from Andy Blakey

On 12 July over 45 people from 12 different churches with a wide range of backgrounds came to Grays Methodist Church to hear the about the tools that are being made available from Alpha International and how these tools are being used to fulfill Alpha International’s vision to “Play our part in the re-evangelisation of the nation and the transformation of society through the love of Jesus Christ”.

Jess from Alpha came to talk specifically about Alpha, Alpha for ESOL, and Tishy from Relationship Central about the range of courses available:

  • The Marriage Preparation Course
  • The Marriage Course
  • The Parenting Children Course
  • The Parenting Teenagers Course
  • and others

Jess explained how Alpha for English Speakers of Other Languages had been adapted with more demonstrations, visual, pictures and examples to illustrate main points and offered to make available P81204912the format to interested participants.

We then had a brief visit from Nel Van Der Walt, who is the Regional Director for Africa, overseeing the development of Alpha across the African continent. Based in South Africa, Nel works closely with churches, prisons and individuals running the Alpha Course and other Alpha-related ministries.

She shared some amazing stories of the work of Alpha especially in prisons where they are being asked to run course by the governments due the effect that knowing Jesus has changing  lives so completely.

Tishy’s talk started with the background of the UK and the problems in families and hence the need for courses to enhance the family relationship.

  • 1 in 2 children will see family breakdown by the age of 16
  • £4 of every £7 of public money spent on family breakdown £4 is spent on cohabiting couple.
  • 1 in 8 teenage girls have been pregnant by the age of 18 – 3% of them said they had been pregnant at least three times; 18% said twice; and 79% said they had been expecting a baby on just a single occasion
  • 40,000 teenage girls will become pregnant this year in the UK
  • UK has the highest teenage pregnancy & abortion rate in Western Europe
  • 22% of 14-year-old girls in Britain have had sex, each with an average of three partners
  • 40% of 15-year-olds get drunk at least once a week
  • 1 in 5 11 to15-year-olds admit taking illegal drugs in the past year
  • Family breakdown is a key factor in driving Britain’s £100 billion mental illness bill
  • Children with separated, single or step-parents are 50 per cent more likely to fail at school, have low self-esteem, experience poor peer relationships and have behavioural difficulties, anxiety or depression
  • UK has 1.9 million single parents caring for 3.1 million children.
  • Abortion: The UK has the highest rate of teenage birth and abortion rates in Western Europe

Throughout the evening there were testimonies from local people about how the Lord had worked through the various courses and the impact he has had on their lives.

Finally there was news of an Alpha Training Day in Thurrock on Saturday 12 November 2011 (venue to be confirmed) for all who are interested in seeing Alpha used more widely in Thurrock to reach those who are in need a relationship with Jesus.