PASTOR ANTHONY BUONFIGLIO
Anthony Buonfiglio was born in Brooklyn, New York to poor Italian parents. Anthony’s father was an abusive alcoholic and his mother suffered with depression with the end result being shock therapy treatments. He was so effected by his family’s poverty that at the age of nine he built a shoeshine stand to help bring money to the household. He would walk from Boro Park to Coney Island a few times a week to try to earn a buck.
Anthony was always a good kid. He was quiet and gentle while growing up. Being raised Roman Catholic; he even served as an altar boy for a few years. In school he was a good student and enjoyed being in class. As the progressed through school, Anthony formed a desire to become an automobile mechanic, but was denied acceptance into the intermediate high school which would have been able to teach him the trade. Instead he was sent to another school in the neighborhood. It was a tough school where during his first week Anthony witnessed students getting beat up with chains and chased down the hallways with knives. Anthony, on the inside, heard a voice speak to saying, “You are not going to make it.”
At that moment, Anthony became determined to change. He was not going to be a wimp. He needed to be a tough guy to survive. After a few months, his reputation changed from being a nice quiet young boy to being a mean and nasty punk. Soon he was leading gangs and involved in fights.
Word of this reputation became known and caught the attention of the older Italian men in the neighborhood. They took him under their wing and introduced him to a life of crime. He started as a collector for the loan sharks at the young age of 16 years. His daily life then consisted of keeping company with people involved in organized crime and drinking alcohol. Shortly thereafter, Anthony was introduced to drugs.
In his early 20’s Anthony was married and had two children. In an attempt to alleviate his wife, Teresa’s, grief over her mother’s death, he moved the family from Brooklyn to a beautiful home in Long Island. His wife’s grief turned into a deep depression that produced three nervous breakdowns and addiction to diet pills, marijuana and wine and suicidal tendencies. During Teresa’s 7 ½ years of daunting depression, Anthony had lost five businesses because of his own drug and alcohol abuse. In early 1977, he was offered the job of managing a discotheque in Hunter Mountain, New York. Anthony quickly accepted the offer and began to use the place as a front to deal cocaine.
Managing the disco and dealing cocaine enveloped Anthony’s life. His home life was reduced to a mere two days a week. While Anthony continued in this lifestyle, Teresa and their two sons lived a life of confusion and turmoil until the day when a young girl knocked on the door of their Long Island home. This October afternoon in 1977 was a pivotal point in the lives of the Buonfiglio family, since this young girl gave Teresa a Bible.
Teresa began reading the Bible and the Lord began a miraculous work in her mind and heart. Within a six-week period, Teresa was totally free from the depression that had held her captive for so many years. The two days out of the week that Anthony would return home, he would witness this dramatic change in his wife. He recognized that the change was due to “that Bible she was reading” and accepted that just as long as she would keep the book away from him.
Shortly thereafter, Teresa began attending a born-again spirit-filled church with Anthony’s sister and her husband, who were also young believers.
One of Anthony’s weekly visits caused him to come on an unexpected evening and he came home as Teresa was leaving for church service. Anthony, holding fast to the knowledge of his religious background addressed her by saying, “I am a good Catholic and I know that there is no church on a Wednesday night!” He began to think that she was lying and was involved with another man. He became angered and demanded to go with her to where ever she was going.
Anthony found himself in a church service of about 600 people. In tune with the 125-voice choir, the people were filled with joy and were clapping and dancing. He could not believe what he was witnessing – the music was louder than at the disco. After an hour and a half of music, the pastor entered and Anthony quickly thought, at the sight of him, that this man, in his fancy suit, was going to try to sell him something – books perhaps.
As Anthony remained in this uncomfortable environment, he began to feel a peace come over him the he never experienced before. The pastor gave an altar call for salvation, but Anthony’s response was “No way!” and he walked out.
The next morning he departed for Hunter Mountain again, but informed his wife that he would remain there for the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holidays. There was a lot of money to be made and he had meeting with his South American cocaine connection as well.
During the next 2 ½ weeks at Hunter Mountain, Anthony could not shake the feeling of peace that he experienced during the church service. He thought something was happening to him and he reasoned it off as coming down with the flu since he did not have the desire to continue to drink alcohol or do any drugs. At this point in Anthony’s life drinking and using drugs was a normal part of daily life. He had been steeped in these addictions now for over 28 years.
Late in the evening, while overlooking the dance floor at the disco, still not able to shake this strange feeling of peace, Anthony began wondering about the change in his wife, the peculiar church, and the loss of his desire for drugs and alcohol. Suddenly, Anthony’s view of the people had change drastically. Their faces began to change. They appeared to be twisted and contorted. The disco began to fill up with smoke and a foul stench filled the room. Beams of light started to melt the flesh off of the people’s skulls. Anthony was horrified. He then heard a voice speak to him saying, “Anthony, you don’t have to go there.”
God showed him a clear vision of hell. Anthony knew it was God who spoke to him. He immediately ran out of the disco with his hair on end and walked around in knee-deep snow for an hour trying to calm down from what he just experienced.
Anthony then went inside, packed his bags and was heading for the exit door. He needed to get out of there and he knew it. Suddenly, his street-partner and South American cocaine connection were standing in the doorway. Anthony told his partner that he was leaving only to hear the reply “What about the coke?” Anthony said, “Keep it!” as he continued towards his car.
Upon arriving home, Anthony told his wife to take him back to that crazy church. She did. It was at that church service in December of 1977 that Anthony Buonfiglio gave his life to Christ. When Anthony returned home that evening, he got alone with God and prayed for the first time in many, many years. As he satisfied his need to confess all of his sin, he emerged from that room three hours later as a new man.
Immediately God began to move in his life. God blessed him with a legitimate job for the first time in his life. He excelled in his work. Anthony developed a hunger for the Lord and began cultivating an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. Months later, Anthony was approached to assist with establishing a chapter of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Association in Flushing, Queens. He served as Vice President of the chapter until 1979 when he was promoted to the position of President.
As the years progressed, Anthony faithfully and diligently served the Lord and studied His Word. In 1982, with the support of his wife’s prayers and eight unmistakable confirmations from the Lord, he answered God’s call to establish Pillars of Faith Tabernacle. What began as a storefront church of 17 quickly became a congregation of 100 in a church/house on Parsons Boulevard in Flushing.
In addition to Anthony’s teaching gift, over the years, God used Anthony’s life-changing testimony at great lengths to reach the lost. It was at this time that the Lord’s vision for Anthony was to be revealed. The Lord spoke to his heart saying, “I want you to get back into substance abuse.” Anthony’s reply was “Lord, I do not do that anymore. You anointed me to teach.” God responded, “I am going to show you.”
It was out of these communications with the Lord that the Victorious Overcomers Support Group Substance Abuse Ministry was birthed.
Anthony began writing down, as the Holy Spirit led, a seven-victory step program that would set the captive free. With a curriculum based solely on God’s life-changing Word, the Victorious Overcomers Support Group was put into operation at Pillars of Faith Tabernacle, at which at this time existed in a new church building with a thriving congregation. A year later in 1990, the program was opened to the public through the use of a Yellow Pages telephone directory ad.
What was initially intended to be a community outreach program has grown into an international network of churches, ministries and missions in which the Victorious Overcomers Support Group program is operating. The vision that God had given to Pastor Anthony Buonfiglio had become ever greater.
In the year 2000 the Lord has brought on VOSG affiliates in Arizona, Nebraska, Florida, Upstate New York, Long Island and three in Australia alone. With VOSG Network Affiliates across the United States and abroad, the Victorious Overcomers Support Group Substance Abuse Ministry has been used by God to set thousands of captives free from all types of addictions!
In April of 1997, Pastor Anthony Buonfiglio went home to be with the Lord. His son, Pastor Vincent Buonfiglio, bearing a burden for the lost comparable to his father, holds fast to the vision for the Victorious Overcomers Support Group Ministry.
With drug and alcohol addiction so prevalent and even commonplace in today’s society, Pastor Vincent strongly believes that it is the responsibility of the Church to meet the needs of the those bound with the sins of addiction. Therefore, he continues to provide leadership in the Body of Christ with information regarding substance abuse ministry. Through presentation meetings emphasizing the desperate need for a program such as the Victorious Overcomers Support Group, the Body of Christ’s awareness is this area of ministry has been increasing. The Church, in these last days, needs to be mightily armed with a weapon to evangelize, set free and disciple the multitudes being held captive by the sin of addiction!