SV: I’m speaking about evangelism. I
would hope every church in Canada
would accept any person living in our
country to come and explore faith. I
would be blown away if that was not a
possibility in a church. That you could be
of any background and be interested in
faith and be welcome here.
It is a willingness to host people as if
you were having an honoured guest in
your home, whether you run it in your
church, a hair salon, a pub. What does it
mean to roll out a red carpet? To say you
are welcome here? To some people that
can feel like a five-star meal with wonderful punch and great coffees and teas.
Some churches have figured out how to
feed an amazing meal to people for under
$10 a person. Radical hospitality means
mood, lighting, comfortable chairs. What
would you be doing if you were trying to
make someone feel welcome and at ease?
I’ve seen it done in the smallest of Alphas and largest. More people come back
for the food and atmosphere more than
anything else over the first weeks of Alpha. It is countercultural to offer the best
for people on a regular basis.
FT: Shaila, how has your faith been impacted
by your work and experience with Alpha, and
this idea of radical hospitality?
SV: I grew up with parents who showed
radical hospitality, radical generosity,
faithfulness, neighbourliness. In some
ways I’m not sure Alpha influenced this
in me so much as my family of origin.
My parents immigrated from India, and
they had friends in our home from around
the world. My mother would always show
We would have people come stay with
us. My dad would take time off and they
would drive them around and take them
to Niagara Falls. We had so many people
come through our house, the very wealthy,
the very poor. My personal values of my
family of origin aligned with Alpha. I
thank them for that.
My dad’s closest friend and his wife
were Hindus and vegetarians. They
wouldn’t even eat from pots that had meat
prepared in them. My mother went out
and bought new pots and labelled them
THE FT INTERVIEW