Nearly two years ago, my husband and I went to our first Alpha Conference. At the time, no one could predict that weeks later, a global pandemic would bring the world to a halt and that there wouldn’t be another in-person Alpha Conference for two years.
Now, as Alpha prepares to gather together in person again for The Alpha Conference 2022, I find myself reflecting on that gathering two years ago and how God showed up.
I was nervous going into it. I didn’t really know what to expect from The Alpha Conference or from the people I would meet there. That nervousness fell away very quickly, though. From the moment we walked onto campus, we felt welcomed.
People smiled and stopped to talk with us. The environment was one of openness and expectation. There was a sense of peace and joy. Small groups of people gathered to talk, pray, or attend sessions that dug into specific issues facing the Church in 2020.
My husband and I wandered into a few of those sessions, listening to an interesting Barna Group study report and hearing part of a talk on Gen Z. But we weren’t there for the sessions, not really.
We came broken, at the end of ourselves. My husband had been fighting stage four melanoma for years. We had tried almost every treatment out there. The most recent treatment had worked, but started attacking his liver, so we had to stop. His tumor started growing again soon afterwards. We didn’t know what we were going to do next. We were tired and afraid.
When we walked into the main session of The Alpha Conference, we ended up in the prayer room. It was a moment I will never forget.
A small group of people gathered around us, anointed my husband with oil and prayed. I felt carried. That’s really the only word I can find that fits. My own faith felt worn and my legs felt weary—and then we were surrounded and held up, carried to God’s throne.
In our time at The Alpha Conference, through prayer and worship and listening to the speakers, I came to feel like I was part of something bigger. Something that included me and my husband, our story, but that also stretched and expanded to include so much more—the stories of countless others; all unique, all necessary, all powerful and needed.
I walked away from The Alpha Conference 2020 more than refreshed. I felt like I’d been given back something I’d lost.
The following two years would test all of us in ways we couldn’t foresee. Collectively, we’ve lost a lot. I thought I was broken and weary at the start of 2020, but there were still a lot more bruises to come. I didn’t know any of that then, but God did. Looking back, I feel like God met me with exactly what I needed going into the year that was to come, and he did it through The Alpha Conference.
None of us know what 2022 will hold. But here’s what I do know:
Something powerful happens when we gather together and worship God. I know that God has shown up for us before and I trust that the Spirit of Love will show up for us again, every time we call out for him.
I know that the Alpha USA team is already calling out for God to meet people exactly where they’re at, with exactly what they need, when they come to The Alpha Conference 2022.
We believe that God is always with us, but when we ask for an outpouring of his Spirit, he comes and pours a new measure upon us. This is what you can expect from The Alpha Conference—a new measure poured out to overflowing.
Whatever you are feeling, wherever you are in your journey, The Alpha Conference is for you. You are welcome here. You belong. We’d love to have you.
P.S. God heard and answered our cries about my husband. After The Alpha Conference we started a chemo regimen that all the doctors said was unlikely to work, but that both my husband and I felt guided to try. For almost two years now, his tumor has continued to steadily shrink and there has been no spread of disease.
Guest post: Bethany Stedman
Learn more about how we’re planning for our time together at the next Alpha Conference January 27-28, 2022.