MK means Missionary Kid


Why are we called Missionary Kids?  Are we supposed to play a part in our parent's ministry?  I mean, some of us didn't exactly sign up to go to the mission field...  

Am I, as a parent, required to combine my family and ministry?  What if my child doesn't want be involved?  I don't want to ruin their childhood by coercing them into missions...

Kids in missions.  
The most reoccurring dilemma on the mission field.  
What do we do with them?

You know what?  No one has an answer.  There's no cookie cutter kid; no predicted reaction; no singular situation on the mission field.  That's why there's no "How Your Child Will Adjust to Missions" handbook sitting on the library shelf.  For example: My father and his two brothers were MKs in Papua New Guinea.  Guess what?  All three of them became missionaries when they grew up.  On the flipside, I've met MKs that have told me, in these exact words:

 I am never going to be a missionary.  
I will never put my kids through this.
Those experiences are often dependent on the situation.  Sometimes, a bad encounter with missions was the result of the country they lived in--whether the kids were ostracized for their entire childhood or bitter because of loss.  However, there are also instances in which the bad experience could stem, not from outside situations, but rather from the family itself.  And by that, I mean the parents.

Hold that thought--I'm going off on a rabbit trail for a moment 
(it's relevant, I promise)

Every furlough, there is one specific detail my dad never fails to mention at each and every church.  It's played a part in his different roles over the years, and I believe it's what's held my family together through all our moves.  Anyone care to guess what that detail is?

In churches, my dad stands at the pulpit and tells the congregation over and over that we are a family in missions.  He shows pictures of my sisters and I helping at the Care Home, or playing with the children at the orphanage.  My dad always tells us that we are a vital part in the mission work.  When he was selected for the Regional Administrator role in East Africa, he told us that it was a family ministry--that we were going to care for the families in East Africa, not just the "missionaries".  The whole family.  Because the whole family was on the mission field, sacrificing everything to reach others with the gospel.

Now, I'll jump to the flipside of this coin.  This isn't always the case.  Sometimes, the children do not want any part in their parents' ministry.  Other times, the parents have a dangerous ministry that can't involve the kids for various reasons.

But all too often, their kids are forgotten.  Not purposefully, but forgotten nonetheless.  Sometimes, parents are under the impression their kids don't want to be involved.  They're afraid to force their children into helping with the ministry, fearful that it might push them away.  Other times, they feel guilty about what they've put their kids through, so they try and let them have a 'normal' life, not even offering to involve them in their ministry.

Each reason is valid.  
Each reason is logical. 
 Each result is harmful. 

There's a reason it's called a missionary family.  Each and every person sacrificed a great deal to get to where they are and they continue to sacrifice as time goes on.  Following that logic, every family member has the right to be involved in the mission work, if possible.

If you are on the mission field, I have one simple request.  Please, at least offer to involve your MK in your ministry.  Sometimes, as much as your child complains about mission work, they still want to be a part of it, even if it's small.  One of the coolest parts of my 'job' in South Africa was when my dad would let me file some of the paperwork in the Care Home.  I got to sit at the big front desk and sort all the papers, staple them, and put them in the right folders.  At nine years old, I was helping my dad with something "grown up and important" in the ministry.  I remember thinking it was the best thing ever.

Your kids shouldn't just be a part of your ministry when you're on furlough.  Your kids have been there on the mission field for just as long as you have, and not by their choice.

I apologize if that sounds harsh, but sometimes MKs can feel as if they've been dragged into a separate world away from their home, just because their parents wanted to go into missions and they had to bring their kids. The children feel useless in the ministry, as though their parents have two separate lives: one for ministry and one for family.  Involve your children to the best of your abilities, because there's a reason your child is called an MK.  They're missionaries as well.

Comments

  1. Your thoughts are so important. They brought back a cherished memory of teaching on the mission field. Our station in Central Africa was short of staff, so my parents asked me if I would teach a reading class. Picture an eight year old blond girl teaching a class of big black men how to sound out letters and begin to read. Of course my mom was teaching a women's class nearby. I have always felt such joy in remembering that I was able to be of real help to others.

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