The Alpha Course, South African Style

There’s not a great deal happening at the moment, to be honest (hence the abysmal lack of posting that’s been going on), but yesterday I had an interesting opportunity to experience something as global as the Alpha Course from a South African point of view. I mean, even though Christianity, the Bible and God are universal, and transcend all boundaries of culture, race, gender or nationality, the culture you finds yourself in can have a big effect on your attitude towards this whole ‘God’ thing.

Take one guy’s comments last night. After watching Nicky Gumbel on the video (as I side note, don’t you think Nicky Gumbel’s voice is the most Christian sounding voice you have ever heard?) and hearing how he used to be an all-out atheist who was deeply suspicious of Christianity, he mentioned how lucky he was, as a South African, to live in a country where Christianity was still normal, and still mainstream. It was strange for him to hear about an average person who was a staunch atheist, and the opposition that Nicky had to Christianity was very out of the ordinary. How different to the UK!

Let’s face it, the UK isn’t a Christian country anymore. I was one of only 2 Christians in a school year of about 150, the Christian Union at Glasgow comprises about 0.6% of the university population, and as a general rule, to find a real live Christian is quite uncommon, unless you know where to look (I hear their favourite haunts are coffee shops and an odd place called ‘Wesley Owen’. Make sure you approach from up wind.). As a result, it’s always surprising, and somewhat refreshing, to go to a country where Christians aren’t outnumbered 10 to 1. I mean, the South African Alpha course seems to be more about faith building than faith starting, simply because most people are Christians already!

In general, yesterday was fascinating. It was a real education in the culture of South African Christians, and a wake up call to evangelism. We have such a big opportunity in the UK to tell people about God, precisely because most people don’t know him. God has put us in a position of massive responsibility, and now it’s up to us to do something about it.


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