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.