When I was a boy, my Mother exposed me to the teachings of Christianity undoubtedly with the hope that I would grow up and become good, acceptable, and pleasing in the eyes of the Lord. This vision resonated in me throughout my life and to this day I am grateful for the moral standard and sense of purpose that I gained through belonging to a family of faith consisting of men and women who strive to show their “Christian walk” through the wonderful qualities of love, humility, and spiritual practice. Their example and my involvement in various church related activities, at the First Presbyterian Church of Caldwell, New Jersey, helped me learn to appreciate that “to one who is given much, much is expected.” In line with this understanding, Christianity also teaches us that we have a clear obligation to make ourselves available to God holding nothing back. For these reasons, I would like to give my time to making right, restoring, and uniting what in others has become disconnected, shattered, and fragmented.
Throughout my youth, I saw the sacred rituals and faith traditions of various Protestant denominations along with Jewish, Greek Orthodox, and Roman Catholic belief systems being practiced by my classmates, friends, and taught to me by different church leadership. I am fortunate to have observed first hand that when people live out their faith, in and outside of their homes, they are able to offer a common core of virtues, spiritual principles, examples of hospitality, the gift of making others feel listened to, and as significant, their felt sense of duty to encourage whether children, adolescents or young adults to dream big dreams. Having this kind of role modeling demonstrated to me through the strongly integrated lives of close African-American, Hispanic, Irish, Italian, Greek, German and Polish families in my neighborhood provided me with a tremendously “rich hope” for the future. “This particular hope comes from the willingness of people to take one another seriously, to acknowledge the vitality of the beliefs that separate adherents of different faiths and [not their] lethal potential.”1 I thank God almighty for lighting their path, shaping their hearts, and endowing so many with the capacity to give unconditional love to others, most especially, when it was love and concern that most clearly represented their greatest needs.
The time has now come for me to begin repaying the debt that I owe for all the love and concern that I have received throughout my life. I intend to carry out this task by offering my best fruits to persons facing life circumstances similar to what I have experienced. Taking into consideration the milieu that we are living in, I have decided to take the following approach:
- Determine what to teach and how to teach it,
- Establish the discrepancy between youths’ existing knowledge, skills, and attitude compared to where they could be as more competent and spiritually mature young adults, and by
- Identifying, designing, and providing evidence-based instructional strategies and assessment tools for use through personal practices all to aid others in achieving excellence in their daily habits for healthy living, and the sustainability of their freely chosen religious, spiritual, atheist or unique secular practices.
1 Niehbuhr, G., (2007). BEYOND Tolerance How People Across America Are Building Bridges Between Faiths. Penquin Books: New York, NY.