Dennis Neville, Bulembu's new Director of Education, and his family.
Bulembu’s new Director of Education, Dennis Neville, has arrived from Cape Town with his wife Nicky and their three daughters Daniella, Talitha and Olivia.
Dennis was raised in South Africa and actually went to primary school with Andrew le Roux and Neal Rijkenberg in Piet Retief (although this connection was not made until just a few months ago). Attending WITS University in Johannesburg and the University of Cape Town, Dennis obtained his Bachelors, Honors and Masters degrees in Archeology and Anthropology.
His wife, Nicky, was born and raised in Johannesburg and has studied and worked in the field of Communications and Public Relations for most of her career life. Graduating with a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership from Regent University in the United States, Nicky has been active in writing and editing for numerous organizations and publications including the popular, Christian magazine Today.
Both Dennis and Nicky have also spent considerable time working with His People, a ministry based in Cape Town. Dennis headed up the ministry’s national Bible School and managed curriculum development while Nicky worked with the Communications team. “The season came when we needed to step out of full time ministry,” Nicky explains. “We needed a chance for restoration and renewal of our vision and miraculously God opened the door for Dennis to move into the Louis Group.”
Dennis’ transition into the Louis Group, a Cape Town based financial services and property management company, provided him with a chance to rest. Focusing his efforts on leadership training and entrepreneurial development for the Group’s 450 staff, Dennis’ desire to return to ministry came back stronger than ever.
“There were so many seeds that God planted in our hearts during that season,” Dennis says. “For example, He planted seeds of compassion for orphans. But as we tried to pursue these things and even went as far as looking into moving to Romania to work with abandoned children, but God stopped us each time.”
The period of waiting proved challenging for the Nevilles as it seemed at times as if the dreams of their hearts were not being realized. “We felt like we were living such a normal life when I believed we had been promised more than that,” Nicky remembers. “But I kept on wondering – Lord, what about those promises?”
Dennis’ involvement with transformational business through his work with the Louis Group proved to provide the foundation for his transition into his work here in Bulembu. “My passion developed – the idea that we can transform nations and transform the world through business,” he explains. “When we started to learn about Bulembu the people with this organization spoke our language and that got us excited. We had parallel dreams to bring biblical principles into all areas of enterprise and can in doing so, witness the transformational power of God at work restoring a nation.”
Dennis emailed Andrew to explain his passion and ideas and in October 2009 he was invited to visit Bulembu. Over his short visit Dennis’ relationship with Bulembu’s Directors developed and it became clear that he would be an ideal candidate to fill the role of Director of Education.
“We spent a lot of time following that initial visit seeking the Lord and He so clearly answered all of our prayers,” Nicky remembers. “We returned as a family in early December to meet the Board of Directors as well as to see what our girls thought of the town. And by the end of that visit we had confirmation and we knew that God had called us here.”
With just under two months to pack their life in Cape Town up, the Nevilles arrived in Bulembu in late January. As the Director of Education Dennis’ role is to develop education initiatives across town. Included in these initiatives are curriculum development at the school and training and leadership development within enterprises to connect all learners in Bulembu to resources. “My vision is to provide the best education possible for every learner in Bulembu so that they can each grow into who God has called them to be,” Dennis says. “In giving each of Bulembu’s learners the very best schooling and training – the very best access to education – I want people to have the freedom to dream big dreams and to partner with them to see these dreams come true.”