A Vision Worth Going For
Nicky Gumbel recounts the testimonies highlighting the journey that has taken Alpha to over 29 million people in 169 countries around the world.
In Luke 5:11, “Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid. From now on you’ll catch men and women’. So they pulled their boats on shore and left everything and followed him.” Effectively they said, This is so exciting Lord. People are coming into the kingdom. People’s lives are being changed. This is worth us going for. And they left everything.
They made sacrifices because the potential was so vast. And it is. The potential stretches across the world. Alpha is now running in 169 countries. Only the Spirit of God could do something like this.
I cannot find the words or the ability to express what we have experienced as we have gone around the world and heard testimony after testimony after testimony from people who have described the difference Jesus has made to their lives because they have attended an Alpha course.
Darrell Tunningley started out ‘nicking car badges from expensive cars like Mercedes and Porsches.’ He later reflected, ‘It’s scary how quickly you can go from stealing Mars bars to cars.’ He became a drug addict: ‘When I started to use heroin I truly believed I would stay in control and that the drug would never control me. How wrong I was!’ Soon Darrell was selling drugs himself. He was eventually sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison for armed robbery. He had become an extremely violent man.
In prison he agreed to attend Alpha, mainly because of the offer of ‘free coffee and biscuits’. He encountered Jesus Christ. Darrell quotes 2 Corinthians 5:17: ‘This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!’ He was filled with the Holy Spirit.
‘Life had never been so good, I had bars on my windows but I never felt so free’, he writes. He started running Alpha in prison. ‘More people were becoming Christians in the prison and the numbers at Sunday service kept going up and up. More and more people were choosing to live a drug-free life.’
On 4 August 2000, Darrell was released from prison and became an accredited minister with the Assemblies of God. He met a young woman called Rebekah and has since become a husband and a father.
It Cannot be Done Alone
Nothing that we do with Alpha can be done except in partnership. It is no one-man show, no one-woman show. Within the local church, the body of Christ needs to work together to fulfil all the different functions that running a course involves.
“This is the most extraordinary thing that God is doing. It’s a partnership between all the different churches.”
Within the wider sphere, it is thrilling to see so many churches coming to work alongside us as partners. And it is wonderful to work with so many different churches, Roman Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Southern Baptists, and the Salvation Army. We have Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, people of entirely different theological positions, all running Alpha as we strive together to get this message out across the world.
Only in Partnership
This is the most extraordinary thing that God is doing. It’s a partnership between all the different churches. We are truly in it together with every person involved in the vision, which we believe God has given us. We are seeing that all over the world. What we are interested in is people coming to Christ, unity coming to the churches and those churches coming alive.
We have seen people’s lives transformed hundreds and hundreds of times. Some may say our vision is Mission Impossible. But I believe it is the mission God is giving to us in our generation, and it is not an impossible vision. I am convinced it is a vision worth going for.