AlphaNews

spring 2007 t h E a l P h a C o u r s E an opportunity to explore the meaning of life

USA

MultiCultural traininG oFFErEd

Every People, Every Nation

as our culture changes, so must we change how we approach that culture with the gospel. in recognition of demographic changes across the country, alpha leaders at Westminster Chapel, in Bellevue, Wash., are coordinating a multicultural training event this May. Participants will learn how to not only reach different cultures in their own backyards but also incorporate alpha in their overseas mission strategies. says Westminster’s missions pastor, ralph rowland, “We went from a very ethnically white community to one that has 30-percent firstgeneration foreign born. how do we connect with our new community and help them come to Christ? “Part of the training will be telling our story, and the story of our partnership with a few churches in sapporo, Japan.” (see story at right.) this multicultural training will be held in conjunction with a standard alpha training—a full slate of events from May 3 to 5, in Woodinville, Wash. if you miss this opportunity, go to www.westminster.org and enter “multi-cultural alpha” in the search box. You will be able to download recordings of the workshops and also learn about similar events in the future. For more details, call (425) 7471461 or contact Westminster via e-mail (sylviar@westminster.org). ■

Imagine, then, the joy that Eric Watson and his fellow Alpha leaders feel every Alpha evening at Westminster Chapel, outside Seattle. Although they started with the traditional English Alpha Course, they soon began adapting their gatherings for other language groups in their 30-percent foreign-born community: Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese and Russian. Now, Eric shares, “When you get there on a Sunday night and look out over all the different tables, you see people discussing the DVD in their own heart language. It reminds me of what heaven will be like. “We are so grateful that Alpha has developed courses in so many different languages, so that we can reach all the different people in our community.” More than 200 people show up for Alpha each week at Westminster. After dinner together, some move to different rooms to hear and discuss Alpha in other languages; others stay for the English DVD, dividing into both traditional small groups and English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) small groups. (Westminster also offers a mid-week ESOL Alpha Course— working on language mastery while learning about Jesus.) “In any of our Alpha Courses now, about one-third to one-half who respond to Christ will be people of other ethnicities,” says Sylvia Ramquist, Westminster’s director of International Ministries and a 20-year missionary to Japan. Alpha small groups are well-known for their diversity of opinions. You add a diversity of cultures, too, and the resemblance to heaven is even greater. One of Sylvia’s favorite stories is of a woman named Margaret. “Margaret was the daughter of a Beijing opera family and had been trained in Paris. In Paris, someone gave her a Bible. That put a hunger in Margaret’s heart. She heard about Alpha when she was here in Bellevue for her
Continued on page 3

next steps
Learn how one church is weaving Alpha more deeply into its very fabric. PaGE 7

Commonly asked Questions
“How do I handle challenging small-group scenarios?” Hear responses from Alpha practitioners Don Pieper and Sue Dennison. PaGE 5

Global impact
Hear news of Alpha’s impact worldwide, with stories from South Korea, Myanmar and Nigeria, among other countries. PaGE 10

Courtesy westminster Chapel (2)

t

How Alpha USA is touching the world
he well-known Bible passage of Romans 5 records the melody that will one day arise from a glorious mix of people from “every tribe and language and people and nation.” Many of us also long to see this aspect of heaven represented on earth.

Enjoying an alpha gEtaway wEEkEnd outsidE sEattlE, wash.

a l P h a

V i s i o n

“Do You Like Me?”
o you like me?” I would have never guessed that this simple question would become a foundational question for seekers. Recently I spoke at the Luis Palau conference for evangelists. Speaking along with me was Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz and a leading voice in contemporary evangelism. He noted that spiritual seekers are more frequently asking that question. As soon as Donald said it, I thought, Duh, my conversations with seekers confirm that! Mother Teresa has said that the most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved. An old English proverb echoes that: “Faults are thick where love is thin.” by Todd Hunter Of course, the opposite is true as well: National Director Where love is thick, faults slip into the background and allow the person to come forward. In my experience, the question “Do you like me?”—which is never actually uttered, but only silently discerned—is usually mixed with both fear and hope: fear of alienation or rejection; hope for community, inclusiveness, relationship and dialog. Behind this question is the notion that if you, a follower of Jesus, like me, then perhaps your God will like me too. Like in this context is really a rough synonym for love. As the apostle Paul wrote: “Love cares more for others than for self . . . doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always ‘me first’ . . . doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel . . . always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end” (1 Corinthians 13, The Message). That is what seekers are looking for and asking for. They don’t expect us to be perfect, but even a little of the above goes a long way toward making seekers feel safe in our presence. Think about the times you have felt vulnerable, maybe a bit fearful. Suppose you had a terrible, life-threatening disease and went to the doctor’s office, only to have the doctor act as if she didn’t like you. How would you feel about being treated by her? Would you trust her? I doubt it.

d

Similarly, seekers need to be able to bring their worst fears into contact with my honest thoughts and beliefs, and intuitively know that they are liked. What is true in personal relationships is true between cultures as well. In this edition of Alpha News, you will read inspiring reports of local churches showing whole people-groups that they are liked. Again, no one expects us to fully understand a culture other than our own. But, the liking-love referred to earlier regarding personal relationships also bears remarkable fruit in peoplegroups. I’ll bet anything that the churches and Alpha Courses highlighted here have successfully and affirmatively answered the question, “Do you like me?” The kind of love Paul expressed does not dominate, it cultivates. This is what people from non-American cultures need to know. It lets them know that we like them and therefore facilitates a journey to faith in Jesus. ■

ron lonDen

rEorGanization
on February 1, alpha usa announced a strategic reorganization aimed at greater centralization of services, and at a closer working relationship with regional and local teams. these changes will help the movement fulfill its ambitious goals for 2007: adding 800 more alpha Courses, doubling the number of alpha advisors and improving efficiency—to be followed by major growth plans for 2008. starting immediately, alpha usa will begin consolidating its operations in Chicago, with the goal to be fully operational there by may 1. the Boise office will close, and the new york office will be reduced to a fund-raising/public-relations team of three. Chicago offers a vibrant alpha community and a wealth of potential volunteers from local churches and universities. it is alpha’s desire to be a good steward by utilizing this existing network. During the transition, alpha’s customer service and ministry will remain as seamless as possible. news on the transition, as well as any updated contact information, will be posted on the Building Better alpha Courses web site (www.alphaconnected.org/library1.aspx). ■

alPha usa announCEs

AlphaNews
alpha usa 74 trinity place, 9th Floor new york, ny 10006 (800) 362-5742 info@alphausa.org subscriptions

spring 2007 Publisher. alpha usa Marketing & development director. k imberly reeve Editorial advisor. nadia Jabri Editor. Diane J. mcDougall, Journey Group art director. mike ryan, Journey Group Production. stuart hornsby, Journey Group

individual hard-copy subscriptions: $5/year Bulk hard-copy subscriptions (pack of 5): $15/year order at: (212) 406-5269 or 1-800-Do-alpha resources@alphausa.org 

AlphA news | spring 007

Every People, Every Nation, continued from page 1

husband’s job with Microsoft. In Alpha, she unfolded like a flower. By week nine she came to me and asked, ‘Do I have to wait one more week before I can accept Christ, or can I accept him right now?’” Westminster’s commitment to Alpha’s international influence extends outside the United States, too, in several ways. They know that Alpha graduates who return to their home countries will take their faith-explorations with them, to countries that might not welcome outside missionaries. Westminster has also sent 16 people in four teams to Japan, to work alongside Alpha Japan to help grow courses there.

“Alpha fits the DNA of a missional church like a glove.”
—J eFF s Cott, alpha pastor, northview C h r i s t i a n l iFe C h u rC h

“In fact,” Sylvia adds, “three of the five people who went to Japan initially—to explore our partnership with Japanese churches—had come to Christ through Alpha just within the last three years. “I don’t know of any other ministry in a church that will take those who are just baby Christians, and put them in a cocoon of teaching and strong mentoring that allows them to be missionaries of that church within three years.” Other churches across the country are experiencing the same awe at spiritual growth and the same commitment to Alpha for their international outreach. The Salvation Army/Atlanta Temple Corps in Georgia has run 12 Alpha Courses and is adapting its course to a very different community. “In the beginning we only offered it in English,” says Israel Roseno, assistant at the church. “But as we began to look around, we noticed that not one person from the Hispanic community was attending. The issue, of course, was the language. Therefore, we decided to start Alpha in Spanish.” They started by tapping into their ongoing Spanish programs—English classes, soccer outreach and Spanish women’s ministries—to attract people to Alpha. Now, a number of those who attend Spanish Alpha have accepted Christ and are regularly attending church. When Japanese American United Church in New York City first heard of Alpha, it had no similar programs for outreach, nor any classes to introduce the basics of the Christian faith. Still, members were skeptical of what they thought of as an English-speaking phenomenon, remembers Gerri Yoshida, long-time member and leader.

Then they learned that Alpha was being successfully used in Japan, and that all course materials were translated into Japanese, so they decided to try it. JAUC has since run four courses. Worship occurs in both English and Japanese; then everyone splits into language groups to watch the talks and engage in small-group discussion. With at least 25,000 Japanese-speaking people in the greater New York area, JAUC is in the middle of a fertile mission field. (See “Bringing Japan to New York” on page 9.) JAUC’s former pastor and his Japanese wife plan to move to Japan soon, to serve as missionaries. They hope to use Alpha to reach young people there, and to follow up with Japanese who come to faith in the United States and then return to Japan. At Northview Christian Life Church, in Carmel, Ind., God is similarly using Alpha to reach another country entirely. While courses there are held only in English (more than 1,000 people have attended since fall 2003), the church’s eyes are set on India too.

Courtesy northview Christian liFe ChurCh

Courtesy Japanese ameriCan uniteD ChurCh

In June 2006, Holy Trinity Brompton Church, in London, asked Alpha churches worldwide to adopt a region in India and help start the Alpha Course there. Northview sent a team in December 2006 to help train Indian pastors and church leaders (pictured above). Approximately 90 Indian pastors attended training conferences, and 60 have now committed to begin the Alpha Course. And a church in Carmel, Ind., was part of making it happen. “Alpha is a home run for us,” says Jeff Scott, Northview’s Alpha pastor and director of adult ministries. “It fits the DNA of a missional church like a glove.” In every community and every home around the country where languages other than English are spoken, the Alpha Course is a perfect avenue for bringing the message of Christ “home” to each and every heart. And then taking it across the globe. ■ To learn more about the international influence of Alpha that’s possible through your church, see “Multicultural Training Offered” on page 1.

spring 007 | AlphA news 

F i r s t h a n d

The Power of the Name

J

Jenny Li attends Chinese Christian Church in New York City with her mother (above right), who moved to New York in September 2006.

enny Li moved to New York City in summer 2005, as a visiting scholar from China. She knew few people and was eager to work on her English speaking skills, so when she learned about opportunities to explore American culture and religion at an Alpha Course, she was interested. Someone e-mailed her the titles of all the DVD sessions, and one caught her attention. . . . I do research in ethics and moral philosophy, so I was particularly interested in the class “Why Did Jesus Die?” I thought, Why do people still discuss the meaning of the death of a person from 2,000 years ago? So I went to Alpha to see why this person’s death still has such great influence. Nicky Gumbel talks about the life and death of Jesus in a logical way, and I liked that way of exploring this topic. I also liked the discussion groups. My group leader was open to any question. To many questions, I didn’t get satisfactory answers, which seemed logical. If Christianity claims to be the truth about all things in this universe, from the beginning to the end, then there shouldn’t be quick, satisfactory, complete answers. So I decided to go on attending the Alpha Course and reading the Bible myself. It was the first time I had read the Bible, and I thought about Jesus’ life and death. My conclusion was that Jesus is the perfect, impeccable man, and He died for people who did not deserve His death. That shows a love different from human love. Every Wednesday after I came home from Alpha, I made a call to my mom in China. I told her all my thoughts and what I learned from the Alpha Course. I told her there is a person called Jesus, and after 2,000 years, Americans still love Him and enjoy His love. After several weeks of our talking, my mom was moved. Once I remember she even cried during our phone call. I didn’t try to convince my mom this is true or this is false; I wasn’t convinced myself. But she was touched by what Jesus did. And she was touched by the name of Jesus. For 58 years of her life she had been a stubborn atheist. But she was transformed just by several international phone calls. I couldn’t understand why she converted. But her change convinced me: This is because of God. A half year after my mom’s decision, I gradually accepted the belief in an omnipotent God. My mother’s change played a part in my deciding to believe. This kind of truth is different from the truth in any other realm of human knowledge. If I accept some axiom in geometry, that doesn’t «SHARE YOUR STORY WITH US» mean I accept a new way of life. But as long as I accept the truth of Jesus, it is, itself, an accephas the alpha Course changed your life? it is helpful tance of a new way of life. and encouraging for us to know how the alpha Course In this new life, there is hope ahead of me. and materials are having an impact. to share your story Before, what could I expect? Even if I could live with us, please go to www.alphausa.org and click on 100 years, there was still death—not-existence, the “share Your story” link at the bottom of the page. disappearance. But after accepting the truth of answer a few questions, and we will gladly send you a Jesus, there is hope: One day I will cross the gift as a thank you for your time. door of death and enter a new world, a perfect world. That makes this short life meaningful. ■ 

AlphA news | spring 007

Courtesy Jenny li

B E C a u s E

Y o u

a s k E d

Commonly asked questions, with responses from experienced Alpha practitioners
In response to this issue’s question, Alpha News talked to Alpha leaders in Texas and California. Don Pieper is a lay minister at Sugar Land Vineyard Church in Stafford, Texas, which started Alpha in 2000. Sue Dennison serves on the pastoral team at South Hills Community Church in San Jose, Calif., where she is director of outreach ministries. Over the years, she has helped lead more than 43 Alpha Courses at South Hills and her previous church, and she frequently teaches on this very topic at Alpha training events.

HoW Do i HANDLE cHALLENgiNg sMALL-grouP scENArios

?

Don pieper: For many leaders, there is a reticence to deal with those we call “extra grace required” people, because we have been taught to “keep the peace” versus being peacemakers. Peacemakers deal head-on with issues in a loving but firm manner, while peacekeepers offer platitudes and attempt to placate the offending parties. God is not scared to deal with us and our issues, and neither should we be when helping others. Initially, when someone talks too much, the leader can say to the group, “Let’s hear what others think about the topic.” Usually this works. However, there are people who don’t get the hint. In those cases, speak to those folks after the evening and share that there’s a limited amount of time, and you would like to hear from others as well. Then I ask the leader to sit next to the “extra grace required” person for the next class. This keeps them from making eye contact. Eye contact is an invitation to speak in a group. The other side of the coin is: What do you do with a silent group? I remind the leader not to speak but wait, and let the awkward silence be the tool that draws someone out. The other answer is to get guests speaking when they first come in the door, as they wait for dinner to be served. You will have the skids greased at small-group time. This Sunday evening I will watch as people from our small groups go down into the waters of baptism and the Vineyard celebrates (Continued on page 6) their new lives. I will be soaked as I receive their

Courtesy Don pieper
spring 007 | AlphA news 

B E C a u s E

Y o u

a s k E d

Commonly asked questions, with responses from experienced Alpha practitioners
Challenging small-group scenarios, continued from page 5

hugs of love, fresh up from the water, and as I do I will cry—like I have done so many times before—knowing that heaven has been enlarged once again through this little thing called Alpha. sue Dennison: When I teach on this topic, I have my own sheet of tips for dealing with the most common challenging situations, such as: the dominant member; the eager Christian who “shares” and uses the Bible too much; the quiet group; the chaotic group; or the group where one person becomes a group “project.” [For a copy of Sue’s detailed “Tips for Overcoming Challenging Situations,” visit www.AlphaConnected.org]

Some of these categories are more common in certain churches, depending upon the environment and the people. For example, if you’re getting new Christians into leadership, they tend not to fall into the same traps as the more mature Christians. The group-project situation is more likely to crop up at the table of a leader who’s a long-time Christian. Or in a church that emphasizes knowing the answers rather than fostering discussion. I find that raising the subject of small-group guidelines up front helps a lot. We only have three guidelines, and our emcee goes over them before our first small-group session: (1) we value confidentiality; (2) there’s no question too stupid or basic; (3) this is a group-sharing experience, giving everyone equal ability to contribute. You can say just about anything if you do so with humor. When I emcee, I’ll comment about the third guideline: “I’m sure everyone in this room knows that if there’s one thing that can kill a group, it’s a person who talks too much. You know what? I’m the worst culprit; I’m a talker. If you find that it’s one of your leaders who talks too much, we give you full permission to kick that person

under the table. Of course, if any of you find yourself falling into the same trap, maybe we can ask permission to kick you too!” That absolutely breaks the ice on the subject and takes care of the most common challenge in small groups. When we encounter any of these difficulties, most of us feel fearful: fearful of silences, of interrupting, of upsetting someone, etc. We need to actively replace fear with a prayer for love and understanding of the individual, because often there’s something different going on underneath. For example, the talkative person is quite often insecure or angry. Ask your small-group leaders to pray together for their group each week, even if only for 10 minutes. As you pray for your guests, God changes your heart. So whether you’re dealing with fear or pure dislike of a person, God changes you as well as the dynamic. During small-group leader training, I include stories about times when things went horribly wrong and how, despite that, God came through. For all the courses I’ve done, I can count on one hand the people who have left a course disenchanted—because God has this way of turning everything around. Some people drop out of Alpha because they have masses of questions and want answers urgently. With the Alpha philosophy and dynamic, that’s not what we’re about. So I teach group leaders, early on, to actively look for anyone in that category—then offer to meet them off-site, sit down, and let them fire off questions as you fire back answers. That helps them get it off their chest, so they feel able to return to Alpha and participate in the discussion. I believe in Alpha, because every Sunday I look around me and see the evidence: scores of people whose lives have been completely transformed. I’ve tried just about every evangelistic tool that exists, and none has come close to producing the lasting effect that Alpha has on people’s lives. ■

Courtesy sue Dennison

«WAITING FOR YOUR QUESTIONS»
are you serving on or leading an alpha Course? We’d love to hear what questions you’ve wrestled with, or questions you have received from other church leaders when you’ve talked about the course at your church. send us your questions at questions@alphausa.org. 

AlphA news | spring 007

n E X t

s t E P s

Practical resources and encouragement for Alpha leaders

Weaving Alpha into Who We Are

i
Courtesy steve wooD

The Alpha course at st. Andrew’s Episcopal church

n this and subsequent issues of Alpha News, we’ll look at churches that have fully integrated Alpha into how they “do church.” Each would describe itself as a “level-five church” (see the box, below). What does that description really mean, and how can other churches get there?

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, in Mount Pleasant, S.C., is a large (3,000-member) congregation in a wealthy suburb. Most members used to come from those suburbs, but more and more are traveling in from the heart of the city. St. Andrew’s wasn’t that big when Steve Wood accepted the call of senior pastor six years ago, but its 1,500 members had been steadily running Alpha for three years. So, how did St. Andrew’s evolve from a church where Alpha was active (level-three) to one where Alpha is the essence of all that the church does and is being given away (level-five)? Steve outlined a few milestones. “Switching from the videos to live talks was substantial,” he says. “When I started giving the talks, the stories I told were not about someplace far away; they were local stories. So if you came on Monday night to Alpha, you could show up again on Sunday and see the same guy, see his family, know something about him. So it was tangible, it was incarnated.” stEVE Wood st. andrEW’s Another milestone was financial. Steve and his vestry wrestled with the reality that college students EPisCoPal ChurCh and young marrieds with children found difficult to pay for the meals or the weekend. In the end, it came down to viewing all of Alpha as a kingdom investment. They chose to present the actual costs and then ask people to pay what they could—for some, that might even be more than the actual cost. “That gave us a significant inroad into a younger crowd,” Steve says. Another milestone involved the church calendar. “At St. Andrew’s, Alpha is the way in,” he explains. “If you want to get married, beautiful; part of our premarital process is Alpha. If you want to get baptized, wonderful; part of our baptism preparation is Alpha. What that develops in the church is a common vocabulary and theological framework.” «FIvE lEvElS OF AlpHA cHURcHES» A third milestone involved re-evaluating all of the church’s current programs. “A lot of other programs teach people about the Bible but in our winter 2006 issue of Alpha News, we outlined the don’t integrate them with doing it,” Steve says. “So those programs process by which more and more churches are weaving went out the window for us. We’re now running half the number of alpha into their very dna. as senior pastors catch and carry programs and seeing more people converted and more people maturthe alpha vision, churches are transformed. Consider where ing in their faith.” your church is on the continuum of steps outlined here. With all the new growth, St. Andrew’s also chose to hire a staff Consider these levels not as separate, static measurements person to coordinate the courses. And the decision was made to share but as steps toward a more dynamic church: the blessing: This individual acts as a resource for other churches runlevel 1: alpha is an underground movement in a church. ning Alpha—answering questions, offering training, inviting other level 2: alpha is tolerated but not blessed. leaders to participate in St. Andrew’s Alpha weekends. Financial choices. Staffing decisions. Re-evaluation of the way you level 3: alpha is one program among many. “do church.” It’s all part of a healthy, growing congregation that lives level 4: alpha is fully integrated into the church. and breathes the value of changed lives. ■
level 5: alpha is a blessing to be shared with other churches.

To learn more about fully integrating Alpha into your church, check out www.AlphaConnected.org

spring 007 | AlphA news

7

a l P h a

i n

t h E

n E W s

Alpha tips

Y

to the rescue

ou should have received a new e-newsletter recently: the weekly “Alpha Tips.” In January, two samples were mailed out, along with an invitation to a free subscription.* “Alpha Tips” contains timely suggestions and reminders designed to help Alpha users hone their skills and improve their courses. They are keyed to the typical Alpha Course cycle, thus providing “just-in-time” learning. “Alpha Tips” also includes reminders of upcoming events, links to important resources and free offers from the Building Better Alpha Courses library. “We wanted the tips to be short and light-hearted, but at the same time offer solid solutions to real challenges,” say Marti Clark and Margene Vessel, leaders of the “Alpha Tips” team. “We take many of the tips from Alpha Training sessions and the Alpha Directors Handbook, but we are also receiving great tips from advisors and practitioners who have discovered creative ways to solve problems.” You can become an “Alpha Tips” contributor by sending us your best ideas for making an Alpha Course better.* You may see your tip used to help other Alpha Courses in North America. Said one subscriber: “When I read tips from Alpha leaders in other parts of the country, it reminds me that I am not alone. We are all part of a big Alpha family who are working together to make our courses the very best they can be, and to help bring about ‘kingdom outcomes’ in our communities.” ■ *If you did not receive “Alpha Tips” and would like to—or if you have a tip to contribute—go to www.alphausa.org.

F

upcoming events marriage course training
rankly, we can’t run enough courses to keep up with the demand,” says Derek Rust, Alpha Advisor and pastor at Hosanna! Lutheran Church in Lakeville, Minn. Hosanna! ran the Alpha Marriage Course for 60 couples last year and is expecting 75 couples this spring. Thirty couples have also signed up for The Marriage Preparation Course—for engaged couples or those considering engagement. “Because of the demand, we are going to offer The Marriage Course in homes too,” Derek adds. “The advantage to running the course both in the church and in homes is that we can meet the needs of all types of couples in our community. Some love the anonymity of the large group; others don’t want to do anything that has to do with ‘church’ but will go to the home of a trusted friend or neighbor.” To learn how to offer these powerful courses in your community, consider several upcoming training opportunities: Marriage Course Training events in Washington, D.C. (June 18), Seattle (June 20), Vancouver (June 21), and Ottawa (June 23); and the annual Smart Marriages Conference—a highly effective secular gathering of marriage counselors (Denver, June 28-July 1). Authors Nicky and Sila Lee will keynote all four Marriage Course Trainings, plus the opening session of the Smart Marriages Conference. ■ For more information, or to register, please call (800) 362-5742 or visit the« S A v E T H E D AT E » alpha advisors team days 2007 Web (www.marriagecourseusa.org).
all advisors will be gathering in seattle, september 28–30, for their annual team Days—a time of encouragement, fellowship, prayer, ministry and fun. our hosts will be westminster Chapel and the seattle alpha team, led by Dave Deshazer. stay tuned for more details coming your way.

Nicky gumbel
Courtesy ron lonDen

n
niCkY GuMBEl 

AlphA news | spring 007

speaks in the u.s.

icky Gumbel traveled to San Diego in November 2006 to deliver the opening address to more than 1,600 evangelists and church leaders at the fourth annual National Outreach Convention. The NOC equips and empowers the local church to build bridges to the unchurched and is one of the largest evangelistic-training events in the United States. Nicky spoke on Luke Chapter 5 and how a nation can be changed when the gospel is shared. He then introduced Alpha as a powerful tool for this transformation. Alpha USA leaders also presented seminars that helped raise awareness of Alpha. ■

To learn more about the upcoming fall workshop, or to host a similar networking event—to better reach a specific language group in your community—contact Tony Kaiser (tonykaiser@alphausa.org).

a l P h a

E n d o r s E M E n t s

What church leaders are saying about Alpha

very person I have ever talked to who has gone through Alpha has had nothing but wonderful, wonderful things to say about how God used it to transform their thinking and understanding of what it means to follow Jesus.” Dan Kimball Founding Pastor,Vintage Faith Church Santa Cruz,Calif.

“E

“a

lpha is a strategic tool for Christians of all stripes—be they Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox. Alpha does three things that all effective evangelism training must do. It models how to Get the Story Straight, how to Get the Story Out, and how to Take the Story In. I recommend it highly!” Rebecca Manley Pippert Author, Out of the Salt Shaker

“W

e all have a God-shaped space within. Alpha opens the door to that space and is a starting point for the sharing, caring, praying community which is exemplary of the Church in action.” Desmond Tutu Former Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa

“i

t’s great to see how Alpha has been used to reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ, who wouldn’t normally come to church. This resource is very complementary to helping seekers connect with The Purpose Driven Life.” Dr. Rick Warren Senior Pastor, Saddleback Church Lake Forest, Calif.

spring 007 | AlphA news 

Courtesy Japanese ameriCan uniteD ChurCh

o

Bringing Japan to New York
n February 19 and 20, Japanese American United Church in New York City hosted an exciting workshop for Japanese and Korean church leaders in their area. Guest speakers—Andy Game, director of Alpha Japan, and Rev. Nobu Nagai, pastor of Touhoku Chuo Church, in Miyagi prefecture—traveled more than 6,000 miles to participate. Guests included JAUC Alpha leaders, as well as pastors from eight Japanese and Korean churches in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. JAUC is building a partnership with Alpha Japan, so that Japanese who become Christians in the United States will have an Alpha church to plug into when they return to Japan. At the February event, guest pastors were excited to hear success stories from Alpha Japan and brainstorm how to start using the Alpha Course themselves. Not only do 25,000 Japanese-speaking people live in the greater New York area, but according to Pastor Nagai, “Research has shown that Japanese living, studying, working abroad are 20 times more likely to receive the gospel message and come to faith outside of Japan than in their homeland.” According to Tony Kaiser, Alpha’s local advisor in New York, “Andy Game and Pastor Nobu Nagai not only communicated the backbone of the Alpha ministry effectively, but their obvious affection for one another encouraged alPha lEadErs our Japanese, English and GErri Yoshida, rEV. naGai, tonY kaisEr Korean guests.” and andY GaME After the event, JAUC leaders invited each guest pastor to attend JAUC’s next Alpha Course, to get a sense of how to run Alpha in their own churches. Plans are underway to host a similar workshop for Japanese pastors and churches at the fall Alpha training event in New York City. ■

a l P h a

i n t E r n a t i o n a l

Awakening

a

south korea

Finland

a 2006 training conference in helsinki served as a breakthrough for the lutheran church in this country. since then, numerous lutheran churches have started the alpha Course. alpha is also being used in seven prisons out of the country’s 25. said one leader: “our vision is that in three years’ time, we will be able to invite the whole of Finland to an alpha Course.” ■

lpha started in London and spread from there, and now God is using other “hubs” for sending Alpha out even more deeply into different areas of the world. South Korea, for example, is a hub for Central Asia: training churches from every country in the region. Currently, more than 2,400 South Korean churches are running Alpha Courses. “God is using Alpha as an evangelical tool to awaken stagnant Korean churches,” says Mr. Sang Joon Lee, national director of Alpha Korea. The Suncheon Dongbu Church has run 24 Alpha Courses. Since its first course, the church’s congregation has grown from 500 to 2,000. It has also trained more than 400 lay leaders through Alpha. Ilsan Hansomang Church has also seen tremendous growth. The church adopted Alpha as its strategy in 2001, when it grew dismayed that so many of its members were “transfer growth”— people joining from other churches. They wanted instead to reach out to people who were not Christians. Since starting Alpha, the church has grown from 2,000 to 5,000, with 80 percent of new members being previously unchurched. More than 300 Korean churches have doubled in size after starting the Alpha Course, which explains why more and more Korean church leaders are adopting it as a central part of their evangelism strategy. ■

canada
More than 85 percent of all the churches running alpha in Canada say their congregations have grown as a result. on average, church leaders point to alpha as the impetus behind 80 percent of all new believers in their churches. ■

u.K.

london’s biggest and most

prominent billboard—passed by more than 180,000 cars each day— was used to advertise the alpha Course. the billboard, on the main route from heathrow airport into london, is valued at £30,000 (more than $58,000) for a two-week display.
Courtesy alpha international (5)

But the decision was made to display the alpha ad free of charge for two separate two-week segments. ■

10

AlphA news | spring 007

News

From

Around

the

gLoBE

russia

some 150 russian orthodox priests and lay members attended a two-day alpha

seminar in Moscow. delegates came from many parts of russia, as well as ukraine, Belarus and hungary. the alpha team was there at the invitation of archbishop ioann, head of Missions for the russian orthodox Church, who had attended alpha international Week earlier in 2006. ■

siGniFiCant nuMBErs

Lithuania
now, with 10 courses active in the also began alpha for students. ■

alpha has been running for three years Catholic church and five courses in other churches. last year, church leaders

Myanmar
Church leaders from Myanmar attended an alpha training event in singapore, along with leaders from 13 others countries in the asia Pacific region. in Myanmar, the Bishop has now opened the doors for all Catholic churches to be trained to run alpha Courses. ■

Poland

Fifty-five courses are running for students has also been credited as bringing about a revival. leaders need to look for a bigger venue, to accommodate

across Poland. in krakow, alpha

5 200 750 2,500 17,000 31,281

alpha Courses worldwide in 1992

alpha Courses worldwide in 1993

alpha Courses worldwide in 1994

alpha Courses worldwide in 1995

alpha Courses worldwide in 2000

alpha Courses worldwide in 2005

all the interested students. ■

Nigeria

in one anglican diocese, 15 parishes are running alpha Courses, Bishop lamido, “alpha material is being used in all our churches. it has also gone into prisons and the armed forces.” ■

and the course has been used to plant 10 new churches. reports

alpha CopyriGht statement For details on usage of Alpha materials, please visit our Web site: www.alphausa.org

spring 007 | AlphA news

11

C r E a t i V E

a l P h a

C o u r s E s

dartMouth’s “alPha WEEkEnd aWaY”

outsidE thE BoX: alPha in thE

WorkPlaCE
a busy anglican Church near washington, D.C., is experiencing a surge of new life through its doors and an increased openness to the gospel in this jaded city. the alpha Course is a regular tool at all saints’ Church in Chevy Chase, md. yet the rev. al zadig wanted to reach even further beyond the church’s doors, so the obvious next step was a ministry aimed at the marketplace. alpha leadership from all saints’ Church chose to host their first alpha in the workplace course at a well-established, private club, rather than in the church building—hoping it would make people more comfortable with the idea of checking it out. as it turned out, the course— with its live talks—was so well received that the club gave them the room at no charge and offered to subsidize the cost of the meals. those attending included many influential business people who have been so changed by the experience that they are subsidizing future courses so others will have the opportunity to attend. “it has given us confidence to think outside the box,” the rev. al zadig says. “i can go to bed at night, knowing that we are being accountable to the gospel by going to where people are, with the real message of Jesus. there is nothing more exciting than that.” ■

For more information on running Alpha on a campus near you, contact Alpha on Campus at (512) 477-1068 or via the Web (www.alphausa.org).

For more information on alpha in the workplace, call (604) 837-2000 or visit the web (www.alphausa.org/workplace).

1

AlphA news | spring 007

Courtesy Jolyon G. rivoir-pruszinski

ivy league t
he Alpha Course continues to transform and refocus the lives of students on Ivy League campuses. Jon Jacobson, for example, is a student at Dartmouth College whose life has been transformed in large part through Alpha. The story of Alpha at Dartmouth, however, doesn’t start in New Hampshire; it actually starts in the Netherlands. . . . In fall 2004, a man named Doug Erdmann spent 10 days in the Netherlands as part of his job with the Navigators, a worldwide parachurch ministry. While there, he was intrigued by an Alpha Course being run by the Navigators for students at the University of Amsterdam. When Doug returned to Maine, he was surprised to learn that no one in the Navigators was running the course in the United States. But he soon heard of a one-day training event for students interested in running Alpha on campuses in the Boston Metro area. The mini-conference attracted more than 30 students and campus ministers on 12 campuses. Doug attended, bringing with him a Navigators staff member at Dartmouth. The staff member was soon motivated to run Alpha at Dartmouth in spring 2006. Fifty students came to the celebration evening, and one of them was Jon Jacobson. Jon, in turn, was so intrigued by Alpha that he attended a conference that summer, to learn more about running the course. After the conference, Jon wrote a letter to Alpha leadership about his experience there, which we’ve excerpted: “I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit during the talks and during worship, but it wasn’t until thinking about it later that it clicked and made sense: What I’m experiencing is the gifting of the Spirit to these individuals. ‘Seeing’ that was wholly new to me. “I was struck by how intensely practical everything was, especially the talks on the Holy Spirit. I was struck also by the incredible possibility of unity between denominations. Through the Holy Spirit, I feel that the unity of Christ’s body has become a real vision and calling for me.” Dartmouth will run its third Alpha Course this spring. It continues to be a great tool for Christian students to reach out to their non-Christian friends. It also helps unify the work of many different campus ministries and denominations. ■

god at Work in the

From Prison Back into society
Alpha Holds National Prison and re-entry conference

a

merica spends $40 billion annually on warehousing prisoners, yet up to two-thirds of them return to prison.” This startling statement—from Stephen McFarland, director of the Justice Department Task Force on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives—sets the stage for Alpha’s ministry to those leaving prisons. Taxpayers are tired of supporting a prison system that is dysfunctional, believes Jack Cowley, national director of Alpha for Prisons & Re-Entry and former prison warden himself. State officials are tired as well and are looking for meaningful alternatives. A study on one faith-based re-entry program—conducted by Dr. Byron Johnson of Baylor University—found that those inmates who graduated from the program were more successful in remaining crime-free than inmates who did not participate. In the face of such news, Alpha recently invited experts in the field to a national conference in Carlsbad, Calif. Participants came from ministries and criminal-justice organizations such as the Justice Department’s Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, the National Institute of Corrections Prisons Divisions, Prison Fellowship Ministries, Child Evangelism Fellowship, and the Billy Graham Institute of Prison Ministry. Participants also joined in the dedication of the Faith-Based ReEntry Initiative at the California Institution for Women, in Chino, Calif.—a collaboration of ministries, community organizations and the Department of Corrections, and coordinated by Alpha USA. The 144 women in the pilot project volunteered to participate in a Biblebased, pre-release curriculum focused on topics such as values development, addiction-relapse prevention, anger management, parenting/family relationships and daily living skills. To enhance the learning environment, participating inmates are

Alpha’s model can be tailored to any prison, jail or detention facility. Lives are being changed.

assigned to the same living unit, so they can practice what they are learning in a “community” setting. Unlike many other prerelease programs, this one does not end when inmates leave the prison. Resources are located in the community where they will live, and a church welcomes them. This initiative at Chino is but one of four similar programs coordinated by Alpha in Texas, Ohio and California, with five more in the planning stages. Across the country, legislators and prison administrators are in search of programs that not only assist them in rehabilitating current prisoners but also provide much-needed support to those newly released, to help them in becoming contributing members of their local communities. Alpha’s model can be tailored to any prison, jail or detention facility. And through the dedication of local churches providing the volunteers, lives are being changed. ■ To learn more, contact Jack Cowley, national director for Alpha for Prisons & Re-Entry (800-Do-Alpha or www.alphausa.org/prisons).
dEdiCation oF thE Faith-BasEd rE-EntrY initiatiVE in Chino, CaliF.

Courtesy JaCk Cowley

spring 007 | AlphA news

1

Alpha’s community of local teams and advisors can help you start, strengthen and successfully run your Alpha Course. Our experienced and enthusiastic network of people provide practical advice, guidance, training and support, as well as link you to many other services and resources. Please contact a local team or advisor to get the specialized assistance and attention that you need for your Alpha Course.
a l P h a u s a o F F i C E s & l o C a l t E a M s
pennsylvania Alpha USA/Philadelphia Bill Drennen (610) 287-3071 E-mail: billdrennen@alphausa.org Texas Alpha USA/Houston Debi Tengler (713) 960-9701 E-mail: debitengler@alphausa.org Alpha USA/San Antonio Don & Sharon Colmenares (830) 885-6603 E-mail: sdcolmenares@alphausa.org Virginia Alpha USA/Washington D.C. Region Amy Hoe (202) 464-1399 E-mail: amyhoe@alphausa.org washington, D.C. Alpha USA/Washington D.C. Region Amy Hoe (202) 464-1399 E-mail: amyhoe@alphausa.org

rev. Todd hunter – national Director 4859 S. Bradley Street, Suite 100 Boise, ID 83714 1-800-DO-ALPHA E-mail: info@alphausa.org Mr. gerard long – COO 2275 Half Day Road, Suite 185 Bannockburn, IL 60015 1-800-DO-ALPHA E-mail: info@alphausa.org Dr. Alistair hanna – Founding Chairman 74 Trinity Place, 9th Floor New York, NY 10006 1-800-DO-ALPHA E-mail: info@alphausa.org Alpha resources 74 Trinity Place, 9th Floor New York, NY 10006 (212) 406-5269/ 1-800-DO-ALPHA E-mail: resources@alphausa.org

lOCAl AlphA TeAMs Arizona Alpha USA/Phoenix Beth Fitch (602) 614-7899 E-mail: bethfitch@alphausa.org illinois Alpha USA/Chicago Sam Stevens (630) 682-0400 E-mail: samstevens@alphausa.org louisiana Alpha USA/New Orleans Ken & Carolyn McArthur (504) 467-3257 E-mail: alphaneworleans@alphausa.org Maryland Alpha USA/Washington D.C. Region Amy Hoe (202) 464-1399 E-mail: amyhoe@alphausa.org

Massachusetts Alpha USA/New England Willard E. Cook Jr. (781) 246-3943 E-mail: willardcook@alphausa.org Minnesota Alpha USA/Twin Cities Marlin Meendering (763) 572-2209 E-mail: marlinmeendering@alphausa.org Missouri Alpha USA/St. Louis Paul & Pam Douthit (636) 532-5009 E-mail: ppdouthit@alphausa.org new York Alpha USA/New York Office Tony Kaiser (718) 776-6413 E-mail: tonykaiser@alphausa.org

a l P h a

u s a

r E G i o n a l

a d V i s o r s
Connie Lutz (Germany) E-mail: connie.lutz@ramstein.af.mil Alpha for prisons National Coordinator Mr. Jack Cowley (Oklahoma) (918) 582-8847 E-mail: jackcowley@alphausa.org Mr. Randy Anderson (Midwest) (630) 836-1635 E-mail: randyanderson@alphausa.org Rev. Susan Baker-Borjeson (New York) (518) 731-9883 E-mail: susanbakerborjeson@alphausa.org Ms. Angela Burrin (Maryland) (800) 775-9673 x100 E-mail: angelaburrin@alphausa.org Rev. Jeff Park (North Carolina) (704) 716-8715 E-mail: jeffpark@alphausa.org Mrs. Heather Snow (Kansas) (913) 685-3224 E-mail: heathersnow@alphausa.org Mr. Peter Dewberry (Connecticut) (860) 633-4085 E-mail: freeinside@sbcglobal.net Alpha in the workplace International Coordinator Shaila Visser (604) 837-2000 E-mail: workplace@alphausa.org The Marriage Course National Coordinator Amy Clipston (New York) (800) 362-5742 E-mail: marriagecourse@alphausa.org Rev. Chris Bennett (California) (661) 871-0840 E-mail: chrisbennett@alphausa.org Mr. Bret Hern (Texas) (713) 647-7717 E-mail: brethren@alphausa.org Mrs. Nancy Ridge (Tennessee) (423) 344-7455 E-mail: nancyridge@alphausa.org Youth Alpha National Advisor Mr. John Donovan (New York) (212) 616-5083 E-mail: johndonovan@alphausa.org Rev. Susan Baker-Borjeson (New York) (518) 731-9883 E-mail: susanbakerborjeson@alphausa.org Mr. Bill Goodwin (Minnesota) (651) 423-2566 E-mail: billgoodwin@alphausa.org Jay Lopez (Philadelphia) (610) 513-3173 E-mail: jaylopez@alphausa.org Mark Orr (New York, Connecticut) (203) 554-3594 E-mail: markorr44@cs.com

Alpha on Campus National Coordinator Dr. & Mrs. John & Sally Frahm (Texas) (512) 477-1068 E-mail: johnfrahm@alphausa.org Alpha in the Catholic Church Mr. & Mrs. Peter & Suzanne Carpentier (978) 948-2356 (New England) E-mail: pscarpentier@alphausa.org Mr. Kieran Duffy (New York) (914) 762-4163 (May – December) (561) 747 2574 (Jan – April) E-mail: kieranduffy@alphausa.org Fr. Declan Fogarty, OSA (California) (909) 737-7144 E-mail: declanfogarty@alphausa.org Mr. Dave Nodar (Maryland) (888) 498-8474 E-mail: davenodar@alphausa.org Ms. Dianne Martin (Maryland) (888) 498-8474 E-mail: dianne@alphausa.org Mr. Leo Rudegeair (Maryland) (888) 498-8474 E-mail: leorudegeair@alphausa.org Sr. Patricia St. Marie (Texas) (940) 696-1253

Alpha Urban Ministries National Coordinator Rev. Tony Lowery (Md., Washington, D.C.) (202) 678-8929 E-mail: tonylowery@alphausa.org Alpha for the Military National Coordinator Mr. Noel Dawes (Virginia) (757) 382-0472 E-mail: noeldawes@alphausa.org Mr. and Mrs. Bruce and Karen Chesne (757) 348-3701 (Virginia) E-mail: bkchesne@alphausa.org Mr. Jim Cobb (Florida) (352) 332-7641 E-mail: jimcobb@alphausa.org Mr. Michael Hedman (California) (619) 255-6329 E-mail: michaelhedman@alphausa.org CDR (Ret.) Frank Cole (Colorado) (303) 670-0331 E-mail: frankginny@worldnet.att.net Mr. Lynn Gilfus (North Carolina) (910) 396-1318 E-mail: lynn.gilfus@us.army.mil Mr. Joe Dohmann (Germany) E-mail: Joseph.dohmann@spangdahlem.af.mil

to locate additional regional advisors near you, for help in running an alpha Course, go to www.alphausa.org.
1
AlphA news | spring 007

F i r s t h a n d

A Family Miracle
lpha not only transforms lives and ignites churches, but it also reunites families. The Stockers know the pain of a broken family that seems beyond repair. The Stockers’ son, Ken, began spinning out of control at age 12—a life that wandered through addictions, divorces, arrests and homelessness. Over 30 years, his choices affected not only his parents and siblings but also his children— some of whom began making their own dangerous choices. The whole family grew increasingly alienated from each other. But God is in the business of the impossible: He turned Ken’s life around in 2001 and used that to start pulling the Stockers back together. Three years after he came to faith, Ken took on an internship position at his church, and he invited his parents to hear him speak there one day. They were cautious but came. And they soon realized that the changes were real. Ken’s mother, Judy, died only four days after that reunion, but Ken began rebuilding a relationship with his father, Jim. Jim Stocker had been a Christian since childhood. So it was a miracle to see the changes in the son he thought was lost forever. Jim soon joined his son’s church, which was where he discovered Alpha. Jim (left) and Ken Soon, Alpha would become part of the continued healing of this family. It started in January Stocker attend 2006, when Ken’s oldest child, Kassi, called her grandfather out of the blue. Kassi had followed in Westminster her father’s steps: running away from school, using drugs, living on the streets. Jim hadn’t been in Chapel in contact with her for six years. Bellevue, Wash. But then she made the call: “I saw my dad over the Christmas holidays, and he’s not the same man he used to be. What’s happened?” Jim invited Kassi to dinner and told her about Jesus. In fact, they continued to meet for dinner over the next six weeks—grandfather and granddaughter, getting to know each other and talking about Jesus. Then, Jim invited Kassi and her boyfriend, Mike, to Alpha, where Jim served as their smallgroup table host. “To watch Kassi grow spiritually in those very first steps was like watching a child grow,” he says. Jim helped Kassi and her father reconnect too. All four attended the Alpha retreat: grandfather, father, daughter and boyfriend. And Kassi and Mike gave their lives to the Lord. “The best part of it is,” Jim continues, “last summer Kassi’s younger brother called and said, ‘Grandpa, I saw my sister the other day, and she’s changed. What has happened to her?’ “Now Jeremiah is coming to Alpha and is at my table. Already he is asking deep questions, and I can’t wait for the next retreat.” For Ken, being reunited with his father, his children, and Kassi and Mike’s two children is a dream come true. “I wonder if you can even imagine,” he says, “how it feels to have four generations of a family restored by the power of God. “Alpha provides the arena for God’s power to work. We never know what the next miracle at Alpha will be. But we do know that God always has more miracles in store.” ■

a

Courtesy Jim stoCker

spring 007 | AlphA news

1

1

AlphA news | spring 007

F i r s t h a n d

Becoming a community

u

Alpha small-group participants at Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth, Texas.

nion Gospel Mission in Fort Worth, Texas, has been around since 1888. It had experienced quite a bit of success over the years as a faith-based, transitional-housing facility for men, women and children. But it wasn’t until summer 2006 that UGM became something even more than a successful facility. Rev. Stanley Maneikis, a retired Episcopal minister, became chaplain at UGM in 2006. One of his first goals was to create a spiritual-development curriculum for residents. Having experienced Alpha at his former parishes, he believed it could be a good start. With the help of the New York Alpha office and a local congregation that provided small-group leaders, Stanley made a few adjustments to help Alpha run smoothly at UGM, with its first course starting in summer 2006. For instance, since the mission already feeds hundreds of people each day, UGM replaced the Alpha meal with a snack time. Although all UGM residents are encouraged to participate in the Alpha Course, it is a requirement for those participating in specific areas of UGM’s programs. The night of the first course was something Stanley remembers well. “I was met with stony silence,” he says. “There was definitely the attitude of: We’re required to come to this, and we’re just going to sit here with our arms crossed and see how it goes.” But four weeks later, he faced a different group of people. “The men and women began to see that God was going to touch them in a new and unusual way,” Stanley explains. And that is no small realization. Most residents at UGM, this chaplain will tell you, have extremely low trust levels and are very private—having been through painful life experiences. Participants loved Nicky Gumbel, though. And, surprisingly, they loved the small groups. Now, Stanley says, people are developing friendships with each other, praying for each other, and learning to listen to and respect each other. The Alpha Course served as merely the first part of UGM’s new spiritual-development program, followed by an Alpha Philippians study and then the JESUS film. Residents loved them all—and the community they established during Alpha followed them through the whole program. Not only have the residents at UGM changed, but so has their chaplain. “I’m far more aware of «SUBScRIBE TO AlpHA NEWS» God’s grace,” Stanley admits. “Once you open the door and let God in, you have to be prepared for to order your copy of Alpha News or bulk copies what happens.” for distribution in your church, visit our Web site The residents at Union Gospel Mission used to at www.alphausa.org, or call us at (212) 406-5269 think of their home as a transitional housing facility. or 1-800-do-alPha. But now, thanks to Alpha, they consider their facility a community and try to live like that as well. ■

Courtesy union Gospel mission

spring 007 | AlphA news

17

F i r s t h a n d

Finding My “Higher Power”

s
Courtesy tami Fowler

Tami Fowler lives in Overland Park, Kan., and attends Christ Church.

everal years ago, after my last baby and in the midst of sleep deprivation, someone introduced me to Meth [Methamphetamines]. I got hooked right away. For two years, things at home were spinning out of control. I ended up going to a rehab center that was big on Alcoholics Anonymous and encouraged us to go to chapel every day. I didn’t know what a Christian was. All the time I was using and drinking and living my life in hell, I had no thoughts of God. No questions ever arose, no thoughts of God, no disbelief, no belief. But I began going to the chapel at the rehab center and praying. I realized I couldn’t break these addictions by myself. When I left the center, I went to AA meetings constantly. The Lord’s Prayer and the Serenity Prayer were said at every meeting. Often, something I read in my AA meditations would be exactly what I was dealing with that day. My little sister, Toni, told me I needed to come to Alpha and meet her “higher power.” Toni had invited me to Alpha before and I had declined, knowing there was no way I could go all day without a drink and then make it through an evening Alpha Course. This time, I agreed to go because I wanted to say yes to something and be accountable for it. The first time I went in, I was scared. I didn’t know what these people were going to think of me. I thought I could only be honest with people like me—recovering addicts. That first night we went around the circle, introducing ourselves and telling how we found our way to the Alpha Course. When it came to me, I said, “Hi, I’m Tami. I’m an alcoholic.” I remember one of them saying, “Well, you’re in the right place.” There was no feeling of being judged, no feeling of ulterior motives behind their questions, just love. I was amazed. Through the Alpha Course I found out who my “higher power” was: Jesus Christ. It put a name and a face to something I’d been praying to. I could talk to Him and have a relationship with Him. I found what I was searching for. They asked me to be a helper for the second Alpha. That meant so much. A year earlier I had «SHARE YOUR STORY WITH US» been at drug houses at 3 in the morning, and now a church was asking me to help. has the alpha Course changed your life? it is helpful Thirteen people from AA are on our current and encouraging for us to know how the alpha Course Alpha Course, and I’m leading a recovery small and materials are having an impact. to share your story group. It’s amazing when you can look back and with us, please go to www.alphausa.org and click on see the stepping stones that were being put into the “share Your story” link at the bottom of the page. place, and how each one is like a puzzle piece answer a few questions, and we will gladly send you a being joined together at just the right time in gift as a thank you for your time. order to create the big picture it will someday become. ■

1

AlphA news | spring 007

Alpha Resources
Just Beginning Kit 83082 US $489.00
All you need to start and run the Alpha Course for 25 guests. Contains: 1 Alpha Course including Alpha Express DVD, 25 Manuals, 1 Leader’s Training DVD, 4 Leader’s Guides, 1 Director’s Handbook, 50 Why Jesus, 4 Alpha-Questions of Life, 2 Searching Issues, 3 Searching Issues booklets, 2 Smiling Man posters, 2 Multiple Face posters, 1 Multiple Face Invitations/Pack of 100, 1 Multiface Postcard Invites/Pk of 50 and 1 Alpha Cookbook.

Course Material
The Alpha Course with Alpha Express DVD 15155 US $179.99
The 15 Alpha Course talks in both full-length and edited versions (Express). Comes with English and Spanish language tracks as well as subtitles and English closed captioning.

Alpha-Questions of Life Book 105022 US $9.99
The Alpha Course in book form, by Nicky Gumbel. Contains the 15 talks given during Alpha.

Administration Material
How to Run the Alpha Course: The Director’s Handbook 17150 US $19.99
A guided tour through every stage of setting up and running the Alpha Course. Contains: reusable checklists, forms for recording and organizing information, tips on booking venues for the weekend and day away, advice on organizing guest services.

How to Run the Alpha Course: Telling Others 16620 US $9.99
Recommended for course directors and leaders, this book imparts the vision, excitement and challenge of Alpha. Includes the main talks given at an Alpha conference as well testimonies, endorsements from leaders and practical tools for running the course.

Training Materials for Group Leaders and Helpers
The Alpha Course Small Group Leader’s Guide 15388 US $3.99
A “must-have” for all small-group leaders and helpers on the Alpha Course. To be used in conjunction with the Small Group Leaders´ Training DVD. Contains sample questions for leading each session of the course.

The Alpha Course Small Group Leader’s Training DVD DVD 25606 US $39.99
Training for the entire leadership team. Two of the sessions, Leading Small Groups (84 min.), and Pastoral Care (65 min.) should be held before the course starts. The third, Praying for Others (67 min.) should be held just before the weekend away. Designed to be used with the Small Group Leader’s Training Guide. Includes English/Spanish language tracks and subtitles.

Searching Issues 105023 US $9.99
Answers to the seven questions most often asked during the Alpha Course. This book includes chapters on suffering, other religions, sex before marriage, the New Age movement, science and the Trinity.

Guest Material
The Alpha Course Manual (for each participant) 15205 US $3.99
A manual designed for use by all participants on the Alpha Course. Contains space for notes and enables guests to easily follow the talks.

Why Jesus? 20072 US $1.29
Evangelistic booklet by Nicky Gumbel. Corresponds to the second and third talks on the Alpha Course: Who is Jesus? and Why Did Jesus Die? Ideal to give away to participants during an Alpha Course.

For more Alpha resources, check out our Alpha Resources Catalog, visit us online at www.alpharesources.org or call 1-800-DO-ALPHA
The Alpha Course and the Alpha Course logo are registered trademarks of Alpha International. Prices are subject to change without notice.

F i r s t

h a n d

i

was saved at age 13,” says 47-year-old Matt Rankin. “I just took a long, long walk away and never understood what having a personal relationship with Christ meant.” Matt went to church for the next 30-some years—he felt comfortable there—but never really “got it.” But in September 2003, things changed: One evening, realizing that alcohol was controlling his life and that his marriage was ending, Matt asked his brother over to talk. “I broke down and cried, finally surrendering,” he remembers. “And at that very instant, Matt Rankin lives in Delaware, Ohio, and attends the Holy Spirit filled me in a most powerful way. I knew right then and there that God Upper Arlington Lutheran Church. was alive, and all that was written and said about Him and His Son were true.” Matt’s mother suggested he sign up for the Alpha Course at their church. Eager to learn more about his rediscovered faith, he went. Although he knew almost no one that first night, he felt right at home in his small group. “There was no phoniness or holier-than-thou attitudes,” Matt remembers. “No question was treated as stupid or irrelevant. It was a safe place to explore and learn.” Matt found that Alpha helped answer many of his basic faith questions. And God stepped in, in a miraculous way, to conquer his addiction. It was also through the Alpha Course that Matt discovered a new passion for people: He enjoys talking with those just learning about Christianity. “The part I liked the most [during the course] was seeing a couple of people come to Christ in my group.” In addition to helping out at his church, he now helps take Alpha outside the church building to a women’s prison and to a local university. In these places, Matt openly shares stories about the roads he’s traveled in his own life and faith, something that helps other people open up. “Alpha,” he tells them, “is not a class. It is the opening to a life far more rewarding than you can imagine.” ■

ANEWS511

Courtesy matt rankin

A Long Walk Back