Master of Divinity Student Nathan McEwen shares his journey from science to ministry and how the two work together in his unique calling.
A Growing Passion
For most of my life I was certain that I was going to be a scientist in some capacity. I was interested in chemistry, astronomy, physics, and biology. I competed in science fairs and enjoyed learning about the natural world.
When I had the opportunity to choose my courses in high school I picked as many science courses as I could. It was during these years that my passion for biology grew. I enjoyed learning about biological systems and knew that I wanted to be an academic who wrote research papers and spent time in the lab.
Because my passion for biology was so intense, I felt that it must have come from God. I resolved that God wanted me to be a witness to my coworkers in a field dominated by an atheistic worldview. But, before I could fulfill my calling and witness effectively, I knew that I needed a firm faith foundation.
My original plan was to go to bible college for a year after high school, then attend a reputable secular university to get a BSc. in Biology. But God had a different plan in store for me. I became sick with a parasitic infection in grade twelve and I didn’t get the courses I needed to enroll in a biology program. As a result of my illness, I had to go back for an extra year of high school. I was behind schedule, and I wanted to make up time.
It was during my victory lap year that I heard about Crandall University. I was elated to learn that there was a university that would teach me biblical studies and theology courses alongside science courses. Four years later I graduated with a BSc in Biology and a BTh. through the Crandall-Acadia partnership.
An Unusual Combination
Over the course of my studies, I had the opportunity to share about my academic pursuits with several people, many of whom were surprised to hear about the unusual combination. In their minds, science and theology were antithetical to one another. These conversations allowed me to explain how I see them as complimentary disciplines.
I see science as the study of the natural laws that God has put in place. My studies of the natural realm did not disprove the existence of the spiritual realm – if anything they affirmed it. I realized more and more that there must have been a supernatural origin to the order that we observe in the world.
After graduation I felt thoroughly equipped for the secular mission field that God had called me to. I applied to master’s programs related to zoology in the Maritimes. I felt secure in my decision to pursue the sciences, but I still involved God in my decision-making process. I would often tell him, “God if you want me to do something else, let me know. I will do whatever you want me to.”
A month after I graduated from Crandall and Acadia with my bachelor’s degrees, God came to me in a dream. A lot happened in the dream, and when I woke up, I prayed for a long time for God to reveal to me what it meant, or if it had any spiritual significance. As I prayed, I heard God tell me, “Science is a good calling but what I have for you is greater.”
A Calling Affirmed
I went to church that morning and felt like God was continuing to affirm that he was calling me into full time ministry. After the service my mother-in-law came to me out of the blue and asked if I had ever thought about being a pastor, which felt like additional confirmation. Later that week, I applied for Acadia Divinity College’s MDiv program and have continued to feel God’s direction and affirmation towards pastoral ministry.
Sometimes I wonder why God gave me a passion for the sciences, or why he waited until after I had finished my science degree to call me to ministry. I believe that God was equipping me for ministry through my passion for science.
At Crandall, I learned critical thinking skills and developed a better understanding of the sciences that I can now use to help those who might have difficulty rectifying the contents of the bible with new scientific discoveries. I believe that God called me out of the sciences so that I might lead his church towards a greater appreciation of what science reveals about him and the world he created.
Nathan McEwen grew up in Eldorado, Ontario and attended Crandall University and Acadia Divinity College, where he studied Biology and Theology. After receiving two degrees through the Crandall-Acadia Partnership program, Nathan felt a call to pastoral ministry and enrolled in Acadia’s Master of Divinity Program. He will be graduating with his MDiv from Acadia Divinity College in May. Nathan enjoys participating in a variety of outdoor activities and athletic sports, playing online games with friends, and spending time with his wife Maggie.