Alpha Under the Bridge

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    08-Apr-2018

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  • 8/7/2019 Alpha Under the Bridge

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    During a season of prayer, the Spirit seeded an idea

    into my heart to run an Alpha Express Course with a

    group of homeless people congregating under a

    concrete bridge in the Docklands, Melbourne.

    This venue was known as Tent City. I came to know of

    this place through an outreach project with theSalvation Army. It has no electricity or running water.

    There were 12 tents, a broken table, a few plastic

    chairs and a radio. It was dusty and cold.

    THE PEOPLE

    There were six or seven men who slept there. I often

    prayed for God to stir in their hearts a desire to hear

    His Word. The group consisted of Ross, Patrick, Kris,

    Je, Trevor, Bob, Danny, Ashley and a few who drifted

    in and out of the group.

    I approached the group and raised the idea of

    running a ten-week Alpha Express Course with them. I

    told them that I would love to hear their life stories as

    well as exploring the meaning of life. They were

    welcoming and open. After a brief introduction and a

    description of the ow of events - a meal, a DVD

    presentation and a discussion - a quick response

    came of Yes followed by Youve won us at the meal.

    THE EQUIPMENT

    The equipment consisted of a borrowed generator, a

    projector, DVD player, cabling, Alpha guest manuals

    and the cooked meal. These were ferried to the venue

    every week.

    THE SESSIONS

    The course commenced on 19 October 2010. We

    started at 6.30pm with pizzas and cola. By the time

    the presentation started, we were all sitting in the

    dark. I realised that some of the guests were

    intoxicated.

    At session one, the group was somewhat reticent

    when it came to the discussion. Maybe they were

    still apprehensive about my purpose. Ross proudly

    announced that he was Church of England! I felt the

    group had a leader for the future. I discovered that

    the group had been drinking early in the day and by

    the time the course started their minds lacked clarity

    and they were easily distracted. Ross suggested that

    they should have a little more respect for the course.

    As a result, they abstained from drinking andsmoking from noon so that they were sober for the

    evening. That idea was well received.

    At session 2, there were many questions raised with

    the topic of Jesus death. One hilarious comment

    was: Did the Catholics kill Him? Puzzled, I asked for

    clarication. The response was: the Catholics are

    Romans arent they?. Laughter broke out under the

    bridge.

    With session 3, How can we have faith, their

    response was that they werent sure. Trevor who has

    a drug addiction was beginning to ask Ross

    questions. Half-way through the discussion, the

    generator seized and the place was plunged into

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    darkness. Kris mentioned that maybe God was

    testing the group. We prayed for the touch of His

    hand upon the supply of a replacement generator.

    I announced to numerous friends what happened to

    the generator and within the week, a couple of

    brothers raised up money for a replacement

    generator - one that was better than before.

    When the new generator was delivered, the group

    was made responsible for the generator. They had a

    tin that was used as a bank for money for fuel.

    Session 4, Why and how do I pray, was another

    interesting session. One person commented, We

    pray every day . . . We pray for the price of marijuana

    to come down. We pray for it to be legalised. Is that

    wrong?. Laughter . . .

    By session 5, Why and how should I read the Bible,

    the group was becoming keen on Nicky Gumbels

    presentation. And by session 6, How does God

    guide us, Ross shared that he has started to go back

    to church. Praise God. Amen.

    I had briefed the group that The Holy Spirit day

    away was a special time. They would have to wash

    and be clean, as we would be heading to

    Monsalvat in Elthan. But last minute issues with thegroups dog, Raj, and leaving the place unattended

    meant we had to stay under the bridge. They had

    travelled to the Salvation Army City Temple to

    wash that morning. It was great to see the group

    washed.

    We started with a breakfast of Krispy Kreme

    doughnuts. A coee break of Nespresso followed

    the completion of the rst morning session

    discussion of Who is the Holy Spirit?. Recharged,

    we went through with the next session What does

    the Holy Spirit Do?. I sensed that Trevor was

    touched.

    We had lunch and the group was asked for a revisit

    of previous sessions.

    The third session How can I be lled with the

    Spirit was impactful to Trevor and Kris. After this

    session, we prayed for the Holy Spirit to ll us and

    after a short time, Kris asked to be prayed for

    followed by Trevor. Afterwards, they requested a

    copy of a Bible each. I was so happy that I drove to

    a bookstore during the afternoon coee break and

    bought two Good News bibles.

    The prelude to session 7 was drama-lled. Thegroup had announced that someone had stolen

    the money for fuel. The guilty stood and admitted

    to taking the money for his gambling addiction.

    We prayed about it and the response from the

    group was that if it were not for Alpha and Gods

    presence in that place, there would have been a

    punch-up. To see civility in a group of men lled

    with Gods grace was extremely fullling. The

    session ended well. The group discussed securing

    their position in Gods kingdom, Jesus, forgiveness,

    freedom in Christ and salvation. Questions raisedduring discussion were: Why do you think bad

    things happen?, why do you think the world is

    such a mess? Thats why we left it and lived under

    this bridge. The encouragement they were left

    with was that each one of us can make a dierence

    where we are. We only have to step out.

    Session 9, How can I resist evil was run on Christ-

    mas day. We decided that we would complete the

    module before the lunch for fear of nodding o tosleep during the presentation.

    There was so much hope for the group.

    BLESSED ARE THE GIVERS . . . GRATEFUL ARE THE

    RECEIVERS

    Christmas lunch was indeed a spread. One

    comment was that if we closed our eyes, we could

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    feel as though we were somewhere else - maybe

    on the top oor of one of those high-rise

    apartments in Docklands. We had 6kg of prawns,

    Christmas cakes, two hams, roast pork, mince pies,

    chocolates, biscuits, a carton of coca cola, wines

    and a pudding.

    At session 10, Why and how we should tell others,

    the group discussed about the various drifterswho wander in and spend time there. By session 11

    Does God heal today, the group had embraced

    Gods grace, and their attitudes took on a marked

    dierence.

    What about the church at session 12 was their

    favourite. They especially liked the story Nicky tells

    of a man, who turned out to be an ex-convict ,

    inviting Nicky inside for a cup of tea. Their remark

    was there is hope. Indeed there is.

    The nal session How can I make the most of the

    rest of my life gave the group a true sense of Gods

    love and their desire to improve their situation. We

    decided to meet up once a fortnight for fellowship

    and a bible study. Ross commented that once

    upon a time, they were in darkness. I replied, Even

    in this darkness, there is light in each and every

    one under the bridge.

    Thank you to friends who kindly prepared food,donated a generator and a television. Thank you to

    the Business Life group for their prayers and support

    and especially the food and gifts for the Christmas

    lunch.