Tekila's Story

Tekila's Story

London, UK

I couldn’t ignore the notion that all they wanted from me was to turn up, speak my mind and be myself.

From a young age I arrived at the conclusion that God was not part of my life.

Even though my church schooling and regular Sunday church visits secured my belief that God existed, the idea that he was far too busy to help with the problems my family faced consumed me at the start of every prayer. To me, my prayers were empty words fuelled by a combination of doing what I was told and getting the words right.

God was just another unused name in my contacts, saved only for the comforting thought that he just might pick up if I called in an unlikely time of danger. Life itself was far more real than God was.

As I grew up I was obsessed with upholding the image that I was effortlessly keeping up with life’s rat race. Avoiding the shame of falling behind by immediately suppressing the ever-growing feelings of regret, anger and anxiety was all that kept me going.

A religious debate with my twin brother, who always had a strong faith, left me feeling even more frustrated than I did before. I wanted phrases like ‘God loves you’ and ‘God is great’ to be more than just vague or hollow words. Seeing how much sense it made to my brother and other Christians I knew left me feeling like I was being left out of some big secret. I needed to know what all the fuss was about.

The debate ended with my brother recommending I try Alpha. Visions of a Bible waving priest hijacking my free time to self-righteously rant about God’s ‘love’ and ‘greatness’ immediately popped up in my head, and initially made me averse to the idea.

Deep down, however, I knew that I needed a fearless, non-judgemental and trustworthy companion to help me deal with my past, present and future. According to my brother, God was the man for the job, but I didn’t really know or understand him

I decided that Alpha was the way that God would be vetted for this position in my life. When I first walked through the door, it was completely different to what I expected. My group consisted of men and women from different backgrounds who, behind the shield of agonisingly awkward small talk, seemed to be fighting the same urge as I was to stand up and scream, ‘What on Earth am I doing here?’

Nothing, from the friendly group leaders and helpers to the free food, felt natural. The idea that something so well organised was a seemingly selfless act was ludicrous to me, and I was determined to find a crack in the welcoming façade.

The challenging debate topics of Alpha kept me keen on returning to the meetings. Every week I gained a clearer understanding of the role God wanted to play in our lives, as well as a hunger for more answers. The consistency with which the hosts listened and accepted everyone’s views was incredibly disarming, and, though I was still sceptical about Alpha, I couldn’t ignore the notion that all they wanted from me was to turn up, speak my mind and be myself.

We all came from different walks of life, but during our discussions my group connected to each other’s minds instead of our jobs, achievements or backgrounds. Soon I felt like I was among close friends instead of distant strangers, and this gradually gave me the confidence to let my guard down and be myself.

Alpha didn’t affect me immediately, but it was the start of a journey and I feel like I have become who I truly am because of it. My priorities changed for the better and the strong friendships I’ve built from the course are ones I’ll always treasure.

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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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