Tuesday evening, 6:15. I'm in my hotel room in Calgary, just arrived from a full day in Lethbridge and a 2 1/2 hour drive. Had a wonderful and encouraging day there today, visiting 6 churches.
Westside Community Church is a PAOC church running Alpha for Youth, and having great results. Shaun, the youth pastor, pointed out one problem: many of his youth group come from outside the church, and some are Mormon, so some of Alpha is "new teaching being presented." and some of their parents don't like it, so they still bring their kids, but after the video. Made me smile.
At Immanuel Lutheran, they had registered for the Youth Film Series, but had not run it. However, by the end of our visit, Kathy there was, "on fire to run it," to use her very own words.
The whole trip here was based on a fleece I had laid regarding my next appointment, lunch with John Albiston of Victory Church. I may have mentioned this in a previous post. I had met John before, and had hoped to meet again, so had sent a few e-mails and left a few messages, all without hearing back. So I reached the point a week or so ago where I said, "Lord, if you want me to go down to Southern Alberta, let John get back to me. That will be my sign." I then had three calls, in quick succession, from Calgary, one from a couple who wanted help running Alpha in RV courts in Arizona and California, where they go each winter. Another was from a fellow planning to run it on a reserve west of Calgary; a third from a church I had been trying to reach, who, I discovered on a recent phone conversation, runs three Alpha's a year, in succession. My fleece stood, however; if I didn't hear from John Albiston, I wouldn't make the trip.
Long story short (if it's not already too late), during my Alpha Monday conference call, I got an e-mail from John saying, "Lunch tomorrow would be fine."
So, off I went. I had to rent a car from a different organization than I usually do, but everything fell into place, I fired off e-mails to a number of Lethbridge churches, and I was off by 1:00 for the 5 hour trip to Lethbridge. I ended up with five appointments in Lethbridge, every one of them made from the e-mails I sent on Monday morning and confirmed on my trip down. There's an advertising slogan here somewhere. If God tells you to do something, "Just Do It!"
Victory Church Lethbridge is almost worth a post of its own. They have an amazing facility and I hope someday they will put up a video tour online. They are the church that started the Miracle TV Channel. I had a suspicion that they ran Alpha, but were not registered with Alpha Canada as doing so, so this was one of my main reasons for wanting to visit them. What a surprise to discover that they run Alpha continuously, with a new course starting every 4 weeks! I last visited them in April of this year, so this has started since then.
They do it a little differently; rather than the usual model of people inviting people, they have as many as 5 - 10 responses to their altar calls every week, and every new believer is "run through" if I can use that crass term, Jamie Haith's Campus Alpha, as both an introduction to, and an explanation of, their new faith.
My next appointment was coffee with Rohan Crown of Amazing Grace PCA Church, a church with a very strong youth outreach and who are running the Youth Film Series. I have mentioned my connection to the PCA in my personal testimony, and Rohan was for a time the associate pastor at Crestwood in Edmonton, the very church that planted to congregation in which I came to faith over 20 years ago. Small world.
Both John and Rohan recommended I visit the River of Life church, so I went out of my way to make a cold call there and leave some Alpha material. No pastors were available, so I left the material and my card with the administrator, who knew of Alpha and its excellent reputation.
My final stop in Lethbridge was University Drive Alliance. They have run Alpha in the past, and are currently running the Parenting Course.
So, here I am in Calgary. I just texted my former pastor from Edson Baptist, now in Calgary, to see if we can get together for a coffee.
More on the rest of my trip on another post.