Inácio José da Silva owns a refrigeration company in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil, and has been working in the area for 25 years. Better known as “Doutor Frio” (Doctor Cold), he is part of the Federation of Adventist Entrepreneurs in Brazil and, like other members, has the mission of helping socially vulnerable people.
Though he’s a very busy man, da Silva reserves some time to offer a technical course in home refrigeration free of charge. Beneficiaries are unemployed members of the Adventist Church and members of the community who are unable to pay for the training, which usually costs more than Brazilian reais 3,000 (about US$600).
Professional certification significantly increases the chances of employment and provides opportunity for many people to leverage their careers. Installation and repair services for air conditioners, refrigerators, and other electrical appliances are always in high demand due to the hot climate typical of Brazil’s northeast. During classes, da Silva sets aside at least one hour to study the Bible and pray with his class of 35 students.
The businessman had the idea of offering the course when he realized that many Adventists were unemployed, in general, because they did not work on Saturdays. In the nearly 10 years since he launched the project, more than 500 people have graduated and earned the title of refrigeration technician. “Many were not able to take a refrigeration course because of the program costs at technical schools. I feel very fortunate to provide it for free,” da Silva said.
Brazil’s Federation of Adventist Entrepreneurs president Renato Araújo, acknowledged the importance of the service da Silva provides. “God has called many people to go beyond their daily routines as helping hands to His children in need. ‘Doctor Cold’ accepted this invitation, and it has been a blessing,” Araújo said.
Da Silva’s average day starts early. By 7:30 a.m., he’s already at his refrigeration company. “I provide services for helicopters of the Federal Police and Military Police of Pernambuco, as well as boats, speedboats, and ships,” he said.
He offers his course twice a year in several cities across the state. Classes take place at Adventist churches and a full course lasts for three months, with a total workload of 100 class hours between theory and practice.
Da Silva is often asked why he helps train professionals who may become his competitors in his field in the future. “I have never worried about it,” da Silva said. “I am happy to train more professionals. In fact, many of my students have already opened refrigeration companies and are thriving. It never affected me economically,” he said.
Da Silva said that he always dreamed of being an Adventist pastor. But now, thanks to his initiative, he has become a different kind of pastor — one who brings the message of the Bible to hundreds of people using, primarily, his professional expertise. And he also teaches from God’s Word. More than 80 people have already stopped working on Saturdays, been baptized, and had their professional and spiritual lives transformed, he said. Some of those baptized have also become leaders in the Adventist Church, da Silva said.
Gabriel Vieira de Souza took the course six months ago at Caruaru Adventist College. At just 20 years old, he is already reaping the benefits of his training. “I’m opening my refrigeration company in Gravatá, Pernambuco. The course helped me to become part of the job market and has also improved my spiritual life,” de Souza said. “I was rebaptized in the Adventist Church and now I live much better than before,” he said.
“Doctor Cold” often hears from his former students and is very happy to know that many have already opened their own businesses or work in large companies in the refrigeration business and manage to earn a living for their family. “God has blessed me, and I’m very happy in what I do,” the businessman said.