Ray works as an art director for a luxury magazine company. Strong-willed and passionate, he has always been determined to stick to his beliefs. After his mother died from terminal cancer, he started to question whether there was another way to live.
My mum was a Christian but not a churchgoer at all. She passed away about five years ago from terminal cancer. Whilst she was sick, she asked my sister and me to be christened because we hadn’t been as children. At the time, I didn’t want to do it, even though my sister agreed and had her children baptised as well. I loved my mum but I had to refuse. I’ve never been able to commit to something I don’t believe in.
After she died, I started to think about how unresponsive I’d been to her wish. It had obviously been a desire that had been burning in her for some time. I’d already lost my dad – he died fifteen years ago – so losing Mum too made me to start to question my life.
A friend from work noticed I wasn’t really myself. As I started speaking to her, I realised I’d never expressed my feelings about Mum. I’d been keeping everything inside, even though it was quite upsetting. She was the first person I could speak to honestly. She’d been a Christian for a long time and suggested that I come to Alpha to see if it could help me find what I was looking for.
I’m inquisitive by nature so I thought I might as well do it. At first, I thought that I was surrounded by a bunch of weirdos and when they all stood up to sing, I told myself that I’d never get involved.
Despite this, I kept coming back to Alpha because of the conversations. I didn’t go to university so I’d never had a real opportunity to have that kind of in-depth discussion. As we spoke about God and the universe and why we’re all here, the day-to-day stresses I felt paled into insignificance.
On the Alpha weekend away, I noticed that the Christians seemed to have a zest for life that was infectious. Everyone had so much energy. It was mad, but it was like they were saying, ‘let’s just enjoy life.’ I felt as though I’d become part of a family, and so after Alpha I continued to go to church and even went away on the church holiday. That’s when I decided to get baptised.
I had always believed in a god, but not in the Christian God. I just had a sense that there was a creator out there. As I read more and more about Jesus on Alpha, I began to see how amazing he was. Before, I’d only have thought of Jesus as some hippie in slippers, but now when I think about the sacrifice he made, he’s like some sort of superhero. He’s become my ultimate focus.
I am still quite shocked about how much I’ve changed – from refusing to be christened to getting baptised. Everyone has noticed it at work. I feel lighter and less aggressive. I’m more comfortable in my personality and feel at peace with everyone. Alpha has completely changed my life. I had the opportunity to share my story at church a few months ago. It’s great to know that everyone’s experience is valued, even if you aren’t the most eloquent person. Everyone’s story is incredible.
Interview by Yosola Olorunshola
Photography by Alex Douglas