It was early last year, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, when a good friend sent Michelle an invitation to Alpha at Wesley Methodist Church.
Michelle had attended Alpha at other churches before but did not complete the course. As it was during the pandemic and she was working from home, she readily accepted the invitation — one that would change her life and move it in a different direction.
Liking the Comfortable Format
She was matched with Come Seek Find Small Group, one of the many Wesley Small Groups (SG) which had registered to host Alpha. Due to the pandemic restrictions, the course was held online — which Michelle described as a blessing in disguise. “With its accessibility, it made it easier to join and was less daunting for a non-Christian like me,” she said.
The format of the sessions also appealed to Michelle. Besides the video sharing by Nicky Gumbel, which she thought was a useful and well-done resource to learn more about the faith, she liked the topic discussion, which took place in small group manner in a Breakout Room, in which a couple of new participants were paired with one or two SG facilitators.
“Having the discussions in the Breakout Rooms made it more cosy and heart-warming,” Michelle said.
Having a discussion with the same group of people every week gave the discussion a consistency and helped the group to get to know each other better. There was responsibility and accountability to each other and follow-through from the facilitators.
For Michelle, it was helpful that the SG facilitators were in a similar age group and were open to the participants’ questions. Having the discussion online also makes it easy for her to check in with the SG facilitators and vice versa. “It was very encouraging to have many believers who are rooted in their faith, sharing with you.”
The Breakout Room discussion time was a “small haven” and a good starting point to find her footing, as she gradually gained confidence about her beliefs.
Being Certain of Her Acceptance
When her SG facilitator, who had observed her spiritual growth, asked if she was ready to accept Christ, Michelle felt fully ready to say the Sinner’s Prayer.
At that moment, she was confident of her acceptance of Christianity: “I was sure that I have put my hope on God, and I wouldn’t let my life be any other way,” meaning that she was determined not to live without Him from that day on.
After Alpha ended, she stayed on with Come Seek Find SG, finding it a comfortable place for her to grow.
She was prompted to sign up for Baptism and Membership Class (BMC) soon after Alpha, being certain of the direction she wanted to go.
In BMC, Michelle was exposed to new learnings about the faith. While the discussions at Alpha were more exploratory in nature, the discussions at BMC were more in depth, allowing her to delve deeper into His Word.
She was baptised at the end of 2021, marking a significant spiritual milestone in Michelle’s faith journey, within the year. Her parents, who are not believers, and her good friend who sent her the invitation to Alpha, were at her baptism ceremony, witnessing and celebrating the joy with her.
Putting Things into Perspective
All of the experiences helped Michelle, who came from a non-Christian family, form a solid foundation in the faith.
She had been put off by Christianity in her teenage years, due to friends who preached in ways that did not appeal to her. But at the same time, she has also been surrounded by good Christian friends, who through the years, have been sending her devotions to read and praying for her.
These were the small and quiet efforts that really touched her. Similarly, Alpha was “welcoming and not overly pushy”, giving her an opportunity to explore her thoughts and questions about Christianity in a comfortable space and manner.
She had, for so many years, been on “auto-pilot mode”, relying on her own strength. “Life throws its curveballs and there are many things beyond my control, like the pandemic.” She found that even though one puts in effort and time and works hard, things might not be smooth-sailing or produce the result that one has hoped for.
Alpha helped to put things into perspective for Michelle, as she learnt that God has His own plans for her, though they may not go in the direction as she has expected or wished for.
It helped that she attended Alpha with a mind-set that was open to exploring Christianity. Michelle said, “I was not there to challenge anything, but rather, I wanted to understand it more so that I could better accept it.”
“Alpha gave me a platform to talk about Christianity and to better understand God’s plans for me.”
Growing In Christ
Michelle enjoys the fellowship and discipleship that she finds in her SG. Her SG members used to make it a point to listen to church sermons together when the pandemic made it difficult to head to church. They also closely followed the church’s Directions and Bible study series, which helped Michelle to grow in her walk. In particular, Michelle appreciates having a structured curriculum for discussion that covers a range of topics that are relevant to faith and life.
Reading God’s Word helps Michelle to grow deeper in her faith. Citing the Parable of the Sower (in Matthew 13), she said, “It is inevitable that we may sometimes fall on bad soil, soil with all the thorns, because bad things happen, and there are full of worries in life.”
But His Word reminds her that whatever she is going through is temporary. “It helps me to remember to consciously take myself out of bad soil and plant myself in good soil.”
Receiving and Giving Back
The SG members also do discipleship together and would cover S.H.A.P.E. discussions together, through which Michelle discovered that evangelism is one of her spiritual gifts.
She believes that it is God’s plan for her — “to evangelise in a less preachy and pushy way to encourage someone in my position to accept Christ.”
When her SG held a second run of Alpha, she was invited to share her testimony, to which she gladly did, seeing it as a way to give back. She was highly encouraged by the questions from the participants in the second run, having fruitful discussions with them.
For Michelle, the intentional matching of the facilitators’ and participants’ backgrounds and faith journeys for the Breakout Room discussion was an important factor in aiding open and comfortable sharing for the new participants — one that she really appreciated.
To those who are looking to learn more about Christianity through Alpha, Michelle has this to say — do not hesitate to join.
“My only regret is that I didn’t know Him earlier,” she said quietly. If she had, perhaps her adulthood would be filled with less worry and more joy, she explained.
But as it is, she acknowledged that it was all in God’s good timing, and that every believer is a work-in-progress. Now she gives thanks for the sense of calm and peace in her daily life, and for the blessings that she finds in growing in Christ every day.
What is Alpha?
Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith, typically run over eleven weeks. Each talk looks at a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation. Alpha is organised in Wesley once in a year through small groups.
The talks are designed to engage and inspire conversation. Usually around thirty minutes long video exploring the big issues around faith and unpack the basics of Christianity, addressing questions from Who is Jesus? and How can we have faith? to Why and how do I pray? and How does God guide us?
To know more about Alpha in Wesley, please email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Read also: How I Found My Identity In God