A message from the Executive Director
Look Up, Look Out!
Over 1,000 delegates from Europe and MENA gathered at the Royal Albert Hall in London in May for LC23, to hear Nicky Gumbel’s rousing ‘Vision 2033’ launch talk from St John’s Gospel Chapter 4, to ‘look up and look out!’ with the fields being ready for harvest. This followed his Vision 2033 launch from the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem on Easter Sunday, at the heart of our region, which was watched by over 100,000 viewers worldwide.
I love that passage in John’s Gospel and how it shows that Jesus had no ‘no go’ areas or ‘no go’ people. He doesn’t respect the artificial boundaries and walls that keep people from encountering him. Our region is full of boundaries, divisions, challenges and sadly, wars. But God is moving even in those toughest spaces and places. Read below to hear how God is working through Alpha in a Ukrainian prison, growing our ministry and staffing in the Middle East, and reaching a younger generation in the secular universities of Sweden.
We are encouraged by growth of 9% to 2,541 registered churches running Alpha in the first 6 months of 2023. That represents over 5,000 courses and many thousands of women, men, and teenagers encountering Jesus through Alpha and Alpha Youth. The Marriage Courses continue to thrive and be a huge blessing for many guests, including a specific initiative to invest in the marriages of church leaders and spouses.
It takes faith and courage to evangelise and serve your community in hard soil, following the call of Jesus, but it is bringing a harvest, and in the most unlikely of places. It’s a great start in 2023 as we follow Jesus in our mission to offer ‘Alpha to everyone’ by 2033.
Lastly, we gathered hundreds of influential church leaders from across EMENA to be envisioned and equipped to take Alpha to the next level at Alpha Collective and Experience Alpha events this Spring at HTB London. This journey culminated for our hub church leaders and partners at ‘The Next Decade Day’ during LC23 week. We were privileged that Archbishop Zbignevs Stankevics from Riga, Latvia, closed the day in prayer. He oversees evangelism in his diocese but also promotes the New Evangelisation across Europe for the Catholic church. He and others shared their hopes and prayers that the unity and faith for the future we experienced between churches and nations at LC23, would continue to grow, transforming lives, revitalising and uniting the church and bring hope to a needy world. We join Jesus Christ in this misson and seek to play our part through Alpha.
Be encouraged. Thank you for your support, prayers, and interest in God‘s mission in Europe & MENA.
From January to June…
*Data drawn from EMENA Regional Salesforce 30 June 2023 covering c.80% of regional activity. This comparison currently does not include The Netherlands and some Eastern European nations that are not yet integrated to our in-year data capture systems.
As we prepare for the future in light of Vision 2033, a big focus will be on ‘going younger.’ Across our teams, offices and region, how can we encourage and raise up young leaders, and how can we reach the next generations?
World Youth Day 2023
Our main drive this year toward engaging with youth has been around World Youth Day (WYD), taking place this August 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal. WYD is a Global event, hosted by the Pope every 3 years, which gathers over a million young people and youth leaders as an “opportunity to personally experience the universality of the Catholic Church.”
This year, Dez, EMENA Regional Youth Director, and Maria, Director of Catholic Development, will be leading a group of EMENA staff and volunteers to showcase Alpha as an evangelism tool. We’ll be present both at the Vocational Square and at a local Hub church in Lisbon, where we will be engaging in conversation with youth leaders and young people, connecting them with local National Alpha Offices, and facilitating a taster of the Alpha course in a fun and friendly environment.
Alpha For Students in Sweden
During the pandemic, Alpha Sweden began a new initiative focused on Alpha for students and young people, with the aim to pray with, equip, and inspire leaders and students running Alpha for their peer groups.
Alpha Sweden are pleased to now be seeing the fruits of this initiative, with Alpha Youth growing throughout universities, in a country known to be secular and closed off to the Gospel. A particularly inspiring story is of a student leader who brought 15 of his classmates to Alpha and saw 12 of them come to faith by the end. This year, they are leading their own Alpha small groups and have paved the way to reaching universities across the country!
The Middle East and North Africa
We are so excited to see development across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and have focused so far this year on increasing our on-the-ground team, as well as looking to future with Alpha Product contextualisation.
Within the last 6 months, we have welcomed new Syrian and Lebanon coordinators, whose backgrounds and passion for Alpha have already been a great strength and blessing to the work in the Levant region. Both came to faith on Alpha and have a passion for seeing others, including young adults, come to faith.
As we look to the next 6 months, we look forward to welcoming coordinators in both Iraq and Jordan.
Of course, to support the work they are doing, we also need high-level translated and contextualised product. Soon to be launched is The Marriage Course (TMC) in Arabic, and plans are underway to film vox pops for Alpha Israel. With the Global Alpha Film Series 2.0 being developed, the team are also reviewing the scripts from the perspective of Majority Background Believers (MBBs) and the Orthodox church.
Please do pray for the continued work in the Middle East, that God will continue to open doors, and strengthen the team there.
Another way in which we are ‘going wider’, is Alpha’s increased presence within contexts such as The Marriage Course, Prisons, and Forces, as well as building upon key partnerships with others.
Alpha Poland Conference
Following the Regional Prisons Conference held in Poland in April, Alpha Poland organised an Alpha Conference hosted by Archbishop Gregory Rys, from the Diocese of Łódź, with almost 300 people attending, including representatives from the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine.
A few highlights from the conference included Archbishop Gregory’s interview with Nicky Gumbel, speaking on the primacy of evangelism and the importance of parishes having a missionary mindset and forming missionary disciples, as well as a powerful testimony from Fr. James Mallon from Divine Renovation. It was a greatly successful event, and an opportunity for important partnerships to be formed within the Catholic context.
Alpha Prisons in Ukraine
For the first time, we saw Alpha being run in a Ukrainian prison, with 50 prisoners joining the course, and an amazing Alpha team from Martusivka and Kiev facilitating. With outreach within prisons being an important ministry, we are so thankful to God for the ability to run Alpha in this context.
Alpha for Forces
In June, Alpha Spain received news from Iraq of two Spanish military priests, who attended Experience Alpha at HTB earlier in the year, who started to run two Alpha courses across military bases there. Equipped with English and Spanish guest manuals, they ran Alpha with 20 guests each. It was exciting and encouraging news for Alpha Spain to hear of the materials being used in this way!
The Marriage Courses
The impact of TMC continues to be great within EMENA, thanks to our part-time regional coordinators who have facilitated online cohorts, translation projects, EMENA participation at Global gatherings, as well as having helped obtain funding for new part-time TMC coordinators in Eastern Europe.
With EMENA also being so diverse in its culture and languages, it was wonderful to hear of how a Hub church in the Gulf facilitated a simultaneous TMC course into English, Korean and Portuguese!
These are exciting times ahead for Alpha products – read below to find out what Michal Rajs, our Regional Product Manager and others, have been involved in over the last few months!
Alpha Film Series (AFS) and Alpha Youth Series AYS
- Being part of the review team for the scripts of the upcoming Alpha Film Series 2.0, due 2025. The team, including representatives from our region, include 60 representatives of different age groups, denominations and contexts.
- Visiting the Alpha Film Studios being built in Kuala Lumpur – getting ready for the production of AFS 2.0.
- Contributing to Vox Pops questions, ahead of filming taking place this Summer, and research on which cities from EMENA could be represented.
- Research carried out with National Alpha Offices surrounding technicalities such as dubbing, subtitles and discussion breaks.
- Submitting stories from around the world to be included in the series.
- Contributing to the development of the new Alpha Youth Series 3.0, due 2024.
Our hope is that these new products will be game changers for our ministry, and that by introducing localised and contextualised street interviews and stories, we will be able to reach more people than ever with the Gospel across Europe, the Middle East & North Africa.
Includes all regional team costs including NAO grants and World Youth Day donations.