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Re-building Faith with The Alpha Course

The Alpha course is an introduction to Christianity. It was created by Nicky Gumbel, pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Brompton, London, and is being used all over the world. The course was not what I expected from a church. You are encouraged to ask any question there, even the ones you hide from people and from God, the ones you think are stupid or obvious, or the great imponderables.

You meet once a week for dinner followed by a forty-five minute video of Nicky Gumbel. Video topics range from "Who is Jesus" through "What does the Holy Spirit do?" and "Does God Heal Today?" Then you discuss the video with the group. It wasn't an intimidating experience. My group leaders didn't pounce on us or ask embarrassing questions and they freely admitted they didn't have all the answers. Around week nine you go away for the "Holy Spirit weekend" with the group. It isn't as intimidating as it sounds, but with several sessions to get through, it was a little intense. Over my weekend, I got to know my roommate much better, she and I are firm friends now.

I feel like the Alpha course relaid the foundations of my Christian faith, the ones that depression had cracked and broken. There are several things I am more sure of now, and I feel confident that I am God's child, loved and accepted. I got to ask all my hard questions, even though I didn't get all the answers. The social side of Alpha worked against the need for isolation I had developed while fighting depression. It was a safe place to let the barriers down and honestly ask questions. I am very glad I took the course.

I'd recommend Alpha to anyone with depression who feels their faith took a beating from the illness.

Alpha in the UK

Alpha in the US

Copyright © 2000 Alison Hawke