I would like to share with readers the story of my own personal miracle.
As little as 3 years ago, if anyone had told me that I would be talking or writing about my Christian faith, I just would not have believed it. In fact, I’m sure I would have laughed at them.
You see until then I had lived my life without faith. As a child, I had been brought up as a Christian, and went to Sunday school. But once I reached my teens, like many young people I rebelled. I thought that I did not need religion. I went to University and trained as a scientist, and, like many people in the 60s I thought that science held the answer to everything.
I always felt that something was missing from my life, but I could not grasp what. The one question which science cannot answer is the question, “Why?” From time to time I had asked myself questions about God. I had found much of the Bible beyond my understanding. I had wavered between “maybe”, “perhaps”, doubt, and outright denial. But I had put off making any decision or commitment.
On the rare occasions when I had attended church services, I had found myself wondering what I was doing there. I felt an alien, everyone else seemed to be committed and I was not. After all, there is not much point in worshipping a God that you don’t believe in!
Well let me tell you how that all changed. In January 2002 I was called to attend an Alpha course.
I say: “I was called” because I do not believe that this happened by accident.
For some weeks I had been driving to work every morning along the A48 at Baglan and passing a large billboard poster, which said, “Attend an Alpha Course and Explore the Meaning of Life”. I remember thinking “That sounds interesting – I must find out more”. And one day, just as I was passing this poster, I was listening to the car radio to an item explaining what the course was all about, that it was a course explaining the Christian religion to non-Christians.
About this time I recall my wife Julia who has always been an active member of the Methodist Church and through nearly 30 years of our life together must have often despaired at my lack of faith, telling me, “You can get your own dinner on Wednesday, I’m going to an Alpha Course.” When I replied, “Please can I come too”, I almost had to pick her up off the floor.
So this is why I say that it was more than coincidence that led me to come to Alpha. Now for those of you who are not familiar with Alpha, it is a 15-week course. Each weekly session starts with a simple meal, then there is a video in which Nicky Gumbel explains the basic facts of the Christian religion, and presents the evidence. After the video, we break into small groups for discussion.
What appealed to me about Alpha was that no assumptions were made about where I personally was coming from. And I remember Howard, our Minister who led the course, on the very first session making it clear that the door was always open – you weren’t put under any pressure to stay.
But stay I did, and after the first few sessions I came to realise that I was at a turning point in my life, and it was now or never. I crossed that bridge of faith. At one time it seemed like a great yawning chasm to cross, but I found once I made the first step it became easier.
I came to accept the fundamental truths:
– that the Son of God came to live on earth as a human being.
– that He gave us a perfect example of how we are meant to be.
– that He sacrificed himself on the cross for our salvation
– and that He rose from the dead.
I can honestly now say that I have been born again in Christ.
My life has changed and will never be the same again.
This did not happen in a blinding flash of light like Paul on the road to Damascus.
But to me it is just as great a miracle, although I realise that I am just at the start of my spiritual journey, and have a long way to go.
When I first came to faith, I knew that my sins were forgiven. But I was concerned that I had wasted most of my life, being away from God. Then it came to me in prayer, forget the past but make the best of the rest of your life in doing God’s work.
Just last year I was called to train as a local preacher. I am now well into my training and I am finding it very challenging, but at the same time my faith is developing and growing. The training is in two parts; the studying which is through a correspondence course; and then there is the real business of leading worship and delivering sermons. I found this a very daunting prospect at first, but as the Holy Spirit leads me, I find that I gain in confidence.
I am now also leading the Alpha Courses at Mumbles. We have just had a successful course with weekly attendances of around 36 people, and we are now planning the next course which will start in September.
My first reaction when I felt I was being called was to find all the excuses why I could not do it. But I discovered that God is not interested in listening to excuses, you just have to obey.
But I have also discovered when things get too difficult and you call to him in prayer for help, then the help that he gives you exceeds your expectations.
I find it amazing that all this happened to me in my 50’s, but this taught me that it’s never too late to repent for the past, to accept Jesus Christ into your life and to ask for forgiveness.
And as the Holy Sprit has entered my life, I have taken great comfort from the passage in Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel, which tells us “there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Ken Allison, Local Preacher