Alpha spreads Christmas joy with stories of 76,000 participants

The true meaning of Christmas will be experienced for the first time this year by many of the 76,000 Australians who participated in an Alpha course during 2021.

To celebrate this fact, Alpha Australia has released a digital storybook ‘Joy to the World’ featuring stories from some of these participants about the impact encountering Jesus has had on their lives.

The stories have been collected from Christian leaders who ran Alpha courses this year across the country, including in churches of various denominations, a retirement home, prisons, a university and in other community settings.

One of the participant stories shared by Citylife Church reads: “Before Alpha, I was a Buddhist. At Alpha, I learned about God and the Holy Spirit. I accepted Christ and now my life has totally changed. I am not afraid because I can trust God. I have hope in God. I have confidence and peace.”

“Being a prisoner, I still got the opportunity to open my doors for God to show me that he is unjudging, kind and most of all, forgiving.” – Cerise, Alpha participant

Cherise, who completed Alpha while in prison, said, “At this moment I’m a prisoner. But this does not define me. Being a prisoner, I still got the opportunity to open my doors for God to show me that he is unjudging, kind and most of all, forgiving. It’s because of Alpha that I am willing to pursue my faith in God further.”

Mary, an Alpha participant at Uniting Church Warwick, shared: “Having reached my mid 60’s, I can honestly say that Alpha is the first time I have had conversations about religion.

“Alpha has been a very worthwhile experience for me and has given me insight and understanding into who the Holy Spirit is. During the weekend away, I really felt a sense that the Holy Spirit is my companion and is helping me through some rough patches with life.

“For a short commitment of time each week I have gained so much.”

“To witness the growth of Alpha over recent years across all Christian denominations is truly inspiring.” – Murray Averill, executive director of Alpha Australia

While COVID forced many Alpha courses to be conducted online again in 2021, it seems the pandemic has not diminished its popularity. In fact, Alpha has continued to “grow in strength over recent years”, according to executive director of Alpha Australia Murray Averill.

“To witness the growth of Alpha over recent years across all Christian denominations is truly inspiring and demonstrates that Alpha is an environment for anyone who wants to explore the Christian faith,” said Averill.

The launch of Alpha Online last year is a key factor in the growth of the course, with around two-thirds of participants completing the course online according to the 2020/ 2021 Alpha Australia IMPACT Report, released earlier this year.

The online course also helped spark interest among young people, with almost 27,000 young people participating in over 1000 Youth Alphas run online and in-person during 2020/2021.

The increased number of Australians taking part in Alpha reflects worldwide trends identified in Alpha’s global review – meaning this Christmas will be far more meaningful for thousands across the world, as well as at home.

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