IN THE BUSINESS OF GIVING
Milton Afonso was born into a very humble home on December 12, 1921. Even as a child he was committed to helping with the family finances. After school, he would leave his home, barefoot, to sell candy. This introduction to commercial and marketing experiences was key to his becoming an efficient salesman. Later he would become good at selling books which would help pay for his studies and ultimately change his destiny.
His father, José Afonso, had dreamed of being rich. In his attempt to have even a remote chance of seeing that dream become a reality, he spent most of the little money he received on lottery tickets. What was left of the money was spent on alcohol. One day his father did ‘win’ something at the lottery office. It was an invitation he was given there to attend a series of religious lectures. When Milton’s mother saw the invitation she took her young son, and together they attended an evangelistic meeting. It was at this time that he was introduced to the message of hope and became a Seventh-day Adventist.
In 1971, at age 43, Milton Afonso was no longer a poor boy but neither was he a rich man. He and his wife lived conscientiously and raised their children with dignity. He owned his own home, a car and other assets, which were administrated with frugality. At that time Milton gathered all he had and ventured into a market that he thought was promising. He founded Golden Cross International Medical Health Care, which began with only five employees. From 1973 until 1985, the company became the leader in the industry in Brazil and in all of South America. Milton, however, did not want to be “just” a businessman. He wanted to be like “an angel” in people's lives, and he would find different ways of doing that. One way was, to keep a special team in his hospitals who, for no charge, would give special attention to the emotional health of the patients. With such daily care, patients and their families heard the gospel of love and hope. Many times, through the social-welfare services provided by the hospital, Golden Cross, again at no charge, also attended to the needs of thousands of desperate people who could never have afforded even one appointment.
The impact of these good-hearted acts of generosity is impossible to measure, but lives have been change for now and for eternity."
Perhaps because of his own impoverished childhood, Milton cared a lot about orphaned children. He built, and invested in, shelters and specials schools for orphans and abandoned children. He not only provided a safe haven for them, such as a roof over their heads, clothes to wear and food to eat, but he also sought to ensure an environment which would help them to enjoy their childhood with dignity and have access to education.
Today Milton Afonso confesses that when he was a college student, he was particularly touched by the plight of orphans. His own difficult childhood experiences were not forgotten. He knew that education could transform the reality of a marginalized child into one who could have true dignity and his or her needs met. This is what drew him to so many children and young people. He had the great desire to give them a reason to have hope, and at the same time, an opportunity to grow.
Over 70,000 under-served youth have received financial support for their education owing to his generosity. There was a time when Dr. Afonso donated over two and a half million dollars each month to fund the studies of seven thousand students. These were students who, otherwise, would never have had the opportunity to do a degree course and experience the joy of achieving their educational dreams. The impact of these good-hearted acts of generosity is impossible to measure, but lives have been change for now and for eternity.
It is the love of God, flowing through Dr. Afonso, that has helped a charity organization with a car here, donated a wheelchair for a needy person there, funded a poor student’s studies, built a house for an elderly lady and paid for medical treatment for the disadvantaged. It is God’s love that has prompted him to financing the editing of a book to be published, a journal to be produced, a DVD with spiritual messages to be developed and to fund a TV series. Each donation is given for the purpose of helping others. It is his desire to be a true ‘angel’ of love. It’s as though generosity has always been his main business.
In 1992, with the conviction to share God’s message of love and salvation, he began putting together a worldwide television network that has the potential of sharing the message to the world. To accomplish this dream he provided the finances for the use of a 20 mega-hertz satellite band for ten years. Expensive, yes, but with belief in the message and faith in God’s generosity it became clear that it was the right thing to do. The blessing of God upon the financial growth of his company has enabled him to do this. After all, this was a project that would help bring hope to thousands, if not millions! Furthermore, Milton also donated property for the purpose of establishing the accompanying television studio complex. The complex would, of course, need new television and radio equipment and that too was provided. God, through His generosity to Milton, and then Milton’s generosity to the Church, has helped provide the new television and radio network in South America. Novo Tempo, meaning ‘New Time’, was born.
Today, despite his age, Dr. Afonso still dreams about the future of the work of God, and of seeing more people saved for His kingdom. Currently, he is pursuing the building of three mega churches. The designer for the project was the most prominent architect in Brazil—the late Oscar Niemeyer, who had been the chief designer for the city of Brasília, the capital of Brazil. Dr. Afonso wants to build these three houses of worship as monuments to the Adventist Church in Brazil in recognition of God’s generosity, and to the expanding ministry of Novo Tempo. He feels that both the message and the country need an architectural reference to the church of God. He declares that while he was not been blessed with the gift of preaching or singing, God has been generous to him by giving him the ability to contribute financially. With this in mind, it is his desire to always be generous for his God is generous. The more God grants him, the more he can give. He ends by saying: “I always want to be a channel through whom God can work to bless others.’’
"Currently, [Dr. Afonso] is pursuing the building of three mega churches. The designer for the project was the most prominent architect in Brazil—the late Oscar Niemeyer, who had been the chief designer for the city of Brasília, the capital of Brazil.
Dr. Afonso wants to build these three houses of worship as monuments to the Adventist Church in Brazil in recognition of God’s generosity, and to the expanding ministry of Novo Tempo. He feels that both the message and the country need an architectural reference to the church of God."