God needs to give you compassion for the people you work with


As a TCK (Third Culture Kid), I grew up in Portugal and lived there for fifteen years. Although I have a Dutch passport, I spent most of my life abroad. That’s why I feel very at home in Mediterranean cultures with a palm tree nearby. As a BAMmer, I live and work in North Africa, engaging in agricultural projects.

An interview with a 28-year-old we call ‘Marieke’ for her safety.

I first heard about Business As Mission (BAM) when I was studying International Business in Amsterdam. Before that, I had never heard of it. During my studies, I conducted research for World Partners in Libya for a few months. Currently, I have been living and working here for 3.5 years and started a farm with the mission to make an impact and serve the people.

What’s it like to work as a BAMmer?

That depends on who you are. Personally, I don’t feel ‘completely Dutch.’ I feel like a mix and can adapt well to a new environment or culture. After two years of experience, I felt I had a good foundation to make independent decisions. Before that, I needed multiple advisors to make good decisions. At the same time, it’s still a journey. You want to figure out what’s wise and what’s prudent. But these questions also apply to ‘ordinary Dutch entrepreneurs.’ As a BAMmer, you need a lot of adaptability; things often go different than you would like. God must give you love to get along well with the people you work with. Sometimes the culture is frustrating. The love for people and your God-given mission keeps you going, prevents burnout, and ensures impactful work.

“As a BAMmer, you need a lot of adaptability; things often go different than you would like.”

How is the collaboration with World Partners?

It’s different now than at the start. After my study research, I kept in contact with World Partners and wanted to continue with another project in the region. From the beginning, I was expected to be proactive and entrepreneurial at an individual level. I had Jouke as a sparring partner and supervisor in the initial period. He has a lot of practical experience in onion cultivation and post-harvest (industrial) processes. Currently, I also have Hans Hamoen as a mentor. He has a vast network, a BAM heart, decades of experience, and is a follower of Christ. I learn a lot from him. Because I’ve lived here for years now, I’ve gained a lot of experience and make different assessments and choices. In collaboration with the Netherlands, many business contracts have been closed. I’m becoming more entrepreneurial during this process and want start a lot. A proactive attitude helps with that. Last week, someone from Austria visited. He has a big heart for BAM and understands the BAM principle and thinks along. In the BAM sector, we need each other more than ever and feel a strong connection through the One.

“In the BAM sector, you need each other more than ever and feel a strong connection through the One.”

What do you do?

That’s a nice Dutch question. Currently, we are working on various fronts. Among other things, we are setting up a farm where we want to produce cheese. There is a lot involved in that. Our next step is to buy land and install agricultural equipment. Additionally, we do ‘business repping,’ representing or introducing a product or solution in the market of the country where you live. For example, importing a certain type of onion that thrives in the climate. I also work with machines that can protect dry commodities (almonds, sugar, cocoa, etc.) against insects by treating them with inert gases, as well as sustainable disinfection solutions for water, air, and fruits/vegetables. For instance, if you treat apples with our devices, they are guaranteed to have a longer shelf life. This allows companies to keep a higher percentage of their fruit goods in good condition, ultimately having a strong economic impact.

What impact do you have?

My impact is very relational. I spend a lot of time with onion importers and hope to have an impact there. In the long term, we also have an impact with the farm, although we haven’t seen many results yet.

We also have an impact on nature, and I want to handle God’s creation well, including optimizing processes and reducing chemical products. It’s not just ‘pure sales.’ The onion itself and certain varieties are developing. That’s wonderful, firstly because it adds to the country becoming self-sufficient. It has a positive impact on the local market and at an industrial level. Additionally, the (seasonal) import from Europe is reduced, leading to fewer transport emissions.

How do you share and experience your faith?

I attend an international church where many African nationalities are represented. I call it an ‘airport church.’ In two years, half of the churchgoers have left or joined at our church. I work in a Muslim country where, on paper, 99 percent of the population is Muslim. At the same time, there is a very high beer consumption, and many people are secretly agnostic or atheist, especially among my peers. I regularly have conversations about faith. For example, in the taxi, they want to convince me of Islam. Sometimes they are curious about the religion in my country. They don’t know a gracious God. That provides beautiful openings. I recently had a long conversation with a friend where I could explain how God, through Jesus, shows 100% grace and 100% justice. It’s beautiful how Jesus accomplished that by dying for us. In Islam, it’s difficult to see these two coming together in God. Either he is completely gracious and forgives our sins (without justice), or he must be just, leaving no room for grace. I find it fascinating to talk about this with others.

“They don’t know a gracious God. That provides beautiful openings.”

Do you want to share anything else?

I think it’s important with what intent you perform Business As Mission. Are you purely coming for business? What do you do with the profit? How do you treat your staff and customers? Do you want to stay for the long term? If you come purely for business, this is not the most ideal country. Far from it. I’m not the best entrepreneur either, but my business has a mission. God uses me to have an impact here now and to be His hands and feet.

*(Place) names and ages have been changed for Marieke’s safety. Photos by Pexels.com