At the end of his rope, Dean cried out to God to either save him or take him. Dean remembers the conviction he felt in his heart as he turned his life over to God: “I knew that I had never finished anything in my life that I’d started and that if this was for real, I would have to give it my all.” Dean Blankenship is a living testimony to the fact that God is still very active in the renovation business.
Prior to Paul’s life-changing encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was notorious for his ruthless killing of the growing number of people who were followers of Jesus—the first Christians. As a result of that encounter, he became a new man and went on to become one of the greatest apostles with several books of the New Testament attributed to him. Dean Blankenship is a living testimony to the fact that God is still very active in the renovation business.
Dean was the youngest child in his family. His father was an Air Force veteran of twenty-four years and then worked for the post office for fourteen years. He was a hard worker and provider, but was also a heavy smoker and drinker and rarely, if ever, told his family that he loved them. Dean’s older brother was his idol. He was nine years older and was a teenager in the midst of the hippie movement of the mid-seventies. His long hair and lack of motivation clashed with the military style of their father, and he would often retreat to his room to get high with Dean tagging along behind. This would be Dean’s first introduction into the drug scene.
In order to keep Dean quiet, his older brother would let him partake of his stash. His brother also dealt the illegal drugs and made the lifestyle of sex, drugs, and rock & roll seem appealing to Dean. By the time he was in junior high school, Dean was getting high in the mornings before going to school, was hanging out with the wrong crowd of kids and had started drinking. In tenth grade Dean quit school and got a job in the construction industry.
Dean recalls, “God had given me the gifts and talents to build and construct things. Any type of carpentry work came very naturally and easy to me. Rather than using those gifts to glorify God, I used them to take short cuts and to do the minimum amount of work to get by. I wanted to do just enough to get my paycheck and to feed my appetite for partying.” He married at a young age, twenty-one, and had two children, but didn’t change his toxic lifestyle. After a few years, he moved out and met another woman, whom he married, and had two more children. His second wife was a drug user and introduced him to crack cocaine. Even though he was a marijuana user, drinker, and now cocaine user, Dean still felt that he had control of his life.
His second marriage quickly fell apart, and Dean drifted in and out of relationships with various women, and, in his early thirties, his cocaine usage increased and started to spin out of control. He started spending his whole check to buy crack and could no longer hold down a job and began stealing to support his addiction, even stealing from his parents. If he was lucky enough to find a construction job, he would steal tools and equipment to pawn off and buy drugs. During the construction boom of 2003-2004, as spec houses were being built at an alarming pace, Dean would break into vacant houses just before they were complete and steal the brand new appliances and resell them. That is where he was eventually caught and arrested.
Getting caught made him realize how miserable his life had become. Dean confessed, "The early years of the party lifestyle were fun and alluring, but that’s how Satan uses sin to draw us into his trap, and that’s where he wants us to stay. But after a while, when the DUIs start adding up, and the party is over, it’s not fun anymore. I was overwhelmed by a sense of hopelessness like I had never felt before. I woke up in the drunk tank of a county jail and just began sobbing uncontrollably. A corrections officer approached me with a look of disgust on her face and said, ‘What’s wrong with you?!’ I said, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know.’ Behind her was the prison chaplain, who told me that my father had passed away the night before."
"For the first time, I took an honest look back on my life. It was as if the scales were removed from my eyes. I was able to see myself for who I really was, who I’d become, and how others saw me—as a thief and crack head. I had let friends down, let family down, tormented my parents, and abandoned my kids. That was going to be my legacy.”
At the end of his rope, Dean cried out to God to either save him or take him. Dean remembers the conviction he felt in his heart as he turned his life over to God: “I knew that I had never finished anything in my life that I’d started, and that if this was for real, I would have to give it my all.”
Feeling a new lease on life, Dean was on fire for Jesus, but he still faced the consequences of his actions. He became involved with a True Ministries Discipleship program and was told about who he was in Christ—a new creation who didn’t have to be defined by his past. He was freed from his addictions and the bondage of his toxic life. Through what can only be described as miraculous grace from God, Dean found favor with the judge, and was able to serve only six months in jail, pay restitution, and then take part in a supervised, on-premises program with True Life Ministries in lieu of serving twelve years in jail for his crimes.
“I was completely sold out to Jesus and thought that I would get out of the construction industry, but God had other plans. There were several buildings on the True Ministries campus that were in need of repair. I was able to use the talents that God had given me to renovate the buildings and be a blessing to the ministry in return for how richly they had blessed me. To me, that was God prompting me to use the gifts He’d given me for His glory.”
Once Dean had fulfilled his obligations, he went to work for a Christian contractor as a senior project manager and helped build up the business, making more money than he’d ever made his whole life. He was able to pay back all of his restitution, fines, tax liens, and past child support, and was able to reestablish a relationship with his children.
In 2007, Dean met and married his wife, Jane. The following year, he felt that God was telling him to start his own construction company. The only problem was that he needed to have a General Contractor’s license. In order to be approved, Dean and Jane had to appear before the Board of Professional Regulations. Dean recalls, “As the Board reviewed other candidates before me, they take a few minutes each to review their application. When they got to mine, the board started scrolling through page after page of information relating to my criminal background while we stood silent.
Finally, the chairlady looked up and said ‘I just have one question. Why in the world would I allow you to walk into somebody’s house and negotiate a contract?’ I paused for a moment and just began to share what Jesus had done in my life. I told the Board that I wasn’t the same man that was described in those reports. God changed my life.
God had already made preparations for me as only He could. He sent an advocate for me that day on the Board. He was a believer and pled with the other Board members to give me a chance. They consented, and I was able to get my license on a probationary basis for four years, with regular audits and reviews of my performance and business. I completed the probation easily and was released from it early. What favor!”
Since then, Dean and Jane’s business, Hosanna Building Contractors, has flourished into a multimillion dollar company. They have two children together and live out their faith on a daily basis. They are intent on relying on God’s direction for their business, and have focused on Biblical stewardship of it through the principles taught in the Biblical Entrepreneurship (BE) curriculum developed by the Nehemiah Project. Where there was once hopelessness, there came a future that is limitless. Dean exclaims, “Who the Son sets free is free indeed!”