The Rev. Richard Ogunlusi is the Vicar in charge, Church of the Messiah, in Ile- Ife, Osun state in the south-western part of Nigeria. COM for short is a church under the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion. It is a church refer to as ‘Citadel of Biblical and Exciting Christianity’. And this is largely due to the excitement that Alpha has brought to the church. The church is located about 500 meters away from the main gate of Obafemi Awolowo University, One of the first generation of higher institutions in Nigeria.
The Rev. Ogunlusi introduced Alpha to the church in 2013 after he heard of its impact from other church leaders at the 2013 Alpha Global Leadership conference.
How he came to know about Alpha
Having heard about Alpha from his Diocesan Bishop for priests to use the Alpha tool, In the year 2013, he went for the Alpha Leadership Conference, London, where he met with other church leaders running Alpha, hearing the impact of alpha in the different churches he decided that he would try running Alpha when he gets back to his parish.
On getting back to Nigeria, he shared his plans with the church leadership and so, they started with their first Alpha.
The first course was attended by 20 people, who are from the church. By the time the second course was run, about hundred people attended and these are majorly students from the university campus, who were invited by people who attended the first course. According to The Rev. Ogunlusi,” We can say from our experience now that Alpha can be run in Nigeria communities not just in UK, Alpha has given us tremendous opportunities to present the gospel in a friendly manner to people that ordinarily would not have stepped into the church. We have had several people of other faith try Alpha with us, we have witnessed guests who ordinarily would not call themselves Christians coming to accept a relationship with Christ, while some who have disconnected from the faith made a new commitment to God”.
Alpha has given us tremendous opportunities to present the gospel in a friendly manner to people that ordinarily would not have stepped into the church.
In his experience of running Alpha, team training and keeping to the Alpha recipe is very important to running Alpha effectively and experiencing good result. It doesn’t matter the number of experiences you and your team have gathered running Alpha you always need to train your before you start a new course.
Keeping the Alpha course free from any denominational attachment has been very helpful, as many who are of different denominations can freely come to explore Alpha and ask questions bothering them, people from different denominations and even those who are not of the Christian faith.
“Alpha has been a key evangelism and discipleship tool for our church. Prior to Alpha at the Church of the Messiah, we have tried different things to reach the youths and win more members without any significant outcome. The introduction of Alpha was exactly what we needed at the time when we were almost getting frustrated.
“We have added more members through the Alpha course. Even those that did not become church members retain their association with the church through friendship with members. We have quite a number that has joined the Alpha Team and became very committed, although they attend other church denominations. The body of Christ is thereby strong and united.”
After the first Alpha course in 2013 with 20 people in attendance, Church of the Messiah has been running Alpha twice every year for the students, with more than five hundred students reached with the gospel of God’s love by the church.