Milton Soldani Afonso, a Brazilian businessman who, throughout his life, has made substantial contributions to the communication and education mission work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South America and beyond, recently turned 100 years old.
Church leaders of the General Conference (GC) and the South American Division (SAD) celebrated his life in a special thanksgiving ceremony at the Novo Tempo Adventist Media Center headquarters in Jacareí, Sao Paulo, on December 8, 2021.
GC president Ted N. C. Wilson traveled to Brazil for the event. “In many respects, it has been an exceptional life,” Wilson said. “God took Brother Afonso and said, ‘I want you to be a special missionary, an ambassador in My name, and to help many people.’ God gave him incredible energy and a passion for people, helping orphans, young people at school, and helping in so many ways, always focusing on mission. The least we could do was to come and celebrate his 100 years as we praised God for it,” Wilson said.
During the ceremony, SAD president Stanley Arco reminded those attending the celebration that Afonso knew about deprivation, pain, and suffering. He also understands a lot about abundant blessings, Arco said. “[Afonso’s] contributions have gone beyond Brazil’s borders to take the Novo Tempo TV broadcast to other countries,” Arco said.
Afonso was born on December 12, 1921, in Nova Lima, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Growing up poor, he would sell candy on the streets. Afonso managed to stay in school and eventually became a businessman. Currently, he is considered one of Brazil's most influential philanthropists. He is responsible for awarding numerous scholarships, funding shelters for vulnerable young people, and supporting other projects to improve the lives of many. "In all, however, Afonso was always focused on finding better ways of spreading the gospel of Jesus,” church leaders said.
At the December 8 ceremony, Afonso was asked what the Novo Tempo TV Network means to him. “It’s my life!” he answered right away. “I always dreamed of the church having a solid means of communication. So, it is a dream come true.”
Novo Tempo president Antônio Tostes seconded Afonso’s words.
“Many people have contributed to what the Novo Tempo Adventist Media Center is today,” Tostes said. “However, without a shadow of a doubt, Milton Afonso was the person who most allowed God to use him. He is our inspiration, because, back then, when many did not believe it was possible to do evangelism through mass media communication, he believed. He supported the project with his financial resources, donated radio stations, equipment, and facilities so that the church could build and invest in a center like the one we have today,” he said.
During the December 8 ceremony, church leaders also inaugurated an expansion of a museum in the studio building. It is now known as the new Milton Soldani Afonso section, they said.