Alberto Fernando Raposo was the first ordained Adventist Portuguese pastor and the first Portuguese Adventist missionary. His writings contributed to the spread of Adventism in Portugal.
Early Life and Conversion
Alberto Fernando Raposo was born October 29, 1891, in Lisbon, Portugal, into a middle-class Roman Catholic family. Fernando Raposo, Alberto’s father, was a successful businessman and wanted to give his son a good education. Since Fernando Raposo had established a warm friendship with Clarence Rentfro, the first denominational missionary sent to Portugal in 1904, he asked him to teach his son the English language. Soon the English lessons were filled with spiritual themes. A bond of friendship was established between Clarence Rentfro and Alberto Raposo. Sometime after the beginning of the English lessons in 1906, Alberto’s father sent Alberto to England to perfect his English skills.
In England, Alberto was entrusted by his father to the care of a Portuguese family that resided in Manchester. But this family was forced to leave the city, and they left Alberto Raposo with another family residing in Manchester. This second family had accepted the Adventist faith and invited their young Portuguese guest to Sabbath services and to youth meetings. Alberto started to study the Bible and decided to accept the Adventist faith. He was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church in August 1908, in Manchester, England, by Pastor W. Knight. Two months later Alberto returned to Portugal, and one of his first visits was to Clarence Rentfro. Rentfro was overjoyed when he discovered that his former pupil had already been baptized.
Alberto’s father, however, was not happy with the decision of his young son. He tried to “sober up” Alberto, but he was not successful. Alberto had firmly decided to dedicate his life to spreading the Adventist message. In October 1911, he departed for Gland, Switzerland, where he enrolled in the theology program of the Latin Union School. Alberto finished his theology studies in the spring of 1914 and then returned to Portugal.
In 1914, Alberto started his ministry as a colporteur in Oporto, but he was soon assigned to work as the junior pastor in Lisbon. Paul Meyer, who was then senior pastor of the Lisbon church, enjoyed the collaboration with the young Portuguese pastor. Three years later Alberto was appointed pastor of the Adventist church in Oporto. Alberto’s dedication to Adventist mission and his many talents were recognized by the Adventist Church. He soon served in various positions, including secretary-treasurer of the Portuguese Mission (1921-1933) and acting president of the Portuguese Mission (1928-1930). Meanwhile, on December 9, 1928, he married Nazaré Velez.
On June 25, 1935, Alberto and Nazaré departed for Cape Verde as the first Adventist Portuguese missionary couple. They arrived in the African archipelago on July 16, 1935, and decided to settle on the Island of Brava, even though Alberto also worked on Fogo Island. After six years of intense missionary activity a chapel was built, and an elementary school opened in Brava. When Raposo departed Cape Verde, he left behind 30 baptized members and 10 baptismal candidates in Brava and 20 baptismal candidates in Fogo.
The Raposo family returned to Portugal in May 1941. Alberto was then elected director of the Madeira Mission. He and Nazaré arrived there in September 1941, and Alberto remained in office until the middle of 1943. From 1943 to 1949, Raposo was secretary-treasurer of the Portuguese Union and director of the Portuguese Publishing House (Publicadora Atlântico). He authored several booklets, including A Imortalidade à Luz do Texto Sagrado (Immortality in the Light of the Sacred Text), É a Alma Imortal? (Is the Soul Immortal?), A Verdade Divina (The Divine Truth) and Para Onde os Concílios Levam a Igreja? (Whereto Are the Councils Leading the Church?). These booklets played a significant role in the dissemination of the Adventist message in Portugal at that time.
From October 1950 to October 1952, he was principal of the Portuguese Seminary (Seminário Adventista de Portalegre). From 1953 until 1957 he directed the Portuguese Bible Correspondence School.
Alberto Fernando Raposo retired from active service in 1957 and died September 17, 1966.
Paulo Lima, M.Th., B.Ph., serves as editor of the Revista Adventista and the Sinais dos Tempos. Lima has published more than 60 articles in these two journals.