Alpha – James' Story

“What was your life like before Alpha?”

I think before Alpha I probably felt like my life was good, but I noticed that there were moments where I was defiantly searching for stuff. I grew up in a tiny, little fishing village at the end of England and came to London to go to university and a boy from a fishing village got to London and was like ‘oh my gosh!’ There was so much to take in and do, that I sort of just jumped head first into everything that London can give you. Obviously that’s lots of good things but probably also put myself in some situations which probably weren’t amazing either; but I think when I look back now, I realise that I was definitely searching for something but probably didn’t know quite what it was.

“What was your experience on Alpha?”

I was skeptical to do Alpha because a few people had mentioned doing it for a while and when I watched videos of people speaking about Alpha (like I’m doing now — I’ve turned into one of them!) I felt like with my lived experience, I couldn’t relate to the idea of what I thought Christianity was and I felt like there was a very specific shape that you would have to fit in to consider yourself a Christian, and that was just way outside of my lived experience, so I was very reluctant. But, getting to Alpha, I felt like it was a really safe space to go and ask a load of questions that I had to do with Christianity. My biblical knowledge was really not great — like the few times I’d been to Church I was like: ‘Who the hell is Paul?’ There were so many questions that I wanted to ask and I think questions about the fundamental elements of the Bible, that maybe I didn’t quite know if I agreed with them or not; I think that was more because I didn’t have a proper understanding of it. I think what’s great about Alpha is you can go and really just ask, what to you, might seem like the most ridiculous questions and there’s always going to be people there to make space for you. There’s never really a wrong question there, even if you think ‘this might be stupid, but who’d Peter?’ 

So, I think my experience on Alpha was a really safe space to go and explore some of the questions I had to do with the Bible and Christianity, and the underpinning values of what I thought being a Christian was. The main thing I realised is that I thought I would have to fit my life into this mould of what I thought being a Christian was like, and I actually realised that that’s not true! 

“What difference has Jesus made to your life?”

I feel like I was always concerned that I would have to stop everything, and move to a convent or something! But what I actually realise is that I feel like there was always this little light inside of me, and through life experiences and things I’ve decided to do, maybe there was a bit of debris and dust that went around the light. Going on Alpha, it’s obviously not like there are now 5,000 lights shining, but it’s like the light that I’ve always felt has been there, the dust and debris has been blown away. I’ve still got worries and troubles, and stuff like that — I haven’t woken up with one million pounds in my bank account (but if God wants to do that, He 100% can do that!) — but I feel like there’s a subtle calm feeling of peace that I now have with struggles and stuff, and I think that’s because I’ve leant more into faith and have been on something like Alpha which gives you an underpinning of what it means to be a Christian. 

“Would you recommend Alpha?”

Yeah, I would! I thought, when I heard people talk about Alpha, they were all nutters or charlatans and I’m now that person — which I think says enough as it is. I put off going to Alpha a lot and I was very, very skeptical when I started; but slowly, over the weeks as you listen and engage more, and I leaned into it, it’s just allowed me to access more of God. I would say if you like good food, and chatting to people, and want to find out more about God: Go on Alpha!

And if you like good food, and don’t want to find out more about God, still go on Alpha because the food is good!