I have been accepted to read an Undergraduate Certificate in Theology for Oxford University at Wycliffe Hall in October 2017. I am a twenty-four year old, high school teacher and have had this dream deeply embedded in my heart for quite some time. I am one step closer - but one step further all the same.
I originally needed £16 605 for the course fees alone. My journey has come a long way as God has provided at each step with amounts big or small sewing into my dream. I now only need a total of £6000 more as an anonymous donor has pledged to pay Oxford directly up to the value of £5000! I am in absolute awe!
The reason my dream is as it is is because my heart is to grow independent thinking in myself and particularly in the learners and people I come into contact with on a daily basis. I thoroughly believe in pursuing my dreams and enabling the learners to see how wonderful and possible dreaming can be.
I have a desire to reconcile secular and biblical thought in such a way that each world view can enable and add value to the other. This course seeks to cultivate such restorative and independent thinking, which is a fresh take on such a religious course. It is hinged on the relational core of the gospel and seeks to create this perspective in the understanding of philosophical and theological principles. That is my heart. To learn to understand a seemingly opposite world view to my own, not to refute it, but to see it and allow it to add value to my own faith. Below is the personal statement I wrote to Oxford University.
THE HEART FOR THE DREAM:
In Charles Spurgeon’s “All of Grace”, he identifies that faith is comprised of three parts; first part – Knowledge, second part – Belief, third part – Trust. He emphasizes that knowledge must be the first part and that it is the most important aspect of faith, for it allows the other two aspects to flow from it. We have to know what it is we believe in order for us for to be able to believe it and to trust it. This contrasts a fairly popular way of thinking about Christianity i.e. blind faith. This concept is where knowledge is somewhat overlooked or rather skimmed through and belief and trust are seen as most important.
I had this faith once, I had a Christian cultural identity and Jesus was good and made sense. I found belonging and friends and safety. One day, when a friend of mine passed away at just twenty-seven years old – this blind faith cracked. The house that I’d built revealed itself to have been one that was built on sand. This didn’t just happen to me – I have seen the smokescreen evaporate around countless friends, family members, colleagues and fellow students. This concept of God failed, our knowledge of him proved to have been faulty; we had built Him up out of our own misconceptions and were ready to leave him at the altar we’d created. Jean Piaget describes the moment learning occurs as “disequilibrium”; meaning that in the moment of confusion or chaos – that is when real learning takes place. This disequilibrium; the spiralling out of blind faith into sheer doubt was a dark road. One that I feel is quite easily avoidable. The simple: “If you just believe” begs the question, “What do we believe?” My anguish and confusion has led me to seek Jesus out in truth, as He is. Knowledge is not just the moment we hear the gospel for the first time, it is deeply rooted in knowing and understanding the heart of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This knowledge is continuous, therefore our seeking is endless. My heart breaks for those who have to travel on my road. It bleeds for those whose blind faith is weak and hinders depth. In Husserl’s phenomenology the crux of this theory is that we inevitably see with subjectivity, we (the subject) will always see the object as it appears to us, not necessarily as it is. In as far as possible, I believe that who God is, is not just as He might appear to me – for he appears to each of us differently – He is truth. A truth I want to seek to see and know the depths of. A truth I want to understand better so that I might learn to communicate and share it better.
This truth – this is the reason why I want to enrol in this course. This truth which I have fought to find, is one I want to be able to help others seek. I don’t want to give it to them; rather I want to help equip them and there is no better way to do that than to first equip myself with this knowledge. This in combination with my hopes, dreams and desires has led me to have a burning passion to learn as much as I can about this God, so that my house may no longer be built on the sand, but rather on the rock itself.
With everything in me all that I actually know about myself is this: my heart burns at the sound of theological debate; it is brought to life by seeking and questioning and it aches with desire to know more so that it can love better. I would love the opportunity to allow this course to edify my heart and soul on a deeply and profoundly personal level in order for me to be able to communicate this truth better as I learn about it more.
In total the University and College fees amount to 23105 GBP.
There is good news though:
I received the John Wycliffe Needs Based Scholarship to the value of 6500 GBP, reducing my course cost to only 16 605 GBP. Together with my own savings and pension funds, I have a total of 4342 GBP to add of my own. Therefore reducing the total University and College fee necessary to 12 263 GBP.
I am having fundraisers in which I sell my clothes, muffins or items that I am making (like canvases) in order to raise the extra 1 263 GBP. I am unfortunately unable to get a loan for more than 4000 GBP due to my salary. This is why I have started this fundraiser, in order to maybe convince the bank to lend me more money, but ideally to reach the goal. My fundraising is deifnitely aimed at ensuring I can cover the total cost - but this dream is worth fighting for, and this is me fighting. I won't give up until I have truly failed and right now I am far from it! (One must keep the faith!)
Banking details are below, if you don't have PayPal and would like to contribute. (P.s. Even just backing me with words or encouragement is sincerely and truly appreciated. It's hard to fight when you're tired and your words go a long way - so thank you so much for them).
FNB Cheque Account: 62522127259
Branch Code: 250108
Email: [email protected]
Thank you so much!