THE DIVINE EXPEDITION: WHERE IT STARTED
In 2013, Phil Graf and I traveled to the southernmost part of Brazil to the state of Rio Grande do Sul to launch our Divine Expedition training. Some 160 people from Hope Chapel Brazil sat through our three-day workshop in the town of Bom Retiro do Sul. Pastor Samir (Sammy) Diab invited us to return for the next phases of training, and a number of participants indicated interest in developing as trainers.
Over the next several years we returned and conducted Phases 2, 3, and 4. We also began developing Sammy and some of the leaders at his church to train others as we conducted trainings at churches in the nearby cities of Montenegro, Taquari, and Estrela.
Five years later, Sammy and four participants from the first training have gone through all four phases of our training—four times each—thus becoming Divine Expedition Master Trainers. On July 15th, Phil (Graf) and I flew to Brazil for their commissioning.
BRAZILIANS GROWING IN FAITH AND STARTING NEW CHURCHES
We also gave certificates to another 34 people have completed each of the four phases at least once. Many of these are participating in the multiplication of trainings in a widening network of churches located in towns nearby.
After our training in Bom Retiro in 2013, the Hope Chapel worship leader planted a new church in a nearby city called Estrela. Since its launch it has grown to around 120 people.
In 2014, we conducted a Phase 1 workshop in Estela. As part of our outreach exercise, two of the participants shared the gospel with a young Haitian who received Christ. Today, he is leading a Haitian church with around 50 Haitians living in another nearby city Lajeado.
In Lajeado, a couple who just completed the four phases of Divine Expedition training, David and Eveline, started a new church called Hope Chapel Lajeado with 50 people now attending. It was our pleasure to participate in their ordination for the Lajeado church plant. Here is a photo of the recent Divine Expedition Phase 1 training there:
BRAZILIANS COMING TO CHRIST: DUDA’STESTIMONY
It was my privilege to preach at the commissioning and ordination service mentioned above. My message focused on “Three Clusters of Prophecy” with an invitation at the close to receive Christ. A number of people responded including a young woman named Duda (short for Eduarda). After raising her hand to receive Christ she cried and cried. Marcia Diab (Sammy’s wife) and I met with her afterward and she cried some more. At one point she said, ‘I’m crying so much that I am afraid I am going to become dehydrated.’
Here is her testimony:
“While Dr. Linus was preaching, he talked about Dennis [his brother in law who died] and said that his last words was “thank you” because Dr. Linus had shown Jesus Christ’s love for Dennis’ children. Hearing that touched my heart immensely and I could not hold my tears, because in his last moment of life, that father ignored all his own pain and suffering and his only concern was saving his children. I understood that that example was also about the love of the LORD, because even when we turn our backs to Him and we move away from what is right, He never gives up on us, never!
Right after that example, Dr. Linus continued preaching about the prophets, with the intention of showing us that there was no reason to doubt, there was no reason to be afraid, and there was no reason to wait anymore. Life with the Lord will transform us and all that we once tried to conceal, from the moment we accept Jesus in our heart, will be vanished. And with every word, I felt tears coming down, but they were not tears of suffering and pain, they were cleaning my soul, releasing forgiveness for me as well as for those who had hurt me. As Linus explained, ‘He touched my heart and changed everything that was inside!’
At the end of the service, Pastor Sammy asked us to close our eyes and feel God delivering us as we gave our hearts to Jesus. After everything I had heard I had an awareness that my heart’s feelings weren’t the same. I had no more doubt that what I needed and need for my life is for Jesus to guide my heart, because He was the One who delivered me from such an immense agony and opened my eyes to forgiveness!
One more time, thank you very, very much!”
Duda wasn’t the only one who became a Christian on this trip, as you will see below.
BRAZILIANS TRAINING OTHERS
The Brazilians we are training are training others. Phil and I landed in time to join our Brazilian Divine Expedition team part way into their Phase 1 training in the city of Paverama. Some 90 people attended and several people came to Christ during the outreach project that is part of our training.
One of the exercises the Divine Expedition team led was for the participants to share their stories in twos of what we call “The One Sentence Gospel,” which is, “I was lost, Jesus rescued me, and he can rescue you too.” As people shared their stories with each other in preparation to go out and share with others in the community, there was an emotional outpouring of gratitude for the grace of God. The following video (although without sound) catches a bit of it:
BRAZILIANS TRAINING TO BE TRAINERS
More than 25 Brazilians in Rio Grande do Sul are in the process of becoming Divine Expedition trainers and taking part in the presentations. Here are some of their names: Abel, Estafani, Aline, Louvane, Gabriela (all new presenters), Sammy, Vladi, Camela, Vivi, Jaison, Casio, Litos, and Karina, with others in the wings.
With such a large group, we are discussing how to break the group into smaller teams of 5 or 6 to multiply the training out regionally in Rio Grande do Sul. Plans are already in place to continue trainings in Lajeado, Estrela, Taquari, and Paverama, as well as extend it to Triunfu, Porto Alegre. There is even a plan to start it overseas to Portuguese-speaking Mozambique.
THE MOVEMENT SPREADS: SAO PAULO STATE
After completing the commissioning and training in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, we flew north 1,100 Kilometers along with several of our Brazil Divine Expedition team members to conduct three trainings in the State of Sao Paulo. We were joined by several other Brazilians who are in the process of becoming trainers from Sao Paulo state.
In the city of Matao, we conducted Phase 3 of our training (“Empowering Others for Ministry”). In addition to those attending the workshop at Cristo Vive, another 400 people in three other churches were watching live on video.
A member of Cristo Vive Matao, Claudicir, has joined our Divine Expedition team with the intention of becoming a Master Trainer and raising up a Divine Expedition team to multiply the training in his region. When asked what impact the Divine Expedition training has had in Matao, Claudicir stated “it has re-envisioned the church to be outreach focused.”
Before we departed Matao, the Cristo Vive pastors met us at our hotel and we gathered the hotel staff to thank them for how well they took care of us, share the gospel and pray for them. Several of them received Christ. This brought us great joy, as at the heart of our training is a desire for others to know Jesus.
THE TEAM GROWS AND SPREADS FURTHER TO VALINHOS AND VINHEDO
Following the training in Matao, we drove to the city of Vinhedo to conduct our Phase 4 training (“The Book of Acts and Multiplying Viral, Missional, Church Planting Movements”). A network of Cristo Vive churches (including the mother church in Valinhos) were also present. The response to the training was more than encouraging, and the Cristo Vive leadership asked us to help them multiply the Divine Expedtion training out through their network of churches.
In addition to training, Phil Graf spoke in the morning service and I spoke in the evening service at Cristo Vive Vinhedo…with Sammy translating. We rejoice that people came to Christ during both services. We also gained a new Divine Expedition trainer as Eleani, a leader from the Vinhedo church, asked to become part of our team.
CONTINUING ON TO JACAREI AND SAN JOSE DOS CAMPOS
After departing Vinhedo, we continued on to the city of San Jose dos Campos, accompanied by new trainers Claudicir (from Matao) and Eleani (from Vinhedo). There our team was joined by Ledeani who works closely with Divine Expedition trainer Jane Hawkins and her husband and long-time friend Pete (Pete and Jane were part of our Amsterdam church plant before moving to Brazil).
Our team was also joined by developing trainers Juliani, Gabriela, and Leandro from Jacarei. In Jacarei, we have completed all four phases of our training. We introduced the Divine Expedition small group curriculum and manual for those who have gone through our training to be able to share the Divine Expedition material with others.
In San Jose dos Campos 80 people participated in our Phase 1 training (“Romans as a Life Transformation and Missional Impact Map”) at a church called IBAJI for short. The training was led entirely by Brazilians (and Jane, an American who has lived in Brazil for the past 20 years) and done entirely in Portuguese.
The team was made up of trainers from five cities: Bom Retiro do Sul, Matao, Vinhedo, Jacarei, and San Jose dos Campos. IBAJI’s pastor, Marcos David, said the only complaint he received was that we couldn’t do Phase 2 of our training next month. At the end of the training we also gained a new trainer named Carlos.
THE MOVEMENT SPREADS TO PERNAMBUCO STATE…AND BEYOND
In November, the Divine Expedition training will move to the state of Pernambuco to the cities of Recife, Paulista, and Olinda. Our vision is to equip national leaders to train others to train others to train others, locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. We are excited about multiplying viral, missional, disciple-making, leadership-developing church planting movements.
Thank you for being part of this movement. It well underway in Brazil (as well as Uganda). We return to Nepal the last two weeks of August to conduct our second round of training, and will be joined by Sammy Diab and Mark and Gayll Phifer-Housman, who are also spearheading the launching of the Divine Expedition training in Ethiopia. We will travel there in September, followed by a return to Uganda to meet with leaders we have worked with there. We will then help the Ugandans launch Divine Expedition training in Rwanda.
All of this is driven by a passion to glorify God, reach people for Christ, and make disciples of all peoples. Thank you for praying and partnering with us.
Linus, Phil, Sammy, and the Divine Expedition Team