The Alpha Experience25 Apr 2019
By Catherine Deborah
The first day at Alpha was quite intimidating. Being an introvert, surrounding myself with complete strangers, where I will have to voice my opinions, wasn’t something I enjoyed doing often. Nevertheless, my first day went well. During the week before the second meetup, one of the members – Harshada gave me a call, asking me how I was and how my week was. I was surprised and kind of suspicious. Nobody had ever done that before; at any church I’d gone to. I thought it was really nice of her.
Being the youngest in my group, I sometimes found myself nervous to voice my opinions. I was worried about saying something that might offend someone. But that slowly changed as I realized nobody here judged me and I was free to say whatever I wanted. One of the sessions, talked about forgiveness. There was a close family member I was struggling to forgive at that time and that Friday, during our group discussion I was reminded of it. Later that day after church, one of the members – Appley asked me why I was quiet during the discussion and asked if there’s anything that she could pray for me. Again, that was new. I slowly started to develop trust between the members. I’m someone who struggles with trusting people in general and something in me felt that I could trust the people here.
Each Friday, we talked about our week and I was able to share more and more as I got to know everyone. One Friday, each of us had to pray out loud. I was totally terrified. I think I’ve only done that once in school. I asked the Holy Spirit to help me out. And when I did, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Mine was the shortest. Another Friday, Harshada gave us an assignment to write an acrostic poem for the word ‘Bible’. That was fun. I’d never done an acrostic poem before. We had a group chat on Whatsapp where we could share videos or Bible verses. Appley had shared a video during the first week about a testimony. The testimony was about Kim Walker where she asked Jesus, “How much do you love me?”. After watching that video, I commented about it on the chat and Appley said that I could also ask God the same and He will give a unique answer. I did ask Jesus and He did answer me.
I learned not to be afraid of telling people about Jesus. I was always nervous and scared about sharing the gospel, especially with strangers but now that fear has started to fade away and I know if I surrender to the Holy Spirit, He can speak through me when I have no idea what to say. Hearing the testimonies each week from the others in my group and being able to share my views was amazing and encouraging. I was even told that some of the things I talked about helped them. That really made me happy.
During the Alpha weekend, I got prayed over for impartation and healing. After that, my view of God the Father changed. I was able to look at God the Father as an actual father who can take care of me better that my parents. I’ve always looked at Father God as the big scary guy in the old testament. And only recently did that view change. The prayer and healing that I received at the Alpha weekend had played a role in that and helped progress that change further. I’ve come to realize I can depend on God much more that my own dad. It’s still a work in progress, but each day I’m learning more.
At the first session of Alpha, towards the end, each of us were asked to think of a question that we would like God to answer. My question was to know why God brought me into existence. I’ve had existential crisis for many years since I was in school. In 2016, I’d found the reason for the purpose of my life on Earth. The answer was: to be like Jesus, to be changed into his likeness and have his character. It was simple and I guess sort of obvious being a Christian, but to me it answered something that consumed my mind for days at a time and made me depressed. Now I wanted to know why God had created me to be like Jesus in the first place. Why bring me into existence when I had no joy existing and felt like my existence was completely meaningless and pointless? I got my answer to this too.
During one of the church services after Alpha, there was a call for people with broken relationships to lift their hand to be prayed for. I lifted my hand. I had a broken relationship with the same person I was struggling to forgive. It was my mom. She had passed away in 2013 and recently I’d been having flashbacks of all the hurtful memories with her. I was struggling to forgive her. I was angry and had no way to be reconciled with her now. I got prayed over by 2 members from church – Girly and Connie. Connie told me to put all the pain and hurt at the cross. I saw myself placing boxes of hurt and pain at the cross. I felt completely different after that. For the first time in my life, I felt God really loves me. Till then, even though I knew in my mind that God loves me, and I sincerely believed He loves everyone, I never could believe it for myself. Letting go of the pain and hurt my mom had caused me, helped in experiencing the love of God like never before. That day when I got home, I started saying, “Jesus I love you”, “Father I love you”. I could never say that before. For the first time in my life, I experienced a new kind of love. And the reason I exist is ‘love’. I exist to be loved by Him and love Him back. Again, I know it’s really simple but, it changed my whole perspective on why I exist. For many years I’d wished that I was never born into this world. If there was a way to go back in time and prevent me from coming into existence, I would have gladly done it. That’s how much I hated being alive. But now, I’m so grateful that God created me.
This experience also answered another question I’d asked at Alpha. I wanted to know why God had let my mom die. My mom’s death was and still is the most painful experience of my life and I’d never gotten a satisfactory answer. But now, knowing the love of God at this moment, is worth all the years of pain it has caused me. I wouldn’t have known God’s love the way I do nor long for him the way I do if my mom was alive right now. I depended on my parents for everything. Losing my mom lead me to do a lot of things on my own which were hard and difficult. The difficulties in my life have always been what brought be closer to God each time. To me this love is worth the pain. Nobody in my life has loved me the way God does. Getting to see and hear from someone who loves you unconditionally on a daily basis is like the best thing ever! Even after I die, this relationship with God is the only thing that will never change. It’s wonderful to know that no matter what, I will always have The Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit for eternity with me and nothing in this universe can take them away from me!
Alpha has helped me grow and learn more about God. It has helped me build friendships and look at people around me as friends instead of looking at them through a cynical lens. Above all, it has helped me learn about the love of God and experience it for myself. And to me, that is honestly the most amazing thing in the world. A God who loves you and cares about the most mundane things in your life and finds joy just hearing you speak to him. A God who gives you joy and peace and asks for nothing more than your time with Him. A God that has loved you since eternity. Every human being in this world has access to this love! A love that has given me a reason to live this life and have joy every day. A love that surpasses all other forms of love in this world. A love that transcends time and space. A love that lasts forever and ever and ever……. till infinity and beyond ♥