By Amy Stene | Pagosa Bible Church
I had many questions of faith that I never thought I needed to explore, such as:
“How can a book written thousands of years ago have any relevance to my life?”
“What compels an educated priest or pastor to devote his entire life to blind faith instead of making good money in the ‘real’ world?”
“If Jesus is the way to God, and I already believe in God, why do I even need Jesus?”
“How can God allow for such suffering in the world?”
Single life in Manhattan, with all the pleasure-seeking stimuli New York City had to offer, along with a career on Wall Street, where God never appeared on the “ticker tape” so to speak, kept me happily, albeit ignorantly, racing on the hamster wheel of life. After many years of a rather self-centered life, however, along with the many boyfriends that came and went, I started to feel an emptiness inside and began not liking the woman in the mirror.
I thought that maybe by occasionally volunteering at night at nearby New York hospital might add a more noble dimension to my life. One of those nights, inside the horrific pediatric burn unit of the hospital, challenged me to change gears. I found a recovering toddler in a darkened private room all alone. No words could be spoken between us, but I tried my best to communicate, when suddenly over her sullen face came a smile. I know it may not seem profound, but that moment convicted me to leave career, studio and NYC behind and move into my little weekend cottage in Connecticut, thinking it would afford me a less ignoble job and life. Just as that conviction was being worked out in my heart and mind, “Mr. Right” came into my life one weekend and, unlike anyone else, swept me off my feet wholeheartedly, completely. I left behind career, friends, family, my roots, my cottage and the northeast, and within a mere four months was married, pregnant and living in the Bible-Belt South. Love caused a major transition, yet I knew that it was the best of my life and the rest of my life. My husband’s career moved us eventually with our two young girls to breathtaking Colorado, where we ended up raising them.
On Wall Street, I always strove for excellence in my job. It was expected of me. I put that same expectation on myself as an at-home mom and dutiful wife. Still, life was wonderful and fulfilling until three consecutive bad events happened which shook my faith in my fellow man and had me question what kind of world I was bringing our innocent girls up into. The Columbine High School massacre a few miles down the road from us was the third shaking that finally brought me into total despair. I knew it was time to get off the fence and investigate my faith.
I was brought up in a traditional church where we went to church each Sunday. Believing in God and going to church whenever possible defined my faith as I grew up. I never read the Bible. I didn’t know how to pray, other than rote prayers. I believed in God, but as I got older, I doubted Jesus and thought the Bible mostly myth. My husband’s Bible knowledge, albeit head knowledge, and his belief was much deeper than mine. The church we were attending each week as a family was offering Alpha at the time and, as boring as it sounded to me, he strongly suggested we both sign up. The first night was compelling. It was the first time I had heard the logic of the truth of Christianity. By the third talk, the evidence for Jesus and the resurrection blew me away and I remember sitting back in my chair and saying to myself that I am a believer. It was head knowledge at least. I couldn’t wait each week for Alpha night. I was all in.
In the middle of Alpha is a Saturday when three short films are shared about the Holy Spirit. That was when the head knowledge flowed down into both our hearts. I was transformed by the experiential touch of love from the living God. After Alpha was over, I opened the Bible to John, as Alpha suggests for first-time readers, and it was like the Holy Spirit had suddenly unlocked it for me. I read the entire New Testament in days, and it was wisdom and it was revelation and it was practical and it was healing and it was Truth and it was power and it was so exciting. Abounding joy in Christ and a “honeymoon period” with God followed. Christianity was to me so exciting at this point that I wanted to tell the world that I have for them the answer. Love once again caused a major transition. I found the best and rest of my life. So here I am 20+ years later. Try Alpha.
A night of Alpha is simply a meal, a short film and discussion of the film in small groups. You can express your doubts. No one will judge you. Alpha is run in all denominations, all over the world and is now translated into 112 languages to date. There is Alpha for Catholics, Alpha for youth. Alpha is run in homes, in schools, in universities, in coffee shops, in churches, in prisons and in the military. It has been repackaged over the past two decades and is now an engaging film series.
Alpha is coming to Pagosa starting Sept. 21. All are invited — atheist, agnostic, seeker, dry Christian, mature Christian. Come and see the first talk, “Is There More to Life than This?” with dinner, hosted by Pagosa Bible Church. It is free. It just may lead you to the best of your life and the rest of your life.
To RSVP or if you have any questions, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.