Day Two: Missionary Kids (also referred to as MKs, or TCKs- Third Culture Kids)
I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed as I begin to write this post due to the deluge of information I could share about MKs, on so many levels. Yet at the same time, I’ve never been an MK, I’ve only raised four of them. While the missionary life certainly includes amazing adventures, fun foods to try, new language(s) learned, and unparalleled places to visit, there exists a menacing undercurrent.
So how do I adequately convey the needs of MKs for a prayer list? Here’s how: I’ll grab my thoughts and memories by the scruff of the neck and pull them high, out of the gurgling details, in order to see the birds-eye view of those needs. But if you really want to know exactly how to pray for an MK, write one. Tell him you think he’s awesome. Ask her how you can pray for her. Then surprise him or her with an Amazon gift card.
In the meantime, here’s a practical (yet powerful!) list:
How to pray for MKs:
- Their identity, and for a sense of belonging. It must begin with knowing their identity in Christ, and belonging to the family of God. Yet that spiritual truth does not eliminate completely the human need that demands an answer to, “Who am I?” Most MKs have a hard time answering the question, “So, where are you from?”
- Personal faith. Salvation doesn’t happen by osmosis. Pray that each MK would come to know and serve Christ in their own heart, and have a hunger for God’s Word. Further, that they don’t feel pressured to be ‘perfect Christians’ simply because their family lives/serves on the mission field.
- Loneliness. Especially when first arriving to the field and the local language has not been mastered, a deep sense of isolation and loneliness can affect the child. Depression is not uncommon.
- Solid friendships. Social media offers a shallow solution, but it doesn’t meet the core need. MKs need friends in the flesh. Friends who get them, friends who accept them for who they are, and friends who are willing to overlook their other-culture quirkiness.
- Stress/trauma of being uprooted (Grieving). Their parents were called, and perhaps they had little to no voice in the decision. They had to leave grandparents, cousins, friends, school, toys (little kids), and their church behind. They need to know it’s okay to grieve those losses. They need the continual soothing balm of the Holy Spirit, along with patient parents, to help navigate the grieving process.
- Health/Safety. Pray over their health, especially for those families serving in remote areas where urgent or quality medical care is not available. Also, for safety. In some countries, a foreign family is a prime target of kidnapping for ransom.
- Their parents. Pray that mom and dad will be patient and understanding, parenting in wisdom and grace, even as they process their own transitional obstacles. Pray for a solid home environment, which becomes a necessary refuge.
- Re-entry/College/Adulthood transition. Furloughs can be tough: Reverse culture shock; new school for a year; lots of travel; and more transition. Pray for grace over each child in his/her unique personality. When MKs return to the US to transition to adulthood, whether college, learn a trade, or another career, it is often the most challenging time for them (and can be for the rest of the family also.) College MKs may not have anywhere to go during holiday breaks, they typically are broke since they don’t have money saved up like their friends who have been working throughout high school, and their behavior may typically be awkward to their peers. Pray for them to find community and to persevere through this huge step toward adulthood and independence.
Heavenly Father, as I pray for ______name(s)_of_MKs________, I ask that you continually woo him/her/them so that he/she/they will come to know you in a personal way and willfully live under your Lordship. Help ______name(s)_of_MKs________ as he/she/they wrestle with figuring out who they are in this world, and where they belong. Remind ______name(s)_of_MKs________ of your immense love and constant presence as you lead them tenderly through the grieving process. Help ______name(s)_of_MKs________ cast all pains and burdens on you, for you care greatly for him/her/them. I ask that you send your angels to protect and watch over ______name(s)_of_MKs________, keeping her/him/them safe from the schemes of the enemy. May you grant wisdom and patience to ______name(s)_of_MKs________’s parents, as they face unique challenges of child-rearing in another country. Pour out joy and peace in their home! When it’s time for ______name(s)_of_MKs________ to return to the US, grant him/her/them grace and favor, especially when the transition to adulthood comes, whether it be for college or career. Thank You that the plans You have for them are good! Bless ______name(s)_of_MKs________ abundantly. In your name I pray. Amen.
Seven Ways in Seven Days – How to Pray Practically for Missionaries Series:
Day 1 Missionary Marriage
Day 2 MKs
Day 4 Their Personal Life
Day 5: Their Ministry
Day 6: Relationships/Conflicts