Phil Graf, Gayll Phifer-Houseman, and I just returned from conducting a Divine Expedition “Romans as a Life and Missional Map” training in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. On the trip, I forgot my malaria medication. Fortunately, I didn’t need it as Addis Ababa is 7,200 feet in elevation…too high for mosquitos.
Mosquitoes aside, the response from the 30 leaders attending our training was very positive with an invitation to return in 2019 to continue with our four phases of training and four levels of leadership development. Here are several responses from the Ethiopian participants:
Now I understand that the book of Romans is a book of mission. Praise the Lord! (No name.)
I now understand God’s eternal mission is also my mission, and that I have to preach the Gospel wherever the situation. (No name.)
From this training I have more courage for doing God’s mission and now have a plan to do so. (No name.)
We are convinced that we landed in the right place in terms of an Ethiopian ministry that shares our vision to equip leaders and multiply viral, missional, church-planting movements.
DROPPING DOWN TO 3,900 FEET…AND MOSQUITOES
Phil and I continued on to Uganda, leaving Gayll behind in Addis to connect with InterVarsity (called EvaSue) staff in that country. Gayll and husband Mark were on InterVarsity staff for many years in the SF Bay area before joining Global Training Network. Their connection to Ethiopia runs deep as they adopted and raised four Ethiopian children.
In Uganda Phil and I met with some of the leaders we trained from 2012 to 2016. It was extremely encouraging to hear from four of the Uganda Divine Expedition Master Trainers as they have carried the Divine Expedition training forward.
In the three years since we completed the training cycle in four cities in Uganda, more that 90 churches have been planted spearheaded by those we trained. One of the men we met with is being called “a church planting machine.”
I returned to the US while Phil remained to coach the Ugandans as they conducted trainings in three cities. In Ishaka, a church was planted by one of the men we trained earlier that now has between 3-400 attending. It has also recently started a daughter church on the campus of a Muslim university with more than 60 in attendance. Here’s a letter from Pastor Sam who started the church:
Praise Jesus. I remember in 2013 you wrote in my diary that you started a church in Amsterdam. And it was attracting many people.
I moved with that courage and started a church in Ishaka on 28th June 2014. The church members are mostly University students.
Here are two highlights from Phil’s time in Ishaka (“Romans as a Life and Missional Map”):
The outreach during our Phase 1 training was well done. Although it was raining at least 10 people got saved.
The Ugandan’s three-year plans (part of a Divine Expedition strategic planning exercise) were excellent and doable.
Here are several more highlights from Phil’s time in Mbarara (“Aligning Your Heart with Father God’s Heart”):
The participants had receptive hearts and asked relevant questions.
The ministry time was powerful as we felt the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
There was an impact as we communicated about forgiveness and healing wounds.
There was spontaneous praise and worship in response to the training.
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS
Besides the wonderful things that happened in the lives of those we trained, the good news is that I didn’t get bitten by any mosquitos in Uganda. I tried to stay in lighted places as mosquitos are dark to dawn creatures that stalk you at night. Mosquito nets helped a lot.
The bad news is that I picked up a parasite of some kind, so returned feeling washed out and with intestinal turbulence. Mark Phifer-Housemen stayed back for a similar reason, something he picked up on a previous trip. I am hoping that the round of antibiotics I am taking will chase away whatever accompanied me from Africa…and that Mark will return to normal soon too.
Meanwhile, we praise God for the people who are coming to Christ, the leaders who are growing, and the churches that are being planted and growing that we have had a part with in Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia.
Thank you for being a part of it with us.
Linus, Sharon, Phil, Laina, Mark, Gayll, and the Divine Expedition team
P.S. While in Ethiopia, I got to attend a wedding with Tariku Kersima, who we are working with. Here is the photo I took.