Ministry time on the alpha weekend
How to Encourage others to be filled with God's power, peace and strength
The Ministry Time on the Weekend away, or a Day Away, in my opinion, is the highlight of the Alpha course. Praying for others (or being prayed) to be filled with the Holy Spirit can be the most exciting thing on the whole Alpha course. However, due to timing challenges and different personalities of those attending, and also running the day, often people do not “feel anything”, some do not want to appear “vulnerable” in public, and some are only open enough to observe what was going on during the ministry time.
After each Ministry time, Alpha leaders or helpers need to assure all guests that God's Spirit is here, and He touches each individual differently but He loves us all the same. I think it is best to tell a few wonderful testimonies and lovingly encourage all guests to keep on asking the Lord to fill them with His Spirit in the near future, and to be totally open in asking God's Spirit for any gift that He desires to give.
We need to spell out strategies, apart from what they already learned from Alpha, so they know how to approach God personally.
1. Keep Asking (even in your own home) - Never give up on Jesus. He is, as He promised, knocking at the door of our spiritual beings, and ready to fill us with His power, His strength and His peace. Some Godly men like Bishop Sandy Miller, Rev. Paul Cowley did not sense much in public, but were encouraged to keep asking privately. They never gave up but kept on asking, who knows how many times, and finally they were filled to the measure of all the fullness of God in their own homes.
2. How to Ask (again and again) - Use the story of a widow in Luke 18:1-6, Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Tell them that the widow was persistent and passionate. Often, I heard many people sharing their testimonies, after being filled with the Holy Spirit, that they sincerely told God how much they are sorry for any sin they may have committed that day or in the past, and how much they love God or how much they want to have God in their life. I think this is key in helping others to loosen up and open themselves to God. Bishop Sandy Miller shared in our small group, that he was filled with God's power in his own home, by telling Jesus how much he loved him, how much he really loves him again and again.
3. Wait Upon The Lord - Give God His time to work on us, whether it's one second for some people or one hour for some people. God loves us the same. No one is greater than anyone in God's eyes. We are all different, that's why He has His way to touch each individual. Encourage them to find other times to ask a leader or helper (with whom they feel comfortable), to pray for them individually whether it's a time after the Alpha course or in another private meeting. Personally, it took me 40 minutes to completely open myself to Jesus' Spirit, as I didn't want anything but God Himself. Even some people around me had given up, I kept telling God how much I love Him and how much I wanted only Him. For 40 minutes I persisted, and then His Spirit came upon me in such a mighty way, it was the best day of my life on earth. I breath His Spirit now and have eternal confidence and joy always. Jackie Pullinger also waited for a long time to receive His Spirit.
Well, this is just my insight, as I have seen many people who were let down and confused after the ministry time on Alpha weekend. As Bishop Sandy Miller always gave us biblical strategies on how to approach God, I believe it will be so helpful to support our guests in their journey of growing closer to our Lord Jesus. Sandy Miller's wife Annette Miller often said to Sandy re: Being filled with God's Holy Spirit, "You must tell them that there is a big difference of not being filled and being filled with His Holy Spirit. You must tell them!"
And there is a difference, I know it for sure.
When God opens the door, no one can shut it. I strongly believe t hat we can be God's instrument for Him to fulfill His purpose.