Serving God Globally

Finding Your Place in International Development

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"A wise, indispensable guide for those contemplating working in development."--Ron Sider, author, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger; president, Evangelicals for Social Action
Dominating the daily news cycle today are the grim realities of grinding poverty, sex trafficking, gender discrimination, child soldiering, HIV/AIDS, failed states, corruption, and environmental breakdown. In the midst of such pain and brokenness, the followers of Christ cannot stand idly by, for God calls them into the mission of reconciling all things, first by easing suffering and then by building flourishing communities through the process of transformational human development.

Roland Hoksbergen has over twenty-five years of experience in the field of international development. In this practical handbook, he explains what development is, what development workers actually do, and how young people can prepare for mission careers in this field, both in North America and abroad. In addition to setting the big picture for how Christians approach the big questions of international development, the book draws on stories, advice, and wisdom culled from personal interviews with about fifty development professionals. Each chapter ends with action steps and reflection/discussion questions for group use. This unique vocational resource for students interested in mission and development work will serve as a text for global studies, development, intercultural studies, and missions programs.

Introduction: God, You, and the World Out There
1. What to Do and Why: Four Contemporary Views on Development
2. For God So Loved the World: Insights on International Development from Four Christian Traditions
3. Common Ground: Basic Principles for Working in Development
4. How Many Niches Are There? An Overview of the International Development Field . . . and Where North Americans Fit In
5. Becoming an Effective Foreigner: What Kinds of People Are Needed in Development Work?
6. Finding Your Way: The College Years
7. The Early Years after College: Getting from Here to There
8. Into the Future
9. Resources for the Road


"A wonderful combination of excellent scholarship, gripping stories, and practical wisdom. A wise, indispensable guide for those contemplating working in development."

Ron Sider, author, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger; president, Evangelicals for Social Action

"What does a career in international development look like, and how does one prepare for such a career? If those are questions you've ever asked, I strongly recommend that you read this book. Not only is it generously seasoned with stories of practitioners--their personal backgrounds and the experiences God used to prepare them for development work--but it also clearly and fairly considers the 'why' questions from a variety of Christian perspectives."

Steve Rundle, professor of economics, Biola University; editor, Economic Justice in a Flat World: Christian Perspectives on Globalization

"At last, I have a book I can enthusiastically recommend to Christians looking for direction on how to get involved in the world of international development. Hoksbergen's book is thoughtful, engaging, hopeful, and practical."

David Livermore, author, Serving with Eyes Wide Open and Cultural Intelligence

"This book is a source of wisdom, counsel, inspiration, and insight for those who feel called to the field of international development. Based on interviews with a host of Christian development practitioners working with a variety of organizations, Serving God Globally addresses key questions and issues faced by aspiring and current Christian development workers. Hoksbergen's book provides an invaluable service to the Christian development community and beyond, and should be required reading for all those engaged in prayerful discernment about their involvement in issues of poverty and justice at the international level."

David Bronkema, director, International Development Programs, Eastern University

"Hoksbergen's perspective on development work and the involvement of the Christian community has always been thought provoking. In Serving God Globally he weaves time-tested principles of community transformation into a practical guide for use by the church, especially young adults. What I appreciate most is how Hoksbergen's faith in a sovereign God shines through as the firm foundation for ministry. He makes it clear that ministry among the poor is as much for the transformation of those seeking to help as it is for those seen as recipients. It is, after all, only when poverty is understood relationally that we can work together to change the systems and affect true transformation. A must-read book for every church and individual involved in community ministry at home or abroad."

Andrew Ryskamp, director, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee

The Author

  1. Roland Hoksbergen

    Roland Hoksbergen

    Roland Hoksbergen (PhD, University of Notre Dame) is professor of economics and international development at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he also serves as director of the International Development Studies program. His current research...

    Continue reading about Roland Hoksbergen


"Serving God Globally is a good survey of the issues that young people need to understand as they prepare to pursue a possible career in development. . . . [Hoksbergen has] loaded his book with helpful stories of those who have struggled with a discovery process. . . . Serving God Globally helps college students understand where they potentially fit in the world of development. . . . This is a book for college students thinking about whether or not they should pursue a career in international development."

Seth Barnes,

Evangelical Missions Quarterly

"This book offers what Christians need to know in order to serve God, church, and the world in the field of not-for-profit international economic development. . . . Hoksbergen provides ample materials for reflection, preparation, and practice to young adults looking for directions on how to engage in vocations in international development. Hoksbergen identifies the major challenge of today's world as poverty and offers the solution of Christian service. The book not only engages with Scripture to establish the connection between the perceived problem and the suggested solution, but also admirably lays out a pathway from problem to solution. . . . Hoksbergen, who himself has decades of experience in Christian development work, offers his ideas as a way of spiritually forming young Christians. . . . I have no doubt that this book will help potential volunteers for development work abroad."

Nimi Wariboko,

Theology Today

"This book is an exceptional vocational guide for followers of Christ who desire to minister holistically in cross-cultural settings."

Robert Gallagher,


"Offer[s] a step-by-step vocational guide (the only one of its kind, and an exceptionally good one at that) for college students who want to pursue international development as a Christian calling. Decades of teaching and international experience refreshingly merge with reflective theories in the commonsensical progression of Hoksbergen's book, a progression that smoothly proceeds from asking the 'what' and the 'why' questions behind international development to helping the reader move into a postcollege career in the field. Hoksbergen, displaying pedagogical mastery, does all this while expertly keeping his target audience--the college student--in mind. . . . This is one fine and needed work, one that I highly recommend, and one that fits a much needed niche in the market. . . . Hoksbergen provides an indispensable and exceptionally written tool--that could and should be used in any relevant classroom--for college students (and many others) who are considering a call to international development."

D. Keith Campbell,

Trinity Journal

"What sets Hoksbergen's book apart is his ability to connect scholarship and faith. Many books have tackled these issues separately, but it is rare to find a piece that so articulately and intelligently speaks to the need for faith-driven development practice that is still enriched with a strong understanding of international development discourse. While faith can be an important motivating factor for wanting to help the world's poor, such faith must be coupled with a robust understanding of the complexities of international development to be as effective as possible. Hoksbergen demonstrates his knowledge of this reality throughout the book, weaving practical examples with theoretical underpinnings to illustrate that practice void of theory misses a key component to the struggle for poverty alleviation. . . . Hoksbergen has presented a book that is challenging for Christians yet true to the discipline of international development. Any student reading this book will develop a much greater understanding of the discipline, the importance of its study, and the reality of its practice."

Leah McMillan,


"One of the best resources about learning about international development, global justice, and what needs doing in all manner of development work. . . . Kudos to Dr. Hoksbergen . . . and to those who helped assemble this great handbook. . . . This is one of the best books of its kind I have ever seen."

Byron Borger,