Ben's Story

Ben's Story

Catholic Church of Divine Mercy, Lagos

The atmosphere was always warm at Alpha and there was this welcoming aura around...

Benson was born into a Pentecostal family, and he was taught not to take Church Services lightly. As a boy who grew up in Nigeria, one of the most religious countries in the world, Ben also had a good time going to Church. But according to him, it was more of a ritual, “you need to go because you want to be good before God”.

His life was what could be termed “cool”, girls, smoking and drinking was just a normal way of life, “I didn’t see myself as bad, because I wasn’t into extreme, no stealing, killing or involved with other extreme stuffs like that, but girls, drugs, alcohol and smoking were some of the things I saw as life then. It kept me feeling normal according to worldly standards. I felt I was normal as I fit in with the crowd.”

The first time he had been to a catholic church, which happened to be in was 1999 during his sister’s wedding at Corpus Christi Cathedral, in Port Harcourt, he was so thrilled by the orderliness and calm of the Service that he immediately fell in love with the Catholic Church. As he moved higher in his education, getting to his university days, he preferred to worship with the Catholics over there.

However, there was one thing he noticed, there was a part of the Mass he had been told he couldn’t engage in – Holy Communion. There was some sense of need in the Holy Eucharist, some sort of curiosity that had spurred up within him and every time he had asked what the Holy Communion was about, he was told he had to become Catholic to understand, thus, the longing to become one begun. Most of his friends were Catholics at the time and seeing other people engage in this aspect of the Mass only kept him wanting to be a part of the Holy Communion. As time passed, Benson decided to go through the due processes to becoming a Catholic, even though, he wasn’t as prepared as he thought. It was only for a short while before all of his distractions pulled him back into being with the crowd again.

At the end of his first-degree program, he travelled down to Lagos for the National Youth Service. And while staying with his sister and her family, the one whose wedding had been the first time he had worshipped with Catholics, he joined them in attending the Catholic Church within the area. Yet again, that little nudge in his mind to engage in the Holy Communion arose. Upon inquiry, he realized he had to go through a two-year period, in which he would be prepared for Christian initiation into the Catholic Church.  And he agreed to this.

When he had become a Catholic, his life had begun to turn around. The definition of being “cool” began to collapse, as he began to realize what life was really about. His interest in the Catholic Church increased and he made his way into different Church Societies.

Shortly after, he heard of the upcoming Alpha Course. He decided to attend the course, and he was asked to be a helper and he agreed.

"I began to find the program very spiritually enlightening and in a really gentle way too. Soon enough I began to meet and engage with more parishioners in a different way than I had done before due to the small group discussion after every session. The atmosphere was always warm at Alpha and there was this welcoming aura around even though I was a helper as well for my first enrolment.”

Then the Holy Spirit Day Away arrived, it was held in another venue not the regular place that was being used for the other sessions of the Alpha course. When he got there, he got this feeling that something special was going to happen that day. Soon enough everyone was settled in and the day kicked off. After the talk and confession by a Priest, they went into the Prayer, asking for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Not too long, manifestations began to occur. He felt himself drawn to the different things happening around him. At this point, a thought came to him, one that didn’t seem like his own, asking him to shut out the distractions and open up. He knelt down and opened his arms wide. Gradually he began to feel a sensation build up inside of him. “It rose steadily and I tried to hold back what I was feeling, clenching my fists. I was curious to understand what was happening so I opened my eyes, being that they had been closed all this time, and found myself really clenching my fists hard. I also wanted to be sure what I was feeling was real and it was! I could only hold back for a little more before an outburst of tears. In a moment while battling with the feeling I had a glimpse of Jesus’ trip to Golgotha carrying the Cross with the Blessed Virgin Mary watching Him. It felt as though I stood next to her and I could somehow feel her emotions. The sadness at watching her only Son go through such suffering. It was like a memory to me – a memory from over two thousand years ago.”

He spent most of the time crying as the experience of the passion of Christ was so heavy on him “This was a personal conviction for me that Christ suffered for me, because he love me. This further deepened my relationship with God. It further deepened the Faith for me. Up until the Alpha course, I hadn’t had quite the experience I had with the Holy Spirit as I did that very day.”

The very wrongs that had appeared normal became obvious for what they really were. The Holy Spirit had made a major impact in his life. According to him, he’s beginning to understand the role and the importance of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian. He realized that man is empty without the Holy Spirit. “The Mass has a deeper meaning for me now. Life has become completely different – not all rosy but there’s a certain peace that keeps me going in the Journey of Faith, a certain hope, unlike anything else.”

Want to find an Alpha near you

Try Alpha

Find out more about Alpha

Learn more

Related

Alpha Made It Easy To Share My Faith - Philip's Story

Alpha Made It Easy To Share My Faith - Philip's Story

Lagos

I found out that Alpha can be run anywhere. Our friendships have become stronger and more meaningful.

My name is Pius onum Philip, a student at Yaba College of Technology in Lagos. I am from Benue state but born and brought up in Lagos. So, I usually tell people, “My parents are from Benue but I am from Lagos.”

I grew up in the barracks. Life in the barracks coupled with some family challenges made it hard for me to take my faith seriously. My journey in the Christian faith began on the day of my baptism in 2005. From that time onward, I resolved to be a committed follower of Christ.

I first heard about Alpha in 2016 through Andrew. He's a friend and former colleague at the office I worked in before my admission to study Civil Engineering at Yaba College of Technology.

I remember him asking me if I knew about Alpha. I answered, “Of course I know alpha to be a symbol for variation between variables or entities in mathematics. Alpha is also the first letter of the Greek alphabet. I also know alpha as a name ascribed to God as the first”. But I found out he was talking about something different.

He invited me to an event where I learnt more about Alpha, and how to run it. There I got to know what Alpha is. I liked the idea of Alpha but I was still not convinced to run it. Being a Catholic, I had reservations about Alpha being ‘another denominational thing’. But the presence of other Catholics at the event on the first day gave me a sense of peace and comfort.

Despite this, my decision to run Alpha was not immediate. I didn’t feel confident I had understood it and how it works. Then, I was invited to another training event. It was after that I finally said to myself, “Guy, no more excuses, you need to do something". So I decided to run it and see.

One of the things which influenced my decision was my desire to see fellow youths draw closer to Christ. I wanted to create a space where we could come together to explore the Christian faith. I wanted to see our discussion progress from civil engineering, football and girls to faith in God. Thus, I decided to run alpha together with some of my course mates in school.

 

After deciding to run Alpha, I still had other concerns. I wasn’t sure how I would start, and how I was going to convince my friends to come. I had no idea where I was going to get food. I was also afraid they might see Alpha as ‘another church programme’.

But, along the way, I found out that Alpha can be run anywhere. One of my friends agreed to host us in his room every Friday after lectures. So, I invited other friends, and about thirteen of us met every week in the hostel after lectures. We shared biscuits, watched an episode of the Alpha Film Series and then had discussions. Despite the diversity of religion and faith, we all enjoyed the sessions.

With encouragement from Andrew, everything turned out very well and beyond my fears. Running Alpha was helpful for my friends and I. I noticed great transformations in many of them.

Some started to read the Bible on their own with no one pushing them to. Some now pray on their own. For others, harmful habits just fizzled out. Our friendships have become stronger and more meaningful.

Running Alpha opened my eyes to see the beauty of fellowship over food. It helped me see the importance of sharing our Christian faith and giving people the opportunity to express their opinions. 

Running Alpha has equipped me to reach more people. And now, with my friends, we're working toward running it in the church. I believe that Alpha, as a tool, will help us in reaching more youth with the love of Jesus, and help them discover and build a relationship with God. 

Read >
How Alpha Transformed Our Church - Rev. Dr. Ogunlusi

How Alpha Transformed Our Church - Rev. Dr. Ogunlusi

”Alpha has given us tremendous opportunities to present the gospel in a friendly manner to people that ordinarily would not have stepped into the church. We have had several people of other faith try Alpha with us, we have witnessed guests who ordinarily would not call themselves Christians coming to accept a relationship with Christ, while some who have disconnected from the faith made a new commitment to God”. - Rev. Dr Richard Ogunlusi (Church of The Messiah, Ile-Ife)

My Journey - Ben's Story

My Journey - Ben's Story

God met me where I was and I encountered Him in a way that was really specific to me. Life has become completely different - Ben (Lagos, Nigeria)

Watch >