My name is Susan Bergman De Vries. I grew up on a family farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California. I’d never been on a plane before I was 18 and went on a summer ministry trip as a college student. I was paired up with a wonderful Dutch girl who became a dear friend for life. I really enjoyed sharing about Christ that summer.
I met my husband-to-be soon after that at Westmont, and we were drawn together by our common interest in working cross culturally. Our first assignment was in 1972-1974 to teach Bible Knowledge in high schools of Cape Coast, Ghana. We did some further graduate studies on furloughs, but we’ve basically lived overseas ever since that first assignment. We have served in Costa Rica, Mindanao (Philippines), Kenya for over 20 years, and finally 8 years in Cyprus (based there but visiting other workers in the Middle East for Member Care).
We returned to the USA 18 months ago involuntarily. But we have seen God’s hand of leading and protection on us in each place. I feel my life has been so rich and varied. One of the challenges I’ve enjoyed most about working overseas is learning to adapt, to make a home for my husband and three girls, to figure out ways to creatively solve problems, and to become part of the community.
I’ve studied a few languages, helped start 2 TCK schools, enjoyed editing and producing a magazine for church leaders in Africa, lead pastors’ wives fellowships, taught journalism, and now I am beginning a new ministry to our former workers (alumni) for our company to help them keep connected and ensure that they feel honored and valued. I’ve grown so much from watching their lives.
I see God at work in that, despite their very imperfect parents, all three of our daughters chose to become global workers (two in Africa and one in Brazil)! God gave to each one the right life partner to share their goals. Many who supported us for years, are now supporting them too.
As long as we are humans, there will always be conflict in working together with other humans! There are no perfect policies or approaches to our work that guarantee smooth sailing. But there are lots of biblical principles we fail to apply to ourselves and suffer for it. Envy, gossip, and comparison are such destructive habits, but so easy to fall into!
One of my favorite times was being on a team in Kenya where we struggled at first, but then learned to make un-rushed weekly prayer together a non-negotiable; we not only experienced less conflict but we saw God knit our hearts together in a remarkable love that lasts to this day.
My prayer request is that my husband and I can continue to minister together, that we can encourage and help our workers (past, present, and maybe even future) to become whole and well in their souls no matter what their outward circumstances, to reach a place of maturity. I want to listen well, without judgment but with compassion and respond as Christ would. I want my life to reflect Christ well, to inspire others as these older workers have inspired me.
I’m also concerned for my grandchildren, that they find God’s path for their lives in humility and obedience to Him.