In the late 1980’s, I struggled to find something to do with my life that challenged me. I worked for Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georgia, as a computer programmer. The job paid well, but I hated the 9-to-5 routine of studying computer printouts and making minute changes to programs.
I prayed for God to lead me to a more interesting job. The only answer I received was the discovery that Coca-Cola would pay my tuition to study toward a degree. I already had an undergraduate degree in journalism. I thought that if I earned a graduate degree in business perhaps I could advance to some job in Coca-Cola that at least allowed me to travel, which I longed to do.
In studying the catalog for Georgia State University, however, the geography courses attracted me more than the business ones. I decided to do what my heart told me to do. I began geography courses at night (since I still worked full-time at Coca-Cola). I had always loved learning about other countries and studying maps. I earned my masters and continued to pray for a job change.
Imagine my surprise when I saw a career column in the newspaper explaining the process for becoming a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. State Department. I didn’t even know such a career existed.
The Foreign Service diplomatic corps, I learned, staffed U.S. embassies and consulates in foreign countries. Duties included reporting on the countries of assignment as well as tasks like helping American citizens who lived, worked, or traveled abroad. I took the tests and eventually entered the Foreign Service.
I served my country for fourteen exciting years, living in the Middle East and North Africa. I worshiped in tiny Christian communities in those countries and grew in my faith. It became precious to me, as I learned about cultures so different from my own. Later, as I began writing novels, those experiences allowed me to place my characters in exciting times and places. I can see God’s guidance over many years to bring me to the place where I now am.
Ann Gaylia O’Barr was a Foreign Service Officer, United States Department of State 1990 to 2004. Assignments included tours in U.S. embassies and consulates in Saudi Arabia (twice), Algeria, Canada, Tunisia, and Washington, D.C. SHe has been a full time writer since 2004. Four novels published by OakTara Publishers: Singing in Babylon, Quiet Deception, Searching for Home, and Distant Thunder. A fifth novel, A Sense of Mission is under contract. Ann Gaylia O’Barr writes novels about Christians who learn the value of their faith when they unexpectedly encounter new cultures and beliefs.