When families go to serve God overseas, the whole family is involved, not just the parents. Living overseas has particular challenges for these children. So, earlier in November, people from around the UK came together online to pray for these precious children, often known Third Culture Kids (TCKs).
TCKs are people who grow up with a mixed cultural identity. Living in one country, but with a passport from another nation, they take on a mix of both cultures, creating a special third culture. They are valuable members of the church community and a true part of their family and OMF’s witness to the good news of Jesus. Intentionally praying for TCKs, then, is an important part of our ministry at OMF.
At the prayer event earlier in November, we heard about the different ways we can support TCKs and their families and had an opportunity to pray for people who work with TCKs. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and learning.
We heard from Evie and Amy who have experience in caring for TCKs when their parents are at OMF conferences. I was surprised at the impact even short-term TCK helpers can have in the lives of TCKs. As well as her role in supporting TCKs as a short-term worker at conferences, Amy also spoke about her own experience at conferences as a TCK. She looked up to the short-term workers as role-models and learnt a lot about Jesus through their example. Although she only met the support workers briefly, they had a lasting impact on her faith. Similarly, Evie showed us the need for short-term workers to create resources for TCK support. She emphasised the importance of resources that assist the parents of TCKs, as they face the challenges of raising children in different cultures. It is clear that TCK support workers are essential for families to receive the assistance that they need.
We were also fortunate to hear from Claire and Sam, who have experience of teaching TCKs in the classroom. Claire had previously been a home-school teacher and is preparing to work at Grace International School, in Thailand. It was striking to hear how many children the school looks after and the large number of families they represent. Without the school, and the valuable resources it offers, many Christian workers in East Asia would face the extra burden of having to educate their children themselves and may be unable to continue working overseas. In the same way, Sam was an answer to prayer for a family who required special assistance for their deaf son in order to transition to East Asia. Crossing cultures is tricky but, with Sam’s faithful help, the family were able to answer God’s call to serve.
Learning about the range of ways people are able to help TCKs is what stuck with me the most. Naively, I had thought that TCK work was only for a select group of people gifted in childcare. After listening to people who are passionate about supporting TCKs, however, I now know that we can all be involved. We might go short-term to help with childcare at a conference, help create valuable learning resources, or mentor a TCK online via Zoom. Certainly, we can all pray for families working to build the church in East Asia. There does not seem to be any one particular way to support TCKs, so we can be creative as seek to nurture these valuable members of our community.
OMF (UK) Serve Asia Coordinator
Frederick grew up in Kent with three younger brothers. He has spent five years studying History at university. Since September 2019, he has been part of the Serve Asia team in the UK. He enjoys photography, reading, and playing sport.