Why did you come to Alpha?
I came to Alpha because it was mandatory to attend all activities in the rehabilitation centre (Breakthrough Missions).
Can you share a little of what life was like before?
I was helping out at a relative’s hawker stall after I had left school.
I loitered around a lot and started to pick up bad habits from the company that I was keeping. It all started with smoking and getting into fights, gradually, I ventured into drugs.
I was first caught when I was 16 years old. As a minor, I was locked up for only a month. I was undeterred after my release and continued to pursue my old ways – the only way I knew. Getting a phone call from me in the past was never a good thing, it was either me asking for money for drugs or me calling from the police station, my family was initially very disturbed and sad but over time, they also became resigned to my lifestyle. I was in and out of prison for the next 10 years of my life.
During the time when I went in and out of prison, my then girlfriend became pregnant. She gave birth while I was in prison but left my child and I afterwards. The feeling of abandonment was my worst experience.
Becoming a father compelled me to become a better person. In an outreach program to inmates, I became a Christian after 9 months. While it felt like the right decision, I must say that I had little understanding of the faith until I attended Alpha.
What happened during Alpha?
I joined midway through Alpha. The weekend away was approaching and it was during this time that I had my first special encounter with the Holy Spirit.
When the pastor asked if there was anything specific to pray for, I was uncertain. I knew however I wanted the pastor to pray a general prayer for me. Instantly, I was filled with the Holy Spirit and there was an outpouring of much tears. I have never had such an experience. I decided to attend Alpha again.
In Alpha, I was able to share my thoughts and talk about more personal things such as my fear and concerns — this was something I never did before. Past “friendships” were all based on ulterior motives; we were never close and I never felt safe enough to share my heartfelt thoughts. My friends at Alpha not only cared to listen to what I had to say, they were always there for me, they did not just disappear when I was in need. For the first time, I got to taste theessence of true friendship. I can sense God’s love in the community.
Alpha is very good for new / young Christians such as myself. It was during the 2nd and 3rd Alpha that I got to know God better and started to build a relationship with Him. My life started to change. My family was initially skeptical, not knowing if the change would last or fail like previous times. I continued to change. Over time, my family saw the difference in me and even started to include me in family discussions and consulted me on what to do for my sister’s house moving – this was a big thing for me.
As my family got to know my friends from Breakthrough Missions better, they could see the
good that our God had accomplished in these lives. Their attitude towards God began to change. Praise be to God, my mum, my sister, my son and I were baptized together in our church during Easter!
Like myself in the past, many simply cannot associate themselves with church. I feel that Alpha is able to bridge that gap. Food and fellowship makes it easier to reach out to people.
As an ex-offender, I feel I can contribute to this ministry in reaching out to the ex-inmates. I hope that my sharing will help them open up as most have shut themselves out for a long time. It is hard to change on our own, we need God, the first step is to let God in, then allow Him to begin His work in our lives. I have benefited a lot from Alpha, I want to go back and journey with others.