Alex Dorival, 112 at the time, was seated in his favorite pew as Jeffrey Thompson and Ruben Joseph did tag preaching at New Generation Adventist Church on Sabbath, April 20, 2019. A week of energetic preaching was brought to a climax with four people led to Christ by the two pastors who exchanged pulpits, but preached the final sermon together at New Generation and Fort Lauderdale Adventist churches.
Dorival, a farmer, was born on Aug. 10, 1906, in the city of Port-de-Paix, Haiti. In 2006, he migrated to the U.S. and became a citizen. Dorival spent most of his life as a Roman Catholic, but at 99, in 2006, he became a member of the North Miami Seventh-day Adventist Church (now New Generation Adventist Church).
He dresses immaculately for church every Sabbath. He is probably not just the oldest Adventist in Florida, but likely in the U.S. He can walk with the assistance of a walker, which he started using at age 110. At age 105, Dorival started using a cane for the first time.
“He is the father of 10 children, but I cannot tell you how many grandchildren or great-grandchildren,” said Bernadette Dorival Mercilus, his daughter and caretaker. “He does not speak much these days, but he prays before going to bed every night,” said Mercilus. “He sings songs in French Creole most days, and likes to say ‘Alleluia.’” His favorite hymn is “Power in the Blood,” while Psalm 3 is his favorite Bible chapter.
What about his diet? There is plenty to eat at his breakfast and lunch table. He likes oatmeal, avocado, mangoes, watermelon, black beans, sweet potatoes, and homemade Haitian pumpkin soup. At 112, Dorival can still hear when spoken to loudly, and does not wear a hearing aid. He has no significant health issues other than glaucoma. He has never worn glasses. In remarkable health, he likes to walk outside his daughter’s residence on the green lawn in Miami, Florida.
Dorival didn’t always like the Adventist Church. For instance, in 1972 Mercilus had a unique dream that directed her to join the vibrant Adventist church in Haiti. “My father was upset. I prayed, ‘Lord let my father become a member of the Adventist Church.’ My prayer was answered in 2006 when my father was 99,” Mercilus said.
— Jeffrey Thompson, Ph.D., is a pastor in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; the original version of this article appeared in the September 2019 Southern Tidings magazine.