Every Sunday night for eight weeks, laughter and conversation spilled out of the auditorium freely, as new friendships grew and God-based discussions happened naturally. A wide range of people gathered around the seven tables, from school-leavers to the retired; the sceptical to the bold, all coming together for our first term of Alpha. Followed by dinner, each group watched the weekly video about various topics such as prayer, faith, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. A total of eight topics in eight weeks.
This then lead into discussion times, where anything and everything goes. Each person has the chance to say what they really think. “Is God real? Is this even possible? Why would God forgive me?” The more honest the conversation, the deeper the trust between each individual.
I recall each team leader wondering how these people would connect and open up to one another. Yet here we are at the end, with solid evidence of both the internal changes, and the external relationships created. Most people became comfortable with one another during the Alpha weekend. Friday night, we all gathered for desert and trivia, followed by a simple introduction video to the Holy Spirit. As Saturday began, the leaders gathered and interceded for those to arrive, that they would not only learn about the Holy Spirit, but encounter him fully. That was our greatest hope, that these seekers would personally know the living God.
Following two video sessions and a discussion, we returned after lunch to the auditorium for worship and prayer ministry. This was when the leaders had permission to pray for each individual. Up until this week, prayer had been something slowly introduced, but now we did not want to hesitate to follow where the Holy Spirit lead. If he guided us to pray for them, we would. The encompassing idea was to pray the oldest, yet simplest prayer, in the Church: “Holy Spirit come.” And we would wait. Some felt his peace, others felt their burdens lifted. Some cried, yet all left with a smile on their face. We had the privilege to pray for whatever they asked for. While I cannot speak on behalf of other’s encounters, I can say with pride that my group of young adults all asked for more of Him. Even those who do not know him, nor even believe, were open to the Holy Spirit.
Two more weeks of Alpha after the weekend, and we have come to the conclusion. I see connections in all the groups created and strengthened. We have had several people accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Many seekers want more, and although undecided, have eagerly agreed to come back in the following months for a follow up course. Even the many people who were already Christians before coming said they learnt new things, made friends, and had their faith strengthened.
Our prayers for Alpha were answered. The Lord blessed it, revealing himself to those who came. He guided us, strengthened us, and filled us weekly. Connections were made. Most of all, our prayer was that many would accept his offer to come to him, as they experienced and believed in the love of Christ Jesus.