What is your name and what is your ministry (occupation)?
I am Dr. Darnise C. Martin, a Religion Professor at Loyola Marymount University (LMU). I am also a scholar, author, transformational life coach and a spiritual director.
How long have you been in this ministry and how did you get started in it?
I’ve been teaching since 2005. I completed my doctorate at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley in 2004, and soon after, relocated to Los Angeles to accept the position at LMU. I have had my business working with women as a coach and spiritual director since 2008.
What role has God or your faith played in your ministry?
First, I consider myself to always be in conversation with God about my own path and staying true to my journey. I am always checking in for my own “marching orders.” Prior to becoming a professor, my first career was in the fashion industry in New York, and within a few years, I realized that I was on the wrong track.
This revelation came to me subtly as that still small voice, which I initially ignored. But, I believe that God continued to call me toward my true gifts and toward the path that would allow me to be the most impactful for others.
I left my “good job” and the executive life I had planned to follow that voice into Seminary and then a doctorate in religion program. Therefore, in my work with students who seek extra counsel on their life decisions, or with women who stand at a crossroads or crisis moment who contact me, I am continually asking them to go within to find and follow that still small (God) voice. This means that I sometimes direct them to scriptures, prayers or meditation.
Mostly, I cultivate my own spirituality in such a way to remain a conduit through which God can speak to people who may not otherwise hear. My work is completely dependent on my faith relationship.
What is one of the most memorable moments or experiences during your ministry?
One experience involves a young returning veteran who came to LMU as a student, but who was having a difficult time adjusting to civilian life. I didn’t realize at the time that he was in my class, that he was considering suicide, but he eventually told me that he appreciated the time I made for him to come by and just be. He was someone I learned to seek out, and when I didn’t find him, to seek harder. I followed the still small voice to keep checking on him if he missed class. Later, I learned that he needed to know that someone noticed and cared, otherwise he would have “checked out.” I still think of him.
Secondly, the work I am doing now with helping people through grief, particularly mother loss is becoming especially important in my practice as a spiritual director.
What are you doing or working on now and what are some of your future goals?
I continue to teach courses in American Religions and African American religions. In addition, I will begin offering online courses, one of which is called “The Jesus Course,” in which I will be teaching about Jesus as an historical person, and the development of Christianity as a major world religion.
Moreover, I am writing a spiritual memoir called “40 Something: Lessons for Women on Life, Love and Faith.” Readers can download a free excerpt of it at 40somethingthemovement.com. My first book, “Beyond Christianity: African Americans in a New Thought Church” can be found at Amazon.com.