Tuesday nights at 6:15 p.m. have become very near and dear to my heart during the last couple of years. God has used Alpha to completely transform my life, my marriage, my family, business relationships and the way I see the world.
When Matt and I started visiting St. Michael’s, we were immediately drawn into the Alpha program. I had spent the past decade living a life wholly unconnected with the church. I spent many years living a very godless life, making some very bad decisions. Although I had grown up in a Christian family going to church every Sunday and attending a Christian school for 12 years, I had come to a place that religion seemed relative to where you were born and the family from which you came. I struggled to understand how to find an absolute truth in the world. My mindset could not have been more poised for the Holy Spirit to transform my life through Alpha. When I started attending Alpha, it was like a fire had been lit in my mind to explore my faith and reconnect with God in a way that I had long since lost and probably never really had.
The Holy Spirit day away was a real turning point in my faith. I will always look back on the experience as a real gift from God, who once and for all shut the door to all the doubts and misunderstanding I had about my faith. It is really difficult to articulate the experience but I am certain that the Holy Spirit touched my soul in a mighty, powerful way, and it was as real an experience as sitting here and writing this article. I often struggled with the topic of apologetics and how can we really defend a religion that is ultimately built on faith. One thing I now understand is that people can doubt and disagree with the veracity of the Bible, if Jesus was a person, and if God is real, but they cannot deny my personal experience. I also was able to understand clearly that there is a distinct difference in knowing about God, i.e. going to church and doing all the “religious stuff”, and experiencing God. You can’t truly experience God and walk away from it unchanged. And even more amazing is being able to see other people who are attending Alpha having the same life changing moments over and over again.
Beyond just being a life changing experience, I have learned so many incredible lessons during the last several years through Alpha. Most importantly Alpha teaches you to be a listener. I have learned how to listen to people’s stories and give them the space to explore their faith in a safe environment, something that we need more of in the church today. Being able to sit back and listen to people gives you the opportunity to witness the amazing work that the Holy Spirit can do to transform a group discussion. I have witnessed people share stories that were very intimate and painful which has turned out to be the life transforming word that someone else in the room needed to hear. Watching the Holy Spirit changing people’s lives is nothing short of amazing, and it has blessed me with the ability to have a rock-solid faith that God is present in all our moments working for our good even if we can’t always see it.