Campus ministry was not on my list of what to look for in a potential college. For me, God existed at summer camp. God sounded like guitars singing through cheap speakers, smelled like midnight campfires, and faded away as I drove home on Saturday. It wasn’t until my first year on staff that I wondered what life would be like if I was Christian every day – every hour of every day – instead of just a few times a year. That fall I started college at a Methodist-affiliated university (that I didn’t know was Methodist-affiliated until after I got there!) and was immediately embraced by the American University United Methodist Student Association. But still, I was a film major. I was going to film school after college. I liked being Christian but every time I got more involved in the church, be it planning worship services or nerding out about Biblical Greek to English translations, I’d tell everyone it was just a hobby.
Then I was introduced to Job 38, arguably the greatest rant in literary history. Job is acting like he’s figured out the rules of the universe and the meaning of life, when God comes down and knocks some sense into him with such great lines as “Do you send lightning bolts on their way?” and “Who fathers the drops of dew? From whose womb comes the ice?” Basically, the moment Job is certain he knows what’s up, God storms in a flips all the tables. When I found myself as President of AU’s Methodist-Protestant ministry and taking my first seminary course as an undergrad, I got the sense this was my own Job 38 moment. My first post-grad plan was to work on a cruise ship, and when my application wasn’t accepted I couldn’t help but laugh because getting on a boat to avoid ministry is literally already a story in the Bible.
Jesus has two mustard seed analogies that are often lost on modern readers that don’t live in a primarily agricultural society. When he compared both faith and the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed, he was comparing them to an invasive weed. His audience did not like mustard seeds, which were notorious for taking over an entire garden, and they would have gasped at his scandalous analogies. The Kingdom of God disrupts society. It does not accommodate oppressive regimes and wealthy empires. It discomforts the comfortable. It brings untamed wilderness to the neatly trimmed garden. Similarly, mustard seed faith disrupts your soul, your opinions, and whatever plan you had for your life. I love my job right now as Seasonal Assistant Director for a Christian camp in Kansas, and I’m excited to know I have another adventure waiting for me with Mission Year when the summer ends.
Emma-Claire Martin is an incoming Mission Year team member. Support her by visiting our donation page.