By Vicki Gilliam
Our family has been involved in our three sons' secondary school, The King's Hospital, in one way or another for over 10 years. Our son Benjamin has just graduated this year sadly ending our time with the school. When Sinead Talbot, the Youth Director for Lucan Presbyterian Church asked if I along with three other Irish men would be interested in doing the Youth Alpha course for their Transition year students this past winter, I jumped at the chance. I knew this would give me an opportunity to be a part of the school and their staff that had meant so much to us over the years. Our oldest son Tommy, who had attended KH for 6 years before he went to college in America, had died in an accident in 2011, and though most of these teens would have come the year after he left n 2010, they would have certainly known his story. The school and staff were so helpful and kind to us in the midst of those very hard years following his death. Doing the Youth Alpha course at KH would give me an opportunity to be an encouragement and blessing to these students just as the school had been such a blessing to us as a famliy.
As we started the 11 week course, we expected around 20 or 30 students to come. In the end, we had over 35 teenagers come the first night! Each week they came back and even brought more of their friends. My group was any where from 10 to 14 each week, mostly lads with a few girls. I grew to really love these teens over the weeks we had together. Some were searching for something of faith, or as they said at one of the lessons, "dipping their toe in to just see what it is like". It was fantastic to see them just having fun each week and enjoying one another, as well as wrestling with who Jesus is and what Christianity was all about.
The best line came from one of the students after we had a relatively lively discussion. We were talking about God's healing and he said, "Does God heal? And if he does, then why does he heal some and not others?" A really good question and one I have particularly asked the Lord over the years! It was great to be able to put that to the group and watch the Lord move and work as we wrestled with the question. We had the opportunity to pray for a couple of the students who had some injuries and pain. It was a bit unexpected and in some, uncomfortable, but we did pray and waited expectantly for whatever God had in store for them.
The following week, each one came back and amazingly, the students told us that the two teens had been completely healed that week! They were all buzzing by then with the news of their friends being healed! When I told the students we were going to throw a party for everyone to finish the course, they said "You guys are going to throw a party for us??". I smiled and said "Yes, all good things have to finish with celebrations and this has been a very good thing!"
We celebrated that night and had great conversations on what was next for them. The group ended up invited us to attend their TY graduation which was such an honour for us. Two of the students stood up to talk about their time in Alpha saying, "We really didn't expect much from this course especially because it was going to be about God and the Bible and stuff like that. But the more we got into it, the more we really liked it and we even liked learning about God and faith and how to grow in that!" It was a perfect ending as the Headmaster and teachers extended an invitation for us to come back to do the course next year! We pray that Youth Alpha will become a regular part of the Transition year course where we will see Jesus bring transformation not just for the students but for the whole community as well.