Hi. My name is Jim. I am 25 years old. I have a lot of friends, some from my uni days, others that I've made at work and the football club I play for.
One of my friends, Ginny, is a Christian. She keeps inviting me to an Alpha course. I'm interested in her, but not the course. In general, Christians seem judgmental and church seems like a dinosaur that somehow escaped extinction.
I agreed to go to the Alpha course, it's on a Wednesday evening which clashes with football practice, but heh, it's only for a few weeks and at least I get to go out with Ginny.
Week four of the Alpha course was kind of pivotal for me. Not only did it make sense, but I also had this deep conviction somewhere inside me that it was true. I'm very confused now. Not about Ginny though, I really like her, even though she won't sleep with me yet.
That sense of conviction just wouldn't go away. Eventually I got some time by myself and poured out my heart to God. As I did I had the strangest feeling of calm and love... weird. I've agreed to go with Ginny to her church on Sunday. I might as well, I haven't been able to play in the league since I started the Alpha course. The club has a rule that if you don't come to practice, you can't be picked for the team.
Hi. I'm Virginia - Ginny to my friends, who are mostly from the church I go to, although there is one guy I know from Uni (Jim) who isn't a Christian.
I quite like Jim, my friends tease me about him. They also warn me not to get involved because I can't have a relationship with someone outside the faith.
I think Jim fancies me! He agreed to come along to the Alpha course. I'm really not sure what to do, I don't want him to go just because he thinks I might go out with him. I wouldn't have asked him at all, except I didn't really know anyone else to invite.
Jim's become a Christian! It's so wonderful, God has been so faithful, he's even agreed to come to church with me on Sunday - even though it's his football day!
Church was weird. A kind of poor-man's rock concert with a lecture in the middle. People doing really odd things, gabbling, falling over, dancing. I'd have run a mile if I wasn't having dinner with Ginny after. By the end I'd kind of got used to the weirdness, there was certainly something of God there and the people seemed really nice. I did feel I was a bit on display mind.
Now the Alpha course has finished, I could go back to football training, but there's some sort of housegroup thing that Ginny goes to and I feel like I should go along to that.
One of the guys on the sounddesk at church must have heard that I'm a DJ in my spare time, or was when I had any! He asked if I'd help now and again. They really don't have much of a clue so I said I'd be glad to help. Turns out though that you have to come to a rehearsal on a thursday evening. Bit of a pain, I normally meet my Uni mates for a drink, but I guess it's only once a month.
I must admit, the Christian thing is really making a difference to me, the way I think, the things I value. Life does seem so much more real now - I just want to shout about it all the time!
I am so thrilled for Jim. He is so different, so committed - he's even given up meeting with his old Uni friends to help out on the sound desk. With that and housegroup, he's really in a place where he can be discipled, away from the pretty dodgy influences of his old friends!
He is really kind to me too - I think I'm falling in love with him. There's a Marriage Preparation Course starting in the Autumn, I'm praying...
Not the most romatic venue, the church weekend away, but it seemed right anyway. She said 'yes'! We're going to be married next Spring, apparently there's a Marriage Preparation course in the Autumn. I'm so happy!
We had been thinking of joining one of the short-term missions trips - I'm so keen to share with others what God has done for me, but that will have to wait till next year, we've a wedding to plan. God is so good!
I'm married! I can't quite believe it! God is so faithful, I prayed for a husband and even though Jim wasn't a believer, he has brought me one! We had a wonderful wedding - the guest list was a bit fraught, Jim wanted to invite lots of his old friends, but in the end it was ok, because not that many of them could make it. All our joint friends from church were there though, it was such a godly celebration, a great a start to our married life.
We're really enjoying being a married couple, it feels very grown up having our own home and being able to invite friends round for meals. We're hosting a housegroup for young couples now that we have our own place.
It's all changed on the work front too. By coincidence (or should I say God's providence!) my father-in-law runs a sound equipment business and he had a vacancy in his technical department. I'll miss my old colleagues, but what a privilege to be working for a Christian company.
I'm pregnant! We didn't plan on it quite this soon, but well, I won't go into the detail! The baby is due the week before we were planning on being a part of the mission's trip so obviously God has a different type of mission for us!
I've not been too good for the last few weeks, having to rest lots. Jim has been fantastic, what with work being so busy and his commitments at church and housegroup, somehow he's still had time to be a real help to me. He's going to make such a great dad!
Twins! How can they not know till they are born these days! We haven't slept for what seems like years, but finally life seems to be smoothing out again. I keep telling everyone I know how good God is - of course they all agree!
I'm very keen to share what I've discovered of God and there's a new outreach programme for guys who like football. I'm so unfit it will probably kill me, but I'll give it a go!
Bumped into Freddie, one of my old friends from the football club. I was really sad, turns out he went through a really difficult time shortly after I left, seemed like he didn't have anyone to talk to about it, almost killed himself, taken till now to get out again. Promised to meet up with him again soon. Must text him later when I can find some space - diary is pretty full these days now I've taken on the leadership of the AV team - on top of work and homelife!
Our 10th anniversary! Who could believe it! We're going on our first missions trip to celebrate! Can't believe it's taken this long, but with four kids and our church committments, it's just not been possible!
I've never been so moved in my life. The things we saw, the poverty, the desperateness... and yet the vibrancy of peoplle's faith. What a challenge to our way of life. It has really shaken me up.
There's a weekend conference coming up on how to start and run effetcive prayer groups for missions and Jim has said he'll look after the kids so that I can go.
The conference was amazing, some fantastic stories and great ideas. It will mean another evening out but we're committed to making it happen. Small beginnings, but a few friends praying can grow and make a huge difference I know.
I knew Jim pretty well once - lots of us did. He was always a kind-hearted bloke - one of the lads, but you could trust him. I know a lot of us felt a real loss when he started with that church thing - we lost a good friend.
He did invite us to his wedding, but to be honest we'd pretty much lost touch by then, he'd stopped coming to training, couldn't play on Sundays and didn't seem that interested in us anymore. Of course, when you get married you get a new circle of friends and when family comes along, your priorities change - that happened to Mike and Tony and some of our other good mates. But Jim just disappeared, seemed to get so busy with church and church people that he didn't have time for us. Real shame. Could have done with Jim through some of my difficult times. I bumped into him once, we agreed to catch up over a pint, but I knew it wouldn't happen. Never mind, good luck to him.
Sad, sad day. Just been to Freddie's funeral. Never did get that drink with him, one thing or another kept getting in the way. Amazing to see so many people from the past of course. They were all happy to see me and Ginny and the kids. But we had so little in common, didn't seem much point of contact. All a bit embarassing really.
Jim's a bit down after the death of one of his old mates. Still, we've been asked to lead a course on friendship evangelism so that should take his mind off it. It will lead into our next Alpha course. Wouldn't it be amazing if one of his old friends came to Alpha, just like Jim did all those years ago!
The Pastor's Story
Ginny & Jim have been wonderful servants of the church. I remember when Jim first came to Alpha, I had the privilege of baptising him and leading their wedding. A great couple - a great family, so committed to the church. The prayer group Ginny runs has doubled in size this year, the AV team has become so much more professional under Jim's leadership. And of course they have such a heart for the lost. They're stalwarts of our short-term missions trips and they run our Alpha course. And that's besides hosting one of our home-groups. They're wonderful people, generous with their time and money. If only the church had more people like them.