Three years ago I was going through a very difficult time in my life. After 25 years my marriage ended in divorce, my kids had left home to start their own lives and I was all alone. Lonely and not needed anymore. I felt like an outcast and worth anything to anyone.
I realised that I needed to do something to get my life back on track. I got involved at church and they introduced me to Alpha. It was a little strange in the beginning, sitting around a table with strangers, discussing life’s questions and having awkward conversations. As the weeks went by it became easier and I actually started looking forward to going.
During this time I also joined the church on a Pilgrimage to Hillbrow. This disturbed me deeply and my heart ached, for I did not understand what was happening inside of me as I stood there- in the middle of Hillbrow and its people. Something inside me moved. I started asking God questions on how I, one person, could make a difference in a world that I am not familiar with. Why am I there? What does it mean? Why is my heart breaking for people that I don’t even know?
After Alpha, I volunteered to help for the following Alpha season. On the night with the training session, I arrived late and went and sat at the nearest table with open chairs. After the training was done, I was told that I was sitting at the Hillbrow table. We are going to do Alpha in Hillbrow in the shelters. THIS WAS BIG. MY HEART STARTED BEATING AND MY WHOLE BODY STARTED SHAKING. I am going to Hillbrow.
This was the best thing that ever happened to me. Every week as we went into the shelter the Lord met us there. He was there with every lady. I learned more from them and their stories, and the honesty in their questions than I could ever of imagined. In the beginning they were hostile and very strange to each other and to our team. With God’s presence and mercy the environment changed into a warm, loving and caring house. What Alpha did for them was to bring them together as friends, they started to share and trust each other. Every week we arrived to be welcomed with hugs and friendly faces. They became our friends. Friends in Jesus. Alpha Hillbrow became the highlight of my week. I go there and receive so much, it gives me enough energy to last me until we go again the following week.
If you can remember in the beginning of my story I asked God “How can I, one person make a difference in this world.” I know now that God had other plans for me. He wanted Hillbrow to make a difference in my world. It changed me as a person and it energises me to hear how God works in so many different ways, and how people react to questions asked by the Alpha course. I am so grateful that we have a tool like Alpha to explore with people from any background, any race, any gender and any religion to help them understand who God is, how He works and how we can love one another as Jesus loved us.
The woman’s shelter closed down at the end of January 2019. This was very sad and we were very concerned about where these ladies will go, and what lies ahead for them. I hope that what they learnt from Alpha, makes them stronger and that it prepares them for the journey they are on now, after the shelter. We are in touch with some of the ladies and they are doing well. We have moved on to the men’s shelter.