(An article for the April 1998 Deep Cove Crier)
Nicky Gumbel was a successful lawyer in London who was convinced that the Christian faith had nothing to offer him.  His impression of Christianity was that it was dreary and uninspiring.  His impression of many clergy was that they reminded him of undertakers.

Nicky thought that Christianity was also totally irrelevant.  He couldnít see how something that happened two thousand years ago and so many thousands of miles away could have any relevance to him in modern life.

Nicky was also convinced that the Christian faith was intellectually indefensible.  At age 14, he wrote an essay in which he tried to destroy the whole of Christianity and disprove the existence of God.  Nicky went through a phase when he enjoyed arguing with Christians, just for the pleasure of exposing their falsity.

Life is full of strange and unexpected turn-of-events.  One of those turn-of-events was that Nicky Gumbel became so convinced of the relevance and truth of Christianity that he even became an Anglican priest.  A few years before, the idea of becoming a pastor would have been the farthest thing from his mind, almost laughable.  And yet it happened.  Another amazing turn of events is that someone prayed for him that he would be used greatly to share good news with many, many people.  At the time, it was unthinkable.  And yet a number of years later, hundreds of thousands of people all around the world are finding that Nicky Gumbel is helping them live a more meaningful life.

All around the world, on every continent, people are taking a course developed by Nicky Gumbel entitled "The Alpha Course".  Over 500,000 people within the last 5 years have had this experience.  Many are saying that this course has answered a lot of their deepest questions about life.  The pictorial symbol of the Alpha course is a person carrying a very large and heavy question mark.  So often the questions of life can really weigh us down.  For some reason, Alpha has been helping countless people feel more at peace about themselves and the world they live in.  Alpha has given people the courage to deal with the sometimes uncomfortable spiritual part of themselves.

In an Alpha course, people feel safe to ask any question that they really want answered.  Nothing is out of bounds.  No one has to hide behind respectability or religious jargon.  What really impressed me about Alpha is that there is no pressure on people as they go through their 11-week spiritual journey.  Everyone is given the time they need to ask the questions they want answered and to find out what really works for them.  Many churches on the North Shore, including St. Andrewís United, Hillside Baptist, Lynn Valley Full Gospel, New Hope Community Church, St. Clementís Anglican, Capilano Community Church, North Shore Alliance, North Lonsdale United and St. Simonís Anglican Church are now offering this amazing course.  Perhaps the greatest miracle is that so many churches from so many different denominations can co-operate in all using the Alpha course.  I am convinced that God takes great joy when Christians learn to love one another and stop competing with the church up the street.

If you would like to learn more about Alpha, I encourage you to call me at 929-5350 or e-mail me at    St. Simonís will be hosting its third Alpha Course, starting with a Supper Party on Thursday April 16th at 7 pm.  The theme for that night will be "Christianity: Boring, Irrelevant, and Untrue??".  If you would like to join us for the Supper Party, just e-mail Peter Falk at or call him at 988-1404.  Growing always involves taking a risk.  My prayer for this season of Easter is that many people reading this article may have the courage to take such a risk.
St Simon's Alpha page

The Reverend Ed Hird
 Rector, St. Simonís Anglican Church

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