Nicky Gumbel leads team to US conference

    Saturday, 15 October 2011: 3.07pm

    Vicar Nicky Gumbel and his wife Pippa are this weekend leading an HTB team to the US National Alpha conference in Dallas, Texas.

    The event, which is attended by around 600 church leaders, was opened on Friday by Andy McQuitty, Senior Pastor of Irving Bible Church, where the conference is being held.

    He said, 'We have had Alpha in our church as a ministry for some years and many of those who met Christ through Alpha now lead Alpha. It is a beautiful picture of how it is supposed to be.'

    On the Friday evening, interviews were conducted by Jamie Haith with 15 people who had come to faith through attending the Alpha course.

    They told astonishing stories:

    *Royce Hall did Alpha in prison while serving a 10-year prison sentence for 'suicide by cops' during which he was shot five times. His life was completely transformed and he has since helped lead regular Alpha courses in the prison. Over the last nine years, 2,800 inmates have done Alpha in that prison alone.

    *Former biker Anthony Carroll spoke of his life on the edge of society before being invited to an Alpha course in 2010. He said he had been a man who trusted noone and 'would never hug anyone'. With that, he gave Jamie Haith a big hug.

    *Yesenia Anderson was in 'a bad place' when she saw bumper stickers and billboards advertising the Alpha course. She went online and enrolled in a local course. Now her life is transformed.

    *Mike Scott was and alcoholic and homeless when he did the Alpha course in 2007. His life changed and now he is in his third year at seminary.

    *Alexis Harmeling was suffering from an eating disorder when she went on Alpha in March 2010. She gave her life to Christ. In her Alpha small group was ex-offender James Harmeling who also gave his life to Christ. The pair married earlier this year.

    Also interviewed was Pastor David Warnick of Idaho who has run five Global Alpha Training teams from his church to India in the last four years, training up 200 pastors there to run Alpha. 'I love India and I love Alpha,' he said.

    On Sunday, the HTB team moves to Mexico City to speak at an Alpha conference which will mostly be for Catholic church leaders.