Will Our Kids Be Ok?

When I talk with people about going to the mission field, one of the most common fears is the impact this will have on their children. It makes sense to feel uncertain about how our kids might “miss out” on education, sports, culture, or connections if we drag them to the other side of the world. Let’s call this “FOOTCKsMO” (Fear Of Our Third Culture Kids Missing Out.) It certainly doesn’t help that many of us have talked with or read about missionary kids who carry a lot of hurt and resentment for the choices their parents made.

4 Minute Read

By James Dougherty

Challenges and Blessings for TCK’s

For Lisa and I, this fear has felt a little different. Since we both grew up with parents serving overseas, we know the challenges, but also the amazing opportunities this created for us.

Our kids were born while we were serving in Asia and we always hoped they would thrive in life as TCKs. Our biggest concern for them has been that we keep moving every few years and these transitions can be tough.

When we realized in 2018 that God was leading our family back to serve in Denver, we really grieved the kids missing out on the rest of their formative years in Asia. In fact, just a few hours before we had chosen to tell the kids about this potential move, our son chose that moment to share with Lisa about how full of joy he was at all that God had provided for him in Singapore (friends, activities, food, etc.). These are the moments that make our hearts sink as parents.

God Was Preparing Us to Return

Let me tell you two quick stories about how we’ve seen God provide during our recent move. First, we have to go back to our home assignment in 2015-2016. It was an unusual year in the U.S. because God led us to focus most of our time on investing in our home church.

While we still traveled some, we spent most of our time in Denver. God really poured into our family during this year and took us much deeper with many of our partners in our church. As we prepared to move to Singapore, Lisa and I talked about how remarkable it was that the kids had connected to Denver during the year.

It probably helped that the Broncos won the Super Bowl while we were home, but it seemed deeper than that. They felt this place was home for them in a way that TCKs don’t normally experience. We had no idea at the time, but looking back now we can see God was preparing their hearts for the next move.

God Cares About Our Dreams

Another encouragement came through a surprising opportunity to serve. My son is like me in that he’s interested in everything with technology, so it’s no surprise his dream for many years has been to serve with the “AV” (audio visual) team at church.

We encouraged his interest, but told him he was still too young to have a chance. Soon after we returned to Denver our church had “Family Sunday” and encouraged the kids to sign up to join one of the service teams for a day. He proudly told us he had signed up to help with the AV team that day, but we were skeptical how this would work out.

When that Sunday rolled around I showed up early with him to see if the AV team really meant to offer this opportunity. Both of the men working the AV booth that day were good friends of mine and one immediately took my son under his wing for the day and had him running the presentation slides for the service. At the end of the morning, he told him “You did great today – you’ve got the timing down very naturally. I do this the first Sunday of every month and you’re welcome to come work with me every time!”

I can never tell these two stories without tears in my eyes. These seem like such small things, a feeling of Denver being “home” and a chance to serve with the AV team at church.

However, for us these are much more significant signs that God is really watching out for the hearts of our children.

We know that God is worth whatever sacrifice He calls us to and we’re ok to trust Him to be faithful when this includes moving our kids more times than we would have wanted for them. We’re overwhelmed that He’s working so many things behind the scenes to teach our kids about His goodness as we go.

It’s normal to be concerned about how your ministry will impact your children but God might have some surprises waiting for if you take the next step of faith.

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