Brazilian community unites in faith on the Sunshine Coast
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:16-20, also known as The Great Commission).
By CLIFF WORTHING
Living out The Great Commission is the motivating factor behind a weekly Portuguese-speaking gathering on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.
“I know I have been called by God to do this,” said Leiser da Silva, a member of the Noosa-Coolum Corps. “I was challenged to listen to the language of my heart and use my mother tongue to reach out to others.”
Leiser came to the Sunshine Coast from Brazil via New Zealand and Melbourne. He is married to Laura, an Australian, and has three children. They settled on the Sunshine Coast four years ago and sought a faith community to establish roots. They had contact with the Salvos in New Zealand, so they connected with the corps in their search for a spiritual home.
After settling into the community and corps, they discussed with their corps officers, Lieutenants Matt and Jacqueline Gluyas, how they could connect with the substantial number of Brazilian expatriates living on the Sunshine Coast.
Towards the end of last year, they opened their house for a weekly family-style gathering or a ‘Grupao’ in Portuguese. Time together involves a meal, prayer, music and a short message by Leiser. Since most Brazilians are football-mad, playing soccer features strongly in their activities.
“It’s sort of like an open table, with lots of eating, talking and questions,” Leiser said. “You can see the hunger to learn because there’s a lot of questions every time, but I like to finish on time, so they leave wanting more.”
Matt explained that the gathering fits into the corps philosophy of people being released to use their gifts, follow their hearts and create multiple niche connection points beyond a regular Sunday worship service.
“We desire to build a web of hope across the Sunshine Coast,” Matt said. “The gathering emerged from the heart of the da Silva family and has certainly opened our eyes to how many Portuguese-speaking people are a part of our community.”
Laura is a qualified English language teacher, so when the time is right, she wants to start English lessons.
“I remember how tough it is to settle into a different country and culture,” Leiser said. “We are just trying to create a place where people are embraced, can flourish, and find a place where they belong.”