Being part of a philanthropic family dedicated to serving others through a different kind of mission is a learning process. Many missionary kids have to move with their families to countries where they face the challenge to adapt to a different culture and sometimes learn another language.
Although there is no formula to be a good missionary kid, there are certain important characteristics such as adaptability and being able to connect with people.
Traveling and moving from one place to another becomes normal for many of these families. In the beginning it is difficult, but after a while, they learn to handle the change.
“Sometimes it is difficult having the trust that every move that we make is part of God’s plan because you never know what will happen. For that reason, is very necessary to learn that only God has control and He knows what the next step is,” Gabriela Reincheld said.
Reincheld is a freshman at John Brown University who has been a missionary kid in Kenya since she was 7 years old.
Despite the fact that most kids are very young when their parents become missionaries, the missionary kids believe that this calling is not only for their parents but for them, as well.
Sarah, a JBU student, was a missionary kid for three years in Dubai. Sarah said that she has never considered being a missionary kid the same as being a teacher’s son or a business man’s daughter.
Those are professions where the kid is not involved. However, as a missionary kid, God calls them to be part of His work.
Nevertheless, being a missionary can sometimes be a very challenging experience.
Missionary kids experience culture shock in unique ways. As Sarah explained, throughout her years in school in Dubai, she was the only Christian in her grade, surrounded by all Muslim students.
However, this presented an opportunity to share the Gospel. She remembers that one day her best friend in Dubai came to her and asked for a Bible. Although Sarah knew that her friend was Muslim, she decided to give her a Bible.
Three weeks later, her friend had nearly read the whole Bible.
Other experiences become part of the family anecdotes.
“I got a marriage proposal when I was seven,” Reincheld said, laughing. “I was in a wedding and a Muslim man approached my dad and told him that his 30-year-old son was looking for a wife. Then this man asked my father how many cows he wanted to exchange me for.”
Nonetheless, the culture shock is not only restricted to students’ host countries. Many missionary kids face culture shock when they come back to their home countries.
JBU student Andrew Heldenbrand said that when he returned to the United States after many years of missions in Spain, it was difficult for him to find a church where he could feel comfortable because the churches in America were different.
Missionary kids have impacted many communities. People have witnessed God’s love through one young person ready to help.
Missionary families emphasize that they are not a separate class of Christians. Because everybody has a gift, everyone has something in their hands to give. When people use their talents for God’s glory, they are missionaries.
“Honestly, I think that being a missionary is a position where every Christian should be,” Sarah said. “Life is a ministry, so you can be a missionary in your hometown or your home.”