My story started many years ago. Before I had an encounter with the Holy Spirit my life was aimless. I was doing everything in my own strength and not doing it very well. I believed in a Creator, but didn’t know I could have a relationship with him. And Jesus and the Holy Spirit were just names, I didn’t really understand who they were or the part they could play in my life. Plus, I didn’t have too many kind things to say about 
born-again Christians!

Initially, attending CityLife Church was making a big impact on my wife, but not on me. But then the Alpha course was advertised and my wife knew that the Roman Catholic Church ran Alpha, so therefore it must be OK. So we did the course, and it was fun. It was run by 'real' people, people that you could relate to and who all loved Jesus. I recall that I didn’t contribute much in any of the small-group time during the whole of the course.

Back then they held a weekend away (Holy Spirit weekend), in the middle of the course, but we couldn’t go as we were interstate that weekend. However, we noticed a massive change in people at the next Alpha night following that week end away – the noise level in the room and the relationships between the people had completely changed. We immediately decided that we should do the course again and this time we would make the weekend away a priority. So we did!

Doing the course for the second time was just as much fun, although again, I didn’t contribute much during the small-group time. But then came the weekend away. I went along very expectant as to what might happen  …I’d heard all the stories about people getting a prayer language (speaking in tongues) and/or have a physical encounter with the Holy Spirit. So we got to the ministry time on Saturday afternoon and I asked for prayer for speaking in a prayer language …and nothing happened.  
 
A bit disappointed I went outside. We were in a rural area, so I wandered over by a fence and just looked out over the paddocks and for some unknown reason just burst into tears …not something I’m in the habit of doing. And then for no reason I started laughing. I think this happened three or four times, crying/laughing, but every time at a different location and I ended up back in the room where the ministry time was. I have no idea how long all this took, but I do remember feeling totally at peace in my mind and in my heart.

Looking back, I know that God took hold of me and cleansed me of all the stuff from my past...all the stuff I wasn’t too proud of. I knew from that time that God loved me and had forgiven me. Nobody can tell me that he doesn’t exist. I still tear up every time I recall that period of time. I’ll never forget it; it changed my life.

My wife and I became helpers on the course, and then started leading small-groups together, eventually leading a small-group each. We’ve worked with so many people over the years, people who, like us, did the course then stayed on to help in and lead groups. And now I see my story played out in someone else every time we do an Alpha course. Obviously, it’s a little different for each person but the result is the same – they know that they know that they know that God is real and that he loves them…and they are forgiven. My story is still going, but now I do it less in my strength and more in God's strength. Now the Holy Spirit guides me and Jesus carries me when the going gets tough.



Posted in April 2016


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