In this article I explore the role of Pentecostalism in the lives of middle-class Brazilian students-turned-migrants in Australia. Brazilian students lead precarious lives in Australia. They are transitioning into adulthood, living away from the homeland and without their families for the first time and they experience downward mobility. In addition, they are at the mercy of constant changes in Australian migration policy. Drawing on three years of multi-sited fieldwork in Australia and Brazil in three Pentecostal churches (the Australian megachurches Hillsong and C3 and a Brazilian church), I argue that Pentecostalism supports these students in their migration pathway. This is particularly the case because these are Seeker churches. By focusing on youth culture, entertainment, and informality and by addressing real-life situations, these churches cater to middle-class sensibilities. I also contend that their religious beliefs and practices are interwoven with the students’ narratives of migration to Australia. Thus the students pray for visas, jobs, and sponsorships for permanent residency and they see every obstacle and achievement as God’s work in their lives. For them, God determines whether they can stay or must return home. Importantly, citizenship in God’s kingdom gives them a more significant sense of belonging than that of the Australian state.
Abstract: The paper analyses transnational flows of Pentecostalism between Australia and Brazil. It analyses the establishment of CNA, a Brazilian church that caters for the increasing number of Brazilian students in Sydney. It also investigates the ways in which Hillsong, an Australian Pentecostal megachurch, has influenced CNA and has been alluring young Pentecostal Brazilians to Australia. Scholars have paid little attention to how religious institutions in the host country may influence rituals and facilitate the establishment of the new church. I argue that churches created by migrants are not established in a deterritorialized diasporic vacuum. Reterritorialization engenders hybridity. Following an admiration for Australian churches due to Australia being part of the English-speaking developed world, CNA is a hybrid of a conservative Brazilian Baptist church and the very informal Hillsong church. I contend that it is precisely this hybridity that makes young Brazilians adhere to it since the church works as an effective bridge between Brazilian and Australian cultures. Furthermore, this paper demonstrates the polycentric nature of Pentecostalism, as Australia is becoming a centre for the dissemination of Hillsong-style Pentecostalism in Brazil.