New General Director of Scripture Union SA
We are excited to welcome Mariska de Beer as Scripture Union South Africa’s General Director/CEO. We asked Mariska a few questions to get to know her.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in a very small town in the Eastern Cape called Adelaide. I’ve been privileged to always have known God. I remember at the age of 5 my aunt asked me if I’ve ever invited Jesus in my heart and I simply replied…of course.
I have always been very active, loving sport and the outdoors and I try to have an outdoor adventure as often as time and resources allow.
After school I went to the Women’s Defence Force College in George for a year of military service. This was an amazing forming year for me and from there I went on to study. I eventually completed my Diploma in Sport Admin and Marketing and after that felt the calling to go into full time ministry.
I love traveling and exploring new places and cultures and just being able to connect with different people is always a gift to me.
I have always had the passion and vision to include people with disabilities and the Deaf in all I do and all I’m involved in.
I’ve worked for some disability organisations and most recently with eDeaf where I got to understand so much more about the Deaf culture.
I’ve been involved with the ISC, International Sports Coalition and could really see and experience the value and impact of sport and adventure ministry worldwide.
I’ve never been married and adopted my first son 9 years ago and my 2nd son 6 years ago. What an absolute privilege to be their mom. I think through the whole adoption process the most significant moment was the day the adoption agency said “we approve you”….it almost felt like God said that to me and I was so touched and humbled by the fact that God is okay with the fact that I am the mother of these 2 amazing boys. So now, we all have our adventures together.
I am passionate about developing people and playing some part in them not only connecting and establishing a relationship with God but also finding their own potential and for them to go and influence others.
For me, it has always been about relationships, my relationship with God, my kids, friends, colleagues at work, or just the person who passes you by in the day.
If we don’t intentionally build relationships, how can we influence?
When/how did your relationship with SU start?
If I remember correctly, it was in 2006, my late aunt was very involved with Scripture Union and got their newsletters and by chance, I saw a SU newsletter at my mom’s house when I was visiting her and the position of Camping Champion was advertised there. By that time, I had already managed campsite facilities and wanted to know more about SU and the position. I met with Tony and well …I did apply and after many meetings and interviews, I was offered the position. I have kept close relationships with a number of people at SU who worked with me and always kind of knew I would be back, and so grateful for this opportunity now.
Where did your heart for ministry come from?
My Grandfather emigrated from the UK and became a missionary in the former Transkei, they called him the Peacemaker there. Although I never knew him, I always admired what he did. A lady who was in the mission field with him became like family to our family and I could sit and listen to her stories for hours and hours. I’ve always known I want to be intentional with my life, how I live it and how my life can play some part in people getting to know God. I think as children of God we are all called to ministry, some go into the more “formal” mission field and a lot more are just in ministry where God places them, in their work, at their church, as a parent at the school their kids attend, etc.
Is it true that you’ve got a heart for outdoor ministry?
Yes, for sure. Loving sport and the outdoors come naturally to me and to have experienced first-hand the impact of these ministries makes my heart skip several beats time and time again. I believe it is now even more of a necessity than 10 or 20 years ago. There is just something about taking children out of their natural environment and into nature that God uses in His own unique way to “talk to them”.
Early days, but would you like to share any vision you have for Su?
This is difficult as I would like to first know and understand a little more about where SU staff and volunteers see themselves and the movement at this time, but a big vision for me will be: Sustainability of SU as well as playing a bigger role in enabling churches, schools, other NGOs , etc.
I also have a great passion and vision to see that SU is “relevant” in what we do and to keep it “real” and inclusive for people with disabilities and the Deaf. Personally, I long to see outreaches for children and youth coming back and big youth events and of course sports and outdoor ministry to be more intentionally included in our ministry and resources. I am a natural networker and would love to see more partnerships and networks coming together through SU so that the impact and reach can be so much bigger.