Church of the Nazarene member Maria Veiga Amado Nhanha, or Nhanha for short, passed away 5 May at the age of 112. She was born 9 October 1905 just outside the city of São Filipe, Fogo, an island in Cabo Verde (formerly known internationally as Cape Verde).
Regarded as one of the best child workers in her area, Nhanha had a gift for loving children. Nhanha didn’t become a Christian until later in life, and it wasn’t long afterward that her pastor asked her to help care for the children in a local Church of the Nazarene.
General Superintendent Eugénio R. Duarte, a Cabo Verde native himself, witnessed Nhanha's love first-hand. His wife, Maria Amelia, is Nhanha's niece.
“Even today, those who were [pastor’s kids] then speak about her with gratitude for the way she influenced their lives,” Duarte said. “She took care of them as if she was a second mother to them.”
Children’s ministries was just one of Nhanha’s many passions. She was a “gifted host,” a “minister to pastors,” and had a love for Sunday school “like no other.”
“She had the gift of hospitality like very few that I know,” Duarte said. “The city near where she lived, São Filipe, was a place where people would go for business, and there would be transit going to the other islands. The Nazarene pastors who went by or who would stay in São Filipe said she was a wonderful host. She ministered to us pastors in a very unique way by providing food, a place to stay, and the kind of care that impacted so many pastors.”
Whether through personal outreach or church initiatives, Nhanha’s passion to serve the church was remarkable. She always invited people to church, particularly to Sunday School, and for those who couldn’t come, Nhanha still offered them a way to serve.
“When people were not willing to go with her or could not go to Sunday School with her, she would, in her own way, say ‘okay you cannot go, I understand, but you can make a contribution to the Sunday School ministry by giving an offering to the Sunday School offering plate,’” Duarte said. “No one would say no to that, so she raised money for Sunday School because she believed in it.”
Sunday School was not the only ministry she cared for. In fact, there wasn’t a service at her church that she wasn’t involved in.
“There was no service in the church that she did not attend,” Duarte said. “Even as an old person she would go to youth service; she was that faithful to the church and to God.”
Nhanha impacted many through her love and kindness.
“[Nhanha] influenced everyone who lived close to her,” Duarte said. “So much so that people would go to her home to visit just to enjoy her company. She was a very gracious person, a very friendly person. Not only to people in the church but to people outside the church.”
Amid all of her good works and years of service, Nhanha was known for her humility throughout her community.
“People in town knew her as a person of integrity, as person of good character,” Duarte said. “She always gave credit to Jesus, not because she was able to do great things, but because of who Jesus was to her and what Jesus did for her.”
Nhanha was preceded in death by her husband and is survived by six children, 23 grandchildren, 63 great-grandchildren, and 33 great-great-grandchildren.