Ricardo Olm, who served as a Bible instructor, teacher, and missionary, was born December 12, 1879, in Gaspar Alto, Santa Catarina, Brazil. He was the son of August and Johana Olm, who came from Pomerania, Germany. The Olm family is historically important for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Brazil because they were part of the first Adventist church organized in the country, which took place in February 1896 in Gaspar Alto. They learned of the Adventist message through the Belz family, whose father, Guilherme Belz, was one of the first converts to Adventism in Brazil. Johana had been seriously ill for many years, but one day while listening to the Bible being read by the Belz couple, she was reportedly cured by the Lord. Like Peter’s mother-in-law (Luke 4:38, 39), Johana got up from her bed and went to prepare lunch, which surprised August when he got home. August, Johana, and Ricardo were baptized together soon after the arrival of Frank Westphal in 1895, the first ordained pastor in Brazil. Sometime later, August became the first elder of the Brusque Adventist church in Santa Catarina.1
In October 1897, the Brusque church held a meeting at August Olm’s home, which resulted in the foundation of the Brusque Adventist school, one of the first in Brazil.2 In 1898, the school of Benedito Novo was inaugurated, and Ricardo accepted the invitation to be its first teacher.3 Afterwards, he studied at the Taquari Adventist missionary school, which had been officially established in Brazil in 1903 by John Lipke. While studying there, he worked in the school’s typography business, which was later transferred to São Paulo and today is the Brazil Publishing House. In 1907, Ricardo married Vanda Novak, a German woman he had met when she was a student.
In later years, Ricardo worked as a Bible instructor and itinerant missionary in the state of Rio Grande do Sul alongside pioneer pastors such as Huldreich Graf. From 1908 to 1912, he served in many cities, including Taquari, Taquara, São Sebastião do Caí, Novo Hamburgo, Santa Maria do Boca Monte, São Pedro, Toropy, Jaguary, Porto Alegre, Teutônia, and Ijuí. In Santa Catarina, he worked in Blumenau.
In the more than 15 years that Ricardo served as a Bible instructor, he recorded many stories of God’s providence in his life. In Benedito Novo, he almost died when the canoe in which he was traveling sank, causing the death of several passengers. On another occasion, his horses were startled and raced ahead while he was still mounted. He also became ill with typhus, escaped stoning, and lost all his belongings during a flood. On one of the expeditions preaching the gospel message. He and his family moved so often that they used boxes instead of furniture. Ricardo’s family endured great difficulties. There were days when the children did not even have food to eat, but by the grace of God, neighbors often helped to provide their needs.
In 1914, Ricardo and his family moved to Taquara, Rio Grande do Sul, where they opened in their own home a private school based on Adventist principles. Today, the school still operates but in a different location in Taquara. In his honor, the school changed its name to Colégio Adventista Ricardo Olm (Ricardo Olm Adventist School).4
About a year or so later, Ricardo opened a family-owned candy factory in his home in Taquara. He also serviced for 30 years as an elder at the Taquara Central Adventist Church.
Ricardo Olm died on December 20, 1952, in Taquara after more than 50 years dedicated to the service of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. His efforts contributed to the growth of the Adventist Church in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.
This article is from the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, which is available here.
1 H. B. Lundquist, “Pioneers and Progress,” Review and Herald, April 20, 1972, p. 15; E. M. Davis, “Visitando a Primeira Igreja Adventista Organizada no Brasil,” Revista Adventista, 37, no. 2, Feb. 1942, p. 11.
2 Renato Oberg, “A Primeira Escola Adventista no Brasil,” Revista Adventista, 39, no. 9, Sept. 1944, p. 23.
3 S. Hoffman, “Nova Escola em Alto Benedito Novo,” Revista Adventista, 54, no. 7, July 1959, p. 32; John Lipke, “Christian Schools in Brazil,” The Advocate of Christian Education, 6, no. 7, July 1904, p. 109.
By A Team of Students From Brazilian White Center (UNASP), under the leadership of Renato Stencel
Contributing Writer •
A Team of Undergraduate College Students wrote this biography for ESDA, as well as other biographies, about Seventh-day Adventist missionaries in South America. They work under the direction of Renato Stencel, Ph.D., director of the Ellen G. White Center in Brazil.