The Alpha Course has become salt and light to the disease and darkness in Gugulethu, Western Cape, says Pastor Siviwe Minyi, one of the Christian leaders behind the growth of the Alpha movement in the township.
When Gateway News reported on the launch of the world famous introductory Christian course in Gugulethu in 2013, a course leader, Mbuyelo Bikwani, said: “If we have reached just one person, it would have been worth it.” He added that youth groups were the next target.
Minyi who pastors Khanyisa Community Church on the border of Gugulethu and Manenberg, says that leaders who were trained up two years ago have surpassed intitial goals and are poised to make a major impact on the lives of people in Gugulethu, surrounding areas and beyond.
In 2014 twelve different Alpha offsite courses were birthed out of one course and a leadership training time the previous year. The leaders have also trained a group of leaders in their 20s and 30s who are facilitating the course in two local high schools, ID Mkhize High and Fezeka High. In addition they are working alongside Realsitic, an organisation that is involved with young men who are in conflict with the law.
At Khanyisa Community Church alone, the leaders aim to run two courses a year. Each course takes 12 weeks to complete. The course is not run in winter as many people who walk to the venue battle to attend. Minyi says with all the leaders they have trained since 2013, they have the capacity to run about 25 courses per year in the community and beyond. In 2015, they hope to extend their Alpha youth work to Paarl with a sports organisation that is involved with 12 to 18 year olds.
Not so long ago the church ran an Alpha course to which they invited people from Manenberg. They were surprised at the great, positive response. It was a landmark experience having many Coloured people join a predominantly black congregation, says Minyi. There were many salvations and there is a continuing dialogue as to how to meet the needs of the people from Manenberg who live amidst gang wars, unemployment and hunger.
As a starting point the church is providing lunch daily to people who previously may have gone hungry most days. They are also talking to the police in Manenberg and hope to invite them and community members to a future Alpha course. The police initiative is unlocking a social justice arm to Alpha and they are very excited and expectant for the future, says Minyi. He says they are trusting that in addition to getting saved people will take seriously the lifestyle changes expected of a follower of Christ and that a positive impact will be made on the community with regards to violence and unemployment.
He says there is great excitement in the community as some members of the inaugural group of young Alpha leaders are going to an Alpha Leaders Conference in London later this year.
Minyi says that his goals are to focus on pastoring his congregation and to continue to teach Alpha and raise leaders to impact the community. His prayer is that the Alpha movement will continue to reach and teach young people aged from 22 to 35 so that they in turn can facilitate Alpha courses in their workplaces and beyond, always remembering that they need to be sensitive to culture issues and to respect where each person comes from.