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ALPHALIFE The newsletter of Alpha Australia | June 2011

The Alpha Course: Explore the Questions of Life

www.alpha.org.au

COUNTDOWN!

...TO BEAR GRYLLS ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN! Bear Grylls banners like this one are about to start popping up outside churches across Australia – have you got yours yet? We’ll happily send you one for free if you’ll ensure it is displayed in a prominent location! And a bunch of buses and trams will soon be carrying the same campaign on their daily routes . . . and we’d like to see even more, to increase the scale and duration of this advertising. Please contact us for further details, and to register your Alpha Courses for the second half of 2011 to take advantage of this public profile. www.alphafriends.org.au or 1800 811 903

...AND ALPHATRACK AT HILLSONG CONFERENCE

Pippa and Nicky Gumbel

IN THIS ISSUE

From 5-8 July 2011 Alpha pioneer Nicky Gumbel and his wife Pippa will be in Sydney for the Alpha Track at Hillsong Conference. Alpha International Executive Director Tricia Neill will also be joining us to lead some key electives and offer her unique insights into building evangelism and growth into the DNA of a local church. Other sessions will include interviews with senior Australian church leaders about the effectiveness of the course for local churches, with panelists including Mark Conner, Senior Pastor of CityLife Church, and Bishop Stuart Robinson, Anglican Diocesan Bishop of Canberra & Goulburn. Delegates who register early for AlphaTrack will have the opportunity to attend ‘Alpha Tuesday’ from 9:00 AM on Tuesday 5th July, including a keynote address from Nicky Gumbel and electives on topics such as Vision to Action, Emerging Generations, Global Alpha Training, God at Work and 24/7 Prayer, a Specialities Expo, worship and prayer ministry. Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-decade opportunity – register now for the AlphaTrack at Hillsong Conference! Full details and registration at www.alphafriends.org.au. Already going to the Hillsong Conference but not yet registered for AlphaTrack? Contact the Hillsong Conference team to add AlphaTrack to your existing registration: (02) 8853 5251 or hillsongconference@hillsong.com.

BIGGEST ALPHA COURSE EVER AT NEW HOPE BRISBANE 24-7 PRAYER GLOBAL MISSION MEETS LOCAL EVANGELISM: GAT YOUTH ALPHA TALK BUILDER NOW AVAILABLE


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Youth Alpha Talk Builder

INDONESIA

The need around the world for Alpha training is greater than ever. Small teams from churches who know and love Alpha can help to meet this need through Global Alpha Training (GAT). GAT could be called ‘Alpha Training in a Suitcase’, as GAT teams are provided with full training, programs and transcripts of the talks they will deliver. All you need to do is add your experience and passion!

of resources and content that is constantly being updated. One of the resources on this “I remember when I first ran Youth Alpha I was a year 12 student with many time commitments alongside the Youth Alpha Course I was running in my school. Despite the fact that we were often flying by the seat of our pants, God used our Youth Alpha course in incredible ways in that school. We were blown away with how many students came along to our course every week, sometimes up to 60 and mostly around 30 students. We saw some of those students make first time commitments to follow Jesus. If I could have done things differently I would have been better organised with the talks I was giving. Now as I talk to people around the country about how their Youth Alpha Course is going I am able to draw upon my experience of running Youth Alpha, to encourage others to not make the same mistake. Although we believe that ultimately God, through his Spirit, is the one who transforms lives, we still want to give a good talk that can help make an impact. I always try to encourage those running a course to invest time into helping a young person put together their talk rather than just expecting they will have it prepared and ready to go. At Youth Alpha our passion is to see young people running Youth Alpha courses that impact and change their community. We are always looking for new and better ways to help young people run Youth Alpha. In February we launched a new Youth Alpha website that is designed to work hand-inhand with the new Youth Alpha Leaders Guide which was launched 12 months prior. While the Leaders Guide is obviously a static resource, the website is able to be a source

website is a program called Talk Builder. Talk Builder is a brand new, free online tool to help you build the perfect Youth Alpha talk for any context. Simply select the Alpha talk you want to give, choose from loads of video clips, jokes, games and quotes to illustrate your point, and then click to print.

Recently there has been an explosion in the number of requests for GAT teams, particularly to go to Indonesia. A GAT trip is an extraordinary way of serving overseas churches and empowering them to run Alpha courses in their own context, as global mission meets local evangelism. Now is the time to get involved! If you are interested in finding out more about GAT, please contact the coordinator Naomi Flatt: 0488 208 187, gat@alpha.org.au.

To use it you simply create a FREE user account for your course and login. Once logged in, you will be able to access all of the scripts for each session, taken directly from the Youth Alpha Leaders Guide, and build your own script by selecting and adding different components of the content and then printing. The idea is that Talk Builder makes the content accessible to anyone with a computer and internet connection so that the young person putting together a talk is able to access the content at home and prepare for their talk in advance. When I was at school and running Youth Alpha, this would have made a big difference as we were sharing one Youth Alpha Leaders Guide between a few of us who were putting together and giving the talks. We want to help you run the best possible Youth Alpha Course. Talk Builder is a free, easy-to-use tool that we believe will make a big difference in helping you run the best Youth Alpha Course in your community”. Jono Green is the Youth Alpha National Coordinator for Australia. You can contact him regarding Youth Alpha by emailing jono.green@alpha.org.au. You can find Talk Builder at www.youthalpha.org.au.

Around 1,500 Christians take part in a prayer event in Parliament Square, London, March 2011 Picking up on the heartbeat of 24-7 Prayer to transform the world through mission-minded prayer, Alpha Australia is excited to be pioneering 24-7 Prayer in Australia with the blessing of 24-7 Prayer International. The official launch will be in July, so watch this space for stories, website developments and future gatherings, and please contact Sam Farmilo for information, sam.farmilo@alpha.org.au.


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A Better Way to Go In 2010, Sydney businessman Alan Taylor was travelling on a bus when he got talking to a man sitting next to him, named Tony. Seeing each other again on the same bus route a number of times, the men talked about life and about their shared interest in military history. Though Alan explained that he was not inclined towards religion at all, Tony invited him to attend a Business Alpha course held at Wesley Mission in the city centre. Alan says: “He did mention he was a Christian and I remember I told him that it wasn’t for me. He suggested I take the Alpha course and I said I wasn’t interested and had no need to do the course – I was happy with going my own way. But he made me think about it and I decided to see what it was all about. At that time I was earning good money from my sales job, and meeting up with people every night, going out on the town until two

or three in the morning, drinking heavily and spending money like water. I was sick with cancer and from the treatment but there were redundancies happening in my company, so I felt that I needed to keep going to work – that if they saw me, they would be less likely to get rid of me. I was using a walking stick and had to stop and be sick at the back of an office block on the way in to work. To say that I was not happy would be an understatement”. Alan went along to Business Alpha: “I was surprised to find a church at the bottom of the building in which the meeting was being held. To find out that the meeting was held in the church was almost the last straw. The food looked good though so I thought I would sit down, rest a bit, have a feed and then get out of there. I listened to the video and was surprised by how much sense it made. One thing that stuck with me was when Nicky Gumbel showed the image of the painting of Jesus standing outside the door with no handle on the outside. He said it was up to us to open the door and let Jesus in – that we had to welcome Him in. That had a big impact on me and I ended up staying and actually listened to what was being said, and enjoyed it, which surprised me.

Alp ha exp and ing rap idly in Ind ia

When the session finished I said goodbye to everyone, thinking that I might not go back again. I walked down Pitt Street on the way back to work and it suddenly hit me that I did not want to go back to my old ways and that there was a different way. On the street between one step and the next I suddenly saw two paths in front of me. It scared the hell out of me. I could see the path I was on and where it would lead me and to my surprise I could see a second path – a much better way to go. It seemed to have been there all the time but for some reason I had never seen it before. Since doing the course and accepting Jesus my outlook has changed. Honestly, when I think about how I felt before and how I look at life today the contrast is so great. To me, the world hasn’t changed: the bills are still there, my health issues are still there, and temptations are always there. The world throws challenges at you, but importantly I have changed my frame of mind. I am more content and not so aggressive. There is no way I could ever go back to how I was before. I’ve been going to church for about a year and am doing a discipleship course. Now I am not giving up. I’m looking ahead and see a better future for myself, and I am happier than I have ever been”.

Piyali in West Bengal: “I came to know who Jesus is” “My name is Piyali Naskar, I am from a Hindu family. I did not know anything about Jesus and had no interest also. There was an organisation named Saved by Grace and they used to conduct meetings for the people of my area. Some months ago I was invited to a tea party hosted by them. I liked the way they were expressing the love of Jesus. I felt that the emptiness that I had in myself could be filled up if I come regularly and have a chance to make more friends.

Global Alpha Training in Andhra Pradesh; baptisms following an Alpha course in Shillong; Alpha Course in Bihar There are now thousands of Alpha Courses running in India, with tens of thousands of people coming to faith in Jesus. Thank God for over 400,000 people who have attended the Alpha course in India to date, the 11,333 courses that have taken place and the 158,662 people who have come to the Lord and joined churches. J Varadaraj, National Director of Alpha India writes, “God intends a great harvest in His field as He is a great God. There is greatness in everything God does; in creation, in redemption, in transformation. God brings prosperity to His field. A great harvest brings joy to God like a farmer rejoices in his harvest. During the harvest time, there is a need for many workers.”

One day I was told by my friend that there was an Alpha Course which could help me to know more about Christ. Then I decided to join. In that Alpha Course I came to know who Jesus is and that He died for me. And later I accepted Him as my personal Saviour. Through the Alpha course I received love, joy and peace. Even now idol worship is continuing in my home but I keep myself aloof from it and also I tell my family members not to run behind things which are not true but try to know the true living God. My heart’s desire is that one day they will come to know the truth and accept Jesus Christ.”


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New Wine NSW Combined Churches Festival

Building Healthy Marriages

Mike Norris was a corporate lawyer in London when a friend invited him to attend an Alpha Course at Holy Trinity Brompton. At the time, Mike was deeply suspicious of faith and church, but over the weeks of the course, he became a Christian. He has since become an Anglican Vicar and seven years ago he moved to New Zealand to reestablish St Paul’s Auckland. St Paul’s has since become one of the largest churches in New Zealand. Mike will be a keynote speaker at the first New Wine NSW Combined Churches Festival from 24-25th September 2011, at The Kings School in North Parramatta, NSW. New Wine Australia is a new network of pastors and churches with a heart for seeing the kingdom of God grow, the ministry of the Spirit flourish and local churches changing the city. Born as a movement in the UK in the 1980’s, New Wine has seen leaders and churches equipped to see Jesus’ kingdom grow all over the world. Whole churches and individuals will be coming together for the September festival, ready to celebrate being a part of God’s family and thirsty to be refreshed by God. Soul Survivor NSW will be blessing the youth and Northridge Vineyard leading the kids’ program. Join in for an amazing time of worship, teaching and ministry in the Spirit. To register for the weekend or to find out more about New Wine Australia visit: www.new-wine-australia.org

Rev Mike Norris (r) at New Wine NSW day with Ps Tim Giovanelli (Northside Baptist)

Cheryl and Greg

Greg and Cheryl are a Sydney couple who, her own marriage. Greg suggested to Cheryl in their own words, “are passionate about that they should try it. Cheryl was hesitant at helping to save marriages”. They have first because she didn’t want to face another witnessed the demise of the marriages of failure. Eventually Greg and Cheryl signed up for the some of their friends – several of whom have course at a church in Sydney. been strong Christians. They comment: “The course far exceeded our Greg and Cheryl describe their own marriage expectations. The DVDs were well presented, as “happy, healthy and vibrant, full of fun, love and it was great having a relaxing romantic and respect” – but it was not always like this. meal together. The manual that guided our After a long friendship and courtship private discussion enabled us to talk to each Greg and Cheryl married in 2002 with high other in a safe environment without becoming expectations for their marriage. Early years defensive or angry. We committed ourselves to proved to live up to those expectations, but work through the homework, and this started it wasn’t long before hectic work schedules making big inroads into our relationship. The and the stress of blending two families began sessions on forgiveness, conflict resolution, to take a toll on their respecting our differences, relationship. AFTER A YEAR OF GREG AND and praying together, were The fun and laughter particularly helpful. We began to disappear, and CHERYL PRACTISING THE SKILLS began to appreciate that life became increasingly LEARNT FROM THE MARRIAGE our differences were not punctuated with rising COURSE, AND SPENDING MORE necessarily bad traits – but unresolved conflict, unmet just differences!” needs, escalating blame and TIME TOGETHER, GREG WAS ABLE During this time a Christian resentment. For Greg, a final TO MOVE BACK HOME, AFTER A mentor also enabled Greg to blow came after the death of SEPARATION OF 3 YEARS. understand and experience his mother, as he began to God’s unconditional love. struggle with the belief that After a year of Greg and Cheryl practising he was unlovable, consequently becoming the skills learnt from the marriage course, increasingly isolated and withdrawn. Finally, and spending more time together, Greg was Greg and Cheryl separated. able to move back home, after a separation Cheryl says of this period: “After many of 3 years. years of praying that God would heal our After gaining their pastor’s approval to run marriage, I became consumed with grief as I the course themselves, Greg and Cheryl led a tried to make sense of the circumstances that course with 8 couples. Cheryl says: “Greg and had led to our separation, and I felt all hope I so enjoyed being able to combine our love of for us was lost.” hospitality with sharing brief testimony where Although separated, Greg and Cheryl kept in appropriate, knowing we were contributing contact and sought counselling, but progress in a positive way to these couples’ lives.” was painfully slow. The separation turned One couple who attended their course and into months, then a year. Some holidays and previously attended marriage counselling were weekends were spent together, but conflict on the verge of separation, but now testify and bitterness were unable to be resolved, that The Marriage Course saved their marriage. and they were not able to build trust back For more information on attending or running into their relationship. The Marriage Course, please visit: www. A receptionist at Greg’s place of work relationshipcentral.org.au or contact Dennis & recommended The Marriage Course, which she Ann Outred, dna@relationshipcentral.org.au. said had helped create positive changes in


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Biggest Alpha Course ever at New Hope Brisbane On the big night, over 50 women came along; about half of them didn’t go to church, but were happy to come along and see what the “Encounter” night was all about. The team had lounges on the stage, provided some beautiful catering, and A women’s night at New Hope, Brisbane. decorated the church with balloons and flowers; the place looked amazing! On March 26 at New Hope church in Brisbane, Pastor Carol Prater and the Cafe Inspire women’s ministry held an outreach night called “Encounter” to launch Alpha 2011. “We’ve held Alpha at least once a year for the past 8 years, and we wanted to really ramp it up this year, so we tried something different”, Pastor Carol said. “I was watching Oprah one night, and thought of how people love interviews and stories of people’s lives who have been from tragedy to triumph. So I asked two of my friends if I could interview them – Oprah style – on stage under the bright lights.”

Carol shared the stage with Rachael Brown, one of the church youth leaders. Rachael shared the story of her upbringing, and the ups and downs of teenage life in the United Kingdom. She went on to share how she and her boyfriend were travelling the world, and at a Christian orphanage in Cambodia, she realised God loved her, and her quest for God began. She soon moved to Brisbane and googled ‘church’ and found New Hope Brisbane. After attending some services, she then joined the Alpha Course. She loved it so much, she and her boyfriend gave their hearts to Christ. They then helped lead Alpha at the church for

TRAINING DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

some time after. Rachael and Mike are now both youth leaders and involved in ministry at New Hope Brisbane. The second interview was with Bernice Hills. Bernice shared the gruesome story of suffering a stroke last year and collapsing on the toilet floor in a daze. Her young son had to call a friend on the mobile phone for help. After surgery and a doctor’s diagnosis, she was told she would never be able to run a marathon again. Bernice had faith in God and believed she would be 100% healed. One of the highlights of the night was the shot on the screen of the fitness magazine cover of Bernice running her first marathon, completely healed not even one year after her stroke! The night was closed with an invitation from Pastor Matt Prater to come along to the Alpha Dinner, two weeks after the “Encounter” night. Over 25 have been attending Alpha, and it’s the biggest Alpha course New Hope has ever run!

THE RECOVERY COURSE Alpha Australia has received a grant of almost $30,000 over three years to introduce The Recovery Course to Australia. The Recovery Course, initially developed by Holy Trinity Brompton, London, is a free 16-session Christian course utilising a similar approach to the Twelve Steps used by Alcoholics Anonymous. It integrates teaching from the bible with the Twelve Steps and is has been useful to those struggling with addictions to drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling and other compulsive behaviours.

30 July 2011 6 August 2011

Perth Melbourne Sydney Brisbane Launceston

13 August 2011

Adelaide Hobart

20 August 2011

Darwin

27 August 2011

Geelong

Team training is being held all around the country to coincide with the Bear Grylls Advertising Campaign. Whether your team is new to Alpha or have run Alpha many times, training will improve the effectiveness of your course. This is a great opportunity to boost your skills, connect with other Alpha teams and share best practice. Visit alphafriends.org.au for more details and registration.

The course will be piloted in Australia in two drug rehabilitation centres in 2011, with further courses to run in others states from 2012. John Clarke of Alpha Australia says: “This course dovetails well with Caring for ExOffenders as many people leaving prison still struggle with addictions. The Recovery Course will enable more people to live life both free in Christ and crime-free. Please join with us in prayer for the pilot courses”. For more information on The Recovery Course, please contact John Clarke, prisons@alpha.org.au, 0430 388 774.


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Explore the Questions of Life

a note

from the

National Director

Jon Seeley

Christianity: Boring, Untrue & Irrelevant? Some readers will recognise above the former title of Nicky Gumbel’s Alpha Introductory Talk. Whether you’ve been involved with Alpha that long or not, the sad fact is this title sums up the current views of many in our society towards Christian faith!

NEW EDITIONS OF NICKY GUMBEL CLASSICS NOW AVAILABLE New editions of several Nicky Gumbel books with substantial updates and revisions are now available, for under $10 each! Questions of Life, A Life Worth Living and The Jesus Lifestyle are available, with Telling Others coming soon.

So, what can we do about it? By God’s grace, there’s a lot that can and is being done! There are countless examples across our nation of Christians who are determined to proclaim His truth and to live authentically as active, engaged and valued members of society, being “salt” and “light”, serving their local communities in Jesus’ name. We are privileged to hear a regular stream of such stories from Alpha churches of all denominations across Australia, and we are delighted to share a handful of these with you in our newsletters and online at: www.alphafriends.org.au. In my view, there are many great examples of the Church in Australia offering compelling answers to questions of Truth and Relevance for anyone who genuinely takes the time to consider them. But what about the perception of “Boring”, which leads many to dismiss any further interest or inquiry? One person on the planet whom almost no-one considers “boring” right now is Bear Grylls! Which is precisely why we are so focussed on making as big a splash as possible across Australia with banners and bus sides and billboards of Bear Grylls saying “My Christian faith is the backbone of my life”! This is a unique opportunity for Christians to cut across societal perceptions of faith as “boring” or “irrelevant”, and invite others to discover the true meaning of life in Christ. Please join us in prayer for spiritual impact and lasting fruit from this initiative. And if you’d like to get involved by sending a donation or getting a banner up outside your church or in some other prominent location, please let us know! I look forward to connecting with many of you in Sydney in July, on the AlphaTrack at Hillsong Conference.

THE JESUS LIFESTYLE BY NICKY GUMBEL

Our culture is obsessed by lifestyle. Magazines and websites tell us what to wear, how to get fit and what to drive. But Jesus lived, and taught about, a radically different kind of lifestyle. How to deal with anger. How to handle money. What to do when faced with difficult people. In this engaging and fascinating book, Nicky Gumbel takes a closer look at the Sermon on the Mount and presents, with his familiar mix of humour and wisdom, the way Jesus tells us to live our lives.

We gratefully acknowledge Mission Australia’s generous financial support of Alpha’s ministry. Mission Australia also takes an active role in the Caring For Ex-Offenders (CFEO) program, including providing specialist advice for CFEO training events. This partnership equips churches, community organisations and individuals to support ex-offenders in reintegrating with society.

This book is based on Nicky Gumbel’s earlier book Challenging Lifestyle. For all the latest Alpha products, go to www.alphafriends.org.au and click on “Alpha Shop”, or call toll-free on 1800 839 400.

Tell Us Your Story! We’d love to hear how Alpha has impacted your life, church or community. Alpha Australia: PO Box 10 Kerrimuir VIC 3129 Phone:1800 811 903 Web: www.alpha.org.au Email: admin@alpha.org.au


alphalife june 2011