Jiu-jitsu ministry impacts Portugal church members

Jiu-jitsu ministry impacts Portugal church members

by
Sarah Norris for Eurasia Region Church of the Nazarene
| 11 Jan 2024
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Jiu Jitsu

In 2022, the Church of the Nazarene in Queluz, Portugal, started a new project the church had never attempted within the country. Pastor Geovane Mota turned an unused church garage space into a gym to practice jiu-jitsu.

Rafaela became one of the church’s first jiu-jitsu students. Rafaela moved to Portugal from Brazil with her husband in 2022. She had attended the Church of the Nazarene back in Brazil, so she decided to attend a service at the Queluz church after recognizing the name on the building while passing by. During the announcements, Mota spoke about Naza Jiu-Jitsu, which peaked Rafaela’s interest.

“He said everyone was invited — men, women, children, or elders,” Rafaela said. “I wanted to start exercising—I don’t like going to the gym … I had never done jiu-jitsu before, but I found a sentence the pastor said interesting: ‘Jiu-jitsu is for anyone. You don’t necessarily need to be strong.’”

Rafaela identified with that description. Mota went on to explain that jiu-jitsu, at its foundation, was just like the story of David and Goliath because jiu-jitsu is focused on training the weak to overcome the strong. Rafaela decided to go to Naza Jiu-jitsu during the week, which helped her get acquainted with other church members.

“By going to this activity in the middle of the week,” Rafaela said, “the next Sunday, I already knew more people from church and started to feel a part.” 

Rafaela says that without Naza Jiu-Jitsu, she might still be looking for a community to be a part of, “but I found it here.”

Rafaela has seen the Lord work in miraculous ways since joining Naza Jiu-Jitsu, including the provision for her attire to attend the gym.

“I had recently arrived from Brazil, so financially I wasn’t yet ready to purchase a kimono,” she said. “So, for the first classes, I just said, ‘Lord, I have to purchase something to be able to go.’ I bought simple sweatpants and a long-sleeved shirt.”

Even though Rafaela didn’t have a kimono, she still wanted to participate. She waited on the Lord and left it in his hands.

“I remember one day the pastor came to me in one of the workouts and told me a lady had passed by the church earlier,” Rafaela remembers. “This lady used to do jiu-jitsu, and she said that she wanted to bless this project. So, she offered a kimono to the project. The pastor told me that I was the only girl practicing jiu-jitsu and the kimono was for girls, my size, and the color I wanted.”

Rafaela was in awe and couldn’t believe that a kimono was provided for her—exactly what she needed to continue participating in Naza Jiu-Jitsu. Thanks to the connections and meaningful relationships built through Naza Jiu-Jitsu, Rafaela got more involved in the church’s life and many members have impacted her personally. Currently, Rafaela serves as a Sunday school teacher and hopes to continue to grow in the Word of God.

“It’s always a joy to see the growth of a sheep,” Mota said. “The greatest ‘calling’ in a pastor’s life is to see lives transformed by the power of the gospel. In the case of our dear sister Rafaela, it is very special because the manifestation of the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ is visible.”

This is an adapted version of a story that originally appeared on the Eurasia Region website. To read the full story, click here.

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