Tom's Story

Tom's Story

Brighton, UK

I had nowhere to channel my grief, so I fell into a self-destructive mode.

Growing up, my parents weren’t religious and the only time I remember going to church was for my brother’s christening. I always believed there could be a higher being, but I thought Christianity was outdated and irrelevant.

To me, Jesus was nothing more than a wise guy. I suppose I thought life was about finding success, and that meant having loads of friends, being well liked, and finding my dream job. I expected that once I had ticked all these boxes, I’d be satisfied.

When I was sixteen, a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer and died months later. I really didn’t know how to react and was totally shaken. I had nowhere to channel my grief, so I fell into a self-destructive mode. The easiest thing to do was to push everything down further.

I started going out way too much, drinking and dabbling in drugs. None of these things made me happier and I didn’t understand why. Even though the selling point is, ‘Take these and you’ll have a great night,’ every morning I woke up with the same feeling of emptiness.

When I was nineteen, I moved to Brighton to study Music Business. I kept up this lifestyle but I hit rock bottom a couple of months in. I was alone in a new city and I had no one to turn to.

Around this time, a friend, Lydia, invited me to a student party at church and I thought I’d go along. I remember walking outside the church building thinking, ‘An abandoned church? Great music? This is going to be amazing.’

It wasn’t quite what I expected, but I remember going home and noticing that I had never felt so valued and loved in my life. That night, the emptiness inside me almost began to disappear.

I started helping out at the church’s homeless outreach project. Every week I had so many questions – about Jesus, prayer and worship – that eventually Lydia suggested I go along to Alpha to find out what faith was all about.

I was really surprised to see so many young people in church. When I asked questions, people really opened up about their own doubts and experiences. It was refreshing to see that Christianity isn’t outdated, it’s contemporary and relevant to our generation.

My journey into faith started when a friend invited me to Alpha and invited me to find out about Jesus.

I didn’t become a Christian overnight, and there wasn’t one huge event that made me decide to follow Jesus. It was very gradual, a slow understanding, which suited me as I needed time to think things through. I felt lighter, and began to find ways of channelling my feelings instead of shutting them up like I had done for years.

It’s so liberating to know that there’s someone out there who cares about me, who cares about the way I’m feeling. Instead of hiding behind a lifestyle or material things, I feel a lot more confident in my identity because I know I’ve been created this way for a reason.

My journey into faith started when a friend invited me to Alpha and invited me to find out about Jesus. I’ll always be grateful to her for having that courage. At the time, she didn’t know the effect it would have on my life.

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Sheela's Story

Sheela's Story

 

The idea of running Alpha in the workplace honestly stemmed from a practical reason – late working hours were a barrier to my colleagues being able to attend Alpha at church. It made sense to bring Alpha to the workplace for those who were interested to give it a go.

I remember feeling quite nervous and unsure the first time we ran it back in 2014. I didn’t know what to expect or if anyone would even turn up! ‘Ye of little faith’ I remember a friend saying to me when we ended up with a solid group of about 20 in that first round. Since then, we’ve run Alpha four times - sometimes with larger groups, sometimes with smaller groups - but each experience has never failed to be just as amazing.

The most interesting aspect for me about running Alpha in our workplace was the immediate connection that people made from having something fundamental in common – where they work. There was little need for breaking the ice and discussions took off from day 1 with guests feeling comfortable sharing their thoughts and perspectives.

Alpha in the workplace complements what the church is doing by reaching out to a community that might not have been able to be reached. So many of us know that being out there in the corporate world trying to make it in the great rat race can get tiring and it’s only a matter of time before one begins to ask “Is there more to life that this?” – which is a question that was on the minds of our guests when they came. Alpha provided that safe space for conversations that might not have taken place otherwise.

The most memorable account from a guest for me comes from a guy who had attended our first ever run of Alpha. Post-Alpha, he told us that while was hesitant initially about the whole idea, eventually the weekly sessions became a place of refuge for him in the busyness of work. He said that it was a truly unexpected experience - “Work is what I had associated with stress and a lack of peace but through Alpha, work became a place I found hope, peace and faith.”

It’s not smooth sailing all the time but it is stories like this and many more of that nature that remind me that even if it’s for one person each round, it’s still worth it. And I’d just love to encourage anyone who’s thinking about it to just give it a go! The training and material make the process really simple to get started. Your adventure of a lifetime in running Alpha is just around the corner… trust me, it’s worth it!

Work is what I had associated with stress and a lack of peace but through Alpha, work became a place I found hope, peace and faith.
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