I would like to start my application letter by sharing personal thought about faith in general and then proceed with analyzing my personal experience and leadership skills in this regards. The faith is in human nature. People have always needed something or someone with whom they could share either their problems and miseries or joy and happiness. This need gave birth to the belief in some supernatural powers and gods, whose support helped to overcome life difficulties. This may have been not a real help, but strong belief that you are not alone in this world, and there is always a possibility to rely on something or someone. As a result, in different parts of the world arose various beliefs and philosophies concerning God and His Word. Moreover, these philosophies have been developing and changing for many years, and they still do. Due to the lack of education, or vice versa, overload of information, some people become confused. The others try to find the common sense, gathering the experience of different philosophies and making their own conclusions. For me, clarifying of Biblical Teaching became a significant point in my life. Although, I am fully aware that a lot of things are still to be learned and discovered. That is why the African American Leadership Scholarship is the best opportunity to get more necessary information for providing Christian leadership and make my own impact in serving God and the church.
Richard Swinburne, a British philosopher, is one of the people who does not just believe but tries to understand and prove why to believe and how. To answer the question of what type of belief is the best, he compares the points of view of Thomism, Lutheranism, Pragmatism, and Patristics (Richard Swinburn, 2005). His researches made me think that any religion is a constant search, understanding of which will depend on hundreds of things.
The more I learn, the more I realize the necessity of analyzing and learning. The most widespread religions today (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) share the same ideas about some general points, such as monotheism, faith, love, morality, that all people are aware of. Although, even such simple, at first sight, things in different contexts may be interpreted in a way that no one even expects.
There are people who need to be directed, as most of the things are not that easy to understand by yourself. That is why I am of the belief that sound doctrinal and biblical teaching is needed. Some of my researches absolutely convinced me that I would like to share biblical contextual teachings to help overcome misconceptions and wrong information from past generations. Unfortunately, nowadays due to some economic issues African Americans do not always have full access to sound theological education. In this perspective, The African American Leadership Scholarship seems to be the best way out.
I have had the opportunity to volunteer for over ten years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice trying to make a difference by spreading the gospel message. This was a great experience that brought me to a conclusion, that nowadays we are challenged with many groups from pockets of people from many backgrounds and cultures. It may seem that it is just impossible to misread or misunderstand the Bible. Although, all the differences between people, their cultures and history influence the understanding of the Biblical doctrines. That is why contextual teaching can direct to the right understanding, and at the same time show that there may be several somehow different conclusions, and all of them will be correct. I would like to share some of the points in support of my ideas.
First of all, people’s social location has been recognized as one of the main factors that influence the interpretation of the texts. The second factor is the communal reading of the Bible. The churches usually conduct the sermons for certain groups of people. It means that one idea, interpreted in a particular way, spreads at a time in the minds of many people. Every church is situated in a different historical and cultural contexts, which become the ground for their own reading, hearing, and understanding of the texts (Keon-Sang An, 2015).
Looking at these points, it is just impossible not to consider them while spreading the Word of God. I strongly believe that biblical contextual teaching is the new and fresh vision of the situation. As the world evolves, we should not stay still either. Learning the history, culture and simple living conditions of people before teaching is the best way to reach out to them, and even discover something new for yourself. For all the reasons mentioned I would not like to lose the opportunity of gaining more theological knowledge and spreading it further.