On a Sunday evening at 5:30 p.m., March 20, 2005, San Jose Christian Alliance Church (SJCAC) hosted the first session of the renown Alpha Course in their church for the third year running since 2003. It is a ten-week course that offers the following sessions:
3/20 – Is there a God?
3/27 – What is Christianity?
4/3 – Is the bible God’s word?
4/10 – What is man and sin?
4/17 – Who is Jesus?
4/25 – Why did Jesus die and resurrect?
4/30 – (Saturday) Alpha Day
5/8 – How can I be sure of my faith?
5/15 – How to read the Bible and pray?
5/22 – What about the Church?
Two weeks prior to the first meeting of the Alpha course on a Saturday, about 25 members of the San Jose Christian Alliance Church (SJCAC) ventured out onto the neighborhood of San Jose, California, to invite people on the streets to join this 10-week program. Going in groups of three, the teams managed to obtain a total of approximately 40 people who signed up for the course. “Within 1.5 hours 40 people agreed to come,” testified Teddy Leelaviawathana, a Thai native who has been a proud member of SJCAC for 15 years. When the day of the first meeting came, an overwhelming number of 102 English, Spanish, and Vietnamese members had been registered to attend. For the Chinese language, there were 26 Cantonese and 108 Mandarin registered guests.
Like typical Alpha Courses around the world, Alpha Course in SJCAC consists of a series of talk relating to the Christian faith. First, there is a light meal together at the beginning of each session so that people could get acquainted with one another. Second, a presentation or a talk is given by a church member and in conclusion, small groups are formed to discuss, discover and share personal opinions about the topic of the talk. Conclusively, the objective of an Alpha Course is to introduce God to the non-believers in a friendly environment by sharing edifying words with one another.
During the first meeting of the Alpha Course in SJCAC, it was apparent at one glance that the participants were very diverse. They were mainly Spanish, English and Vietnamese speakers. Accommodating to the needs of the people, SJCAC provided advanced technology of translations via earphones for participants who wish to listen to the talk in their native language.
After having dinner and getting to know each other, the night’s main event was started off with a warm welcome by Pastor Ted Kang, who is also the speaker presenting the talk – “Is there a God?” In such a relaxed atmosphere, music leader Nathan Lau followed the welcome smoothly with two graceful songs in Spanish and English. Being mesmerized by the superb guitar skills and voice of Mr. Lau, every one sat in silence and savored each moment of it with thankfulness.
Soon after a break, Pastor Ted gave a short yet extremely eloquent testimony of how he came to know the existence of God through his lifetime study of science. He applied the knowledge that he had in medicine, science and technology and shared with the people how he could not deny the “designer” who is behind every creation even though theories in his studies suggest otherwise. Pastor Ted emphasized that it couldn’t be by chance that man was formed because when he was a science student, the more he studied, the more he realized how every creation is made so meticulously that it didn’t make sense to say it was all a coincidence. Admitting to the many struggles that he had in life, he was thankful to be standing on stage and sharing the grace that God poured down on his life. Without any pressure or force to convert the listeners, he simply recounted every good thing that God has blessed him with. In turn, the hearts of all who listened were stirred and they began to consider deeply about the question of “Is there a God?”
So the night was concluded in a perfect transition to Pastor’s Ted testimony with small groups discussion for 45 minutes about the topic of the first Alpha Course session “Is there a God?” Through sharing with one another, people became less ignorant of the omnipotent God that created them. It was a chance to discover and opinionate on their thoughts about God and His love for mankind. Even more so, the new friends got to hear personal experiences of members who are spiritually more mature and thus grow in faith themselves. That night, eyes were opened, hearts were touched and Alpha Course continues the work of God through churches such as SJCAC by reaching people in subtle ways.
[SJCAC is conducting the Alpha Course on Sundays from 3/20-5/22 at 5:30 p.m.. For detailed information, please visit SJCAC’s official website at http://www.sjcac.org/main.htm or contact them at the following address:
San Jose Christian Alliance Church
2360 McLaughlin Avenue
San Jose, CA 95122