MKs (Missionary Kids): How you can be a significant part of their lives
As parents, our first year on the mission field was tough . . . and for our kids it was even tougher. Our children left everything familiar to them and moved to a small, isolated community of strangers. And though we were thousands of miles apart, so many came alongside us, in an effort to let the young ones in our family know they were not forgotten. Do you know children who have moved far away – MKs or others? Children never forget the people who pour into their lives. Here are a few ways for you to remember these kids:
Send “just because” notes. This is an amazing way to influence a child’s life! Begin corresponding with a child who has left behind the familiar in a move. Take an interest in the child’s new home and life by asking questions, prompting them to write back. You’ll be amazed at how much you will be blessed with each response you receive! If you know only the parents, take this as an opportunity to get to know their children. Many years ago, our children received sweet letters from adults my husband and I knew but our children did not. Little by little, our kids forged friendships with these friends of ours – years later, as teens and young adults, they continue to treasure these relationships.
Make it a family affair: “adopt” a missionary family. Choose a missionary through your church or a missions organization you support. Learn about the missionary family’s new culture. Write or email them. Find out their needs and pray for them – maybe even send a care package with items they miss from home. Correspondence fosters a strong sense of belonging and, in the future, when “your” missionary family is on furlough – your family will be so excited to see them!
Start a birthday calendar specifically for MKs. Special days can be particularly hard that first year. Think of creative ways to connect on birthdays and holidays. Sending a fun card, a small gift, or a quick video by text reminds MKs that they are not forgotten by those “back home.” This makes a great family project when your spouse and children also sign cards. What an encouragement for an MK to receive surprise cards on his/her special day!
Be a prayer partner for an MK. Let MKs know that you are praying for them by sending a card or email asking for their prayer requests. Remind these kids that you are praying for new friendships and that they will grow to love their new home. Each time you write a note, pray that their faith will be strengthened through both happy and challenging times. And each time they write to you, remember to follow-up!
Pray for the parents of MKs. MK parents need much wisdom to navigate the often emotional transition that occurs each time their family enters/re-enters a different culture. Parents often carry the weight of their children’s burdens as well as their own. Find ways to encourage the missionary parents you know. And pray that parents and their children will have open and honest relationships through times of adjustment.
Missionary kids have the opportunity to live extraordinary lives for Jesus. Reminding MKs that you and your family care about them through prayer and personal contact can bless and encourage them during the tough times.