Alpha Youth Leader /Alpha prayer team
(VGK URC SA Gestig Belhar)
I have been part of Alpha for four years now. My wife introduced me to Alpha at her church in 2015 when I was a Christian, however I wasn’t a committed Christian.
At that time in my life I was trying to find myself and trying to make the right decisions. I had questions I needed answered and when they advertised Alpha at our church it seemed the various topics connected with me, I was curious to know more.
During this time my mother and father and two sisters were going through a very rough period. With my father being a drug addict I felt like I had no parents, no one to look up to.
Alpha seemed to be for people looking for answers about life, and this was an opportunity I couldn’t let pass me by. I felt very uncomfortable the first session, I wasn’t ready to open up as I am not that kind of person. As the sessions went on week by week I started opening up and becoming more comfortable sharing. My dad was really sick from the drug abuse and I had to make the choice to support my family at this time as it was near the end for him, or to go on the Alpha weekend.
I had already received most of my answers during the previous weeks’ sessions, but I felt as if I needed to still know more. My family could see the change in me and so they were supportive in letting me go. As I was on my way there I was crying out to God “show me God, show me what I need to know.” As I arrived at the campsite, I received a message from my mom saying my dad had died. What do I do… go back home or stay? I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit saying “ stay in the presence of Me and see what I can show you for the rest of your life.”
This was a decision I needed to make that was going to make me or break me. That was the most important decision I had made in my life. The Alpha weekend was transformational for me.
Being in the presence of believers and the Holy Spirit.
Everything changed drastically, I became a full-on committed Christian. I noticed changes in my mom due to me being a more open and forgiving person. My two sisters were also on drugs previously and as we never had active parents, we had total freedom inside our home. My family noticed that something changed in me. After the weekend I started praying for my family for recovery, for deliverance. Knowing Jesus is with us, wanting to give us a better life and to take care of our burdens. Today my family are changed, transformed, they want to experience what I experience.
I am part of the youth team at our church, the prayer team, outreach and a sports ministry. The impact I have noticed in the youth ministry since we ran Alpha Youth last year is the growth of the youth attending church, our church has confirmation classes for 13 years old to 18 years old of which Alpha is part of the programme. The youth have also advanced from guests on Alpha to hosts and helpers.
I want to encourage all youth leaders that Alpha transforms lives. It is so impactful, right from session one. So many youth are looking for belonging, so many things are happening in SA. The youth are tired of crime and politics and they are looking for a safe haven and encouragement. Alpha helps to give them this. Even if it means that you run Alpha Youth at your house to impact one life, there is a ripple effect of changed lives.
My journey with Alpha started nine years ago, little did I know that it would not only change the trajectory of my life but it would bring about opportunities for me to live out my purpose with fellow Christians while building the Kingdom of God. When asked to share my story I immediately felt overwhelmed because what I had to share about my personal journey with Alpha would be near impossible for me to encapsulate in one story, so this testimony is not my personal one but rather one of how Alpha is able to build a group of people and knit them together in order to do as a collective what God had called us to do.
Isaiah 6:8 - Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" – This verse speaks into the call that I had roughly 5 years back when I was part of a growing ministry. A ministry that’s vision and mission is a church for the city and a word for the nation however we had not yet established a youth group and God was calling me to fill the gap and do what was necessary. Now the Bible speaks of obedience being better than sacrifice and that the will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you , so I found myself submitting to the call of filling the gap to start a youth ministry full knowing that God not only had made provision for the call but that He had already equipped me for the call. I found myself approaching a good friend and sharing what God had placed on my heart. I must add that at that point this friend and I had experienced not only life together but also the adult and Youth Alpha courses and my friend would be able to understand the burden impressed on my heart by the Spirit of God. We prayed on it and God confirmed to both of us that He had prepared us for this moment. The question was how do we launch this? The answer was simple, God said: YOUTH ALPHA! I found myself meeting with our senior pastor telling him about what God had mandated me to do and the exact instructions of how it ought to be done. Completely new to the concept of Alpha and accepting only the testimony that my friend and I shared with him about Alpha he listened and sought the counsel of God. After a week he had given us the permission to do what we needed to do but shared what was placed in his spirit about the course. He said that the primary outcome of the course would be to build leaders and relationship between those leaders and a bi-product of that would be that God would establish the youth and work in their hearts so that they would come to Christ and serve. I did not understand this statement until we launched Alpha Youth.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says this: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. This verse spoke into everything that was about to happen on the course. My friend and I were given a selected group of leaders who share no relationship, nor have they ever worked together, nor have they been on an Alpha let alone heard about Alpha, yet here we were going about the Lord’s business. The only common denominator was that we were all seeking the heart of God and that is all we needed. We were six leaders that needed to navigate our way around getting acquainted and introducing something brand new while building the youth. The Alpha model had all we needed. The recipe was perfect. The grace of God and the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit prepared the way and the intercessory prayer from our Alpha family continued to strengthen us in the spirit. Youth Alpha was launched, its reach was further than we expected, we were being visited by youth who did not belong to our church, our leaders fell in love with the model and started to immerse themselves in what needed to be done. The leaders were being stretched and the children started opening up but the challenges started to come. Now we know that when we are about the Father’s business the enemy tries to shake us but we remained firm footed and confident that this was God ordained and that it would bear the fruit apportioned to it.
In Galatians 6:9 Pauls says: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. This scripture is what we had to stand on, when we were questioned about the Alpha recipe and absolutely not one person turned up for our Holy Spirit weekend, NOT ONE. The leaders arrived, prayed up, the food was ready and the programme was in place and not one guest arrived, but GOD, He had a plan. We could not see what He was doing, and He did not need us to see, all He needed was our obedience. After two hours of waiting and hoping for someone to arrive we packed up, disheartened and questioning whether we would experience the promised fruits, we left and decided to spend some time together. I found strength in 2 Corinthians 12:9 where God says that His grace is sufficient and that in our weakness His strength will be perfected. The following week we arrived still hopeful and obedient to the mandate that God had given us, still not knowing His plan. We successfully finished the course despite what had happened on the most important weekend of the course.
The bible tells us that the word of God will not return void and I can testify that it did not. Relationships were forged and children were brought to Christ and the word spoken to our pastor about the course came to pass, this however was only part of the testimony. God had something greater in store for the leaders who submitted and committed to the course. Everything that Alpha sets out to do was done in our lives, the answer of whether there is more was answered. We were reminded of who we were and who God called us to be. We celebrated and grew together. We built something lasting not only in the spirit but in the natural, we explored our faith together and got the answer we needed in that season. God had used Alpha Youth as a preparation ground. Every one of the six leaders who were on that team not only went on to step into something that God had called them for, but they also sowed back into Alpha and touched the life of someone else.
The Alpha Youth journey was a testament to God using this platform not only for new believers but to build leaders and help people into their calling.
Praise God for what He has done and continues to do through Alpha.
“First and foremost, we salute Dave and Linda Godly who facilitated the course. At no time did they make us feel inferior because we hadn’t attained perfection. Freely sharing their own trials and shortcomings with us made us realise that we all fall short, no matter how long we’ve been married, or how many courses we attend. Marriage is an ongoing road to discovery.
Married for 14 years, it’s a second marriage for both of us. We started off with three adult children living at home, and we’re now at the stage when it’s just the two of us. Realising that there were a lot of adjustments to be made, we thought the Marriage Course would be a good exercise.
What a wonderful experience! From the first meal and introductions, to the gentle nature of handling sensitive topics, the facilitators made themselves available at all times, and were prepared to say, ‘we don’t have all the answers, we’re still a work in progress’.
Probably the biggest thing we took home was ‘marriage time’. Our working together doesn’t mean quality time, and learning to take time out for each other, and to put the other first, was a huge eye-opener. We also didn’t realise how different our upbringings were, until we actually had to face it head on. This opened a new door for us.
There were also issues that we’d swept under the carpet, and getting them out into the open was really refreshing, helping us to understand where the other person was coming from.
Not only would we recommend the course for married couples, but for those starting out, so that they can also learn to ‘fight without drawing blood’.”
“I recently attended and completed the Marriage Course as St Martins Church, and I’m really glad that I did.
I was engaged at the time, heading into a new chapter in my life while trying to seek advice from 'the Man above,' which wasn't easy.
This is what the Marriage Course has taught me:
· Communication is the key to everything.
· Learning how to listen and deal with my partner’s problems/issues, without answering back or giving advice.
· Finding solutions to our relationship problems.
· Probably the hardest, since we weren't married yet – allowing my partner to open up about past issues which had been bothering her for some time. Learning to listen without asking questions, but encouraging her to open up. Learning to forgive and let the past go, in order for us to move forward.
· To never stop loving each other. Not just by saying ‘I love you’, but by doing little things for my partner.
I could carry on, because it really helped my relationship. But it isn't all about me – you too can make a difference in your marriage with the help of this course. Oh, and the food was delicious”
“My partner and I attended the Marriage Course last year, while we were still engaged.
It was a crazy time in our relationship and I really thought we were close to reaching our expiry date. We were at the point in our relationship where we were talking, but no one was listening. Every small thing became an issue.
In attending the course, it wasn't what we’d expected. We sat in a room full of people, but it was so intimate, we could focus on each other. Each lesson we did impacted us deeply. The best part was that the course guided us to each issue, and gave us tips on how to deal and get out of the issue zone without hurting one other.
We learnt about each other; about communication; sex; our families and how our upbringing made us different; how to deal with each other’s families, finances and even just how to listen without judgement.
After the course our relationship changed – not for the better, but the best!
We recently got married and we’re still applying all the small things, like date night or little romantic gestures. The main one we do now is to repeat everything that was just said by the other partner. It's funny and sometimes annoying, but it works. When you do the course you’ll get it.
I really recommend this, not just to engaged couples, but to all couples, married or not.”
Mr & Mrs Jacobs (Roche and Kim)