Being an MK is more than where you’ve lived, how many countries you’ve been to, or whatever ministry your parents do. It’s an identity that sticks with you the rest of your life. I’m now 22 (almost 23) and have carried the name “MK” for 15 years. True, that’s not my whole life. I have a couple friends that were born on the field or arrived as babies. They don’t remember a time when they weren’t overseas with parents planting a church or sharing the gospel in another language. They don’t see America as their home because, while they’re passport claims they are “American,” they’ve never lived there. They don’t know the lingo or what’s popular. (Most of us catch onto fads about 2 to 5 years late…) They don’t know how to talk with other American kids. They don’t know how to answer the question, “What’s it like to live overseas?” How do you explain your life? How do you describe everything you’ve ever known without something to contrast it?
There are others of us, though, who have lived in the states for a period of time before moving overseas, which almost makes it worse. I was born in Tacoma, Washington, and lived in the Northwest until I was 8. I do remember some of America. I did have friends who were full-fledged Americans. But I didn’t go to public school past second grade. I still can’t figure out American idioms. In fact, when I try to use idioms, I turn out sound like an idiot. Sometimes, after four years of college in the States, I still make cultural faux pas. I know that no matter my heritage, I’ll never really be fully American.
But there’s a beauty to that.
A friend of mine (who is an MK) talked about how he so desperately wanted to go to Japan and be so immersed in the culture Japanese people would see him as Japanese. All he’s doing is trading one national identity for another, when truly he is neither, yet both.
See, the wonderful thing about being an MK, or a TCK, is the fact that you’re not just one thing. You aren’t just American or Russian or Chinese or Ugandan. You’re a little bit of all of them. MKs can relate to other nationalities in ways full-nationals can’t. I’ve never lived in Germany, but I find a strong connection with Germans because I lived in the area and visited so many times.
Something God uniquely gifts TCKs with is the ability to reach all nations in a way others can’t. We’re more culturally sensitive, more aware of differences, and adapt quickly to new places and people. No matter where we go, if we just put in the effort, we can reach so many for the name of Christ. So, my fellow MKs, maybe instead of clinging to a nationality in an attempt to have an identity, let’s remember heaven is our home and find our identity solely in Christ.
He is where our hearts belong.