Home of Wheaton Bible Church's Quarterly Magazine
That’s what some people were asking when banners promoting the new session of the Alpha Course went up in the Wheaton Bible Church Atrium. Marie Allison, director of the Alpha program—and wife of one of the jumpers—admits that the jumping was her idea.
“For the first time last fall, our Alpha class was going to have ‘live’ speakers each week. In the past, we had used pre-recorded talks on DVD . They were very well done but not the same as having an actual person there to talk about what it means to experience life from a Christian perspective.
“So we recruited my husband, Lon, (director of the Billy Graham Center and Institute of Strategic Evangelism at Wheaton College), along with one of his graduate students, Allison Borton, to be our ‘live’ speakers.”
The jumping banners? “Well, that was one of the ideas we had to let people who were familiar with Alpha know about the new format—and maybe to draw in some others who’d never heard about the Alpha class,” Marie added.
Jennifer didn’t grow up in a Christian home, but she was always attracted to the joy and positive lives of Christians she knew, including a sixth-grade friend who invited her to camp. She loved the kids, the crafts, and the Bible stories. Years later a teen friend invited Jennifer to a youth event. She had a blast. Both at camp as a child and later, as a teen, she responded to an invitation to ask Christ to come into her life. She had a favorable view of God and Christianity, but she never got to know God by reading the Bible.
Recently, Jennifer moved from San Diego to Glendale Heights, where her husband will serve for three years as a Marine Corp recruiter. New in town, she began to inquire about a preschool for her daughter, Kalie. Another young mom enthusiastically told her to visit the preschool at Wheaton Bible Church. One summer afternoon Jennifer met with the Director, Esther Erickson. Esther told her all about the preschool, the Bible lessons, and the memory verses. Esther also shared her own love for Jesus by telling Jennifer, “The number one love in my life is following Jesus.” Jennifer found Esther’s statement intriguing. She had always been drawn to God and to Christians; now she longed to learn more.
At the end of the meeting Jennifer asked Esther, “What do you have for me?” Esther paused, not sure how to respond.
Jennifer reiterated, “What do you have for me? I don’t know anything about the Bible.” Esther responded by inviting Jennifer to the Wednesday-morning Alpha for Women. At Alpha, Jennifer spent time with other women, hearing talks on foundational Christian ideas like, Who is Jesus? Why did He die? How do I read the Bible?
Each week Jennifer felt God speaking to her, helping her connect the dots, and giving her understanding.
When the speaker, Lon Allison, explained how she could have a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ, Jennifer responded by asking Christ to be her Lord and Savior. Years before, God had heard the prayers of Jennifer’s youth. This was the same prayer, but now Jennifer prayed with fuller understanding.
Jennifer is now attending Beyond Alpha, a Bible study designed especially for those who are new to reading and studying the Bible. She says God is continuing to enlighten her. She is thankful that she will be able to guide her two children in the Christian faith. An extra blessing is all the wonderful Christian friends she is making.
Steve had loving Christian parents who took him to church every Sunday. As a family they had devotions during the week. Steve’s parents looked for teachable moments to tell him about God’s love and guide him in the Christian life. He received the instruction as an earnest child and made an early commitment to the Lord. He was bright, happy, and outgoing. Steve was the kind of child a parent doesn’t need to worry about.
However, as Steve entered his teenage years, his walk with God faded into the background. By the time Steve was in college, God was not a part of his life at all. Steve had an exciting future planned out and began building a career in accounting. He was able to get a prestigious internship with a firm in Chicago. Life was good.
Then Steve became terribly ill. He tried to persevere with his normal activities, but his physical limitations led to depression and, ultimately, disillusionment with life. He began to doubt all he had known. Desperate for his son to know of God’s love and have new hope for living, Steve’s dad brought him to Alpha.
The Alpha Course offered an environment where Steve felt comfortable sharing the good and bad of life. The openness and honesty of those at his table created a bond of trust and opened Steve’s eyes to the community of faith and to how powerful it could be.
God continued to move in Steve’s life. The third week of Alpha, the speaker’s message was entitled, “How Can I Be Sure of My Faith.” An invitation was given to respond to God’s grace as shown on the cross. Steve prayed along with the speaker to receive God’s gift of love. In the weeks that followed, his commitment to the Lord was solidified with prayer and fellowship around his Alpha table group. Steve’s life is being transformed. His father’s deepest hopes for his son have become realities.