FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION ONLY | Evangelisation of the Nation and transformation of our Society | ALPHAINDIA.ORG
alpha india news THE QUARTERLY NEWSPAPER OF ALPHA INDIA
VOLUME 4, ISSUE 3 | JULY - SEPTEMBER 2013
NEWS IN BRIEF
A Life Worth Living Course: A new heart from the Almighty for the members of the Peace Church in Gorakhpur. Pg. 4
Transformation Stories: Read personal stories from across the nation on how Alpha is transforming lives. Pg. 5
Transformations in Punjab: A focus on the lives and churches transformed through Alpha in the state of Punjab. Pg. 8 Interview of Dave Short: A Q & A with the USA Campus Alpha director. Pg. 9
Financial Partnership We appreciate your financial partnership. If you are inspired to support Alpha India please use the details below, or contact Josy Joseph at the Alpha India Office.
Regional Christian Women Leaders Conferences: Testimonies and pictures from the 6 conferences. Pg. 6-7
A transformed individual transforms family, a transformed family transforms the community and a transformed community transforms the nation. REGIONAL CHRISTIAN WOMEN LEADER’S CONFERENCE
Alpha India Account: Account Number: 911020054880929 NAME: ALPHA INDIA BANK NAME : AXIS BANK LTD IFSC CODE : UTIB0000734 BRANCH : KALYAN NAGAR BANGALORE.
Acc Type: Current Account
At the Alpha regional Christian women leader’s conference it was amazing to see the women being awakened, blessed, healed and equipped to reach out to this nation. We praise God for this vision, which has touched the lives of many women. We sense that this is the beginning of a new wave. The women went back with a commitment in their hearts to do greater things and to carry forward what they had learned during the conference. We want to specially thank Niknao, Elvyn, Anita, Rupa, Shanti, Salome and Tamsing for supporting Alpha India in these conferences.
2 National Alpha Office details: National Director: Mr J. Varadaraj Board Members:
Chris Sadler, Chairman of Alpha Asia-Pacific Scott Norling, Chairman of Alpha India J Varadaraj, National Director of Alpha India Don Anderson, Advisor to Petroleum Ministry of Qatar Clarissa Anderson, Entreprenuer and Invester Mathew Antony, Secretary for Evangelisation, Archdiocese of Delhi
Church Advisory Board:
Archbishop (Emeritus) Vincent Concessao Bishop Rt. Rev. V. M. Malaviya Rev. Dr. D. Mohan, Superintendant of AOG India
Alpha India Regional Offices:
North West Region, Chandigarh: Rupak Nayak Email : email@example.com Mob : +91 90233-91414 West Region, Ahmedabad: Jimmy Harshkant Email : firstname.lastname@example.org Ph : +91 9825-444197 East Region, Kolkata: Prabir Mandal Email : email@example.com Ph : +91 96744-61951 North East Region, Shillong : P.O Ryn Jah, Shillong - 793006 Ph : +91 90851-57153
Relationship Central : Philip N David Mob : +91 98844-36364 Worship Central : Balajied N Syiem Mob : +91 87942-98633 Student & Youth Alpha : James Michael David Mob : +91 97429-98618 Alpha for Women : Seema D N Mob : +91 99017 81907 Alpha in the Workplace: Santosh Chetri Mob: +91 90070-22889 Alpha for Prisons: Peace Khapai Mob: +91 9597-421832 North-East Diaspora: Rampan Muivah Mob : +91 99029-90313
Andhra Pradesh: Susheel K Chattar Mob: +91 98660-99184 Bihar: George Muller Mob: +91 94310-16124 South Karnataka: Sam Victor Mob: +91 99646-98118 North Karnataka (Hubli): Abraham Vinay Mob: +91 95914-22225 Kerala : Mon C George Mob: +91 94464 83577 Odisha: Tushar K Behera Mob: +91 93371-41600 Odisha: Jayadeep Samantroy Mob: +91 98535-03813 Rajasthan: Kamlesh Parmar Mob: +91 99830-03637 Rajasthan: Johnson James Mob: +91 98290-77374 Uttar Pradesh: Vinay P Dayal Mob: +91 93594-86843 West Bengal: Dilip Debnath Mob: 098742-07760 Tamil Nadu : John Rajan Mob : +91 98434-95572 Northeast : Ninghor K Shimray Mob: +91 90851-57153 Northeast : Pr. Subhas Lyngdoh Mob: +91 97740-59873 Kathmandu : Rupa Chetri Mob: 00977 98132-81683 Kathmandu : Reuben Pradhan Mob: 00977-98020-25522 Alpha in the Workplace, Eastern Region : Atmanand Singh, Mob: +91 90515-12161 Assoc. Coordinator, Chandigarh : Vikram Sathyarahi, Mob: +91 96467-76120 Assoc. Coordinator, Ukhrul : W S Raingan, Mob: +91 89747-37432 Assoc. Coordinator, Andhra Pradesh : Nanthaniel R Kodavatikanti, Mob: +91 99088-22365
ALPHA INDIA NEWS JULY - SEPTEMBER 2013
READERS STORIES & PHOTOS Thank you for the testimonies, stories and photos that were sent to us. Once again in this issue your stories have been printed throughout the newspaper, along with other encouraging stories that we have received from across the nation. Please send your stories to: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Postal address:
Alpha India 219, 5th A Main Road, HRBR 2nd Block, Kalyan Nagar, Bangalore - 560 043 Tel: +91 80 2542 0902 / 0899 / 0881 Email: email@example.com, Web: www.alphaindia.org
LETTER FROM REV. DR. RAJAN DASS To The National Director Alpha India, Bangalore It is a great joy for me to share about the ministry of Alpha India. I, came to know about the Alpha course in 2007. I even remember the Alpha training which was organized at the Allahabad Bible Seminary which I attended as one of the delegates. I think that the Alpha course is a very effective tool for evangelism as well as for discipleship. It can be used by all the churches in North India for the extension of His kingdom as it is a very simple way to introduce Christ in a friendly atmosphere. With my conviction about Alpha I, on behalf of the Bible Society of India, Allahabad Auxiliary and at large, congratulate Alpha India for the course which is helping the churches and the church leaders to be trained and equipped in order to help the church of God become strong and grow day by day. I am also a part of the Alpha team in U.P which trains others for evangelism through the Alpha course. I am thankful to the National Alpha India office at Bangalore and their coordinators around the country for their tireless labour for the churches in their areas. I am sure that many churches and church leaders in North India have benefitted from the Alpha course. May the Lord continue to bless the ministry of Alpha India. With Regards Rev. (Dr) Rajan Dass Auxiliary Secretary
ÂŠ Alpha India 2013, edited and published by J.V. Raj for Alpha India
ALPHA INDIA NEWS JULY - SEPTEMBER 2013
From the National Director
The art of listening Mark 1: 37 and 38
New King James Version (NKJV) 37
When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”
But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.”
Jesus was guided by the Spirit. He made decisions to choose what He was called to. The passage tells us that many were waiting for Him. Obviously He was popular but He was not guided by popular opinion. The temptation to follow popular opinion is very strong in all of us. When we make plans and decisions, often we ask the question, `what will others say?’ Church leaders are strongly tempted to make plans that will please the congregation and quite often the church is guided by world opinion. This is because we do not want to appear an oddment in society. Our plans and strategies are often dictated by market forces.
somehow need to hear the plain and simple gospel. Unless the whole church is engaged in spreading the message together, we might reap a harvest of barren regrets. Today is the day of salvation, give the gospel to somebody, we have no business to deny the right of all these people to hear the good news that Jesus died for their sins. This may not be a popular message but this is the only message that can bring salvation to mankind. Until that happens, all our ideas of transforming societies hang in thin air. Alpha International is innovating ways to communicate the gospel to younger generations, so there has been a new branding. Kindly see the images and link below.
By default, we have forfeited our call to uniqueness, call to be led by the Spirit and a call to give leadership. Godly leadership ought to learn the art of listening to the voice of the Spirit.
We were richly blessed at the Alpha Leadership Conference. I urge you to download the messages from the link found on the last page of the newsletter.
The book of Acts demonstrates that the power of the church came from obedience to the voice of the Spirit. To reclaim our position as people of God, as a prophetic voice to the world, we need to get rid of our penchant to seek counsel from the world. What is seemingly right in the world may not be what God wants us to do.
Yours in spreading the good news,
The Lord gave us a commission to go and preach to all. This is both important and urgent. Around 2 billion people globally belong to the Christian faith of all persuasions which leaves 5 billion people who
J V Raj
from the field
ALPHA INDIA NEWS JULY - SEPTEMBER 2013
A Life Worth Living course
- Vinay P Dayal
A New Heart from the Almighty After running the Alpha course at the Peace Church, Gorakhpur, I took the initiative to start the post Alpha A Life Worth Living course which is based on the letters that Paul wrote to the Philippians. Pastor Vardan Lee and I conducted the course for over 25 people. We started this course with a lot of excitement. The delegates had lot of expectation for their spiritual growth. As we started this course we saw that the people were involved with us but many of them did not have good relationships with each other. As this course was started to meet their spiritual needs so the Spirit of God started working among them and from the very first week during the talk “New Heart” the people realized that they need a new heart from the Almighty. When the fifth week came and we gave the talk regarding “New Friendships” all of them decided that they had to rebuild their relationships with each other. They took time to pray for each other and during this process many people broke down, cried, repented and we saw the freedom of God released in their heart as their wounds were healed and a sense of unity was present among the people. After the course the people said that every session came with blessings and met their spiritual needs through the group discussion. They also felt that many of their questions were answered.
Alpha courses in Tamil Nadu
Alpha Master Training Alpha Training at in Kerala Sundargarh
- John Rajan
- Mon C
Along with Pastor Elijah we conducted the Alpha course at Thippanuthu. As a result of this a new church has started and everybody accepted Christ as their Saviour.
At the Mount Olive Camp centre, ICPF (Inter Collegiate Prayer Fellowship) Centre, Muttumon, Thiruvalla, Kerala we had a great and blessed Alpha Master Training programme by the grace of God. A total of fifteen trainees came for this Master training conducted on the 8th & 9th of May 2013. Bro. Francis, from the national Alpha office, spent quality time with the trainees and challenged them to faithfully work for the Lord.
When Alpha was introduced at the Sundargarh Baptist Church, the church secretary Mr. Prasanna Behera and Pr. Subodh Bardhan wanted to train all their church members to use Alpha for the evangelism and growth of the church. Hence, we decided to have a training programme for all the members. This training took place at the Baptist Church in Maheshdihi, Sundargarh, which was attended by 76 leaders and laymen from different churches and organisations. Mr. Susmit. K. Rout encouraged The miracle that came out of this training delegates to focus on the Great Commission was that the trainees decided to start 27 new and remember God’s calling. courses in different parts of Kerala. They also want to conduct 31 Alpha trainings in the All the delegates were very excited to know following months for 575 church leaders. They more about Alpha and they said the small are expecting another 50 Alpha courses from group discussion session was very interesting. these trainings. People felt comfortable and shared their views without waiting for others to ask them to share. At Moopanpatti 10 students are attending an Alpha course. They are very eager to know more about Christ and all of them have accepted Christ as their personal Saviour.
follow us on @AlphaInIndia
ALPHA INDIA NEWS JULY - SEPTEMBER 2013
from the field
5 The Alpha course FAQs 1. How do I get started running Alpha?
Alpha introductory program. Initially it was difficult for me to understand the process of Few years ago during a running an Alpha course so I desired to attend Sunday fellowship where I an Alpha training program. God gave me that play the guitar I heard God opportunity and I attended it six months later. speaking to me. He told During that training I clearly understood the me to open my heart and method but I doubted its success in villages. let Him, the Alpha and the I prayed for a few days to find the right place Omega, in and to not be and for some funds so that I could invite people afraid of the work He is and start Alpha. God heard my prayer and going to do in my life. Today blessed me with some funds and a friends’ I can tell the world that the family allowed me to use a small room in their joy of the Lord is my strength because He gave house to run the course. On the first day 18 me the living water and I thirst no more. people attended and about 9 people continued Recently I met Mr. Rampan from Alpha India till the end of the course. I thought that this was and we had a time of fellowship in Chennai amazing and the response was beyond my where he gave me a book by Nicky Gumbel imagination. Last month all 9 of them committed called Questions of Life. I took the book and their life to Jesus Christ. I am following up with when I read it, it spoke to me like nothing ever them by doing a Bible study regularly. I am sure had. So, I decided to do the Alpha course. In the Alpha course is an effective tool to preach a small cell group at Adambakkam, during the gospel and to transform lives. their Tuesday fellowship, few of us did Alpha. I selected 5 speakers including my church pastor and I chose the topics “Who is the When I attended a Holy Spirit?”, “What does the Holy Spirit do?” Workplace Alpha I found and “How can we receive the Holy Spirit”. it very interesting. So I Few people came to know the Lord but many wanted to start using Alpha came to know what Christianity is. Today, in our church. However our cell group is growing in size as well as there was no one there to in spirit. This year God has put me on higher help us use the Alpha tool. ground; I am now a leader as the church Then, Bro. John and his prayer secretary. We will be introducing the wife came to our region Alpha course in 15 of the cell groups under and trained 99 leaders the Tangkhul Baptist fellowship in Chennai. from 2 of our churches. After which we got 20 sets of Alpha books and are planning to start 15 Alpha courses. I believe that it is the best I am an evangelist and tool for church growth. The methods followed I work in the rural area in Alpha to share the gospel truth in a puralistic of Bendra, Odisha. I context with unbelievers are really creative, was using the personal biblical and easy. Alpha is also holistic in its evangelism method to approach. I know that using Alpha will bring a preach the gospel to the great harvest for my Church. villagers in my region. A year ago I attended the
Prayer is vital to the planning, preparation and effectiveness of your Alpha course. Find a group of people who will pray for every aspect of your Alpha course. Step 1 - Pray Step 2 - Participate Step 3 - Plan your course Step 4 - Prepare your team Step 5 - Procure your resources Step 6 - Persevere Step 7 - Pass on the vision 2. How do I run the Alpha course outside of my church?
Rajan David Livingston
Using the same Alpha course content and structure, you can run an Alpha course at school, colleges, workplace, prisons, hospitals, homeless shelters, army bases, slums, among eunuchs and in red light districts.
3. What resources and training opportunities are available to me? • Access to Alpha’s national training conferences and local training events. • Access to a full array of products through the Alpha India website to promote, run and augment your Alpha course. • Access to a network of Alpha coordinators and Alpha advisors 4. How do I contact Alpha India?
Your first point of contact is
• Your local state coordinator then • The Regional Office and finally • The Alpha India National Office They can all help you locate a training event happening near you. Please find the contact details on Pg. 2
Visiting Rescued Nepali WOMEN
- Reuben Pradhan
The recent Women’s Conference in Nepal had a powerful impact on those who attended. I attended as an Alpha staff but little did I know what the Lord had in store for me. I was in tears while listening to the stories and plight of the womenfolk who are treated, at times, worse than animals. One local resource woman looks after an institution where young and old women are rescued from brothels in India and elsewhere and are given shelter. Recently my wife, one of our daughters and I took a team of 25 people to visit this institution. There are around 16 women and 21 children ranging from the age of 6 months to their late teens and most of them belong to the rescued ladies. Besides songs and dance from our team it was a joy to see some of these small kids also performing dances to Christian songs and singing. However, it was heart rending for me to learn that some of these young children are infected with HIV which was passed down to them from their mothers. I was greatly touched to see the smile and joy on their faces. Jesus indeed makes such a huge difference in a person’s life. Before we departed I offered to pray for those in need and almost all of them came forward. As we prayed I felt a sense of the Lord’s joy in being a channel for Him to touch these precious souls. No wonder, Jesus explicitly said (to the religious leaders of His days), “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.” (Mt 21:31)
WOMEN LEADER’S CONFERENCE Empowering Women, Voice of the conference Influencing the World LATIKA I learnt that we can share the gospel with other people who are not believers in a simple and effective way.
Moumita The concept of this conference is interesting. All of us have learnt and benefited from it. What I liked most is that you have social issues along with spiritual issues. It would be good for the Diocese of Calcutta to partner with Alpha India.
EMMA I think it’s a critical time in India and God is rising up women. As the verses in Isaiah say: arise, shine and awake. We believe God is using women in India to bring about a revival and an awakening. We met many wonderful women in India and had great conversations.
Beena The conference is a great platform for women to come together and fellowship. To be trained and equipped to do what the Lord has called them to do. If the women can break through their shackles and come out because of Jesus in them, then that is going to be a mighty force to cut across every nook and corner, every slum, village and town.
Jannet I got to know more about domestic violence and what I can do about it. As I am a paster’s wife I also learned how to solve the family problems of our church members.
Helen Alpha has really helped us by giving us wisdom and knowledge about how to protect ourselves against many social issues. Along with this knowledge Alpha also gave the women an easy and simple method to share the message of salvation.
RACHEL I liked the listening prayer method that Emmy taught us. I have never done that before and I feel it is very profound and deep as we wait for God to talk to us before we pray for our prayer partners.
Sally The women have been like a tight bud and now like a flower they are opening up and are excited, empassioned and empowered and really full of wanting to go out. I think Alpha has been clever to bring these women together and give them this opportunity. Most of them had never heard about Alpha so now they have a tool that they can use to go out.
There is such an ambience and expectation building up among the women. Thank you Raj for spearheading this vision; there certainly is a real move of God taking place in India.
Rupkatha Coming for this Alpha conference for 3 days seemed a little improbable. But today I was thankful to God and Alpha for organizing this wonderful seminar that reinforced and re-energised our convictions and our calling. The most important thing that I learnt is that the foundation of any service is prayer.
PATRICIA I wish that this conference becomes a Trainer of Trainers and that it goes to every nook and corner of this region because people want to know how to develop mentorship in the villages.
Sarah This conference was a blessing. The women felt empowered & we know that as women of Nepal when we see problems like women trafficking, we can also do something. This conference was completely balanced and the women are awakened.
EMMY I love the work of the Holy Spirit and when we invited Him to come I noticed that women in both Guwahati and Kolkata have been deeply touched by the Holy Spirit. And I have a real heart that God would raise up women in India to go out onto the streets and to minister to those who know nothing about Jesus Christ.
The Alpha Christian women leader’s conference started on the 4th of April. These conferences were held across the 6 cities of Madurai, Ahmedabad, Dehradun, Kathmandu, Guwahati and Kolkata. The conference finished on the 7th of May.
from the field
ALPHA INDIA NEWS JULY - SEPTEMBER 2013
TRANSFORMATIONS IN punjab Pastor Preet I am from a Pentecostal church in Ramha Mandi, Bathinda, Punjab. I got married last year and my wife, Gurmeet, is from a Sikh background. She has heard about Christians and the church, however she did not know about the basic Christian beliefs. As I am involved in the Alpha training and the course, which is running in our church regularly, I encouraged her to attend an Alpha course. While attending the course she experienced the difference in Christianity and came to know the beliefs of Christianity. She also experienced Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s work in her life and she was baptised. We have held 3 Alpha courses in our church and have seen many lives changed. It is a very good and effective instrument that can be used to preach the gospel to our non Christian friends and relatives. I have trained 10 churches in my locality on how to run Alpha. 6 of them are already using the Alpha course and the other churches are planning to start Alpha by next month. We will also continue to use this course regularly and encourage other churches to do the same.
Mithun Kumar I am from Chandigarh where I have an auto business. Earlier my life was not good because I used to live among the auto drivers and in the evening it was common to drink. Smoking was something I did through the day and invariably I spent all my income on these bad habits. One day I heard about the church and Jesus from my friend Ramesh Kumar, who is also an auto driver. Sometimes I used to go with him to a church and during that time Ramesh
asked me to attend the Alpha course which was being conducted in his house every Tuesday. While attending this course God started to work in my life. I realized why Jesus gave His life for us, learnt about prayer, the Bible, etc. On the Holy Spirit day I was touched and I experienced Jesus personally. I was baptised recently and God delivered me from my alcohol and smoking addictions. Now I hate everything that I was doing before I knew Jesus.
especially during the session on “How God Guides Us”. Many realized that God has a good plan for each of us which is not to harm, but to prosper us.
During this process when God was changing my life spiritually He was also changing my worldly life. He blessed me with three more autos and now I have a good auto business.
Ravi I live in Dhariwal, Gurdaspur (Punjab). I heard about the Alpha course from a friend of mine and started attending a course at Dhariwa, where I learnt the teachings of Christianity and at the same time God started working in my life; especially during the Holy Spirit session God touched me and I experienced salvation. Then I decided to get baptized. Now I go to church regularly and I experience His presence in my day to day life.
Shabnam Ray I have finished my education from Bathinda, Punjab and am currently looking for a job. I also help my father in his church. Few months ago I came to know about the Alpha course through Pastor Preet Masih from Ramha. He came to our Ruhani Masih Satsang church and trained us on running the Alpha course. After that we started Alpha in our church. I have seen good responses from every one attending;
I go to the Faith Community Center Church at Chandigarh. After attending the Awakening conference at Jaipur in November last year, I got to know more about the Alpha course and felt that it will be an effective tool for evangelism. Personally I have been blessed through this course and I really like the material provided by Alpha. It is very useful for the growth of churches. So after coming back from Jaipur, Agnues and I began planning to start an Alpha course among the women who are very close to us. We shared our plans with our church leaders and with their permission we started an Alpha course. Around 10 guests participated regularly in the course and we finished it mid April this year. During the course, Neeru, one of the delegates, who is from a Sikh background experienced and accepted Jesus in her personal life and decided to follow Him. Others like Somya and Hussan were also touched through this course. They personally experienced Jesus once again and recommitted themselves to walk with Him for the rest of their lives. Another sister Nicky said that this course gave her an opportunity to have good fellowship with more sisters in Christ.
ALPHA BLESSING LIVES Interview- Dave Short
My name is Dipesh Dahal. The first time I attended Alpha it felt like the beginning of great blessings in my Christian life. Before this, I was living my life as per my wish. For 7 years I had been going to church and I used to introduce myself as a Christian but nothing significant had happened in my life. Today, I am learning that Christianity is a relationship with Christ and it is about being transformed into the likeness of Christ. This is something I knew I was lacking. But now the time has come for me to get right with God and not fear sharing the gospel with others. I faced many hindrances during my youth and I used to wonder “why did God stop me?” Today I have the answer that I clearly got from the Alpha course. I especially love the verse Jeremiah 29:11. I began to spend more time with God and this has helped me to make certain changes in my life. I now go to college in the mornings and then help out with various Church activities. Recently my pastor encouraged few of us to attend an Alpha training. It encouraged me to fulfill my Lord’s great command. After four months of patience and prayer, we planned to start running the Alpha course in our church. We formed a team of 6 members along with a prayer team and an administrative team and prepared everything to start Alpha for our choir group. Our vision is to first make Alpha known to all our choir members and then we will run Alpha with other people. We felt it would be wise to run the Alpha course at a home fellowship for new believers with our choir there to help. Hence we started the Alpha course in Rophecca Nawajeevan Church, Banepa; for our choir. I do believe that God will help us fulfil the Great Commission. I can see our youth ministry and church growing through Alpha. I also got the opportunity to be in an Alpha Master training programme. This was a real blessing for me and the testimonies and peoples’ relationship with God really encouraged me. Alpha is a tool that God has given us and I pray that He will help us to use it effectively and efficiently.
from the field
ALPHA INDIA NEWS JULY - SEPTEMBER 2013
Interview- Dave Short Dave is the Campus Alpha director in USA and is currently spending a year in Asia Pacific. Q – How do you see the work of Student and Youth Alpha in this region? Dave – I think it is a growing work. There is potential in Asia Pacific because it is such a young region and I think this is really key and significant to Alpha growing and developing here. In some countries there is a youth movement to see change happen. If we can grab onto the coat tails of that kind of ideology that is happening among young people in Asia Pacific and capture that for Jesus, it can be revolutionary. The word revolution can have a lot of negative terminology to it, but I think there is a real revolution and change happening in the hearts of young people towards politics and doing things different and not being the way it has always been. With Alpha Innovation, our desire to really impact a younger generation and with all the changes that are happening I think we are really positioning ourselves to capture the wave of that. Q- What is the potential that Student and Youth Alpha has in this region? Dave - I think what Student Alpha and Youth Alpha does is that it empowers young people. Alpha is evangelism for the ordinary person. A lot of us, me included, don’t have much of a problem with sharing our faith and striking up conversations. But there are also a lot of people who struggle in that area and I think that Alpha has been noted, for decades now, as a tool for people that really have a problem with being real active with their faith and doing personal, relational evangelism. Sometimes a young person may say they don’t want to be a small group leader because they don’t think they know enough; but Alpha empowers a young person that doesn’t feel like they have it all together in that area and provides them with something that gives them confidence to reach out to their friends and frees them up to not have to know everything. My desire is to see Alpha run anywhere, any place and anytime. The tool of Alpha is so equipping in that. It can be run in a coffee shop or run one
on one or one on two or with some friends in a restaurant. It can be very causal because they can run it in workout centres and so many other places. It is so versatile and this generation is so creative that we should give them a tool that can empower that creativity. So I think the potential of Alpha is great. Q- What are the challenges that Student Alpha and Youth Alpha face? Dave - I think it is mainly with getting the word out. It could be with already existing campus ministries or churches who may or may not have heard of Alpha at all. I have seen even in the United States there are a lot of people that have never heard of Alpha and are working with college students and young people. So the challenge is communication and getting the message out and making sure people are aware of what Alpha is but also how it can be used effectively in the context with which they are trying to reach young people. That is the big challenge; but I think we have a lot of great people starting to come on board with Asia Pacific, especially in the areas of media and communication so maybe now we can close the gap on that a little bit more.
9 FAITH IN GOD Aaron is a part of the team that has come from Malaysia. My trip to India is quite a miracle. In January this year I was helping in Youth Alpha as part of a team hosting the National Prayer conference. I met Chrisanne Chin who was the Campus and Youth Development Manager of Alpha Malaysia at that time. She has always tried to get the younger generations involved in doing God’s work in Malaysia.
2 weeks after the conference, my friend Paul Kong who has been working closely with Chrisanne in running Student Alpha told me that Chrisanne had a dream about me serving in India. At that point of time, I was shocked and I told Paul that there’s no way that I will ever be serving in India because I am an Indian who can’t speak any Indian language. Later, in May, Paul called me and said that Alpha Malaysia has been invited to go to India to help run a GAT there. The first thing that came to my mind was Chrisanne’s Q- How can the national offices support dream. So Paul told me to pray about it. the growth of Student Alpha and Youth I then started to analyse the possibilities of me Alpha in our region? going to India. It was almost impossible for me Dave - I think we are here to serve the to get permission from my parents due to the national office and if we can come in and fact that my Degree semester is still going on help find those key partnerships and those and that I have never taken an international champions and then come along side the flight out of Malaysia. On my way home from national work and coach those advisors and college, I told myself that the best time for me potential coordinators. If we can share in that to tell my parents is during our family devotion; kind of role; if the national team invites us in which had only been done about 2-3 times this and if there is a way in which we can help year. But it happened on that day! and my dad expand what you are already doing we are called everyone for a time of devotion. I took this as a sign from God and I knew that I had willing to do that. to talk to my parents. After the devotion, I told Q- Any other comments? my parents about the trip to India and about Dave - I think the potential of Asia Pacific and Chrisanne’s dream. I asked them to pray with what God is doing through Alpha in the region me for God’s direction in this matter. To my is so incredibly exciting. It is great to see the surprise, they did not reject the idea at all and changes that are developing and I feel like we they prayed for it. Later that night, I knew deep are on the cutting edge of what God is doing down in my heart that God has opened a way in the world let alone in Asia Pacific. I am so for me to go. After much prayer, I called up thankful to be a part of this team that has Paul and said yes. My parents were supportive come down from Malaysia to run the Student of my decision and here I am now in India. Alpha and Youth Alpha GAT in Khandala from Excited about what the Lord is about to do! the 21st - 23rd June and in Delhi from the Looking back on how God brought me here just amazes me and I’m looking forward to more of 30th of June to the 2nd of July 2013. this in my walk with Him.
STUDENT ALPHA COURSE IN NEPAL
- Reuben Pradhan
30 students who have recently finished their 10th grade exams are going through the Alpha course in Nepal. During the course it has been fascinating to hear the comments that the students make after each topic is shared and discussed; especially after the first and the second session on “Who is Jesus?” and “Why did Jesus die?”. Some of the questions that came up are, “What if as a devout Hindu, I live a good life and do good to others, will I still go to hell?” and “The Bible teaches us to obey our parents, so is it okay to obey them when they don’t allow me to go to church?” We feel that it is always both challenging and exciting to talk to these young people and answer their questions as only three out of these 30 students are Christians.
ALPHA INDIA NEWS JULY - SEPTEMBER 2013
A LIFE WORTH LIVING Nicky gumbel
New Heart Philippians 1:3–11 I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God. In November 1992, a friend of mine called Kerry Dixon went out to the Philippines with a team to work alongside the Christians out there. One day he and his team went to speak to an isolated tribe called the T’boli at Lake Sebu. It involved walking for several hours through rough terrain and mountain tracks over paddy-fields and plantations. They took with them two interpreters: a Filipino pastor to translate English into Cebuano, which could then be translated by a T’boli member into his own language. At about 8 pm, after nightfall, word spread that the ‘white people’ had appeared. The tribe emerged from the darkness to gather by the light of flaming torches. Kerry then spoke about Jesus through the two interpreters to this group of people who had never heard about him. After the talk they pushed forward a middleaged man, blind from birth, who was well-known and respected throughout the village. If Jesus was God they wanted to see him in action. In the hushed silence Kerry laid hands on the man and prayed for Jesus to heal him. He then asked if the man could see. He replied through the interpreters that he could see flickering lights through the darkness. After praying a second time, he could make out Kerry’s outline in front of him. The third time Kerry prayed, there was no need for any interpretation – the man was jumping for joy and praising the living God, who had performed a miracle before their eyes. All fifty people present that night were converted and a new church began. The church there is still growing. A heart of confidence in the power of God (vv. 3–6)
The church at Philippi, like the church of T’boli, was founded by an extraordinary display of God’s power. The endeavour began in AD 49 in utter frustration. Paul could not get into Asia or Bithynia. Every door appeared shut, but, as so often happens when circumstances seem against us, God opened up something much better. In a vision, Paul saw a man saying: ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us’ (Acts 16:9). Paul responded by going with his companion, Silas, to Philippi. On the first Saturday that he was there he went down to the river where there was a group of women praying. (They had probably gathered there because there were not the necessary ten Jewish men in Philippi to form a synagogue.) As Paul spoke about Jesus, Lydia, a rich merchant woman, was converted and persuaded Paul to go
and stay in her home. While he was staying there, he was followed around the town by a fortune-teller, who was clearly under demonic influence as a result of her involvement in the occult, and who kept on saying: ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved’ (Acts 16:17). Finally, after several days of this, Paul could take her endless repetitions no longer and turned around and said, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!’ (Acts 16:18). At that moment the evil spirit came out. The woman was a slave and her owners were furious that she had lost her supernatural powers. They seized Paul and Silas and hauled them up in front of the authorities. They whipped up the crowd against them. The magistrates bowed to the pressure and ordered that they should be stripped, severely flogged and thrown into prison. In prison, with their feet in stocks, Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God. They had seen God’s power to change the direction of Lydia’s life and to bring her whole family to faith. They had seen God’s power in setting free a slave afflicted by an evil spirit. Now they saw God’s power at work in another miraculous way: an earthquake shook the prison and every door flew open. The prison officer in charge was about to commit suicide as he thought all the prisoners had escaped and he feared the consequences. Paul, faced with freedom, chose instead to stay, and to bring his jailer to Christ. When Paul assured him that the prisoners were all still there he asked: ‘What must I do to be saved?’ This is what might be called ‘an evangelistic opportunity’! Paul explained what the prison officer had to do and thus he, and immediately afterwards his whole family, came to Christ and were baptised. These events were so clearly supernatural that Paul saw the astonishing power of God behind the human agency of his words. It was God’s power that started the church at Philippi, therefore he could have supreme confidence that God would complete what he had begun. This is the confidence we have if we are Christians: we have responded to God’s call and he has begun a good work in us. For the prison officer, the circumstances surrounding his conversion were extremely dramatic. Lydia would have been able to point to that extraordinary day when Paul arrived unannounced at the river as the starting point of her Christian life. Some of us know the exact day we became Christians; some of us may have experienced a dramatic conversion. However, it is quite likely that the children of the prison officer or of Lydia grew up as Christians and never knew a time when they did not have a relationship with God. It does not matter which category we fall into: if God begins a good work in us, he will carry it on to completion. We need to retain this confidence even when life is difficult; indeed, that is the moment when we most need to exercise faith and hold on to the promises of God, confident in his power. When Paul writes that ‘he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ (v. 6), he is thinking primarily of their church. But the promise applies equally to individual Christians. We can have this confidence for others as well as ourselves. Every true Christian who knows, loves and follows Jesus Christ can be sure that God will bring to completion the work he has begun in them. Jesus promised his disciples eternal life (John 10:28) – a quality of life which starts now and goes on for ever. We cannot have eternal life one minute and not the next. A Christian may lose his job, money, liberty or even his life, but he can never lose eternal life. Jesus added, ‘No
one can snatch them out of my hand’(John 10:28). The hallmark of the true Christian is that he endures. It is true that some profess the faith and then seem to fall away. This may be because their original profession of faith was spurious, or it could be that it was genuine and that they have backslidden and will one day return. The first person I had the joy of leading to Christ was called Henry. We had been walking in the mountains of Norway. As we were sitting on the train coming back home, we prayed together and he gave his life to Christ. His life was changed. But after eighteen months, he started to drift as a Christian. He gave up reading the Bible and praying. He stopped going to church. He put all his Christian books up in the attic. For four years he wanted nothing to do with Christianity or Christians. Then through a series of events he came back to Jesus Christ. He told me afterwards that during those four years in which he had tried to give up being a Christian he had always known that Christianity was true and that he could not get away no matter how hard he tried. If God begins a good work in someone, he will carry it on to completion. A heart of compassion for the people of God (vv. 7–8) Paul was not a ‘soft touch’ or a doormat. He was quite capable of standing up to the Roman authorities who had wronged him. He did not simply allow them to get away with having mistreated him. He pointed out that he and Silas were Roman citizens and that they had been illegally flogged. He demanded his rights and embarrassed the authorities. He knew how to be tough, but he also knew how to be tender. When Paul says, ‘I have you in my heart’ (v. 7) he is expressing his deep love for the people of Philippi. He has already spoken of their ‘partnership in the gospel’ (v. 5). Now he speaks of sharing in ‘God’s grace’ with them (v. 7). There is such a close bond between those who work together for Jesus Christ. There is an even closer bond where one has been responsible for the conversion of the others. He says that he longs for all of them ‘with the affection of Christ Jesus’ (v. 8). The Authorised Version translates this, ‘How greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.’ The original Greek word in the New Testament refers to the upper intestines, the heart, lungs and liver – the place they perceived as the source of deep emotion. ‘Compassion’ is perhaps the nearest English equivalent. As J.B. Lightfoot put it: ‘His heart throbs with the heart of Christ.’ Paul was a man of love and compassion. This extended even to his jailer: without such love he would no doubt have taken revenge on his torturer. Instead he led him to Christ; he had the compassion of Jesus Christ. Paul Negrut, a Romanian pastor who was severely persecuted under the Ceausescu regime, is now one of the leaders of the church in Romania. He spent six months in a concentration camp and a further six months being interrogated all day, every day. Attempts were made to kill his family by connecting the water pipes in his house to the electrical system. After the regime had fallen, he heard one day that the man who had persecuted him for six months was in hospital dying of cancer. Paul Negrut went to visit him. The man’s mother was crying and asked Paul to pray for her son. Paul Negrut laid hands on his persecutor and prayed for him. He recovered and they have since prayed together. The word in this verse for affection is frequently
ALPHA INDIA NEWS JULY - SEPTEMBER 2013
A LIFE WORTH LIVING
used of Jesus. The apostle Paul had Jesus’ heart and Jesus’ love, and this was the motivating force behind his ministry. Without love it does not matter how doctrinally correct or how gifted we are, for Paul writes elsewhere that without love we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13). I know that at times I have tried to minister without love and it is always disastrous. When love is abundant among us, we are able not to hold offences against one another. When we lack love, we are apt to misunderstand every action and end up in disagreement. That has certainly been my experience. We need to pray for the compassion of Jesus Christ to fill us. When I was at theological college I went through a difficult time spiritually. I had given up a job where I was paid to give my opinion and my services as an advocate. I had also been involved in leadership in my local church. At college my opinion was no longer regarded as being of any value! In addition, I was no longer part of regular, active ministry. I began to feel very insecure. As I read a lot of books by scholars who were unorthodox in their beliefs and often hostile to biblical truths, I found my faith was under attack. My heart grew cold. After I had been at college for two years I went to a conference where the speaker asked those involved in full time ministry to come forward to be prayed for. He prayed that God would give us his heart for the people around us. As he prayed I experienced God’s love in my heart. I cried as I looked round at some of the other students and saw them in a new way. God opened my eyes to see that they too were struggling. I saw their loneliness, sadness and fears. I suspect that for a moment I had a glimpse of what Paul is speaking of here when he uses the phrase ‘the affection of Christ Jesus’. That experience transformed my last year at college. I looked at people in a totally different light and I think God even opened up a ministry for me there in a small way.
know God better by spending time with him and hearing his Spirit speak to us, primarily through the Bible and prayer. Again, our knowledge of God is linked to our knowledge of one another. We help one another to learn about God as we meet in church or in small groups. At these gatherings we also deepen our own friendships. That is why the growth of an isolated Christian is bound to be stunted, for we are meant to grow together. In 1954 a staunch young Buddhist lay dying of TB. He was given three months to live. He was visited by an eighteen-year old Christian, who led him to Christ, and was miraculously healed. He went to Bible school and began to pastor a tent church in Seoul. There were five people at the first service, including himself, his sister and an old woman who fell asleep. As they prayed and saw healings and miracles, people came to see what was happening. By 1960 the number had grown to 600. By 1963 there were 2,400 members, by 1973 10,000, by 1980 100,000, by 1982 200,000. The church now has well over 600,000 members. The name of that pastor is Yonggi Cho and he says that the key to the growth of his church lay in what they call the ‘home cell’ groups. It is these small groups meeting in homes where people grow in love and in knowledge of God and of one another. Third, we see that Paul prayed for growth in holiness of life. He prays that they ‘may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God’ (vv. 10–11). The Greek word for ‘pure’ means ‘unmixed’. It describes an inner purity in which even our motives are unmixed. The Greek word for ‘blameless’ means ‘without giving offence’ and refers more to the outer way of life. So Paul prays that they may be holy both inwardly and outwardly. The broadcaster and journalist Malcolm Muggeridge wrote of Mother Teresa: When I first set eyes on her... I at once realised that I was in the presence of someone of unique quality. That was not due to her appearance, which is homely and unassuming, so that words like ‘charm’ or ‘charisma’ do not apply. Nor to her shrewdness and quick understanding, though these are very marked; nor even to her manifest piety and true humility and ready laughter. There is a phrase in one of the Psalms that always, for me, evokes her presence: ‘the beauty of holiness’ – that special beauty, amounting to a kind of pervasive luminosity generated by a life dedicated wholly to loving God and His creation. This kind of wholeness of life will be fruitful. Paul speaks of the ‘fruit of righteousness’. Sin is a barrier to God’s blessing both in our individual lives and in the church. This has been seen time and time again in church history. Jonathan Goforth tells the story of what happened in Korea in 1907: Eight days had been set aside for prayer. On the last day there had been as yet no special manifestation of the power of God. That evening 1500 people were assembled to pray. The heavens over them seemed as brass. Was it possible that God was going to deny them the outpouring prayed for? Then they were all startled as one of the leaders stood up and said, ‘I am Achan. God cannot bless because of me.’ This man had abused his position of trust and taken $100 from a widow in the congregation. He promised to return the money in the morning. Instantly it was realized that the barriers had fallen, and that God, the Holy One, had come. Conviction of sin swept the audience. The service commenced at seven o’clock Sunday evening and did not end until two o’clock Monday morning, yet during all that time dozens were standing, weeping, awaiting their turn to confess. Day after day the people assembled now, and always it was manifest that the Refiner was in His temple... (Sin) hindered the Almighty God while it remained covered and it glorified Him as soon as it was uncovered; and so with rare emotions did all the confessions in Korea that year.
A heart of concern for the priorities of growth (vv. 9–11) Probably eleven or twelve years had passed since Paul’s original visit to Philippi. In those years the church had flourished and grown, both in numbers and in maturity. As so often is the case the two are linked. It is not enough simply to increase in numbers. A healthy church will grow in maturity. Nor is it enough simply to grow in maturity. A healthy church should also expand in numbers. The church at Philippi had seen both types of growth. Now Paul prays for it to continue to develop. First, he prays for growth in love. He prays that their ‘love may abound more and more’ (v. 9). The Greek word means literally ‘overflow’. Presumably he is thinking of their love for God and their love for one another. The two are inextricably linked both in the New Testament (1 John 4:7–21) and in Christian experience. Some years ago I spent seven weeks in a church in America. As I mentioned earlier, my heart had grown cold and spending seven weeks in a church full of love was like taking something out of a deep-freeze and defrosting it in the warm air. It was a church that loved God and it expressed that love in worship. It was made up of people diverse in personality and background whose love for one another overflowed to us and, as we were soaked in their love, our hearts were warmed. Second, we can see that Paul’s prayer is not simply for growth in love, but that their ‘love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best’ (vv. 9–10). Their love was to be more than an emotional experience; Paul prayed that it would be rooted in knowledge. Again, presumably this is both knowledge of God and of each other. Dr Johnson once said, ‘The day I stop learning, I wish to die.’ No doubt Paul would have agreed. A healthy Christian needs to be growing in his or her knowledge of God. We get to
11 In the opening verses of Philippians we see an insight into Paul’s heart. We see his faith and his complete confidence in the power of God. We see his love and his compassion for the people of God. We see his hope reflected in his concern for the principles of growth. We see him looking forward to ‘the day of Christ’. The word which appears more than any other in these first verses is ‘Christ’. Paul’s heart was a reflection of that of Jesus Christ. He had a confidence like that of Jesus in the power of God. He saw people as Jesus saw them – with the heart of God. He longed for them to grow into the likeness of Jesus – ‘to the glory and praise of God’ (v. 11).
Pray for Alpha India Praise GOD FOR: - His miraculous provision of all our needs in the last two quarters - His marvelous ways of protecting us - All the Regional Women Leaders Conferences and the other trainings that happened across the nation during the last two quarters - The new partnership with CBCNEI and CNI Rajasthan Dioceses - The constant support that all the master trainers are rendering in reaching out to the Nation Prayer Points: - Pray for the victims of the Uttarakhand flood catastrophe. Pray for the families that lost their beloved ones, belongings and for the destitute - Pray for God’s grace upon Alpha India and for His hand of favor upon all the projects that Alpha India is going to venture into in the near future - Pray that the training’s will result in courses - Pray for more volunteers to support the work of Alpha in the field - Pray that God would open doors for partnership with mainline churches across the nation - Pray for expansion of the Alpha India team and that God would bring the right people on board
Alpha India Staff updates
David & Dulcie
Balajied N Syiem
Seema D N
National Co-ordinator, Relationship Central
National Co-ordinator, Worship Central
National Co-ordinator, Alpha for Women
Atmanand Singh Regional Coordinator (E) Alpha in the Workplace
Nanthaniel R Kodavatikanti Assoc. Coordinator, Andhra Pradesh
W S Raingam
Rachel K Tulasi
Alpha Associate with UBC, Ukhrul
James I Christian
Office Administrator, Chandigarh
Office Administrator, Ahmedabad
Office Administrator, Kolkata