, and there was a stench of incense, and then those prayers repeated mechanically!! Oh what a filthy atmosphere reigned (and still reigns) in those places! While the meetings held by the Evangelical Church were completely different: I was attracted to the simplicity, the fervour in the prayers and in the songs, the preaching of the Gospel (which would go straight to my heart), and the testimonies which touched my heart (some had been healed, others had been helped by God, some others had been delivered from the power of demons, and still others testified that they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit).

I felt the Lord was calling me to repent but I postponed my decision. I would say to myself: 'There's plenty of time, not now!'.

I was lost, lost in this dark and cold world, I felt enveloped by darkness, I was afraid of death, I knew hell was real and that if I breathed my last, my soul would go down to hell where I would weep and feel remorse for what I had done and I would have no chance to be saved, for I had rejected the eternal Gospel. Oh, I did not want to go to that horrible place, I really did not want to. However, both at home and at work and even when I was together with my friends, I continued to do what is evil in the sight of God. I was very fond of soccer, I used to go to the stadium to see the soccer match. I was a supporter of a soccer team. I was so fanatical about that team that I bought a banner seven meters long to be hanged on the stadium curve. On the banner were written the following words 'INFERNO BIANCOROSSO' that is, 'WHITE-RED HELL'.

When I was in the stadium I shouted myself hoarse in order to support the soccer team which was so dear to my heart, but also to insult the opposite team. There was much tension on the terraces for suddenly something very regrettable could take place: stabbings, brawlings, etc. On one occasion, while we were outside the stadium, we were attacked by the opposing supporters, I saw them from a distance running toward us with sticks or bats; we had to run away. I used to collect photos of the supporters of all the Italian soccer teams (A, B, C divisions championship). I was in touch with many supporters, I would send them my photographs and they would send me theirs. When the soccer team played at home, I was at the stadium to support it, but I could not follow it when it played away from home, for on Sunday morning I had to go to work. I was really crazy about soccer. When the Italian soccer team won the game against the Brazilian team at the World Soccer Championship in Spain (in 1982), I went down into the streets of my town to samba, holding the Italian flag in my hand. I always did the pools, I bought sport magazines, and then I watched the soccer matches on TV, and I listened to the radio commentary of the soccer matches: I wasted so much money.

My brother Giacinto turned to the Lord while he was in England. When he came back to Italy I saw a change in him, I saw he had been changed by the power of God, and afterward I also turned to the Lord.

My conversion to Christ took place in 1984: I recognized before God that I was a sinner and I believed with all my heart that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again for our justification.

On the 16th of September 1984, I and my brother were baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. I still remember that day, it will never leave my mind. I was baptized by pastor Calvarese of Locarno (a little town located in Ticino, one of the Swiss Cantons) and by my uncle Restivo Gandolfo (who is now the pastor of a Pentecostal Church in Lavena Ponte Tresa). We were baptized in Lake Maggiore.

I thank God for saving me, I thank Him for He accepted me into His Kingdom. I thank Him for He gave me peace, yes a great peace and a great joy, a true peace and a true joy, which the world cannot give. God has given me new birth into a living hope, He says to me: 'I have redeemed you, you are mine'. Amen.


Illuminato Butindaro