Churches of Christ in Luso-Africa
Luso (Portuguese)-Africa includes at least 14 million people who use…
BOM JESUS, Angola — Luis Pereira was proclaiming Christ in the African nation of Mozambique as a massive cyclone swirled nearby in the Indian Ocean.
A church member back home offered to buy him a plane ticket so he could evacuate.
But “I had already fallen in love with the people,” Pereira said. “I couldn’t leave them. I said, ‘I’m going to live or die with them.’”
The Brazilian Christian recalled the story during the Luso-Africa Global Mission Gathering near the Angolan capital, Luanda. The conference brought together Portuguese-speaking Christians from African nations including Angola and Mozambique and Brazilian believers for training sessions on disciple-making.
Related: Churches of Christ in Luso-Africa
Pereira, affectionately known as “Luizinho” (“little Luis”), is a member of the Itinga Church of Christ in Brazil. He worked as a bricklayer — like his father, Adetino, and his brother, Idalicio — and he also followed them into ministry. Adetino traveled to the far south of Brazil to preach the Gospel before his death. Idalicio is a full-time church planter in the state of Bahia.
Like the rest of his family, “I’ve always been busy,” said Pereira, who graduated from EBNESR Christian College in Recife, Brazil. The school’s name is a Portuguese acronymn meaning “National Bible School to Equip Servants of the King.” After graduation, Pereira and his family served as missionaries in Aracaju, Brazil.
He felt called to Africa, the homeland from which his ancestors were brought to South America as slaves in the 1500s and 1600s. So did his fellow Brazilian believers. Nilton Contreiras Jr., an instructor at EBNESR, traveled to Mozambique in 2012 and met with Christians there. Bibles were scarce, “and the few they had were old, with pages missing,” Contreiras said.
Contreiras launched a campaign to send boxes of Portuguese Bibles to Mozambique. Brazilian Christians also began to support Mozambican evangelists. In 2019, Pereira journeyed to the port city of Beira, Mozambique, to work with a new congregation there.
Then came Cyclone Idai.
Pereira was halfway through teaching a course titled “Let the Bible Speak” when he learned that the intense tropical storm was headed directly toward Beira.
Telling the believers back home that he was going to ride out the cyclone was much easier than telling his wife, he said with a laugh.
As his physical and spiritual family prayed for his safety, Pereira endured the battering winds and storm surge from one of worst tropical storms to affect Africa and the Southern Hemisphere. Idai killed at least 1,500 people in Mozambique, destroyed more than 112,000 homes and wiped out crops across the country.
After days without access to communication, Pereira got through to his family and let them know he was OK. By then, Brazilian Christians were already at work.
“I had already fallen in love with the people. I couldn’t leave them. I said, ‘I’m going to live or die with them.’”
“As soon as we heard about the cyclone, we began to think of a way to help them,” Contreiras said. Church members raised 7,000 real (about $1,800) in five days for relief efforts.
Pereira’s Bible training — and his willingness to stay and work in recovery after the storm — yielded fruit. He baptized 27 people during his four-month stay in Mozambique and helped to birth a new Church of Christ in Beira.
The Brazilian missionary helped the new congregation build its first meeting place — a humble wood building. They completed the structure two days before Pereira’s return flights to Brazil.
But Pereira faced one more trial before he could return home.
The owners of the property came to inspect the work and didn’t like where it was. They had allowed the church to build, but they wanted the facility farther back on the property. There wasn’t enough time to tear it down and rebuild it before Pereira’s scheduled departure.
So, the night before his flight, the missionary hired 19 men to dig up the building’s support beams and carry the entire structure to the back of the property. Sadly, Pereira didn’t get photos of the relocation, which began in the evening and was finished by midnight, he said.
At the conference in Angola, Pereira made connections — and more plans for ministry — with fellow Portuguese-speaking Christians in the Southern Hemisphere.
“He’s unstoppable!” said Tim Brumfield, who also attended the conference and serves Sunset International Bible Institute as dean of ministry training for the Portuguese world. Pereira coordinates an online Bible institute to “equip spokesmen for God in Portuguese-speaking Africa.”
Pereira’s Mozambican students have inherited his zeal, including Timóteo Tivane, a former Pentecostal preacher who “is doing such a great job at building the church in Beira,” Brumfield said. Tivane recently traveled to the city of Lichinga to help another convert, Andassane Francisco, in his efforts to launch a Church of Christ there.
“He is such an evangelist at heart,” Brumfield said of Pereira, adding that the missionary sets up Bible study groups “like crazy.”
Subscribe today to receive more inspiring articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox twice a month.
Your donation helps us not only keep our quality of journalism high, but helps us continue to reach more people in the Churches of Christ community.