I would like to thank Past Paolo Castellina for the opportunity to contribute to this blog. I must also apologize for not having written before.
By way of introduction..
My name is Marco Reale. I am an Italian believer from Palermo,Sicily. I moved to the United Kingdom in 1987 and I have lived in this country - Bedford - for the last thirty years.I am married to a wonderful Anglo-Italian (Lombardy) believer, Mariella. We spent our honeymoon in the Waldensian Valleys and wanted to serve the Lord as missionaries in the Valleys or eslewhere in Italy. The Lord did not give us any opening, yet Italy is still in our hearts. We have four children from age 20 to 15.
We attend Alconbury Independent Baptist Church,Little Stukeley near Huntingdon and I currently work for the Protestant Alliance as Administrative Secretary and itinerant speaker.
I was converted in my teens when I lived in Palermo where my parents served as missionaries and worked in one of the mafia ruled area of the town. That was in the period called by the press "The Second Mafia War".
My father had been converted in Corsica, whilst he was in a military hospital for soldiers of the French Foreign Legion. My mother was converted in Genoa where she was living after the 1968 earthquake and had been deserted by my father who joined the FFL...
My parents reconciled in 1970's and we begun attending the Waldensian Church linked with the Waldensian Institute. Our pastor was Pietro Valdo Panascia. My parents came both from strong, traditionalist Roman Catholic families. A bishop, an abbott and saint...were part of the family.
My father, Francesco, had his own business and he was able to be involved in the church as a deacon and in the school as volunteer teacher in electronics. My mother , Luciana, begun teaching Religious Education, to the few hundred students at the Waldensian Institute.
However, they were not happy with the liberal theology and political agenda which was influencing more and more the life of the church. I remembered one particular incident as our Sunday School teacher started to explain to the class the conflict of classes and the importance of Carl Marx. I rose up and asked to be excused. When the teacher asked why I wanted lo leave the class, I replied: "I was sent here to learn about Jesus not about Carl Marx". I rejoined my parents in the main service.
Dad and Mom became missionaries - living by faith (namely no mission board supporting them) - in 1977. They were involved in radio ministry (founded Radio Logos Ribera and Radio Buona Notizia, Palermo).
Our church "Grazia & Verita'" (Grace & Truth) was an Independent Reformed Baptist Church serving in a very troubled part of the town. The preaching of the Gospel was also complemented by helping the poor, clothing and feeding people.
I studied Classics at the liceo-ginnasio "Vittorio Emanuele II" (formerly the oldest Jesuit college of Sicily founded in 1549) and my RE teacher was Fr Giuseppe Puglisi, who, later on, would be murdered by the Mafia and beatified by Pope Francis in 2013. I am probably the only Protestant who had a 'Saint' as a teacher.
To be a Christian has not been always easy in my homeland, particularly in the days of the Second Mafia War, but the Lord was merciful and upheld us. This little piece is meant to be a kind of introduction about myself and my background. I wish to be able to contribute more to encourage you to pray for the work of the Gospel in my two beloved countries: Italy and Great Britain.