The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
The videos, released on April 14, also feature Chilean miner Jose Henriquez and author Alister McGrath, among other well-known Christians.
Last April 14th, the brand new Alpha Film Series were released, with 16 new, 30-minute documentary-style episodes.
More than 29 million people have now tried Alpha at a local church or venue, in 169 countries. The 16 new short documentary style films are being offered to churches as an alternative to the traditional Alpha talks.
According to the organisation, the videos will engage a broadly global and multicultural audience while covering the traditional Alpha content such as: Who is Jesus?, How can we have faith?, Why and how do I pray?, How does God guide us?, and Who is the Holy Spirit? It features inspiring stories and interviews using interactive cinematography, as well as visual illustrations and motion graphics.
BEAR GRYLLS AND ALISTER MCGRATH TO APPEAR
Bear (Edward) Grylls, best-selling author, adventurer and star of Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild, is among the prominent evangelical Christians who feature in the new Alpha series.
The espisodes were filmed in locations across the world.
Jackie Pullinger, one of the world's best-known missionaries (based in Hong Kong), Jose Henriquez Gonzalez, one of the 33 miners trapped for 69 days at the San Jose mine in Chile, and Alister McGrath, Professor of science and religion at the University of Oxford also appear in the series.
The first episode is already available, and new episodes will be released every week through April and May. It will later be available in DVD format and also in Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin and Hindi, by the end of 2016.
IS THERE MORE TO LIFE THAN THIS?
The first film opens with Alpha pioneer Nicky Gumbel talking about questions from basic ones such as "What shall I wear?" to bigger "life" questions such as "Why am I here?" and "Where am I heading?"
Along with Alpha Pioneer Nicky Gumbel and his wife Pippa, the series will feature two new hosts: Toby Flint and Gemma Hunt. Toby is a curate at Holy Trinity Brompton church in London and Gemma is an award-winning BBC children’s television host.
GRYLLS: “MY FAITH IS STRONGER THAT MY FEAR OF WHAT OTHERS MIGHT THINK”
Grylls, filmed swimming and lighting a fire in a jungle on the ocean, affirms: "For so many years I always just strived to be strong in myself. It was as if all I needed was me and my buddies and we'd be, like, invincible.”
"But the truth is none of us are. And I don't want to do this thing called life, I don't want to do it on my own. It kind of feels as if my longing for this light inside, my faith, is now stronger than my fear of what others might think”, he adds.
He explains that his faith "is also like a backbone, helping me stand tall and helping me be strong when I'm really up against it, facing those odds, whether it is on a mountain or stuck in some jungle, or just dealing with the storms of life. Sure I need that. But at heart my Christian faith says I'm known, I'm known to Christ."
“FAITH IS NOT COMPLICATED”
“I had a very natural faith as a kid,” Grylls recalled in an interview with Relevant Magazine. “As a really young kid, I never questioned God. I just knew God existed and it felt like He was my friend.”
However, he admitted believing hasn’t always been as easy as it was when he was a kid. “It’s been a kinda wiggly, messy journey that is still continuing” .
“I remember having one moment when some really good friends turned their back on me in a really nasty way, and I prayed a simple prayer up a tree one evening, saying, ‘God, if you’re like I knew you as a kid, would you be that friend again?’ And it was no more complicated than that”, he said
“The amazing thing is that all God asks is that we sort of open the door and He’ll do the rest”, he concluded.
“THE GLUE TO OUR FAMILY”
Grylls met his wife Shara will training to climb the Everest. But that adventure was not the biggest challenge of his life. Within a year after he and Shara were married, his father passed away at a relatively young age, 66. Shara also lost her father in the same time period.
He pointed to their shared faith as a significant component of their marriage. “that’s been a great glue to our family, actually. I look back now and I think it’d be really hard without that faith together that sustained us.”
“Jesus never said, ‘I have come so you can feel smart and proper and smiley and religious. Faith is about finding life and joy and peace”, Grylls told Relevant Magazine.
“I kind of cling to the simple things, like ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ and ‘I’m holding you by your right hand’ [...] Jesus is unchanging and we are forgiven.”
You can watch the first episode below: