This weekend, Bree and I were blessed to go to an MK (Missionary Kids) Winter Retreat in Northern Indiana where we were privileged to fellowship with 160 college-aged MKs from the all over the world. What an amazing time. It definitely stands as one of biggest highlights of our year.
What an amazing opportunity for them to gather and “let their hair down” and be MK. Life as an MK certainly has its many advantages but it also has difficult struggles that most people don’t understand and an event like this is such a breath of fresh air. To be among others who actually understand you and your unique background. What better way is there to relax then a massive international game of snow soccer, snowball fights on a frozen lake, and boxes full of board games!
Bree and I watched God make the way for this trip and provide unlike we have ever seen. Every prayer request that we put up on our blog before we left was completely answered. Whether it was dry roads and blue skies keeping us safe both days we traveled or the ample snowfall that we got while we were there – making it feel like “winter camp”. Watching the MKs fellowship or watching them learn and understand their identity in Christ better. Seeing Steve our speaker’s flu get cured or meeting and networking with amazing people currently involved in effective MK ministry… We just saw the hand of God all over every moment of the trip. Praise God!
For me, Pete, it was an amazing experience that you couldn’t help but praise God for. For me, I see MKs as the coolest people around. They have such a special story and I am so grateful for not only their parents’ sacrifices for the gospel, but THEIR sacrifices as well. Yes, they didn’t have a choice in the matter, but they did GO, they did grow up in another culture, they played an incredible role in the advance of the gospel, and they make the sacrifice being separated from their parents and siblings who are still ministering overseas, while they are left to fend for themselves.
Here are a few specific lessons God taught us during the retreat–
1. MK’s are amazing, and the church needs to realize our role in caring for them.
- This was a HUGE realization for me. Growing up in the American Church, I truly thought “supporting Missionaries” was sending money and expecting to get updates from the progress. MAYBE if we were really close, we would go and help on a short-term trip…. But wait… What about their other needs… what about their kids? When a missionary accepts a call to go and move across the world, they are also saying that they will sacrifice (among many other things) the ability to physically be with their kids through some of the hardest times of their lives… the College years. Yes, kids in America often separate at this age… but they are but mere phone call away, they have been taught how to drive and have a license, they have been taught and experienced the basics of American banking/finances, they know what to do if there is an accident… the list can go on. But MKs are very often forced to learn all these things by themselves while in the middle of full culture shock and loss, which adds to the hardship. We, the church need to fill that void. It’s neither hard nor daunting. We just make ourselves available to our returning missionary kids. Be willing to teach them to drive, take them to the bank, help them find a job, etc. Every MK is different and has different needs. When we support missionaries, I truly feel that we also need to recognize that are joining the team in other areas then financial.
2. When MKs worship together…. Ohhh my… It’s heavenly.
- I don’t know exactly what it is, but there is something about it unlike any other. On top of that, you have kids singing the same songs in many different languages.
3. MK’s NEED fellowship with each other –
- Now, I am not saying that it is all they need… It is vital that they build strong relationships with peers in America. But MKs deal with an outsider mentality almost constantly. Many Americans care for them but just can’t relate to their struggles. I really think that Retreats, Facebook, groups, etc where MKs can network is HUGE.
4. Current MK Care –
- This weekend, we found out about some great people who are actively out there caring for MKs. We were connected with folks from MuKappa, Barnabas, NTM, and other great organizations. Thank God for them and what they are doing! But we are now praying for more. There just are not enough out there to go around. Let’s pray for more people (even MKs themselves) to catch the vision and get involved in such a crucial ministry to the Kingdom.
5. Learned more about why it is difficult (if not impossible) for an MK to call America home –
- This weekend I heard from Michele Phoenix’s blog,” If you’re forced to go to the grocery store when you’d rather stay home, you’re going to hate the grocery store. If you’re forced to eat at the kid’s table with snot-nosed rugrats while the grownups get to eat in the dining room, you’re going to hate the kid’s table. If you’re forced to go out and shovel snow when there’s a fire in the fireplace and your favorite show on TV, you’re going to hate the yard. If you’re forced to move to the States for college and there are no other options, you’re going to hate the States. Period.” Now combine that with International media coverage of the American culture. If the only source of information a person absorbs on a regular basis is foreign news coverage and poorly dubbed American TV shows, words like egocentric, materialistic, vain, depraved and arrogant will seem like appropriate descriptors. Watching the news in France is witnessing America-bashing on a national level. Watching reruns of Dallas and Dynasty (yup, they’re still on!) reduces an entire culture to its Hollywoodian figureheads. Bear in mind that most MKs return to the States for “furlough” only every two or four years, and then for a limited, very mobile stay. The majority of the information they gather about their “home” culture comes while they’re abroad. That can seriously skew their opinion of the US.”…….. It makes sense to me!
- We have a big job to do in Cross-Cultural mending.
Here are some pics from the weekend…