When I was 6 years old, my parents said, “Ok! We’re ready to become missionaries in Asia.” So I said goodbye to my friends and my house and my family and my dog, and in 1997, we moved around the world. I had to learn a new language and culture and make new friends. One day, my brother and I were looking out the window and asked,” When can we go home?” Two years after that we went back to the States for a visit, and I realized that wasn’t home anymore either. I asked again, “When can I go home?”
Now as a young adult, I have had the privilege of working with Global Partners to engage in Ministry to Missionary Kids for our 142 Wesleyan kids. I serve at missionary area conferences to help with kids’ programs, I complete two training programs a year for MK’s (missionary kids) who are returning to the States or about to launch overseas, and I keep in contact with all the families through newsletters and Facebook. My main goal is simply to come alongside our MK’s and families to help them emerge from these experiences more whole as individuals and to provide them with more of what I needed as an MK.
One of the main reasons missionaries leave missionary service is concern for their children, and it can take more than five years to re-recruit, retrain, and replace a family. But on the positive side, missionary kids are the next generation of ministers. We’ve grown up among cultures and churches with other missionaries and leaders influencing our lives.
People have said to me, “Oh, it’s so great what your parents do; they have such a great ministry.” And I want to say, “Yes, it is! And have you noticed there are seven more people on our prayer card?” My parents reminded me that in addition to my volunteering in orphanage work, countryside clinics, nursing homes, or in-country mission trips, I would still be a part of the team just by being kind and loving to my siblings and those around me, and respectful to my parents. We are a witness as a family.
As missionary kids, we are sometimes called third-culture kids. Our parents live in two different cultures, but MK’s become a completely new and blended third culture of people who have lived among different worlds while not fully belonging anywhere. We can be seen as not fitting in when we don’t know everything about our “home” culture, but my mom told me something encouraging here: even if I only feel 80% competent in the States and 80% competent in Asia, that comes to 160% globally competent!
MK’s become chameleons and learn how to learn cultures. Just like Joseph, Esther, Moses, Daniel, and Jesus, we can be used at key times to bridge the different cultures. Also, God knows how we feel; he understands. Something amazing to me is that Jesus came from heaven to earth, so that’s a bit of culture shock there! But also when he was little, he lived in Egypt. As this was dawning on me, I came across Matthew 8:20: “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” God understands what MK’s go through. We are not an afterthought to him.
So learn more about us at Ministry to Missionary Kids, or even better, find out there how to lend a hand and partner in this important and rewarding ministry.
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