Adventist News

​Monteiro Visits GC Headquarters to Thank Church for Support

BY CLAUDE RICHLI [Photo of Monteiro Family: ANN]

Adventist pastor Antonio Monteiro, recently acquitted and released from a Togo prison, thanked the Adventist World Headquarters staff and world church members for their support while speaking at the General Conference worship service on February 18 in Silver Spring, Maryland. The worship program was part of a weeklong visit to the area for Monteiro, his wife, Madalena, and their sons, Anderson and Alessandro. During their stay, February 12-19, they also attended the Global Adventist Internet Network (GAiN) meetings in Baltimore.

The Monteiro family with Ted and Nancy Wilson. In an interview with Adventist Review, Monteiro, who was released from prison in January after 22 months behind bars, explained how he sees similarities between his experience and the Biblical story of Joseph: “Never would I have thought that I would leave my prison cell to end up visiting the General Conference. After the struggle comes the crown,” he said.

His plans for the future are still wide open since returning to his native island of Cape Verde on January 19 (see the story here). One thing emerges already, however: his life and that of dozens of individuals, indeed of the whole church in Togo, will never be the same again.

When he first came to Togo as a missionary, Monteiro said he felt a burden to help the church to be better known in the country. His initial ideas of visiting government officials to acquaint them with the church, unfortunately, went nowhere. But now, after two years during which his plight attracted national media attention, he says he recognizes that God used these circumstances to completely change the perception of the church in the country.

Even in Cape Verde, Monteiro’s case received top-level attention. As a result, he was able to visit the country’s president, justice minister, and other cabinet ministers who intervened on his behalf, thank them for their help, and introduce them to some church teachings.

While in prison, Monteiro did not remain idle. He recognized that God had brought him there for a reason, and that the prison population was actually his congregation—the biggest he had ever had. Twice a week, he held prayer meetings and gave Bible studies to a group of 15-20 people. This led to the baptism of nine other inmates. With funding from the General Conference, the prison baptistery was renovated, as well as the overhang that serves as the church for an Adventist congregation of 60-70 people. He also organized an official day of prayer inside the prison on behalf of the Togo government. Christian and Muslim leaders from various denominations were invited to participate, as well as all the prison officials, and even the minister of justice. The special event made headlines throughout Togo.

During his time in prison, Monteiro distributed 30 Bibles, as well as dozens of Adventist World magazines, which found avid readers. One man, a Buddhist, asked for a Bible. As a result of his association with Monteiro, he came to realize that far from being a cruel God, the God worshipped by Christians is a loving God. The Buddhist inmate now spends his time encouraging fellow prisoners by distributing psalms and other literature in the prison. “I am a Buddhist, but I am a Christian also,” he says.

When he left prison, “Pastor Maranatha”—as he came to be known—left behind many lives that had been transformed through his ministry and the power of the Holy Spirit, as well as hundreds of prisoners who will never forget him for his courage, witness, and ministry of encouragement.

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