Biology professor Joy Doan fused her love for science and God by coming to Bethel.

By Joy Doan

Fifteen years ago, I was a disillusioned academic living in Denver, Colorado. I was coming off a dozen years of traveling what the world told me were and always would be parallel roads. The first road included intensely secular doctoral and post-doctoral training in Immunology. The second and more important road concerned my faith in Christ.  I felt called to the former. The latter was deep in my bones. I had no idea how to bring them together, if it was even possible to bring them together. I had the beginnings of a plan to leave academia for full-time ministry. Then, I had an idea. Some might say a nudge from the Holy Spirit. I asked the internet how to find an open faculty position in Biology at a Christian college. Bethel had a job posting that read like my résumé, and was the first and only faculty position I applied for. I got the job, left the mountains, and breathed in the lakes and trees of my new home.

Now I spend most of my work day in a basement, surrounded by multiple layers of concrete block. For a good three months out of the year, I have to make an effort if I want to see daylight.  I have been around long enough to have seen not just the current financial crisis, but two others. I use modern lab equipment in obsolete and overcrowded spaces while we wait on new science space. This is my Bethel.

However, my Bethel is also the place where the chair of the Biology department hugged me at the end of my interview, and I felt like I had come home after just two days on campus. It is where I mentored my first research student, and where I attended my first conference as a principle investigator.  My Bethel is a place where I can teach a course on HIV/AIDS during which we can practice lament alongside learning. It is where I share my passion for science and faith, where I celebrate life’s victories and grieve its losses, and where I do my best to exercise my calling with faith, with creativity, with enthusiasm, and with excellence. It is where colleagues and students become friends, laugh together, cry together, and grow together.  

Sure, my Bethel has its scratches and dents, bumps and bruises and breaks. So do I — a lot of them. And yet, neither Bethel nor myself would be who and what we are, what we will be, without them. The bottom line is that we are a place that is, and a people who are, becoming in Christ. For that, I can be thankful for every day.
Every. Single. Day.

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