11 Dec 2019
Our kids weren’t always Third Culture Kids (TCKs). They started out their lives in the ‘burbs of Sydney, doing all the usual things kids do – soccer, piano lessons, swimming, Little Athletics. They went to the local preschool and primary school, we were part of a local church, and our kids had lots of friends. Grandparents and other family lived relatively close by. Our kids were well settled in. How then could God ask us to leave all of this for the wilds of rural Mongolia? What would this do to our children?
From the beginning, our kids knew that God’s calling to Mongolia was for the whole family, not just to Dad and Mum. We challenged our older ones, and then the younger ones as they grew, to be asking God what that meant for them – how could they serve Him as kids?
Straight away they were thrown into one of the hardest and most constant aspects of being a TCK – the sad goodbyes. The mission field is a constant state of flux – people coming and going, sometimes for a short time, sometimes forever. I can’t count how many friends my children have farewelled over the years. Most of their goodbyes will be permanent, as many of their friends returned to countries other than Australia. Grief is never far away, but they have learned to compartmentalise. They group friends according to countries, continents, periods of time. And they are learning that God is their one constant.
Over the years, God has shown His kindness and grace in countless ways to our kids. They made and are making friends, local and expat, and they learned the language, some faster than others. Always looking for opportunities to serve, they started an English-speaking club for kids their own age, one ran an art ministry with an aim to reach non-churched kids, one had a parkour group, another taught Sunday school, they were involved with our church’s archery and worship ministries, and were generally welcomed by our local community.
But is Mongolia their home now? It’s the question that most TCKs dread: “Where’s home?” One of my kids answers, “The airport. I’m Airportian”. There is a certain amount of homelessness in our kids, a detachment from both their passport and host country. Yet at the same time, the whole world is their home – they are comfortable in most countries and cultures. And there is a certainty and hope in their lives from which we could all learn – their true home and citizenship is in Heaven.
So what has this TCK experience done for our children? It has and is hammering in God’s faithfulness, His providence, His worthiness, His loving care, and their glorious hope as citizens of Heaven serving the most High God.
Is God calling you to join the mission field? Get in touch.