Stories from Alpha

“What Alpha offers, and what is attracting thousands of people, is permission, rare in secular culture, to discuss the big questions — life and death and their meaning” — The Guardian

The Alpha course is an opportunity for anyone to explore the Christian faith. It’s relaxed, low key, friendly and fun. We asked 12 people who have been on the course to share their experience. Here are their stories:

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The Alpha experience was just brilliant. No question was dismissed as ‘silly’ and I felt completely comfortable being there and not being a Christian. I didn’t feel pressured at all to change that either. Alpha definitely helped me to understand Christianity but it let me do that at my own pace. I didn’t know what to expect but I got so much more from the experience than I could have ever imagined.


I did Alpha on the recommendation of friends at Kings. I came with an open mind and no preconceptions. Over the weeks I discovered Christ and I left a Christian with a thirst for more knowledge.


I was intrigued to see what happened on Alpha. So I went along and made some great friends. The course helped answer some of my questions, but ultimately understand myself and the feelings of my soul. Towards the end of Alpha I became a Christian and gave my life to Jesus. I was baptised the same year!


I was encouraged to try an Alpha course by my wife and daughter, who are both practicing Christians. I was unsure about the idea at first and only agreed to go to get some peace and quiet at home. To my surprise I enjoyed the whole experience, met some lovely people and gained a useful insight into both Christianity and the working of King’s Church. Alas, I, personally, remained unconvinced. But I would encourage anyone with questions about Christianity to go on an Alpha course.


I found Alpha was the perfect platform to ask questions about Christianity from a very basic level. It was an opportunity to question my beliefs about the very existence of God and the accounts of Jesus and the Bible itself. We tackled those perceptions and with the help of friendly and extremely patient group leaders we could talk openly and I felt completely at ease. I was so inspired by the experience I have continued in my learning and have made long term friends.


I attended an Alpha course after seeing an advert on a church building, “Find the meaning of life” it said. I was looking for something, but just not sure what it was. I now believe in Jesus, but I’m still figuring out all the other stuff. One thing I do know is that I feel better for attending Alpha.


Since falling away from the church and losing my way I was led to Kings and then Alpha as a way of understanding Christianity again. This time I made the decision on the Alpha Away Day to become a Christian. Alpha has led me to some of the most beautiful friendships; it has allowed me to grow as a Christian and has encouraged me to accept new gifts from Jesus.


My husband and I had only just made a decision to become Christians so Alpha was a great introduction in getting to know what Christians believe. Week by week we made new friends and heard more about how God speaks to people. It was the most significant decision I have made in my life.


It was a very special experience to meet with people who had found great strength and comfort in their faith, and also others who were searching for some meaning in their lives. The course showed me that God’s love as a heavenly Father is eternal, unconditional, forgiving and supportive in all aspects of our lives.


I always thought of myself as a believer but never committed to why or how I believed. For me, Alpha at Kings welcomed me from day one and their malleable approach meant that knowledge gaps were filled, facts replaced fiction and the message became clearer.


I was intrigued to find out more about Christianity and if indeed it was for me and to dispel myths and find the truth about Jesus Christ. Alpha answered numerous questions I had, whilst building relationships with Christians and non-believers. Each week built my trust as questions were answered and in November 2014 I put my life in God’s hands and became a Christian.


I’d felt that there was something missing, that I had a hole for most of my adult life and tried to fill it with relationships that never worked. Coming to Alpha I was welcomed with open arms, I felt at home, and I learnt so much from everyone about Jesus, his teachings and about the sort of person, and parent I wanted to be. My Group Leader prayed for me each week and slowly but surely the hole and that feeling of emptiness disappeared. I knew, with certainty that Jesus was Lord and I wanted to follow him. I was baptised on Easter Sunday, and it was the most amazing day of my life.

 

Discover Alpha

There lots more information on our Alpha web page where you can sign up online. For dates of our next Alpha Course see our events page. You can also get a great taster of what Alpha is all about through episode one of the film series:

Me and my girls

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

I was given this verse in the first few years of being a Christian. I became a Christian when I was 18 and I had plans. Plans to find a nice guy, get married, have kids and settle down. However God had other plans for me and little did I know what these were over 20 years ago.

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Both before and after I came to Eastbourne God put older women in my life to help me, guide me and become spiritual mums to me. I still value this today. This journey started about eight years ago when I felt the nudge from God to return to youth work. To my surprise I was welcomed with open arms and started serving in the 11—14’s. I went to my first Newday and on the way to an outreach event in the back of the coach Jez asked me if I wanted to “look after” the younger girls, take them under my wing.

At the time I wondered what I could offer these girls. I had loads of doubts, what do I talk about, do they actually like me. However, after trying to find a way out by looking for another job in another part of the country I embraced the opportunity and arranged for them to come round for lunch.

To my surprise they came, ate my food and didn’t get ill. We watched DVD’s, played “lets dance” and they sat in my bath! Meeting up together continued for about a year and as they were about to go into year nine we set up a girls group as part of ID each week.

“I can honestly say without someone like Ann, I don’t think I would be this far in my Christian journey.”

For about an hour we would spend time getting to know each other better and talk about issues that were important to them. My heart was for them to grow into young ladies who knew and loved God, who had an identity and security in God and not in how they looked, in social media or in relationships. The world puts so much pressure on young people to conform to the norm and loving God is “not cool”. At that age knowing who you are is not easy anyway.

I pulled in other people in the church to help me and we had some good evenings discussing what it is to be a young Christian lady in today’s world. One memorable evening was the wedding dress night where we all dressed up in loaned wedding dresses and talked about what marriage is and staying pure until our wedding night. Over the year I got to know the girls so much better spending quality time with them.

At the end of year nine they were due to move up to the older group True. They didn’t want to go, wanting to remain in what was familiar to them. However, I knew they were ready and I agreed to go up with them at their request to help them settle in.

I was going to return to the younger group, however, God had “plans to prosper me and not to harm me”. After first being really unsure I would fit into this group as a leader, I loved it. I kept my girls and we continued to meet as a group for the next two years as part of True.

I remember one evening following a talk about God the Father in church I felt God wanted to show the girls what this means practically. So I asked the mums of the girls to get the dads to sit down and together write a letter to each of them which I gave out next time we met. It was another of those stand out nights for me. A good gage for me is tears, and we had a few damp eyes that night.

There have been many memories…

I’ve baptised 3 of them
I’ve cooked for them
I’ve been to Romania with some of them
I’ve watched DVDs with them
We’ve shared meals together
I’ve done 7 years of Newday with them
We’ve made cards together
We’ve drunk loads of tea together
We’ve toasted marsh mellows together
I’ve played “lets dance” with them
We’ve shared experiences of Africa together
We’ve shared ice cream on the beach together
We’ve done car treasure hunts together
We’ve laughed together and we’ve cried together

By being part of their lives and other young people’s lives I have stepped out in spiritual gifts and God continues to teach me and challenge me.

I have been with my girls and their families both through the good and the not so good times. There have been many challenges over the past few years and at times I’ve wrestled with God about some of the situations that have arisen. I’ve prayed for and with them and basically “done life” with them.

“I would like to thank her for what she has done in my life and many others. When I’m older I definitely want to do the same thing”

They have all flown the nest now having travelled to the other side of the world to serve God or starting their second year at University.

I was reflecting on what God has taught me by being part of these young ladies lives and I see it as a journey, from being an older sister, to a cool aunty to actually a little glimpse of what being a mum is like.

I can’t profess to say I know what being a parent 24/7 is like at all (well apart from Newday when I am checking they have drunk enough water, slept okay, encouraging them to go to bed a little earlier, giving them a hug when they are all emotional), but I do feel proud when I see what they have become; and how they are developing as they become more independent.

I am still in contact with them (social media and text messaging isn’t all bad) and still continue to be part of their lives albeit in a different way. I got my first Mother’s day card this year. So what does the future hold? Well I now have my new girls and it’s exciting to see what God is doing in both their lives and mine.

I want to say thank you to the girls for loving me and being part of my life, their parents for letting me be part of their daughter’s lives and to God for putting people in my life who I can learn from and have shown me what it is to be a spiritual mum. I don’t think I have done too badly at this. My plans may not have worked as I expected, instead God has given me a hope and a future in a way I could not have imagined.

Thank you


Get involved

Q: What’s the single, most influential factor in keeping our teenagers at church? A: When the adults spend time getting to know them.

Serving in the youth can change the whole course of our teenagers lives. Contact us to find out more, or come and chat at the Info Point on a Sunday morning.

I would trade everything

When I was five my parents split up so I went to live with my grandparents, and my aunt and uncle. I suppose I was quite spoilt. I had riding lessons, pony lessons and even had ponies bought for me. From the age of six I was only ever going to be a jockey.

I left school when I was 14. Only weighing 5st 7lb, I was tiny. I went straight to the racing stables and started living my dream quite quickly. I rode a winner on my second ride at the age of 16. At 17 I was being interviewed on TV and featured on the cover of Sporting Life. Suddenly I had a rather high opinion of myself and took arrogance to a new level.

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Pride was welling up in me, and being fed. I was living away from home and so I never had anyone overseeing me. At 19 all I had ever done was racing, gambling and the like. And then, as I was walking down the road with a friend of mine, I looked across into a shop and saw this amazingly beautiful girl.

She was laughing and smiling. There was just something special about her. Everybody else sort of faded into the background. I’d never met this girl but I turned to my friend and said “I’m going to marry her”.

This was the most beautiful woman in the world and I was a short and skinny jockey. What if she said no? Being so arrogant, I decided I wouldn’t ask her, I would tell her. Fortunately she said yes! And we saw each other everyday from that time on.

“I rode a winner on my second ride at the age of 16. At 17 I was being interviewed on TV and featured on the cover of Sporting Life.”

As I was getting older I was getting too heavy to ride. You really need to be under 7 stone, perhaps 7st 4 max. I was about 8. Pauline cried when she saw me one time as I had made myself so ill from under-eating. The dream had come to an end, and I realised it was time to do something else.

We got married and I had all sorts of jobs. I was into music and in the evenings I was playing in bands. That led to doing music professionally. And again, the recognition was there. We worked with a lot of cabaret acts, like Jim Davidson, and I discovered what they were earning doing stand-up comedy. And I thought ‘well I can do that!

So I went into comedy. Again, I found a lot of success and my ego was being fed. I got with a lot of top agents, top of the bill again. But unfortunately a lot of the mid-week shows were stag shows — ‘gentlemen’s shows’ with strippers. It was never really my scene. I had never been to a stag show until I had compered one as a comedian. It’s not a nice environment, but I thought ‘it’s just a means to an end. When I’m on TV as a superstar I won’t have to do that’ — you can see how arrogant I was!

This was going on for about three and a half years, and I was becoming more and more uncomfortable with these shows. I would repeatedly have conversations with myself saying ‘you shouldn’t be doing this’. And then one night I realised this was more than just me talking to myself. It was actually God speaking.

I didn’t hear an audible voice or anything, but I knew it was God. I found myself talking back, saying ‘so what am I going to do?’. But all he kept saying was ‘I don’t want you doing this’. I wasn’t a Christian, but it got so bad that I would be praying for the car to break down so that I would have a genuine reason not to go. But they kept booking me and the money was really good. Then one night, I left it later and later to leave for a show. Pauline noticed that I should have gone and I just said ‘I’m not going anymore’.

In that moment I gave up another dream, another goal that I had studied hard and been working towards. We had three children to provide for, so I ended up cleaning carpets. I had a few conversations with God about that! But the weird thing was, nobody else could have got me to give it all up and clean carpets instead. Not even Pauline.

So we started going to church. Suddenly all this pride and arrogance was lifted from me (well a lot of it, but not all!). That desire, to walk into a place and have everybody know who you are, that was me, but I found it was now completely gone. I’d had this peace which I had never had before. Instead of going out every night and getting back at 4am, I was at home, playing with my children.

From the world’s point of view it didn’t make sense. My friends thought I had gone crazy. My whole life totally changed. I was now cleaning carpets and enjoying it. I’d work all week and earn less than the price of one show. But I had given my life to Jesus, and I knew I had to follow him.

I got very involved with the music in the Anglican church we went to and started serving there. I knew I had changed as I had always performed for my own glory, and to promote myself, but now I was doing it for Him. Unfortunately, when we left our church to move to Eastbourne, we drifted for 16 years. It wasn’t ego or money or anything, we just got side-tracked with our furniture business. But 5 years ago God started calling us again. We came to Kings, and again had this real burning passion to serve and tell people about Jesus.

“I had always associated owning a Rolls Royce with success. And then I got one. After a few weeks I thought ‘what on earth do I want this for’.”

I started doing some mission work in the streets, using music as a way of connecting with people. I often spend time in town, asking God if there’s any way he wants to use me, if there’s anyone he wants me to serve. Just simple things like buying people a cup of tea and taking the opportunities as they arise.

If you smile at people, are friendly and polite, they’ll always respond. We’ve only been stepping out and doing it intentionally the last year or so, but we’ve seen people come to church, do the Alpha course (where we have dinner and discuss all the big questions of life). We’ve seen people give their lives to Jesus, get baptised and join the church. With all of the success I’ve had as a jockey and comedian, nothing compares to the joy and the peace you get when you talk to someone about Jesus.

I’ll sometimes say to my non-church friends: ‘you’re betting your life on this. Shouldn’t you look into it? Just come and see’.

As young lad, and a jockey, I thought I had everything I wanted. But really it was all meaningless. While fame and success is happening, you think it is what you want, because you’ve never had a comparison. I had always associated owning a Rolls Royce with success. And then I got one. After a few weeks I thought ‘what on earth do I want this for?’ The things you associate with success won’t fulfil you. But when Jesus comes into your life, you experience this amazing peace and love. Until you’ve experienced that, you still think you can achieve it in the world.

Looking back I can now see all the ways that God had his hand on me. My only regret is that I didn’t feel like this when I was 15 — I didn’t have this relationship with God back then. I would trade everything, at any point, to experience the peace and love that I have now through Jesus.

Paul Hulatt

Eleanor’s story

11 year old Eleanor tells her story of how, after a year of not being able to sleep in her room, she was released from all fear and anxiety through prayer. She later prayed for 6 year old Flick, who had a similar story, and who is also now able to sleep at night again. ‬