Our family of churches, the International Churches of Christ, are rich in third culture kids coming into adulthood now. Our intense, international church planting emphasis in the 1990’s had its downside, but a wonderful upside was the opportunity for the children of many church leaders and mission team members to live in another culture.
Many of these guys–grown up now–are serving so effectively at One Year Challenge sites.
This article by Rachel Green has lots of interesting stuff about third culture kids and–if you are one–can help you identify the specific gifts God gave you to serve in the mission yourself:
Despite the challenges, TCKs have a huge potential to be cross-cultural leaders and bridge-builders in God’s global mission. In particular, TCKs have these nine gifts to bring to missions:
1. SEEING THE WORLD THROUGH MULTIPLE LENSES
“We have a special role, and we need to be on our knees praying, because we see things that the average person cannot see or does not see,” explained Meg, a TCK from the United States and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. Growing up in multiple cultures gives TCKs a unique ability to see situations, people, and the world through different lenses.
2. BEING RISK-TAKERS AND BEING OPEN TO TRY NEW THINGS
“We’re not as afraid to try new things,” explained one young woman from Brazil, the United States, and Senegal, who enjoys introducing mono-cultural students to different ethnic foods.
3. INFLUENCING OTHERS
“We’ve had to take risks so now we can invite others to take risks,” reflected Rachel (from Taiwan and the United States). TCKs can influence others in a special way.
4. WELCOMING OTHERS ON THE MARGINS
Perhaps from feeling like an outsider before, TCKs can uniquely reach people who are excluded for one reason or another. “As TCKs, we are drawn to people who feel like they don’t belong somewhere,” stated one participant, who got involved in ministry among Latinos on campus.
5. SEEING GOD UNIQUELY
TCKs may be more aware of how culture and church are intertwined. We need their voices in our faith communities today so we can how to be better witnesses cross-culturally.
6. INTERCEDING AND MOURNING
One Urbana participant who grew up in Korea, the United States, and Kenya reflected, “I think a person who is a TCK knows the world. And if they know the world, they can therefore mourn when the world is hurting. And when you mourn, you are able to pray well.”
7. MAKING PEACE AMONG CONFLICTING PEOPLE GROUPS
“A lot of times there is pain coming from stereotypes. We can represent a people group that has caused oppression and say we’re sorry on their behalf,” reflected one TCK from Costa Rica, Spain, and Jordan.
8. BEING WILLING TO GO
TCKs may be most open to living in another part of the world in response to God’s call to mission. Briza (from the United States and Saudi Arabia) experienced growing up overseas because of her parents’ international teaching job. This experience opened herself up to international teaching herself—but in a completely different part of the world. She currently lives in Kazakhstan, where she teaches sixth grade.
9. BUILDING CROSS-CULTURAL RELATIONSHIPS
TCKs have years of experience building cross-cultural relationships, a needed skill in missions. Whether it’s reaching international students on campus or an unreached people group abroad, TCKs can use their cross-cultural skills to advance God’s kingdom.
Read the whole thing.