Sunday, 22 October 2017

Wonderful People


Anglican Diocese of Athabasca Synod - Peace River Alberta 

Friday Oct 13 I drove 5 hours to Peace River to make a presentation at the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Athabasca. Bishop Fraser Lawton would love to see as many of his parishes as possible running Alphas. Many of the delegates are actually familiar with Alpha, although, having run it often in the moderately distant past, may not be so familiar with all of our new materials.

So Friday evening's dinner was turned into a model Alpha supper, including jokes and the showing of the invitational first video of the relatively recent Alpha Film Series. This version is hosted by Toby and Gemma, a hip young pair of presenters, and targeted at the Millennial generation, the 18 - 35-year-olds. I always say that baby boomers like it too because they too like to pretend they can still be young and hip.

Between Friday evening and Saturday morning I met many great people and found quite a bit of enthusiasm for Alpha. If all comes together, we may plan a coaching and training day for Alpha somewhere at a reasonably convenient location within the Diocese. When I say reasonably convenient, it's all relative. The Diocese stretches from Fort McMurray in the northeast down around Lesser Slave Lake, and back up to Peace River and Beaverlodge (a half-hour west of Grande Prairie). Driving time from one end of the Diocese, according to Google Maps is about 8 1/2 hours, so, as I say, convenience is relative.

I drove back home Saturday afternoon, in preparation to catch a plane to Alpha's staff retreat at Loon Lake outside of Vancouver in British Columbia.

I'll post a bit on that as well, but all in all, a fairly busy couple of days.

Blessings,

John

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

One Body, Miles Apart

 
I have a super busy day today, so I'll make this a very brief post.
 
Each morning, as I have mentioned before, I open up the report of all Alphas running in Alberta this year (2017). The number keep climbing, so I hesitate to give it as a final total, but as of today it takes up 543 lines in my spreadsheet.
 
Two of the newly registered Alphas this morning are from completely opposite ends of the Province - one in High Level and one in Medicine Hat. Google Maps shows these to be a twelve and a half hour drive apart.
 
Same Province, same faith, same God, same Lord Jesus Christ, same Spirit. Just sayin'
 
Blessings,
 
John

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Billy Graham Evangelism Congress

No Sooner did I return from my Calgary junket (Sunday afternoon) than Eva and I started a three-day Evangelism Congress beginning Sunday evening at the Fantasyland Hotel at West Edmonton Mall. One of the featured speakers noted the irony of hosting an event aimed at bringing a Christian revival to our nation in a facility named, "Fantasyland." We who were there, and who have on our hearts the evangelization of our nation, would not consider our aims any kind of fantasy.

The event was completely inspiring, with speakers such as Mark Hughes, Danielle Strickland, Charles Price and Edmonton's own Bob Jones, Senior Pastor at North Pointe Church. The worship band was also from North Pointe and the quality and duration of music was just about exactly perfect. I say duration because I find a 15 to 20 minute worship set to be just about right.

I met many people there who I have previously met in my travels around the province, some of whom recognized me before I recognized them. I also met many people who I hadn't met yet, but whose churches have run Alpha throughout Alberta. I have found that in any such large church gathering, a surprising number of the people I meet, or someone they know, came to faith through Alpha.

I was pleasantly amazed at how much the Billy Graham organization seemed to like Alpha. There were quite a few recommendations of Alpha as an evangelizing tool, even though Alpha wasn't officially involved in the congress. I was so pleased to see in what high regard Alpha is held both by the organization and many of the individual speakers there. Alpha works so well because  it takes into account the very fear and reluctance to evangelize that many of us seem to have. All one has to do is invite someone to, "dinner and a movie," so to speak, to learn a bit about the basics of the Christian faith and discuss some of life's big questions in a relaxed, open and non-threatening environment.

Blessings,

John

Friday, 22 September 2017

Calgary in September (or Vice Versa)

James Clarence (left) and Brent Sellers at RockPointe
I'm writing this on Friday morning, but I've been in Calgary since Tuesday. Driving down early Tuesday morning I encountered the first snow of the season, big wet flakes just south of Leduc. By Red Deer though it was bright, sunny and dry. I made a side stop in Red Deer at the headquarters of Impacting Canada Ministries, at least a couple of whose churches have or are running Alpha.

The event Tuesday evening was to gather Youth Pastors at the Bowridge Campus of RockPointe Church to envision and celebrate empowering teens to reach their friends through Alpha in their schools. It was also a chance to build anticipation for the forthcoming new Alpha Youth series coming out Oct 1. It was extremely encouraging to hear the stories of what's happening in some Alberta schools, including one of one young man who started Alpha in his school by himself and ended up with 70 kids attending!

Wednesday was busy with other encouraging visits to Harvest Hills Alliance, Calgary Life Church, Bonavista Baptist and Southview Church. An interesting thing happened at Harvest Hills. My appointment was with Associate Pastor Aaron Bon-Bernard. He brought along Jordie Siemens, the son of the Senior Pastor. Jordie is helping coordinate their upcoming fall Alpha. In conversation with Jordie mentioned he was working on his M Div at Ambrose University. I asked him what he hoped to do after graduation. He said he hoped to minister in a Arabic-speaking country. He and his wife had spent some time in the Middle East and he wants to use his growing fluency in Arabic in his ministry. H mentioned he had just attended an Arabic language service at Foothills Alliance. I said, "Hey, there is a guy up in Edmonton running Alpha in Arabic up there."

"I'd love to get in touch with him," said Jordie.

So I emailed my contact in Edmonton. He cc'd me back along with the fellow who is now coordinating said course, Brahm from the amazing Salaam Ministries. Brahm emailed back saying he was going to be in Calgary Friday, so I'm hoping to set up a meeting of all the interested parties today. Hasn't quite come together yet, but I'm praying.

Yesterday, Thursday, I was back at RockPointe for a day-long conference on church planting presented by c2c Network featuring speaker Hugh Halter. Made some great connections and met some great people whose hearts are fixed on reaching the Province and the Nation with the truth. In my opinion, and that of many others, there is no better tool to initiate a church plant than Alpha. In the words of Graham Singh, "Church planting strategy? Find an empty space and start running Alpha."

Today I hope to be in touch with more of my Alpha churches, including the Catholic Parish of St Pius X, which is actually a few blocks from my motel, so I think I'll get my morning exercise and walk.

Tomorrow, Saturday, will be a relatively free day, until I attend the evening service at Foothills Alliance, where Shaila Visser, Alpha Canada's National Director is speaking.

All for now,

Blessings,

John

By the way, a while ago I posted that there had been 400 Alphas registered for Alberta. That number is now 500.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Every Morning

Every morning I pull up my database of Alphas running in Alberta. Practically every morning there are new ones registered, and I say a little prayer of thanks and blessing for each one.

Of course I love every one, but particularly encouraging lately have been Alphas set to run in various schools, universities and community colleges. Just in the last few days I've been notified of Alphas at the University of Alberta, Grant MacEwan University and Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT).

I've seen Alphas being run in High- and Junior High Schools, both public and Catholic.

Each one, in each community, means there is a person or team there who cares about reaching our next generation for Christ.

This week and last I've been preparing for a trip to Calgary. I'll be there next week from Tuesday to Sunday. I'll be visiting the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association office Tuesday afternoon, then meeting Alpha Canada's Director of Ministry Development, Stephen Mulder, and our Alpha for Youth National Director, Tim Gonsalves that evening for a youth event at RockPointe Church.

Wednesday will be filled with a number of appointments with various key Calgary Alpha churches. Thursday is back to RockPointe for a C2C church planting conference. Many churches have used Alpha in their church planting strategy. In fact, as I believe I have mentioned before, one well-known church planter says his strategy is to, "..find an empty building and start running Alphas."

Friday is open so far, but I have yet to hear from everyone I've contacted for appointments, and there may be time for some cold calls. Saturday and Sunday I'll be with Alpha Canada's National Director Shaila Visser at Foothills Alliance.

Finally it will be back to Edmonton for registration Sunday evening for registration for Billy Graham's Evangelism Congress at West Edmonton Mall.

A busy little time after the dog days of summer, (which weren't really that doggy at all.) And don't forget; if you or if you think anyone you know might consider Alpha's ministry in Alberta is a cause worth supporting, please click on the yellow button to the right.

Blessings,

John


Sunday, 27 August 2017

McKernan Baptist


Here we are at McKernan Baptist in Edmonton. McKernan is a longtime Alpha church and once a year I am their missionary of the week. Even though my mission field is only the Province of Alberta, it is a mission field, nonetheless. I love how many people came up to us at this event and told us what a wonderful part Alpha has played in their lives and/or their spiritual journey.

McKernan is very near the University of Alberta, so attracts a good number of students. I'm not sure where they'll put them. They have two services every Sunday morning. Their sanctuary holds over 300 people and was fairly full both times, with even an overflow area well populated, and university students, for the most part, haven't even started arriving yet. Having experienced McKernan's hospitality, biblical teaching and worship music ministry, I can't think of  any place I would want more as a, "home away from home" for an out-of-town student, were I a parent worried about sending my kid to the big city to live for the first time.


I know of at least three other churches running Alpha on the U of A campus, and McKernan wondered if there would be a conflict  if they invited, as they always do, students to join their own Alpha. "Absolutely not!", I said. The more the better. There are nearly 40,000 students there so we would need one or two thousand Alpha's to accommodate them all. We can only dream!

McKernan just went through a 2-year rebuilding process; a time when they met in a local school, but now they have been back in their new building for a couple of years now,  and a beautiful facility it is. They are a mission-minded church and a light for their neighbourhood and for U of A students. I pray God will bless them in these areas and that they see wonderful fruit from their upcoming Alpha.

Blessings,

John

(Oh, and by the way; that post below - 400 Alphas? It's now 430 - and counting)

Friday, 11 August 2017

400

The list of Alphas registered in Alberta so far this year hit 400 yesterday I'm a day late in posting it. This morning it's 401. Just sayin'.

Thanks be to God.

John