International Student Shines as Student Chaplain

By Anna-Kate Weichel

Soccer is what brought Thiago Viana to MACU, but his love of Christ is what has defined his journey as a student.

Viana was born and raised in Brazil, growing up in a home that loved soccer and followed Christ. But although his childhood was rooted in traditional values, they failed to resonate with him.

“I grew up in a religious Catholic family, but we didn’t actually have a real relationship with Jesus,” Viana said. “I used to go to church and thought it was boring. I didn’t like it too much because I didn’t know about The Bible.”

In early 2020, he was approached by one of MACU’s soccer coaches to come play for the university. He accepted the offer to follow his passion of soccer, but also acquired a new passion. The more Viana got involved, the more his love for Christ grew. He was baptized on campus and now the business and ministry major serves as a Resident

He said Campus Pastor Matt Cossey was crucial in helping him break out of his shell and grow in his love for Jesus and his passion for helping others.

“My favorite thing about Pastor Matt is he believes in me,” Viana said. “When he called on me to become a chaplain, I told him it was going to be hard because I am going out of my comfort zone. But he trusted me and gave me this opportunity.”

One of the duties Viana has as a Resident Chaplain is to run a weekly Bible study. The men of MACU gather every Monday night to spend time with each other and grow closer with God. Viana spends time with Cossey and the other resident chaplains organizing and creating lesson plans for the Bible studies.

Viana and Cossey both cherish their relationship. Cossey said that Viana’s quiet but passionate love for others caught his attention when he came to campus.

“As long as I have known Thiago, and even before meeting him personally, he had a reputation as having a sincere love for God and for others,” Cossey said. “In his own quiet way he was willing to show up and serve. As a chaplain, I have seen him grow to not just be ready to serve others but to lead as well.”

Although Viana attended other universities prior to MACU, he said there is something different about the campus.

“You can see the people here, staff, professors and everybody, they are Christ-like. They follow Biblical principles. They really care about the students and they want us to grow and achieve our goals. It’s like a big family,” Viana said.

At MACU, Viana said he has been able to form personal relationships with his peers and mentors that are unlike anything he has experienced in his life.

“I am just really thankful to be here. It is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It will definitely be a part of the story of my life.”