Friday, 29 April 2016

Alpha Lab Calgary

An Alpha Lab - aren't they having fun!
I'm sitting in a room at the Travelodge in Calgary. Tonight at 1 AM I'm picking up Steve Mulder, my BC counterpart at the airport. What airline in their right mind flies in to Calgary from Vancouver at one o'clock in the morning, I don't know. But they do, so who am I to question. Market research must have told them it was a good time to fly.

Tomorrow, Saturday, at Foothills Alliance, from 9AM to 3PM, we will present my first Alpha Lab, a new concept in Alpha training. An Alpha Lab features interactive, multi-media, board training games, and video components. We expect about 50 guests. If it turns out to be a success, I will let you know. If it is/was a flop I probably won't. (I probably shouldn't have made that last statement, because we fully expect God to show up, and when He does, great things happen, guaranteed.)

Early next week I travel to Grande Prairie, to Christian Fellowship Assembly (CFA), where they are hosting the national convention for the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies (FCA). I know, I get mixed up too. Not only do I have space for an Alpha booth, they have allowed me a room to make a presentation on Alpha, so please pray for fruit from that trip.

I will post again with my experiences from both events.

Blessings,

John

Friday, 15 April 2016

What Attawapaskat Needs

Yesterday and this morning I attended a retreat with a group of Youth Pastors and others involved in presenting the Alpha Youth Film series in various contexts.

One of these was a teacher in a First Nations school on a reserve in Central Alberta. Conditions on the reserve are horrendous for children to be growing up in. She has been running Alpha there for about two and a half years, with some amazing success stories. Here are some of the points she made:
  • Often, more kids will come to Alpha than come to school. In other words they will stay home from school and come after school for Alpha. On Alpha they hear a message of acceptance and grace.
  • School is sometimes the only safe place for some of these kids. They go home to addiction and violence. Junior high school students often have to go home to cook and look after their siblings. Alpha is a chance to be served food they don't have to cook themselves.
  • A number of children who have been on suicide watch have been taken off it. Alpha saves not only souls, it is literally saving lives.
  • Kids with behaviour problems are given leadership roles. They will take these opportunities and, "run with them," according to this teacher.
  • The reserve health centre has noticed the difference Alpha is making. They have actually come to the school to see what is having this effect and why.
  • The band Chief is a great supporter of Alpha, and Alpha is enjoying increasing community support.
If only people could see. Alpha makes a difference. For the better. And it's a statistically verifiable difference. I have said I ran Alpha in a prison. Here are some undeniable numbers:
  • the recidivism (reoffending) rate in Canadian prisons of released offenders is about 76%
  • for inmates who complete and come to faith on an Alpha course in prison, the rate is about 16%
Attawapaskat needs Alpha; well, needs Jesus, but you know there would be a great hue and cry if anyone really said so publicly. I find it frustrating when so many people are so up in arms over a tragedy such as we have seen in this First Nations community, yet the solution is right at hand. If only the world could see what it truly needs and the One who can satisfy those needs.

But that's why we do what we do.

Blessings,

John

Friday, 8 April 2016

Still Here

I must admit I have not taken the opportunity to post much in recent days, and I apologize for it. My time has been spent more in preparation mode than anything else.

Preparation for what? Well, I'm glad you asked. As I have posted, Bear Grylls is lending his name and brand to Alpha internationally for a year and a half beginning September 2016. This campaign will involve forming a number of Regional Teams across the country to take local initiative in reaching their communities with the Jesus story through Alpha. So... the first step is to form and develop these regional teams. Part of this process is to hold regional, "Invite Canada" meetings. We have already held three, in Edmonton and Sherwood Park, Alberta. I'm holding another in Grande Prairie on April 12. Here is the invitation I sent out for that one to churches in the Peace Region of Alberta:

Inline images 1
Come and find out how your church can be a part of it.
April 12 at Christian Fellowship Assembly Grande Prairie

We have an opportunity for the Christian Church in Canada to jointly invite people to explore Jesus’ story.

This is a strategic moment. We have a story that resonates with Canadians, a tool that can be used across denominations and online resources to effectively mobilize churches of any size. Church leaders across the country believe that the Global Alpha Campaign could be the catalyst the Church needs for a united witness to the nation. F
ind out more about the campaign at
InviteCanada.ca.
 
Take an hour or so to hear more about this historic initiative:
 
Tuesday April 12 at 1:30 PM
Christian Fellowship Assembly
11449 – 92 St, Grande Prairie (map) 
RSVP: Wes Dong at
 
The next step is to organize what we are calling, "Alpha Labs." They are described as... 
"Alpha Labs are a brand new series of interactive training sessions, designed to help your church build a culture of invitation, facilitate effective small groups, practice radical hospitality and hold a powerful weekend or day away. They feature cutting-edge learning experiences incorporating individual and group exercises and peer-to-peer learning. They will provide value for churches far beyond preparing for Alpha."
Alpha labs are six-hour sessions, held on Saturdays from 9 to 3, and I'm getting ready for at least 4 of them - in Edmonton, Calgary, Grande Prairie and perhaps a fifth in Medicine Hat. These take quite a bit of planning, and having never run them before, I'm finding them a bit intimidating, but, as we are promised, with God, all thing are possible.

I'm driving up to Grande Prairie with Eva (my wife) early Tuesday morning. Our daughter's dance studio is involved in a dance competition all week there, so she will be staying in town while I fly back by myself that evening after the meeting. Then I'm driving down to Red Deer on Thursday for a Youth Champion's retreat with Amy Croy and Tim Teakle, Alpha's Youth Associates.

So April, May and early June look to be rather hectic. Looking forward to a couple weeks of holidays near the end of June.

Blessings,

John