I don’t use Facebook too often and apparently I haven’t filled out a complete profile either, because when I logged in recently, this was at the top of my page:
There’s something to be said when Facebook can’t quite nail down your origins! It got me thinking about our students, about missionary families, and about TCK’s (Third Culture Kids). Consider that question Facebook asked me: “Where did you grow up?” or a related one, “Where are you from?” For many of you reading this, the answers seem pretty straight-forward. They always have. Now imagine, if you can, what it would be like to not have an answer for those questions.
I spoke with a student today that spent his entire life in Sudan, until last year when the government kicked his family out, along with all the other Christians – a sort of Holy Islamic cleansing for the country. Now he’s not sure where to call home as his parents are in between ministry assignments, seeking the Lord’s will for their family’s future.
Or consider the potential identity questions that arise when you attend a boarding school in Kenya for 9 months of the year, your parents serve as missionaries in Uganda or Mozambique or Tanzania, and yet your passport says United States of America or South Korea or New Zealand. And you were born somewhere else entirely! I can’t even imagine and yet this is reality for so many kids at RVA.
Maybe it’s no big deal. Or maybe we just think it’s no big deal because most of us don’t have to imagine that. I wonder for my own three children, depending on how long the Lord will have us here, what their perception of their own “roots” will be. They are still so young, but already you can see the wheels in their minds forming impressions about what Africa is, what America is, what home is, what family is. Their conclusions have the potential to be vastly different than either Courtney’s or mine.
Where am I from? I grew up on a farm on Schoellkopf Road, in Cowlesville, New York. Courtney spent her childhood on Creekside Drive in Altoona, Pennsylvania. My daughter, Evelyn, has spent over a third of her life in Kijabe, Kenya, and the proportion is only growing. How will she answer that question when she’s 30? Or even when she’s 15?
All this rambling to say this: Pray for the students here. Pray for their families. Pray for their parents as they make decisions that will alter their kids’ lives in ways most of us Americans have never had to deal with. They are seeking to do the Lord’s will, they have a heart for the lost, they care deeply for their own families. And yet they are called to live in hard places, to sacrifice hard things, to put people they care about in hard situations. It’s the story of almost every kid on this campus. Pray for strength, for courage, for health, for peace.
But most importantly, pray that their identity would not come from wherever they call home; that it wouldn’t be based on how they answer the question “Where did you grow up?” Ask God to grant them the assurance that, regardless of the confusion they may have about their earthly roots, their eternal ones are well secured. Pray that their identity would be found solely in Jesus Christ; that they would find comfort in knowing that he has gone to prepare a place for them, a home that will never change and that no one can kick them out of for all of eternity.
Thank you so much for your prayers.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going….I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:2-6