ALPHA NEWS alpha.org
March 2010 – June 2010
Paisley skater boy does 180
Read Jamie’s moving story Full Story PAGE S4
Marie ‘vets’ Alpha course Find out more inside Full Story PAGE S8
750 AT ALPHA VISION DAY 2010
Edinburgh Church packed to capacity OVER 750 delegates from many denominations across the nation attended the Alpha Scotland Vision Day in February. The day was held at St. Paul’s and St. George’s Church in Edinburgh.
Alpha pioneer Rev Nicky Gumbel addresses delegates in Edinburgh
The event sold out, with many unable to get tickets. Delegates formed queues along York Place and down into Broughton Street as hundreds arrived early waiting for the doors to open. The special guest speaker at the day was Nicky Gumbel, vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton and Alpha pioneer. Key Scottish speakers included Kenny Borthwick, Karl Martin, Dave Gordon, and Dave Richards. Marriage Course authors Nicky and Sila Lee, and 24-7 founder Pete Greig also played an important role in the day. Commenting on the event Kenny Borthwick said, ‘It’s been a wonderful day... there are so many people here coming from so many different places, diverse in the way we go about church and diverse in some aspects of theology, but where people are in unity the Lord commands his blessing.’ Rector of St Paul’s and St George’s Dave Richards said, ‘I think it has been great, folk have been inspired and been re-envisioned on who God is and what he wants to do in the church in Scotland. ‘Its been fantastic to see the place full, to see people worshipping and responding to God. Its been great, really good’. FULL VISION DAY REPORT: PAGES S2-S3
INSIDE YOUR SCOTLAND SUPPLEMENT: Alpha Scotland Vision Day 2010... 1000 at Worship Central... Stories of changed lives...
MARCH 2010 - JUNE 2010
WELCOME TO THE ALPHA NEWS SCOTLAND SUPPLEMENT
ALPHA NEWS SCOTLAND
Welcome to the 3rd edition of Alpha News Scotland Supplement! Alpha Scotland’s goal is to play our part in making Jesus the Talk of Scotland, by supporting the growth and development of Alpha and its many ministries. Our key aim is to envision and equip churches across the nation to host well run Alpha courses to give everyone regardless of age, background or status the opportunity to attend an Alpha course near where the live, work or study. It’s a growing family with over 500 churches and other partner organisations. We would love to hear from you whether you’re interest is Youth, Schools, Students, Prisons, the local church & community, Caring for Ex-offenders, workplace, developing worship, or re-building relationships and improving marriages. Our thanks to Nicola Ogston for her assistance in designing this issue.
Alpha course guests share their stories
Contact us at: Alpha Scotland Renfield Centre 260 Bath Street Glasgow G2 4JP Tel: 0141 332 0051 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: alphascotland.org
Order copies of the Scotland Supplement for your church or group FREE
‘Awesome. An Awesome day...’ DELEGATES came to the Vision Day from all over the nation to be part of what Rev Karl Martin described as ‘An awesome day...’
If you are running the Alpha Course you can order up to 100 copies of the Scotland Supplement FREE. Please call the Alpha hotline on 0845 758 1278 quoting ‘Alpha News Scotland Supplement’ to order extra copies.
A wide range of church denominations were represented including Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Vineyard, Scottish Episcopal, Newfrontiers, Independent Evangelical, Coptic Orthodox, and the Salvation Army. The title given to the day was ‘Let’s make Jesus the talk of Scotland 2010’. Paul Davie, Alpha Scotland Director, said, ‘There are lots of things that are the talk of Scotland - There’s rugby at Murrayfield this weekend, football at Ibrox or Celtic Park and all around the country things are going on, but very few are talking about Jesus. With Alpha we want to give everyone an opportunity to discuss and see for themselves what the good news of Jesus is all about. Together we can make a difference as we share and serve in our communities and play our part in seeing Jesus once again become the talk of Scotland.’ In the morning delegates were inspired as they heard news and updates from around the country. This included the launch of a new DVD resource to promote Alpha within the Church of Scotland. Several guests whose lives have been transformed on Alpha were also interviewed. After Nicky Gumbel’s vision talk, Kenny Borthwick shared and lead a time of ministry. To accomodate the large number of
delegates, three other church venues were used for the afternoon seminar tracks. Independent Evangelical Church, Bellevue Chapel, hosted ‘Developing a 24-7 Prayer’ with Pete Greig. King’s Church Edinburgh was the venue for ‘Leading Missional Churches’. Rector of St Paul’s and St George’s, Dave Richards, hosted a question and answer session with Nicky Gumbel. This was followed by Kirkintilloch Baptist Senior Pastor Dave Gordon speaking. The ‘Family Life’ track was located at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral and was hosted by Nicky and Sila Lee. There was also a ‘Reaching our commmunities through Alpha’ seminar at P’s & G’s with various speakers including St Mungo’s Associate Minister Richard MacArthur and Liberton Kirk Minister John Young. Luke Hellebronth of HTB and Worship Central led inspiring and sensitive times of worship throughout the day. Senior pastor of Morningside Baptist Church in Edinburgh, Karl Martin gave the closing address of the afternoon. He said, ‘I thought it was awesome. An awesome day. I loved Nicky Gumbel’s talk… It’s amazing to see such weird and wonderful group of people all who love Jesus and who have one aim to see this nation changed.’ He went on to say, ‘I thought it was great to see the humility of people who have walked with Jesus for years just speaking about their love for God.’ Dave Richards said ‘I really enjoyed hearing Nicky Gumbel’s passion for the church, and him saying that you know that the tide can turn, and is turning and we can do something about it with God’s help. He
wants us to do it, so lets just go and do it.’ As part of the event there was also an evening worship and prayer celebration. Around 450 people joined together to dedicate a year of prayer for Scotland. Pete Greig, founder of the 24-7 prayer movement, and Alpha Prayer Director, spoke on the ‘Big If ’ from 2 Chronicles 7:14. One delegate Ishbel Mackinnon from Fordyce Parish Church, on North East Coast commented, ‘We so enjoyed the day. Leaving the house at 5.15 am was a bit of a challenge but well worth it. The worship was so moving, the talks inspirational and the prayer brought me close to tears. Saturday was just what we needed and has rekindled our flagging flames with enthusiasm, commitment and an even greater desire to help others get to know Jesus. Thank you, thank you, thank you.’ Paul Davie said, ‘I believe we could see at least 50 of our 500 Alpha churches respond to the ‘Big If ’ prayer initiative by signing up to have 24/7 prayer in the coming year. I think the day provoked a real practical response on many fronts. We would love to see another 50 churches offering Alpha training in their area this autumn. For others this may mean going further afield by doing Global Alpha Training (GAT). Maybe you have been stirred by social transformation with Caring for Ex-Offenders. There are so many exciting possibilities: Planning a Valentines Marriage Course party for next year or taking a step of faith and trying Alpha in a new context, like a coffee shop, tea-time Alpha, or maybe Alpha with youth, students or seniors.’
ALPHA NEWS SCOTLAND
MARCH 2010 - JUNE 2010
Jamie Farr ell
Nicky addresses the crowd in main auditorium
Nicky & Sila Lee
Delegates enjoying the day
Alpha Scotland’s Helen Lawson & Kieran Dunne
What Nicky Gumbel said NICKY GUMBEL gave the keynote talk entitled ‘Rapid mobilisation’ based on Matthew 9:35-38. Unpacking this he made the points ‘The need is urgent’, ‘The motive is love’, ‘The trigger is prayer’, and ‘The potential is vast’. This is an extract from his talk... ‘Love is what drives us. Can you imagine what it must be like to be in prison? We have all experienced guilt. Guilt is a horrible feeling. Can you imagine going into prison feeling you have left everyone down? Can you imagine what it is like to come out of prison with nothing? Nowhere to live. No friends. That is why we do what we do with our Caring for Ex-Offenders programme, it is compassion that drives the churches all over Scotland to be churches that care. It’s compassion that drives us to love people. Jesus said, ‘I haven’t come to condemn you, I have come to set you free!’ About 6 months a go I was hear-
ing testimonies of people who have come to faith on Alpha and one of the women stood up and said ‘I was a prostitute, I was a drug addict, a drug dealer and my life was in such a mess, I was so depressed that I couldn’t even get out of my bed,’ She said she lay in bed surrounded by cups of urine because she couldn’t even be bothered to get up to go to the loo but she had to go out to walk her dog. In
the park someone invited her to Alpha and she decided to come. She sat at the back and she didn’t think anyone would accept her but she was absolutely welcomed with open arms, they just loved her. She heard that if she had been the only person in the world, Jesus would have died for her and she said it just broke her. It broke open all the hardness in her heart and the Spirit of God came in and filled her. She said that Jesus had changed her life and now the past ‘was just a memory of a memory’. She was radiant, full of love, full of the Holy Spirit and compassion This compassion which Jesus had is what you have because it is what the Holy Spirit gives to every single Christian. The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit and then He gives us love and compassion for other people that drives us out to make a difference in the world and that’s all you need!’ To watch Nicky’s talk on video go to: www.thetalkofscotland/visionday
Members of the P’s & G’s team
Pictures by Steve Lindridge and Rebecca Lee (www.idealimages.co.uk) and Nicola Ogston
MARCH 2010 - JUNE 2010
ALPHA NEWS SCOTLAND
Skater Boy’s life does 180
amie Farrell 24 grew up in Paisley on the outskirts of Glasgow. He lived a happy life until a number of traumatic experiences left him lonely and searching for something more in his life. This is his story. ‘I was brought up with very caring, loving parents. Before I was born I had 2 brothers and, tragically, both of them died suddenly. Their deaths tore my parents apart and they both became alcoholics. Throughout my childhood my parents battled with drinking and smoking. Social work came a few times but there was never any violence or abuse, there was always love and care. They both worked hard and words can’t describe the things they would do for people.
After a nightmare run of family tragedies, Paisley man Jamie Farrell sought help and his life took an unexpected turn.
“Dad moved into his own place when I was about 13. My brother, Stephen, died in car accident, my dad was driving. I don’t think Dad ever forgave himself and Mum struggled to forgive him too. It was a terrible ordeal but nobody ever really spoke about it. I guess that caused friction between them. ‘Mum was very ill and so after I left school, went to college for 2 years and worked for a while, I left everything to take care of her. I was my mum’s carer for about 4 years and that was my life. We got on with things and life was happy for us. ‘Things were fine until a Sunday in April 2008. I hadn’t seen my Dad for a week and that was how I knew that something was up because he came every day to bring us the paper, if we didn’t see him for a while we knew he was drinking.
I asked Mum where Dad was and she was like ‘I don’t know, I haven’t seen him for a week’ so I decided I would go to see him. I got there and knocked and went in, as I always did, but the first thing I noticed was that the house was a complete riot, everything was everywhere, he had a cockatiel and it was going off its nut. I looked around but at first I couldn’t find Dad. The last thing I noticed was the smell. It was a smell you can’t really describe to anyone, it was horrible. I looked in the bathroom and there he was. He had fallen and hit his head. He was really cold but it was freezing in his house so I went to get his house coat. It wasn’t until I came back that I realised he had died. The first thing that entered my head was ‘how am I going to tell Mum?’, Mum was really ill anyway and I didn’t
know what she would do. I ran downstairs and told the warden, the police and ambulance came and confirmed that Dad was gone. I will never forget Mum’s face when I told her, she just went into panic and shock. She was also really worried about me because my dad was my rock, you know? For the next 6 days I just slept in my room, I didn’t speak, I didn’t go out and I cried every day. Then the following Sunday, I came downstairs to find that my Mum was gone too. It was one of those things where you think it’s just a nightmare, it’s not real. I found both my parents dead within a week of each other. They were so young, Mum was only 55 and Dad, 63. When they passed away the first thing that went through my head was panic, ‘how am I going to cope? What am I going to do? What’s
going to happen to my life? Am I going to die tomorrow?’ ‘Mum’s funeral was first. It was busy because she was so popular. We had to wait for Dad’s because they had to do toxicology which takes 8-10 weeks. It turned out that the official cause of death was acute alcoholic intoxication which was an alcohol induced kind of heart attack. ‘The Monday after Mum’s funeral I had to go and sign the documentation for the house into my name and out of nowhere I started crying at the housing association office. I was struggling financially and I had no idea how to go shopping to get food, cook or clean, it was all new to me, the lovely woman there told me about an organisation called CAP, Christians Against Poverty, and said they could help.
Bear Grylls makes a ‘Deep Impact’ in Aviemore OVER 300 youth workers attended the annual ‘Deep Impact’ conference in Aviemore in January. This year Alpha Scotland had a special Bear Grylls stand which attracted most of thedelegates. With the lure of winning Bear’s book ‘Born Survivor’ many came to chat about Alpha and to see how they can use the course to impact their communities. ‘We wanted to make it fun for delegates to find out about Alpha. So we set up a ‘Pin the viper on Bear’s nose’ game, using a
poster, a self adhesive snake and a blindfold. Winners got a free copy of the Bear Alpha DVD, in fact everyone got a copy anyway!’ said Alpha Scotland’s Helen Lawson. A new DVD & download resource is available of Bear being interviewed by Nicky Gumbel at the launch of HTB’s Alpha course. The edited interview is ideal to show at an Alpha launch party, as is the Alpha advert Bear also recently filmed. ‘He appeals to the more adventurous young people,’ said Helen, ‘They are fascinated by
Bear’s antics and how his faith impacts his life. Lots of people think he is cool. This resource has proved to be a big success. Many of the youth workers took away copies of the Bear advert and interview DVD. Deep Impact is a fantastic time where people who do similar jobs can get together, share ideas, and encourage one another .’ The Bear advertisement and can be viewed on youtube.com and downloads are on alphafriends.org
TV Adventurer Bear Grylls
ALPHA NEWS SCOTLAND
MARCH 2010 - JUNE 2010
Jamie outside his place of work in Paisley
‘That Wednesday I met with John, the Centre Manager and Financial Adviser for CAP in Paisley. John took me shopping and bought me £30 worth of food, it was amazing. Somebody I had never met opened up his arms and was concerned about me, he had real deep love for me. John helps me manage my money; he makes sure that I am financially and mentally secure. It’s made a huge difference to me. I also found that at CAP they want you to get to know God as well. They never forced it on me, they just cared and loved me. ‘John told me that he was running an Alpha Course at his church, Christian Growth Centre in Paisley, and asked if I wanted to go. I didn’t believe in God and I’d never heard of the Alpha course apart from seeing it on the side of a bus, it said ‘Alpha course – Who is God?’ and I remember thinking ‘Who cares? Who is interested?’. I had grown up around church and I had been an altar boy but had had no interest since I was a child. After my parents passed away I thought ‘I wonder if there is a God?’, it was a feeling in my heart, a kind of wanting for something. I thought it was just because I was lonely. John said the
were driving home and talking and I felt this overwhelming urge to tell him that I believed, I don’t know where it came from because I’d never felt that before but I just felt that I needed to tell him. We were driving along and I was really quiet and nervous, I just said ‘John, I believe’ and he slammed on the brakes, pulled over and said ‘excuse me?’ and I said ‘I believe’. He put his hand on my shoulder and said how it warmed his heart to hear that I believed and he was so glad I had found God. I still feel nowhere near close enough to God but it’s a constant thing that I am enjoying every day. I now pray every day and I even sing in church! I am glad that I am in His kingdom, I’m so glad that He took me from where I was and said ‘come on’ and took me to where I am now. I am so glad that he’s in my life. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t done that Alpha course. I can think back to times in my life that seemed like coincidences and now I realise that it can’t always be coincidence, God must be in there somewhere turning the cogs because He knows your heart better than you know it and He’s a friend that’ll never leave you no matter what happens.
I found both my parents dead within a week of each other course was just a wee group of people getting together to watch a DVD, have some food, have some talk and get to know a bit about the Bible. I was struggling for food and I thought this was an easy way to get food every Monday night so I went along to get some grub! ‘The first night was a bit scary, I didn’t have a clue what was going on. I met some nice people but I thought ‘I’m never going back there again, forget that’, but John kept asking if I was coming again so I went back. The more I went the more I realised that it was actually helping me feel better about myself. Nicky told stories about people who had really hard lives and they had found God. I couldn’t understand how a guy who died ‘10 million years ago’ could care about me but the stories really hooked me, Nicky Gumbel was talking about real events, not like what I heard in school like 3 million years ago 3 people went up a hill and talked to a stone, these stories were real. At school you’re told what to believe but Alpha was different, it was easier to understand. I had taken it for granted that God didn’t exist but if there were all these people sitting in a room willing to believe in something that they’ve never seen or experienced, why can’t that happen to me? I got right into it, I read the Bible and every week I went I felt a wee bit better about it all. I thought even if at the end it meant nothing, at least I had tried. I asked a lot of questions and people were never too busy to give me good answers. “I’ll never forget when I came to faith. John would always take me home every Monday night and we would talk in the car. On the second to last week we
It’s a brilliant feeling. The journey I’ve been on, it’s been unreal and it’s still ongoing. I’m telling my story today and I never thought that would happen! ‘After Alpha I never missed church, if I did hit it I hated it and couldn’t wait to get back. It made me feel good. I also got the opportunity to go to CLAN with John. CAP paid for everything for me and I helped on their stand there. I didn’t know what to expect and I was really nervous but I met some amazing people. ‘I’m now involved in a youth project, teaching kids how to use the skate park one day a week. Also I work in a youth project called ‘The Caring Project’ or ‘Father’s Club’. It’s a programme open 6 days a week, that cares for kids in the community who are referred to us by social workers because they have family problems. It’s not just a programme but they really care, if you’re late they ask why, if you don’t go they call your family, if the family won’t let you go they ask why not, they do reports on every kid and they talk to the kids one-to-one every day. I used to go there when I was a kid but I had no idea that two of the helpers were also Christians. It was only recently that I found out that they were praying for me. The people who work there really shaped me into who I am today, got me off the streets and helped get me into college. I believe God has done all this. I honestly believe the two things I am doing are the things God wants me to do. “People have noticed how God has changed me. The way I act and talk, I am different. I’ve have a link with people who are Christians. It’s like I have a new family in the church, a new family in God.”
Rev Dave Richards is Rector of St Paul’s & St George’s Church, Edinburgh and recently hosted the ‘sellout’ Alpha Vision Day 2010
• Dave what exactly is a rector? It is the title given to ‘minister’, ‘senior pastor’ or ‘ordained leader’ in the Episcopal Church. I am called lots of other things too! • How long have you been one and how did you get into it? I came to Scotland in 1996 as the Associate Rector and swapped jobs with my boss in 2000. I used to be a Baptist and have worked for UCCF and as an evangelist too. I love living and working in Scotland – and at P’s and G’s. • P’s and G’s have completed an amazing refurbishment. What was the vision behind it? We were full at our two main services so we had to address the issue. The three goals were to increase the capacity (now 750), make the building more accessible (hence a big glass foyer outside) and to have a building that reflected our values and vision as a church. It has been quite a journey – it cost £6.9 million but the congregation have been amazing. So far they have given over £6.1 million which is remarkable. At the same time our regular giving has increased in the last 12 months by 50%. We have a huge responsibility to see the building used to glorify God – and to see the church continue to grow in numbers and passion for Jesus. We also wanted to serve the wider church in Scotland – hence hosting the Alpha day and the Willow Creek GLS. • You have been fantastic hosts to the Alpha Scotland Vision Day. How and when did you get involved in Alpha? I led my first Alpha course in 1994 in England. We held it in a millionaire’s attic with 60 people (it was a big attic!!) Over the last 16 years it has been amazing to see it used in different contexts and to see it consistently help people come to faith for the first time, and come back to Christ. It is not rocket science – meal, talk, groups – but you can’t deny it is anointed by God. The key thing for me has always been the relationships people make on Alpha – on the team and on the course. • Why do you stay involved in Alpha? Because it is effective! It is easy to invite people to – low cringe and with a national advertising campaign as a backdrop. It is in most people’s consciousness – reading John O’Farrell’s humorous history of Britain, he refers to Thomas a Beckett picking up an Alpha leaflet prior to his murder in Canterbury Cathedral! If comedians are making jokes about it, you know it is in the mainstream of British culture – for good or bad! • Who was your craziest guest on Alpha? This year we are running two courses,
Over 16 years there have been a few – from MP’s, lawyers, and accountants to a table of people from a mental health hospital who devoured most of the wine and then heckled during the talk!
• Have you experience of any of the other Alpha wider ministries? We run the Marriage and Marriage Preparation Courses too. I teach on the Preparation Course and it is one of the most surreal (and most rewarding) experiences. The couples are head over heels in love – and just gaze at each other for 5 weeks! But one woman said the most amazing thing to me – ‘Before this course I thought you were just lucky if you stayed married. All my female relatives are divorced and I thought I would be too. You have given me tools to stay married. Thank you!’ It is so humbling to hear stories like that. As a church we also support Worship Central and are keen to help other churches in Scotland with their worship. • What encourages you in the wider church scene in Scotland just now? Different churches – from different streams – seem to be saying the same thing. We have had enough – enough of decay and decline. We want to see God renew His church – and effect the nation. Scotland is tired of hearing that God is against things – and we need to show that God loves people – and is for them! We may disagree about methodology and ecclesiology – but we have the same goal – to help people see who Jesus is and the difference He can make – to individual lives and to society in general. • If you could pass on one pearl of wisdom to other ministers what would it be? Keep the main thing the main thing! We exist to tell other people about Jesus. Church members will try and get other agendas into the picture - and organize your time – and the church’s activities – to revolve around those agendas. Your job is to lead – not to pander; to envision – not to capitulate for an easier life; to engage in mission – NOT to keep people happy. More of the same will mean more of the same – we need to do church differently if we are to arrest the decline.
Random Factfile... Favourite: Song – ‘Don’t stop believing’ by the cast from Glee! or ‘Where the streets have no name’ (U2) Hymn – ‘O Sacred head, sore wounded’ Book – Just now, ‘Restoring the Soul of Your Leadership’ – Ruth Haley Barton. Very helpful. TV Show – ‘The West Wing’ A brilliant programme Curry – ‘Chicken Korma’ – I am a curry wimp, but love Birmingham Baltis! Bible verse – Philippians 3 v.10-11 – To know Christ Random DR fact....I have three nipples!
‘Scotland Prayer 2010’ launched at Vision Day ALPHA CHURCHES were at the heart of a contingent of local churches, mission and prayer organisations, as the ‘Big If ’ Year of Prayer for Scotland was launched officially at the Vision Day prayer celebration. Pete Greig, pioneer of the 24-7 global prayer movement, stood with leaders from organisations and denominations to affirm what was developing in Scotland. He encouraged the 450 who attended the evening, ‘What we are doing today is happening not just here but all over the world. God is calling his people back to intimacy in prayer, so we can see a new wave of mission, justice and social transformation’. The ‘Big If ’ movement was formed by a partnership between Alpha Scotland, EA, Care and Prayer for Scotland, inspired by a key business leader, senior pastors and ministers. The year of prayer was developed from two ‘Big If ’ prayer days in 2009, which brought together over 70 key leaders. Prayer for Scotland Director, Jean Black, said ‘We picked the “Big If ” title from 2 Chronicles 7:14 and it has quickly become the recognised banner of this growing prayer movement in Scotland.
God is calling his people back to intimacy We are now working together to make it “when my people pray” rather than “if ”’. Although the year started officially on Feb 6, the prayer year started organically on January 1, from a spontaneously challenge and response from two Alpha church leaders. Pastor Michael Rollo, Larbert Pentecost Church, one of the first to sign up his church for a week of prayer, said, ‘As leaders we can talk forever about what we should be doing but I felt it right to ask “what will we actually do from today’s gathering?” Whiteinch minister Alan McWilliam, Glasgow took up the challenge by offering to take a week of 24-7 prayer from Jan 1. This was followed up by Larbert Pentecostal, “Firestarters” Youth and now other churches and groups are joining in. Alpha Resource Church leader and Senior Pastor at MBC Edinburgh, Karl Martin said ‘I am tremendously challenged by what’s happening and we have called our church to season of 40 days of prayer from Feb 9 till Easter – but we are taking a break each Sunday.’ Alpha churches were encouraged by Alpha Scotland Director Paul Davie to join in however they could, ‘We’d love to see 50 Alpha churches taking a week of 24-7 prayer this year, but more important is just to pray, whether it’s an hour, a day, a week or a month!’ Other events are planned including a national Day of Prayer on May 23 and the 12 noon ‘Lord’s Prayer’ initiative.
MARCH 2010 - JUNE 2010
ALPHA NEWS SCOTLAND
Cathy makes a ‘World of Difference’ Competition winner helps Ex-Offender project CATHY SCOTT, an Alpha Advisor from Callander, Stirlingshire was recently announced as one of the winners of the Vodafone World Of Difference competition. Vodafone have been funding her to work for two months for Alpha Scotland on a Caring For Ex-Offenders Project (CFEO). Cathy is an elder at Callander Kirk, and has also been assisting with developing
The aim is to break the cycle of crime Alpha Scotland connections with the Church of Scotland during this period. Over 1100 applicants applied for the Vodafone competition which was launched in the UK this year. The new programme was created to empower people to make a difference by putting something back into their communities. 132,000 people have been following the progress of the winners on the World Of Difference Facebook group. So Cathy has been busy blogging each day letting people know about CFEO and Alpha. Caring for Ex-Offenders has been running since 1997 with a vision to help exprisoners build a new life upon release. It grew out of the Alpha for Prisons ministry. Many men and women come to faith in Jesus while they are in prison, and then
Cathy and the Alpha team wish to be linked with a church when they leave. In the UK, 3 out of 4 prisoners between the ages of 18 and 25 re-offend and are jailed again within two years. So one aim of CFEO is to break the cycle of crime, linking ex-offenders with supportive churches. The church can support them by helping with basic needs. CFEO works alongside prison chaplains, churches, Christian organisations and statutory and public bodies. It is recognised as a key service provider of resettlement services. The CFEO Office also trains and
supports churches nationally and internationally to be involved in this work, and also to train and equip those churches to care for ex-prisoners. CFEO works with ex-offenders of all categories of prison, trying to work out strategies to help them with the readjustment to life in the community. Cathy has been researching what is happening on the ground with CFEO and prison minsitry in Scotland. As well as networking, she has also had opportunities to visit several prisons and prisoner support groups. The visits have mainly been in Scotland but also with CFEO team in London. ‘It has been such an amazing privilege to be chosen by Vodafone and to be working with Alpha Scotland on the Caring for Ex-Offender’s program’ said Cathy, ‘I have been meeting and talking with people who have such a passion to see the Gospel offered to any prisoner that would like to explore the meaning of life. Hearing stories of people’s lives being turned around in prison and ex - offender’s re- building their lives and living as part of the community again has been fantastic. I have also felt the pain and frustration of those who would love to do more, either by offering Prison Alpha or being part of a CFEO linked church that supports men and women at a very vulnerable time when the temptation to go back to old ways is very high. I think every inmate should have the opportunity to hear the gospel in prison if he or she wishes. I also think every ex- offender (of any faith or no faith) should have the opportunity to be linked to a CFEO trained Church on their release from prison if they so wish. There is a whole wealth of work being done by lots of Christian Ministries including Alpha but there is so much more to do. I feel we are just scratching the surface’ Alpha Scotland Director Paul Davie said, ‘It has been such a bonus for us to have Cathy working on this exciting project. Without the funding from Vodafone, and Cathy being willing to give her time, It wouldn’t have been possible to make the project a reality. The contacts made and information that we have gathered will enable us to strategically move CFEO forward in partnership with local Churches and Christian ministries. It has been a fantastic development and a boost for this great work..’ One ex-offender said of the aftercare programme, ‘The church are like a family to me - they are there when I need them. They have provided me with care and practical support. I am
Cathy holding CFEO poster used in prisons
so grateful to God for all that they do.’ Another said, ‘I became a Christian in prison. When I was released the church helped sort out some of my practical needs. They helped me to find accommodation and they have also helped me find a good home group. Alpha helped me realise that there is a God after all!’ CFEO and Alpha for prisons are often closely connected. The Alpha course has been running in prisons since 1995, and is now being used in most of the prisons in the UK and increasingly around the world.
It has been a boost for this great work The course is run by the chaplaincy team, or with their approval, volunteers, who may be part of Prison Fellowship or perhaps a local church team. The course is the same as the Alpha course used by churches, the same DVDs or talks, guest manuals and small group structures. Time is often limited within the prisons, so the talks tend to be shorter. Another difference is that prisoners can rarely share a meal together, although drinks and cakes or biscuits are allowed. A weekend together is also difficult so Alpha days are encouraged. ‘I have seen inmates changed by the power of God and the only thing that can and has changed them is the Lord.’ John, an ex-offender said, ‘The difference is the power of love that surrounds the Alpha course, something many men have never experienced and don’t know how to handle. Love goes against everything they have fought against. I have witnessed inmates surrender to this love.’ Rev Bill Birdwood, a prison Chaplian said, ‘The prisoners themselves like being part of Alpha. We tell them all sorts of people around the world are doing the course and it gives them a sense of belonging, a sense that they are part of something universal. Alpha is so strong because it isn’t just experimental. There’s a temptation for many prisoners who become Christians to simply bask in God’s forgiveness and not to look forward and face reality. Alpha works because it also roots them in to the word.’ If you are interested in Alpha in prisons go to alphafriends.org/prisons and for CFEO caringforexoffenders.org or get in touch with Alpha Scotland.
ALPHA NEWS SCOTLAND
MARCH 2010 - JUNE 2010
Thousand tongues to sing
Alpha in the Parish DVD for the ‘Kirk’ A NEW DVD resource ‘The Alpha Course in the Church Of Scotland’ was launched at the recent Alpha Scotland Vision Day. The DVD features how Alpha has been running in a parish context with comments from ministers, course hosts and guests. It is hoped that the 5 minute DVD will be an encouragement to existing Alpha churches as well as informing and inspiring others into mission. Alpha Scotland board member Rev Hugh Wallace of Newhills Parish in Aberdeen and several others who appear on the DVD were present at the launch in Edinburgh.
Worship Central inspires 1000 in Dunfermline OVER 1000 worshippers from across Scotland packed into The Vine Church, Dunfermline for the latest in a series of Worship Central events.
Led by Tim Hughes & Al Gordon Worship Central is a school of worship from Alpha International. The Dunfermline evening included intimate worship sets led by Ben Cantelon, Nikki Fletcher, Al Gordon and Tim Hughes and also included a rapper. As well as worship there was inspirational teaching given by the team. Vine Worship Leader and organiser Ny Pybus commented,
It was packed out with all ages ‘As for the event itself we were sold out two nights beforehand. The main hall in the Vine was packed out with worshippers of all ages. They went from my own 3 year old daughter to the oldest being nearly 70. The event was a real expression of God’s people coming together to worship him in freedom and
abandonment with fantastic and intimate worship.’ The vision for Worship Central is to encounter God, equip the worshipper and empower the local church. Since launching in 2006, tens of thousands of people have attended training events on
Worshippers in Dunfermline three continents, and hundreds of thousands have visited this website for practical resources. Tim Hughes writes, ‘There’s a real need to train worship leaders spiritually, practically and with good leadership skills. Our passion is to see the worship life of the local church around the world explode.’ ‘Tim and Al also hosted a packed seminar room full of Worship Team Leaders
from across Scotland and representing the wide spread of denominations that Worship Central is influencing in this nation at this key time.’ In Scotland there are three Worship Central ‘Champions’, Lesley Penny (St Mungo’s Church Balerno),
Nigel Pybus (The Vine Church Dunfermline) and Fiona Poulson (St Paul’s and St George’s Edinburgh). ‘I’m certainly aware of the way in which Worship Central fills a very real need in an otherwise little-resourced nation when it comes to worship training,’ said Fiona Poulson, who is Worship Director for St Paul’s and St George’s. ‘The past two Worship
Central Scotland events have been hugely encouraging. Networks are being built that I’m sure God will use to help the church in this needy nation to understand more of his love for us. As we are changed in his
Networks are being built presence, as our hearts become increasingly aligned with his, we will find our worship spilling out of our church doors into lives of love that increasingly impact our communities, and consequently more and more people will come to know and worship this amazing God.’ Worship Central in Scotland is beginning to take off in a number of exciting ways. As well as worship days and evenings led by the Worship Central team there have also been gatherings to equip church Worship Pastors. Tim Hughes, Al Gordon have taught on subjects relating specifically to worship team leaders, and also lead ministry & prayer times. The Scottish Worship Central Day is at St Paul’s and St George’s Curch in Edinburgh on Saturday November 13th.
Rev Peter Neilson being interviewed The DVD content includes one parish’s journey - Cathcart Trinity in Glasgow. The church have run Alpha over several years, seeing many lives transformed. Footage shows a typical course at the church. The film includes interviews with Alpha hosts, course leaders and guests Alpha Scotland has been working closely with a number of Church of Scotland ministers to produce the product including missions consultant Rev Peter Neilson. As well as appearing on the main film, the DVD also contains an extended interview with Peter covering questions around Alpha, mission, and the Church. The DVD is ideal for showing to ministers. It is also highly recommended viewing for congregations, presbyteries and kirk sessions. Copies are available from the Alpha Scotland office.
THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND MINISTERS & KEY LEADERS DAY “Living Faith and Sharing Faith Today”
Special guest speaker - Rev Dr Graham Tomlin
Author of “The Provocative Church” & “Spiritual Fitness” Dean St Miletus & Principal St Paul’s Theological Centre A day to take a fresh look at church, mission, discipleship and Alpha in the local parish
Thursday 22 April | 10am - 4pm Renfield St Stephen’s Church Bath Street | Glasgow FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO BOOK: www.alphascotland.org
The Alpha Course in the Church of Scotland - DVD OUT NOW Over two hundred parishes currently run the Alpha course from the Highlands to the Borders. This DVD gives a flavour of how Alpha is being used to help parishes with their missionary journey. For your free copy contact Alpha Scotland on 0141 332 0051 or email email@example.com
MARCH 2010 - JUNE 2010
It happened to a vet... ‘I had gone from starting university as a non-Christian thinking, ‘how can God be relevant?’ to thinking, ‘how could God be more relevant?’
Marie at her workplace with a little furry friend
wenty-three year old vet Marie, from Anniesland wanted to spend her life working with animals. What she didn’t know was that in moving from Hampshire to Glasgow to study, she would also meet the people who would lead her to God. This is her story. ‘I grew up in a lovely little village called Medstead with my parents and my sister. I had some experience of church as Mum would take us along. They would read from the Bible and I had no idea what they were talking about, I just didn’t understand how any of this was relevant to me. There was a Sunday School which was a good chance to see friends but I can’t say that I actually learned anything. As soon as we were old enough, when I was about 10, my sister and I stopped going and Mum stopped as well. We had some Christian input at school but nothing much - the minister would come in and chat with us about Christian things but none of this really had any impact on me. I thought it was good that my grandparents went to church because it meant they had community around them. I just thought it was important to them because they were older but I didn’t believe in God. I probably would have called myself an atheist but I think now that was mainly just because I had an ignorance of what it meant to be a Christian as opposed to strongly held convictions against God. ‘Life plodded on. I worked hard at school and college because I had been told that I wasn’t clever enough to be a vet and I was determined to prove that wrong! It was alright being a teenager, I can’t say that I loved school but it was fine. ‘I started Vet School in Glasgow in 2001. It was my first time living away from home. On arrival in Glasgow my first impression was that it was rainy and grey! We drove into the city from the countryside and my parents went deathly quiet, it was very different from picturesque English setting that we were used to. I was really far away from home and on my own and fear set in but I was ready for a bit of a change, I could start again and be whoever I wanted to be. I was surrounded by lots of amazing people and I had automatic friends. I decided that Glasgow could be good. ‘Vet School was a bit of a shock to the system, there was a massive volume of information to learn and we had to sit between four and eight exams every term, it was quite pressurised and stressful. During term I studied, and in the holidays I did
ALPHA NEWS SCOTLAND
placements. There was a high drop out rate and many students had to repeat years because the course was so hard, 150 student started in my year and only 98 graduated. Despite the hard work, I really enjoyed it and the small numbers on the course meant that I got to know everyone through doing practical work and classes together. ‘Living in halls, my next door neighbour was a Christian, as was the girl opposite and the girl down the hall! I had never come across Christians in my life that were young and normal but had a faith. I wasn’t very secure because I was bullied a bit at school and I was scarred from that so I was never really sure how I fitted in. These Christian girls were really secure in who they were. They would go to church on a Sunday and have an amazing time which I thought was weird. They chatted about God a lot, like He was their friend. They would talk about Him speaking to them. They were my friends, I trusted them and knew they weren’t weird. I remember my friend Jo saying she had been praying about a flat and she felt God saying that the street they would live on had something to do with royalty, they ended up living on Princess Street. I asked loads of questions all the time, I was just intrigued by their life. They were different, they didn’t speak badly about people, they were always there for me and they were really generous, open and genuine. I just did life with Christians. ‘My friends Jo and Katie lived together and they invited me round to stay for a weekend. They both went to the same church and they
I started crying for no reason...I had no idea why asked me if I wanted to go along with them, I agreed because I wanted to see what it was like. I had never been to a church where they had drums and no organ, there was a lot of younger people and I actually understood the sermon and it sounded relevant. During worship I started crying for absolutely no reason, I had no idea why. My friends chatted to me and told me it was because God was there and I was surprisingly not freaked out about it. It was good, I felt really peaceful. They advertised that there was an Alpha course starting in 2 weeks and Katie asked if I wanted to go. I had no idea
what an Alpha course was but I think I had seen the Alpha symbol before somewhere. I went along, petrified! Katie came with me, I wouldn’t have gone on my own but I knew that Katie wouldn’t leave me and she never put on any pressure. That first night everyone was lovely, people chatted really easily, we had the first talk and I thought that was relatively painless! I enjoyed the evening and decided to do the course. I went back every week, enjoying learning about what my friends believed, but I didn’t go on the day away, partly because I had exams coming up but partly because, at that point, I was a bit freaked out by the Holy Spirit stuff. I
Jesus has turned my world upside down didn’t say much but I listened and took it all in. I started thinking this all sounded pretty plausible, it all sounded good and made sense. I started going to church with Katie during the course and I got to know more people. Some of my other Christian friends who went to different churches would come along too. ‘Becoming a Christian was a very gradual process, like osmosis, but on the night where we looked at healing, people were being prayed for and I realised that I had to go home and tell my family that I was a Christian, I burst into tears and thought ‘I can’t do it’. Peter, the course leader, and Katie were really cool and they prayed for me. I realised I had gone from starting university as a non-Christian, thinking ‘how can God be relevant?’ to thinking ‘how could God be more relevant?’ I remember texting one of my friends who went to another church and saying, ‘Richard, I think I’m a Christian’. ‘I was a helper on the next Alpha course because I loved it. I enjoyed spending time with cool people and seeing God change lives. I have seen people start off totally against religion and now they are always at church. I invited my flat mate to come along to that course and she became a Christian. Then we were both helpers on the next course and each brought another friend along. We changed completely on Alpha. We didn’t get stressed anymore and people noticed. We emailed the whole Vet School to invite them to the Alpha Christmas party and there were seven non-Christian vets there at one point!
‘I graduated in 2008 and decided to do a discipleship year with the church - Glasgow West End Vineyard. I hadn’t been able to do much in church while I was at Vet School and I wanted to give something back. Through this I ended up leading an Alpha course. One of the guys doing the discipleship year, Des, met some boys who were in a gang in Glasgow and invited them to do this Alpha course. I am pretty sure they just came for the food but that was fine because they got to hear about Jesus too. Every week Des picked them up and brought them along. One week Des couldn’t collect them and they walked all the way there which was a big deal because they had to pass through other gangs’ territory. Their lives were changed and one of them in particular was totally transformed by God. ‘It was so good to be able to get more involved in the church as well as building up my confidence. I was able to spend time listening to God and when He asked me to do something to be brave enough to do it. I had a part time job in a sandwich shop at Central Station during that year and felt God tell me to wait before applying for jobs. A few weeks later I got a phone call from a vet practice locally asking me to do some locum work on Saturdays. I really wanted to go to a Soul Survivor event called ‘Momentum’ but I couldn’t get the time off work. When I was praying about it I felt God say it was time to leave my job in the sandwich shop. A few weeks later I got a call from another vet practise in Ayrshire asking if I wanted a part time job, I have no idea how they got my name or number but I was very grateful. It is perfect for me because it means I have time to help my friend Katie, who did Alpha with me, as she now has baby twins! ‘Originally I wanted to be a farm vet, and when I did placements in Devon and Cornwall I really enjoyed it. But I know that God wants me to stay in Glasgow, so I am happy working now as a small animal vet. I just know he wants me to be here. ‘Jesus has turned my world upside down in a good way but quite a scary way. He has made me so much more secure in who I am and less scared to be alone because I know He is there all the time. I like that I am not in sole responsibility for my life, I can ask God what to do and He will tell me, that’s really good.’