An inactive circus in Brazil’s capital city unexpectedly became a venue for Bible studies and worship in early May 2021. Local Seventh-day Adventist members found the closed place in the course of their volunteer Bible work and ended up inviting the unemployed company troupe to join them in worship and study.
Portugal Circus, located in Brasilia’s Taguatinga district, has been inactive due to pandemic-related restrictions. However, members from the nearby Adventist church and other congregations in the area decided to step in and use the venue to offer hope, comfort, and support.
The initiative came about after Adventist volunteers launched several projects to support those directly affected by lack of work because of COVID-19. “Early in the pandemic, I became very concerned about the people who were not able to work, so we launched several initiatives to alleviate the situation,” Ana Ligia, one of the church members behind the circus meetings, said. “One day, as we were visiting the neighborhood, we came across the circus troupe and began singing for them. And one of the young women started to cry. That caught my attention,” Ligia recalled.
Ligia said she returned home with a heavy heart. She decided to put some food baskets together and return to the closed venue. “We went back and distributed food baskets, but we also gave the troupe the Word of God,” she shared. “We organized a regular church worship service, just as if we were at church.”
Joice Portugal, the circus’s trapeze artist, magician, and administrator, said the Adventist volunteers’ initiative significantly impacted the group she leads. “We have no words to thank them for what they did for us,” she said. “They brought us not only physical food but also the spiritual food that we needed.”
Portugal also emphasized that the Adventist group gave hope to her troupe. “They welcomed us, came to comfort, teach, and make people understand the true purpose of Jesus and talk about the importance of the Bible. It was inexplicable!” she said with emotion.
With a friendship established, volunteers offered to go deeper into Bible studying. On the stage under the circus tent, church members organized worship and evangelistic meetings to share a message of love and hope with Jesus as the center. The series, held May 3-8, drew the unemployed workers and instilled in them a desire to learn more about spiritual matters, organizers said.
André de Oliveira, a local church elder behind the initiative, said they put the program together with extreme care and earnest affection for the dejected artists.
“We distributed gifts and baskets for mothers. And on Saturday, we celebrated the end of our series with a special meal,” he shared. According to him, the troupe has requested volunteers to come and repeat the experience in the future.
Portugal said that in her 35 years working for the circus, she had never seen something like this. “The circus has become a church. It was really incredible,” she said. She shared that her father, who is now 77 and was born in the circus, told her it was an unheard-of experience for him also.
It was a week that she would not soon forget, Portugal emphasized. “During the [worship] services, I felt something that I cannot explain. I thank the [Adventist] Church for its humanity and for showing so much love, empathy, and faith.”