Again this year Patti and I were able to attend the UK CBSI Leaders Conference. We found it cheaper to try something new … taking the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead in Wales. Then rather than dealing with buses and trains, we rented a car and drove to the beautiful Hayes Conference Center – Alfreton in Swanwick. It was a wonderful time reconnecting with friends, to include the CBSI-Europe director and the CBS International director who were joining us from the U.S.
A highlight of the trip was spending time with other Calebs that were able to attend from Wales, Lithuania, and France (all originally from the U.S.). Most of the Calebs (shown below) stayed over an extra night due to travel arrangements.
Group photo before departing.
The Calebs were the only ones to stay an extra night, so we had a wonderful time in fellowship together. Actually, one of the couples are not Calebs yet, but were traveling with the Calebs to France on an exploratory trip to consider joining them in ministering in France. They had a wonderful testimony of healing to share and led us in some worship time. One, a retired pastor, followed the singing with a communion service and healing service where we got to pray for each others aches and health issues. What a wonderful time together. One fact that we thought interesting about us was that we were all from Virginia, but only met because of our ministry with CBSI.
Patti and I also planned an additional night in the UK to do some sightseeing and to avoid arriving back in downtown Dublin on St Patrick’s Day. That gave us some time to relax and enjoy some of the beautiful sites and castles in Wales.
Click here to see more pictures of Beaumaris Castle.
I mentioned earlier that we had met Peter, the new director of Alpha-Ireland, at the Tine conference in Feb. Peter expressed interest in meeting with us to look at CBSI as a potential follow-up to Alpha. We arranged earlier in the week to meet today in downtown Dublin.
Peter and I (Sam) had a very productive time together and the future looks bright for ongoing collaboration between Alpha and CBSI in Ireland. The problems we face in Ireland are:
- Very few people have any experience in personal Bible reading,
- A very limited number of churches promote personal Bible reading / study,
- Of those who are willing and motivated to study the Bible, a very small percentage are willing to be responsible to lead a study
With these problems existing, we have learned over the years that Alpha is a much easier “entry-point” for the Irish than CBSI because Alpha does not involve any homework/preparation for participants and less leadership responsibilities for the organizers. Unfortunately, there is still a “huge jump” from Alpha to CBSI. We have found good success with Alpha graduates using CBSI, but it required an experienced leader who was willing to give it a try.
Peter and I agreed that the major drawback for leaders in CBSI is the requirement for them to do a teaching / wrap-up talk after the discussion time. We felt that an effective alternative would be to provide video teaching to go with the discussion as Alpha does. Fortunately, this is a project that is already being pursued in the U.K. with a CBSI study called “God’s Amazing Book”. Peter and I felt that this would be a good study to use as a transition between Alpha and CBSI and that it would be even more effective with Irish teachers.
The U.K. CBSI director was in agreement and thought that it would be good to have the different voices for the different countries. The job now is to organize the teachers … pray that God will lead us to the right ones who are available and willing.
Peter was ‘on-board’ at the end of our meeting and told me he would be calling four of his Alpha leaders who were looking for good follow-up to recommend us and give them my contact information. He also had some other contacts that he thought might be interested and was also going to contact them. One of the main struggles he is facing in Alpha is expectations in churches that doing the Alpha course is going to revolutionize their churches when they don’t provide anything to follow Alpha that would help reap the benefits of going through Alpha. We are hopeful that this partnership will produce lasting results within churches that will contribute to the growth of both Alpha and CBSI.
Pray with us toward this end. Thanks you for standing with us!
Tomorrow has finally arrived (I promised to post these Malta pictures in my last post on Feb 27th)! Rather than selecting just a few of the 120 pictures, I put together a video of all of them with some background music (unfortunately, though, not Maltese music). Enjoy.