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Marie Meets God
She was suspicious of Christians, but couldn't resist dinner and fellowship with friends once a week at an Alpha course. The event changed her life.

Marie Carroll was wary of people who called themselves "Christians." They made her slightly nervous. She had read about cults, and how they would pressure you into doing things you didn't really want to do. In her mind Christians kind of fit that bill. They made you feel like a sinner and lectured you if you didn't go to meetings.

… her friends … sent her a beautifully printed invitation to attend an Alpha course at the church across the street …

That's how Marie felt seven weeks ago. Today she is a Spirit-filled believer.

During a time when Marie was out of work, her friends, who attend Church of Christ the King in Brighton, England, sent her a beautifully printed invitation to attend an Alpha course at the church across the street from her home. They invited her to come with them.

Marie liked the idea of being invited out for dinner once a week with friends, hearing a speaker address a biblical topic, and having the opportunity to discuss her own impressions and experiences. She felt it might answer some of her questions.

She still nervously wondered what it would be like. Would everyone be banging tambourines? But she was glad it wasn't like that. "It really hit the right note with me," she says softly. "It was informal; there was no pressure of any kind; and everyone went out of their way to welcome me. What hit me most was that those who were long-time Christians, it showed on their faces—like an aura. Their faces glowed. You could talk to them and look into their eyes and they wouldn't look away. They didn't make me feel stupid because I wasn't at the same depth as they were."

In the first five weeks Marie found herself changing. She began to understand practical faith. "How I relate to others has changed now. I'm more understanding and more helpful. I read my Bible a lot. Right from the beginning I got more interested in reading my Bible and praying. Praying is so different than before. I used to repeat prayers and phrases, but here they pray a more modern way—they pray what they feel."

Marie enjoyed the discussions. Listening to everyone's viewpoints, she appreciated how open they were about their own experiences and began to understand God's love. But words alone somehow didn't answer the cry of her heart. Was there really a God who loved her? How could she know for sure? She was only sure of one thing by then—she knew she wasn't a Christian.

On the sixth week, Marie decided to attend a Sunday service. During worship her thoughts wandered, so she chose to concentrate on the words. As she did, she lifted up her arms and suddenly was engulfed by the warm, loving presence of the Holy Spirit. "For the first time I really believed there's a special force and a goodness in the universe. It was fantastic. What I experienced was pure goodness."

Marie was powerfully touched by God's Spirit. She accepted Jesus as her Saviour, and hasn't stopped thanking Him since. "It's hard to believe that He actually offered Himself to me when just a few weeks ago I didn't even have a clue what He was all about."

Marie is already securely planted in a small group with her friends who host the table at the Alpha course she attends. Once the course is over, she'll just continue attending the small group weekly, meeting with friends, having Bible discussions and soaking in God's presence.

"If more people came to these courses," says Marie, "a lot more would become Christians."

Daina Doucet is a freelance writer and editor based in Hamilton, Ontario.

Originally published in Spread the Fire, Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, August 1996.

Used with permission of the author. Copyright © 2003




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