by Rob Decker, Alpha Ministry Leader
Over 100 guests, leaders and helpers came together for the Alpha Course 2016 Fall Holy Spirit Day-away on Saturday, December 3. Over the course of twelve weeks, the Alpha Course invites guests to investigate life questions and the answers Christianity offers in a safe an open small group environment where any opinion and any question are welcome. Each week includes a shared meal, a video and open discussion.
But Christian faith is not just a philosophy or self-help program—the core of Christian faith is a relationship with a living and active God, and relationships always include communication and experience. So session topics include not only “Who is Jesus?,” prayer, the Bible and dealing with evil, but also a whole day-away retreat focusing on learning about and experiencing the Holy Spirit.
From early morning to late evening, guests left the pressures, business, and busy-ness of Shanghai to gather together with a focus on the Holy Spirit. For most, it was their first time to attend this kind of Christian retreat. The new Alpha Film Series videos on “Who is the Holy Spirit?” and “What Does the Holy Spirit Do?” showed how the Holy Spirit works in his people and works throughout history to change the world. This was brought home through moving testimonies of individuals whose lives were touched and transformed through experiencing the power and love of the Holy Spirit. Trust-building exercises, small group discussion, worship through song and a time of personal silent retreat also allowed guests to build friendships with each other and with God.
For many, the highlight was the evening session on “How Can I be Filled with the Holy Spirit?” which included a time of ministry prayer to experience the filling of the Holy Spirit. Many experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit for the first time, with an overwhelming sense of His love, joy and peace. For others, it was a new or deeper experience of supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit such as speaking in tongues or hearing His voice. Still others experienced healing of spiritual, emotional and physical problems. And several guests for the first time decided to follow Jesus and receive His new life.
One woman shared after the weekend: “Thank you! Last Saturday I went to the Alpha Course [Day-away], and many brothers and sisters prayed for me. From then until now, my heart—no more fear, no more worry. It’s let me feel the sweet love God has for me.”
A team member shared, “I felt led to pray for one woman. She said, sort of worried, ‘But I’m not a Christian—I just came to Alpha to find out about Christianity.’ I said no problem, God still loves her and I’d like to prayer for her if it’s OK. She said OK, and as I started to pray, it seemed I knew all these things about her. So I just shared with her that I thought God wanted to tell her some things. She was really surprised but confirmed it was all true. So I prayed for her about these things and blessed her and asked if she wanted to follow Jesus. She said yes, and we prayed together. It was wonderful.”
Another woman had become a Christian before the Day-away, but had not been baptized out of concern of going against the wishes of a close family member. At the Day-away, she received prayer to help her with this decision. That night, God prompted her to read Acts 22:16 so she looked it up: “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” She got baptized!
If you would like to find out more information about how you or someone you know can join Alpha Course for the Spring 2017 couse launch please email leader Rob Decker at firstname.lastname@example.org