Why would you go half way around the world to spend half or more of your time with missionary kids (MK’s) when it’s the Japanese who need to hear about the gospel? Here are some of our reasons:
1. MKs need Jesus, too. To assume that all MKs are Christians just because their parents are is like assuming that all people whose parents are republicans vote republican. It may be likely, but it’s not always the case.
Furthermore, those who are Christians don’t ever stop needing the gospel. All Christians would agree that discipleship is important for themselves and for their kids. We all need to be reminded of the gospel over and over and over until we are filled with love for God in light of his grace. MKs are no exception. However, they rarely have the benefit of youth groups or personal attention from a mentor because they are a part of fledgling church plants. We want to be the ones to remind them of the gospel.
2. MK’s face unique challenges and deserve special care. Can you imagine being born in one culture, living in another (or maybe several by the time you are in high school), and feeling like you are never really part of either?
David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken in their book, Third Culture Kids, explain that while military brats, international business kids, and missionary kids build deep bonds with at least two cultures (their home culture and their host culture), they don’t often feel at home in either. Instead, their sense of belonging is in relationship to others of a similar background, creating a third culture (p. 13). What an insight! You need to read this book.
Now I am not trying to put all MKs in a box. This is just common experience according to many MKs themselves. Having someone like Riva and myself to walk through numerous relocations and transitions with them can bring a sense of stability that they may not otherwise experience. And, as we facilitate retreats, trips, and youth activities, these kids have the opportunity to spend time with other MKs from their third culture, which helps them to develop a sense of belonging and personal identity.
3. MKs have unique gifts that need to be encouraged. In 1984, Dr. Ted Ward predicted that third culture kids were the prototype citizens of the future, because in a fast-paced, ever globalizing world, these students know how to interpret cultural ques and respond appropriately. Their cultural IQ is off the chart!. Therefore, we see this as a strategic ministry because through discipling MKs, we are raising up the missionary force of the next generation. These students will require much less training and face fewer challenges than your average missionary because so much of cross-cultural ministry is intuitive for them.
4. Ministry to MKs contributes to the health and longevity of missionary families on the field. Did you know that “family issues” is one of the top two reasons that missionaries leave the field? We, the church, love to send out missionaries. We give them money and pray for them, but we often offer them little tangible support. The MK experience is one that even some missionary parents do not understand because they spent their own formative years in a single culture. This lack of understanding can sometimes cause tension between them and their children. Our desire is not only to share the gospel with the Japanese, but to enable other missionaries to do the same by caring for their kids and helping them to understand their MKs better.
5. Ultimately, we are ministering to MKs because God has equipped us for this ministry, called us to it, and we are willing to go.
If the Lord is stirring your heart and you’d like to partner with us in this endeavor, please visit our “Partner with us” page above. The Lord is building a network of people who want to reach the nations and the next generation with the gospel, and we’d love for you to be a part of it!