I was blessed to grow up in a household where my parents taught us about God from an early age. At six, a missionary visited my church and all I remember was him sharing that many African children don’t have the opportunity to go to school and learn to read and write. That night I told my parents, “When I grow up, I’m going to Africa to teach children how to read and write so I can teach them about God.”

Eighteen years later that is exactly what happened. Looking back, I see how God had been preparing me from a young age.

I grew up bilingual, learned three more languages in high school and was going to study languages at the university. My dad, the practical immigrant, was like, “No, you will study business.” So, I did both—majored in International Business and minored in French and German.

A few years into my career, my job transferred me to New York City as Head of Corporate Communications for one of the Netherland’s largest companies. The Dutch church I grew up in wasn’t present so I went “church shopping.” A woman I hired to do some artwork for my company invited me to a Stevie Wonder concert where I met some of her friends. When I discovered they all went to the same church, I started asking all kinds of questions and they invited me to join them on Sunday at the Beacon Theater. The rest, as they say, is history.

When asked as a young Christian if I’d like to go on the mission team to Nairobi, Kenya, I said, “Absolutely!” I quit my job on Wall Street, sold or gave away everything I owned, fit the rest into two suitcases and got on a plane with faith that God would provide for whatever was next.

Moving to Africa

In Nairobi, I accompanied a brother who had an interview at the UN. While there, I asked if I could meet the head of Public Relations. Half an hour later, I walked out of his office with a job. I was the first person on the Nairobi mission team to get a job. How? God, of course.

God used the wisdom of my earthly father to prepare me for service with my heavenly Father. The UN’s Head of Public Relations was looking for someone with the exact business background and language skills that I had to be responsible for their three quarterly publications in six languages for both internal and external audiences.

I later worked for the church – as ministry staff in Nairobi and then as ad-ministry staff in South Africa. However I missed the 9-5 world, how it challenged my mind and Bible study (how does one respond in xyz situation at work). But I felt guilty…wasn’t it supposed to be the dream of every disciple of Jesus to be in the full-time ministry? Thankfully some sisters helped me see that my heart would always be full-time for God…it is just that someone else would be paying my salary.

Here Am I Lord, Send Me…and my Career

Through my career, God has blessed me to live in 12 countries and travel to more than 30 others for business. What I most love is that everywhere I go, I have family. I treasure the meals, the laughter, the singing and most of all the people I have met on my journeys.

On a side note, having “family” everywhere was definitely the source of some jealousy at work! My colleagues couldn’t understand how I could arrive in Abidjan, Juba, Kuwait, Luanda or Singapore for the first time and already have friends to hang out with every night!

Shifting Gears

So what does one do with 30+ years of experiences around the world as a disciple of Jesus, career woman and Doctor (the Ph.D. kind…not the medical kind!)? I’ve decided to write.

My first two books are about Africa. The first, Africa: Open for Business, is already published. Later this year, my second book comes out, about political leadership in Africa based on interviews with multiple African Heads of State I conducted for my PhD dissertation.

I’m also working on some spiritual books. Single & Significant highlights God’s call for singles to live life to the full and for everyone to recognize the significant impact singles have in our world and our churches. Here Am I, Lord, Send Me…and My Career is about using or creating international careers that allow you to bring glory to God, have a career and make a positive, meaningful impact on the world.

Blooming Where We Are Planted

My prayer is to inspire disciples around the world to pursue life and live it to the full. My prayer has always been to bloom wherever God plants me, to use every opportunity he gives me to help myself and others get to know and grow closer to God.

I pray that through my life and my stories disciples of Jesus around the world will see that they can pursue both God and a career, both God and their MBA or Ph.D. Bloom where God plants you.

Learn more about Deanne at drdeannedevries.com.