Hi I’m Ana. I was brought up in England and lived in London as a child. After graduation, I returned to Hong Kong in the 90s and got married with two sons. The whole family moved back to England in 2001. We now live in Hampshire.
There is no religious background and guidance in my family, but growing up and going to school in England, you would, to a certain extend, become familiar with Christianity/faith. There would always be Christmas nativity, and I still remember the very first school play I got involved with was Joseph and his Technicolour Dream Coat!
There was always a sense of calmness whenever I stepped inside a church. As a young and full time mother back in Hong Kong, I attempted to take my son to church and meet other western friends, I just used it as a “Mum’s and Tod’s group! I would awkwardly cross my arms to receive blessings during church – not that I understood the true meaning behind it at all. I have actually tried Alpha then but the only thing I remembered was eating sushi and my son crying in the background.
I intended to go to church even after returning to England, but running a take-away business and raising children with my husband took the toll of physical and mental strain. There was no time for church…
I became oppressed from further responsibilities when my mum was diagnosed with cancer. I was quick to anger and being anxious – pressurising and thinking I could solve problems on my own. I don’t know how to seek help and I just tried to rely on myself.
I would drown myself with temptation in material things and binge watch television up to hours on ends – but still had no time for searching something deeper.
I taught tai chi and it allowed me to share this passion with others. Students would praise me for teaching it. Ironically, I could not find positively for myself in doing the same.
Being an introvert, I did not know who to talk to in times of doubts. I would over think and be teary and could not sleep. The Bible was like a last resort thing for when I was stressed. I could randomly read some verses for wisdom or I would often start reading from the beginning but would fall asleep when I get to the third page! Counting sheep did not help, going to a stress less workshop I was given a list of dos and don’ts which added to sleeplessness. Sometimes simply holding onto the Bible helped me to sleep.
I only have a handful of Christian friends. One year my sister-in-law invited me to a massive Christmas event and we were asked whether we would like to commit to Jesus. I did, but not exactly sure why.
“How did you find out about Alpha? What brought you to Alpha? Why Alpha?”
During lockdown in Covid, I found online a church called Chinese Church in London that I am attending now. I was glad to come across a few people whom I have met through our mutual friends. I participated in various church activities, I even joined in prayer evenings! However, I still felt vulnerable. I don’t know why and what I am praying
Throwing myself in at the deep end I admit feeling overwhelmed. I wanted to give up when I had hardly began. I was in desperation as to how to pray. One night – I had a dream! saw myself kneeling and praying and there were people standing all around me. I woke up leaping with joy, I felt a voice telling me not to be afraid, and just “Go for it!”.
In the midst of all of that, my church was organising the next Alpha course. I felt as if Alpha had arrived at just the right moment to “rescue” me. I guess there is no limit of how often you can join Alpha right?. Not really knowing what to expect I was determined to just go for it and was not ashamed of how little I know about faith.
I attended Alpha Online which suited me in the comfort of my own home. As a seeker I enjoyed the open discussions into life, faith & meaning. The hosts were very friendly and as the sessions went, the group bonded and built good friendship.
The hosts were ever so patient and attentive to listen to my story.I felt comfortable amongst my group – nothing was expected out of me – there was no right or wrong to our responses. Surely some of my queries must have been foolish – like did Jesus really die? But our opinions were never judged. In fact, it led to my curiosity to search even more.
For one session, our host even ordered us food delivery and I had sushi (again!). Despite all the busyness in life and to my amazement, I actually completed all the sessions. Alpha helps me keep searching.
The highlight during Alpha Weekend was when I was asked about my relationship with God? I had a sense of belonging – as well as a sense of longing. I felt I was not good enough to be called a Christian because I cannot pray and I have never read the Bible properly.
But Alpha encouraged me to dwell further into searching for a relationship with God. Alpha really opened my eyes! I’m just glad I did it again.
“What has changed after Alpha? What has happened? What’s next?”
That heart knowledge kept on growing. All of a sudden everything just started puzzle out together. What I thought was “Boring” was in fact “Comfort”. I found encouragement, guidance, peace and hope. Before I realised I was praying to give thanks, to praise, to ask for forgiveness and to pray for others. I have found God in Jesus – the meaningful way for life.
Alpha allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and not to be appalled for being weak. Nobody told me to believe in God or to go to church. Certainly, nobody forced me to join Alpha, let alone having to have faith in God. But Alpha helped me to widen my thinking and to give me the opportunity to choose my way of life or to accept God’s in my own time.
After Alpha, the turning point moment in my life came when one day someone asked me if I would like to be baptised – and I know it was a yes without hesitation!
It was the next natural step for me to take into acknowledging my faith.
I felt so blessed. Alpha is the beginning of a new and happy me!
Amongst other things I am taking part in my church, I AM AN ALPHA HOST. I simply want to share and extend my heartfelt knowledge to tell others – it is never too late for anyone to see for themselves.
I hope one day – I can welcome you to Alpha too.
What is true happiness in life? #TryAlpha.