Reaching Millions With Alpha

Rev. Nicky Gumbel speaks to FOL

by Sunny Joseph

FOL : Alpha has grown so much and is almost in 160 countries in the World.Is this where you expected it to be or is this something what you never expected when you first began with Alpha in 1991?
NG : I am amazed to see the work of God particularly the different cultures and the way it has spread to different parts of the world. The way it spread into India where we reach people in many languages is absolutely amazing. It is fantastic.

FOL : Alpha has grown so much and is almost in 160 countries in the World.Is this where you expected it to be or is this something what you never expected when you first began with Alpha in 1991?
NG : I am amazed to see the work of God particularly the different cultures and the way it has spread to different parts of the world. The way it spread into India where we reach people in many languages is absolutely amazing. It is fantastic.

FOL : What has been your original plan for Alpha?
NG : The original plan was just to reach the people in our Church in Brompton, England. When we saw the members bringing in their friends we wanted to reach out to them. And as it grew we spread out and it grew into other countries. As many people in different countries began to ask for this programme we wanted to train them. We wanted the Alpha Course to reach to many people.

FOL : Though Alpha existed since 1977, even before you took it up in 1990, why was it not popular then as it is now?
NG : When I took it up in 1990 there were already hundred people on it but then, Alph was designed only for the Christians.

FOL : What is the next stage in Alpha course?
NG : We are just trying to follow the Holy Spirit We want to be off getting into the way of the Holy Spirit. Most of the time we are working to move any blocks that would hinder the move of the Holy Spirit.

FOL : What are the countries where Alpha is not very successful and why?
NG : I know of no such a country where Alpha is not successful. We see it spreading everywhere and it seems it is working very well everywhere all around the world. Most countries are running it successfully probably because they are more organized and help get people get the results. Other countries where it is not running well is probably because of the non-availability of people who can find people for training. The other possibility may be availability of the literature in their local languages.

FOL : In one of your video series on the Holy Spirit, you have made a classic statement, What unites is infinitely greater than what divides us? Can you tell how Alpha is doing this?
NG : What we are trying to at the Alpha is, we are focusing on the things that unite us. The reason why we are able to bring many different denominations including Anglican, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal and Orthodox churches all under one roof is because we basically teach about what we all agree upon. And all the denominations want to reach those who are not Christians. We all love Jesus and we know that everybody needs Jesus. Alpha helps people to come to know Christ. We teach what we all believe that is reach out. This is our common aim which is to reach the world outside the the Church.

FOL : What is your philosophy of life?
NG : Well, it is a person not a philosophy. Jesus is the philosophy of my life.

FOL : Why is that you always appear informal in your video teaching in the Alpha Course. You are seldom seen in a suit. Does it carry any significance?
NG : Rightly observed. All the people we are trying to reach are young people. This generation is much more informal especially in UK. Now people wear very informally. Earlier it was different whne people were very formal in the clothing. So we are trying to reach that generation and so like to be dressed like that generation. We wish to be more approachable, acceptable and appeal to them. Well, I do wear suits sometimes sometimes...I have one suit (Laughs...hahahaha)

FOL : What does the logo of the Alpha course communicate? Has it got any other significant message other than the one obvious that a man carrying a question?
NG : The message is what is obvious on the logo. People have questions about life. Questions lie, “Where do I come from, where do I go after death...what do I do about guilt...they are long lasting questions. So the logo has an obvious message that people are burdened with the questions they carry in their lives and at Alpha they can have the answers. (This interview Rev. Nicky Gumbel was arranged for FoL by Marlin Meendering, Regional Director, Alpha USA/Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota.)

(This interview Rev. Nicky Gumbel was arranged for FOL by Marlin Meendering, Regional Director, Alpha USA/Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota.)

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