I met Wellinton in late 2000 at a conference the Surge Project promoted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As one would expect, the conference was packed with pastors from across Brazil who wanted to hear Larry Stockstill speak on cell groups, missions and ministry, and church planting.
The conference was tremendous, and many doors to minister in Brazil were opened, but the relationship I developed with Wellinton may have been the most amazing thing of all. A few months after the conference, Wellinton invited me to come to his home city, Linhares. Linhares is located in the interior of the state of Espirito Santo (yes, in Brazil one of our states is called Holy Spirit, and interestingly enough, the state capital is called Victory). Even though Linhares is a city of 150,000 people, it has no commercial airport. The trip required a one-hour flight from Rio to Vitoria, then a three-hour car ride inland to Linhares.
Wellinton’s church was a small denominational church that had been founded many decades before. He had been pastoring for several years; however, it seemed like there was no forward movement.
Over the next six months, Wellinton continued to speak to me often about his dissatisfaction with the status quo of his ministry and his difficulty in moving forward. Finally, he made one of the most difficult decisions of his life. He decided to resign as pastor and open a brand-new ministry called New Covenant (Ministério Internacional Nova Aliança). Within a year, the new church had grown larger than the church he had pastored for all those years before.
During the second year, Wellinton decided to do something even more radical. Through the Surge Project, he took his best leaders from his new church and opened five churches in satellite cities around Linhares.
Personally, I was concerned over two issues. First, could his young church handle sending out that many leaders? Second, would the new church plants need additional funding following the one-year assistance they received from Surge?
Amazingly, every one of the churches not only survived, but also thrived with no additional funding from Surge. Over the next 15 years, Wellinton planted a total of 26 churches from his original church. I have spoken at many of these churches.
I remember one of Wellinton’s key leaders, Adelgado. The first time I met him, he was pushing a baby stroller alongside his wife immediately following a service in which I had spoken. Adelgado planted one of the initial five churches, and he did it in Sooretama, a small city with less than 20,000 in population.
Today Adelgado’s church is the largest church in the city. It has its own building and is a fantastic church with influence among the business leaders and even the mayor of the city. Last year Renée and I held a marriage conference for the church there, with over 600 people present on each day of the conference.
Another one of those 26 pastors sent out is Abel. One recent Sunday Abel insisted that I speak at his church. He has two services with almost 500 people in each. The church also owns its own building and is in the middle of a construction project to double the size of its auditorium.
In Brazil, there are literally over 350 stories similar to these that I have personally been involved with through the Surge Project.
In the case of Wellinton, he has over 5,000 in weekly attendance in the 26 churches that were planted from his initial church. I look at what he has accomplished and can’t help but think of the power of repositioning. Wellinton repositioned his vision to reach more people.
Surge repositioned a missions paradigm to send a small spark of mission support to thousands of leaders like Wellinton to advance God’s kingdom across the globe. Please consider how you can reposition to see God move even more powerfully through your support to global church planting.
This story was written by Philip Murdoch, one of our Surge Regional Directors located in Brazil.
Philip and Reneé pastor a multi-campus church in Rio de Janeiro. He is also involved with training up pastors and planting churches all throughout Brazil.
If you would like to give to plant churches in his region, go to surgeproject.com/plant-a-church/ and select “Brazil”
You can also learn more about his ministry by going to lttn.life
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