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Maria Baidolly shares how Alpha takes her on a spiritual journey to her true self

I joined Alpha in September 2016 for round 28. I thought it was just going to be like a course about Jesus and that was it. But instead Alpha has become to me a “beautiful spiritual pilgrimage” journey from my old self, old thinking, old behaviour and beliefs to an all new me and this journey has just begun. I must thank the persons who introduced and brought me to Alpha, Bapa Francis Liew and Donny Mapat.

Alpha came into my life just at the right time when I needed healing the most from a broken heart and business challenges. Bapa Francis is a figure I look up to when it comes to motivation and running a business. I was looking for him in late Aug 2016 for guidance in business but instead, he came to me with a Rosary and told me to pray more. At the same time, he invited me to Alpha “free buffet dinner” and I just came not knowing what it is all about, at the Sacred Heart Parish Hall at room F7.

Here, I met a lot of new friends whom I considered my “special friends” and are now very much like family members. I felt welcomed and loved which made me wanted to stick around and continue to join the next rounds. It is always that welcoming faces that you see. This changes my perception about Catholics: I thought that we are all solemn and cold but here, everyone is so warm and friendly.

I love the groupings where we get to share about our life experiences – it makes me feel that I am not alone that there are others who are also struggling. Real people with real life stories – and that really strengthens my faith.

I am Timorese by race and come from a mixed religion family. My dad is of a different religion and my mom is a Catholic. So I think I have some knowledge about Jesus and the Trinity but I don’t really understand about the Holy Spirit until the Alpha Weekend Away. I felt overwhelmed and felt a deep sense of love which I couldn’t describe in words and tears flowed profusely for no reason. The praying over session helped me to break the chain that has held me back from receiving God’s fullest love through His Holy Spirit that is the feeling of unworthiness.

After that weekend away, I fell in love with Alpha and I told myself maybe I could help out a little bit with arranging chairs but instead I found that Alpha has rearranged my life. I then continued my journey with inner healing seminar, going for retreats and sharing of spiritual growth together with other sisters in Christ. All this is because Alpha has introduced me to God and opened doors for spiritual growth.

From that moment of weekend away to date – nine months – I changed from less time for God to making time and communicating with God, from holding grudges to forgiving, from an ignorant daughter to a responsible one and it’s all because Alpha had taught me about God’s love.

From Alpha, I have also learned about the power of prayers, that we too should pray for others and let others pray for us. I am also now serving in the Alpha for schools around KK and Papar.

Alpha has also automatically affected my career and business life. I begin to put God first before I start my work daily. Bring my teammates to pray together and even invite them to join Alpha. The challenge as a young entrepreneur is tough and I have many times thought of quitting when challenges come.

But as I come to understand more about the Holy Spirit and how wonderful our God is, I begin to take heart in every aspect of the business. Believing that He is a great provider and that He is holding and guiding my hands and mind in every decision I make, I have come to realise that everything I have is not mine; it is given to me by the Grace of God as a blessing to be shared with others.

I used to have a very self-indulgent thinking that earning more in life would make me happy and was entangled with too many obstacles until I learnt that the secret of “success” is learning to be happy (joyful), loving, confident (trustfulness) in the Lord and peaceful regardless of outer condition. And who else can better teach us these values but the Holy Spirit Himself.

Aspirants spend Alpha weekend away

The participants pose after the event.

The participants pose with their facilitators after the event.

BUNDU TUHAN – Ten aspirants to diocesan priesthood drove up to Bundu Tuhan Retreat Centre for the Alpha Weekend Away on 21-22  Nov 2015. The weekend away consisted of four talks on the Holy Spirit and one on Repentance, followed by group sharing in between talks and finally a praying over session. Together with the aspirants were ten facilitators from Sacred Heart Alpha Ministry.

The aspirants had completed the 14-talk course Nov 27. Here are their sharings on their experience during the weekend, especially the praying over session.

Andrewsius Jumil, Bundu Tuhan – The Holy Spirit is a special friend to me, He has always guided me to grow in kindness and goodness. I can’t see Him but I feel Him everyday. He is also the one who has encouraged and helped me to compose songs as prayers.

Wendell Wong, Tenom – The weekend away has been a fantastic and wonderful experience as I felt joy in the Holy Spirit. I am thankful and grateful to Him, He has helped me to be set free from bad and negative memories. When I invoked the Holy Spirit, I could feel my mind totally at rest and I could feel His peace and gentleness.

Bonnyface Stephen, Bundu Tuhan – I am grateful and happy for the opportunity to be in Bundu Tuhan for the weekend away. In the two-day programme, there were lots of new things that I’ve learnt especially on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, it has satisfied my deepest longing for God, which is impossible to explain in words.

Baxcter Christianus, Telupid – I would like to start by saying that the Alpha Group has been the best group I have ever joined. I really enjoyed and was happy with all the activities we had for two days. I felt the Holy Spirit working in me. From the Alpha course I’ve learnt a lot of things which were helpful in my formation and vocation to be a priest. I thanked God for the opportunity to join the Alpha course. ‘Thank you’ to all facilitators for their hard work.

Maxwell Verus, Inanam – The Alpha course is a powerful incentive tool that helps me to put what I have learnt into practice in my life and not to give up easily. The course is an avenue to help me to speak confidently and effectively in our small group setting. During the praying over, which was the most important, I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. This course has enabled me to grow in relationship with God and to develop wisdom with the help of the Spirit.

Nelbart Peter, Sook – My heart is weighed down by hatred. I longed for the touch of the Holy Spirit. Small misunderstandings that happened many times have built up grudges. During the praying over, I was touched by the Holy Spirit and was slain.  I felt a tingling sensation flowing over the back of my head. I believe I am healed of my grudges and my burdens lightened. I am so grateful to God for this.

Canisius Benjamin, Inanam – The Holy Spirit weekend has touched me, it is indeed an awesome experience to be in this programme. I could feel the presence of the mighty Holy Spirit and asked Him for the gifts that he wants to give me to serve His people.

Evaristus Francis Sales, Telupid – What really touched me was when we were prayed over. I sat there and watched, waiting for my turn. When the facilitator said whoever was ready to come forward, I was ready to get up but something stopped me from doing so. When all my other friends had gone forward, I stood up and was the last one to be prayed over. I was praying for my uncle’s health at that moment when I heard a gentle whisper which I believe to be the Holy Spirit. I fell to the floor and was slain.  I could see an image of my parents and Jesus standing beside them. Although the images were unclear, I was sure that God was present there.

Jhony Kumin, Bundu Tuhan – Alpha is like fertiliser, able to enrich plants that grow on rocky ground. Each activity from the beginning until its highest point, which is the Holy Spirit weekend away, has borne good fruit within me. ‘Thank you’ to all Alpha members for bringing us closer to our faith.

Barry Ferror Benjamin, Bundu Tuhan – I’ve known Alpha since I was working in Peninsular Malaysia five years ago. I was also chosen to represent the parish to join the Alpha leaders seminar. After entering the formation house, through the Alpha for Aspirants I got to know Alpha more fully. It is a good programme to get to know Jesus. There are good lessons to be learned from each talk. Often we ignore basic lessons, but they are no less important for our faith. I really think that Alpha helps in developing and affirming our Christian faith.

 

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