Church Member Turns 105

June 30, 2023

NEW ORLEANS – The most notorious events in 1918 included an influenza pandemic and the end of World War I. Uruguay, a small country in South America, reported a total of 296 deaths attributed to the influenza, and after breaking off diplomatic relations with Germany, British forces sank an enemy ship near its coast. It was during this time that a baby named Romualdo Costa was born on Feb. 7, in Paso de la Cruz, Uruguay.

Romualdo grew up on a small farm with his parents, Felipe Costa and Lidia Fernandez, and eight siblings. The family lived off of what the land provided. They thanked God for their crops and livestock, which included chickens, horses, cows and pigs. The children attended a one-room country school where some students were very young, while others were in their twenties.

At that time, the Costa family followed the popular church’s teachings; however, they did not own a Bible. When a colporteur visited their home, Romualdo’s father was moved to purchase a copy of the Word of God and two additional books the seller promised would help them understand the Bible in its context: Steps to Christ and The Great Controversy by Ellen G. White. The literature broadened their religious concepts, and soon most of the members in the large family accepted the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s beliefs and were baptized by Luis Ernst. Romualdo was 15 years old.

The decision to follow Jesus motivated Romualdo to become a colporteur. Three years after his baptism, he left his family, wore a blue tie and traveled by horse for three years, going door to door spreading the message of salvation through literature evangelism. It was a difficult post-war time, and his last months on the job coincided with the beginning of World War II. However, he always felt the presence of angels protecting him and the assurance that God’s blessings would provide him with shelter and food.

When Romualdo finally returned home, he found out that his mother, Lidia, had passed away and his father had remarried. After helping with the farm for a few years, Romualdo decided to move to a nearby city and live with his sister’s family. There he began to work for the city’s water system. When the heat affected him physically, he obtained work selling ice cream on a bicycle. During one of his outings, he observed a man painting a landscape. This inspired Romualdo to try his hand at art. He collected sackcloth sugar bags imported into Uruguay from Cuba and began painting beautiful flowers on them. Next, he successfully sold these as rugs in the marketplace. At the same time, Romualdo continued his passion of sharing the gospel by giving Bible studies to many people and preaching about prophecies in churches on Sabbaths.

By age 30, Romualdo married Alba Estades, who passed away not too long ago, in 2020. Together they had three sons, Enrique, who lives in Uruguay and is retired; Robert, who is the speaker/director of the Spanish telecast of “It Is Written” and serves as ministerial associate of the General Conference and Ronald, who is a pastor in the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference. For more than 70 years, Romualdo used his talents to create and sell nature-filled paintings  for income that allowed him to send all of his children to Adventist schools. He claims that there was always a prayer behind each canvas and a promise from God in each brush stroke.

Romualdo just turned 105 this year and is currently a member of the New Orleans Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church in Louisiana. He acknowledges God’s promise that He will renew his life and sustain him in his old age from Ruth 4:15. He feels blessed to be a grandfather of four adult grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and he continues to paint and read the Bible, Steps to Christ and The Great Controversy. In fact, he always has worn versions of these books in his hands or on his nightstand. It is evident that though he is wearing out, inwardly, he is renewed day by day as 2 Corinthians 4:16 says.

Romuald knows that God has pardoned all his sins, and put upon him the white robe of His righteousness. All He requires of him now is to rest in His love. He has him in His keeping. He has fought the battles of the Lord Jesus Christ, he has kept the faith, and henceforth there is laid up for him a crown of life, to be his reward in that day when life and immortality shall be given to all who have kept the faith and have not denied the Savior’s name.

Romualdo Costa has lived through two world wars, several world epidemics and has observed how science and technology have advanced. Yet he patiently awaits the most important event, much more important to him than counting another year of life, the soon return of Jesus Christ, which will be the most amazing event ever seen.

By Patricia Costa