Alpha: The Beginning by Rev. Lori Canaday
People often describe the way they establish their belief system as a journey. A journey, by definition, is a trip from one place to another. In our journey of establishing a belief system, we must begin in one place. Typically, this journey begins in a place of questions. Questions such as, “Why am I here?” “What’s my purpose?” “Is there a higher power?” “If there is a higher power, why do bad things happen?” or “What happens after life?” are usually found in this place. These are natural questions that, as humans, we will eventually find ourselves asking. If we really want to explore and settle the answers within ourselves, we need a safe environment; an environment that will allow us to work through these questions with others in a non-judgmental atmosphere. The Alpha Course provides that safe, non-judgmental environment, and operates as a starting point for many people on this journey.
One participant of The Alpha Course shares this:
“Doing Alpha was a wonderful experience for me. It helped me find answers for many of my questions. Some questions were questions I had never really considered; others were questions to which I thought I had an answer but was still unsure of that answer. At Alpha, I was encouraged to consider and reconsider these questions, to look at them in another way - with Jesus as the focal point. I learned how to better keep Jesus at the front of my mind and how to help maintain relationship with Christ through prayer.
I looked forward each week to the discussions concerning that night’s topic. I was able to speak about any issue which came to mind in a non-judgmental atmosphere. It was also very interesting to hear other people’s questions and points of view.
We all need our spiritual battery recharged sometimes and doing Alpha did that and more for me. I can still remember how it felt after coming back from the retreat. It was like being a new and better person, filled to the brim with the love of the Holy Spirit and wanting to pour it out upon other people so that they could feel what I felt too. My relationship with Jesus has only strengthened since then. Besides this I met many wonderful people, made new friends, and shared incredible times.”
There are also times one may have worked through his/her questions and moved forward in this journey. When this person sees others around them asking similar questions he/she often wants help, but find it to be challenging due to the in-depth nature of the questions and dialogue. The Alpha Course is a great opportunity for such discussions between friends and family to occur in an inviting and non-threatening environment.
One participant of The Alpha Course shares about her experience with bringing friends:
"I had opportunity to attend Alpha three times, each with a different friend who was searching for God and having many questions about Christian faith. Though I shared my faith in Christ and tried to address questions, I felt more help was needed than I could provide.
In one experience, I invited my friend to attend Alpha with me to further explore her important questions. The fact that Alpha is not a church service, its social, and is designed for people who do not necessarily attend church was appealing for my friend. The welcoming atmosphere allowed her to feel at ease. The meal and small group time encouraged connection with others. Through the talks each week, my friend was introduced to who Jesus is and why Jesus is the key to Christian faith. Once she embraced Jesus, many questions were answered for her!
Of my three friends who attended Alpha, one recommitted her life to Christ; one went on to accept Christ at a later time and the other had seeds planted - the result to be determined. As a Christian, I learned a better approach to sharing my faith. I encourage everyone with nonbelievers in their lives to invite one of them to attend Alpha!"
For those asking natural questions about life, The Alpha Course offers a no pressure, non-judgmental environment to discuss and explore the possible answers. The Alpha Course is the beginning of the journey.