Missionary kids/Third Culture kids: Investing in the future

7 Jul

The children of our missionary staff are some of the most promising future leaders for Christ.  Raised in a culture that is not their own and belonging to a home country that they’ve rarely seen, these kids develop their own culture that connects them in a way that those of us on the outside cannot understand.  I have seen these third culture kids (TCKs) meet for the first time and immediately connect due to this shared life experience.  They are often bilingual, accustomed to making friends quickly and saying goodbye often.  They use the Internet to stay connected with friends in many countries and cross borders like most people cross a street.  Most of them have flown in more airplanes and visited more countries by the time they are ten than most people will in a lifetime.  They regularly give up their rooms for guests and enjoy crashing at other missionaries’ homes wherever they may find themselves.  Their worldview is much larger than their non-TCK peers and they are perplexed by those who don’t understand the value, size and incredible diversity of the world God has made.  And they are smart…not necessarily in academic achievement (though many are), but especially in the area of reading people, adapting to their cultural norms, and engaging with them meaningfully. They intuitively pick up on unspoken rules of behavior that can make or break a relationship.  These kids are treasures.
I have the privilege of knowing many of these kids through my own children’s relationships and in my travels where I stay with missionary families.  Despite a busy schedule, it is always worth investing time engaging them at their stage of life no matter what their age.  Many of them know they are welcome to stay with us and we have been blessed by those who do.  I am thrilled to be a part of what God is going to do through them and what they will become.  These are VIPs.  Would you like to interact with a future leader? Get to know a TCK.  It will be well worth your time and hospitality.

2 Responses to “Missionary kids/Third Culture kids: Investing in the future”

  1. DrieCulturen July 8, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    Hi Brian, I have a concern. Recently there has been research done among the missionary kids that returned to Holland and only a very small percentage received some guidance, debriefing or help on their re-entry. They would have loved to have had more help… I agree it's a good thing to get to know TCKs but who will help them transition to their "passport culture"? Who will hear their stories? Who will help them adjust? Or will we all just pray? Please let's do more than that!! Cheers, from a fellow TCK Dutch but out of Africa..

  2. Brian Duggan July 8, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    Hi DrieCulturen – You bring up a very important issue. When TCKs "return" to their passport country people tend to look at them as natives due to language, looks, etc. Yet there are many challenges that they face and they need someone to listen, understand and help them think through this adjustment experience. In our mission we have an annual Re-Entry camp for returning TCKs that addresses many of these issues. We also have a staff member dedicated full-time to tracking with returning TCKs (mostly college students) and visiting them on campus or wherever they might be at least once a year. It doesn't solve all the issues but it has made a big difference. Thank you for bringing this up.Brian

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