I learned about them as a girl in church. They had a special designation — MK. Little did I know how those two letters could impact the life of a child, but I soon learned. Missionary Kids would grow very near and dear to my heart.
My first encounter with these precious souls was during my two years in Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa. I was a young, college graduate; they were teenagers looking for someone to understand them, to have fun with — African style, with an American twist. My journeymen colleagues and I were a good fit. Besides, the short-termers always took care of the MKs during mission meetings.
The MKs were the kids who knew the culture in ways different to their parents. Many were cared for by national helpers, sent to local schools and played with local kids. They learned the language faster too, though some would never want to speak it in public. They were also the ones who knew loss and the pain of saying goodbye to friends, family and even parents, when sent away to boarding school.
They watched their parents sacrificial service, love for the people and even the mistakes they made in ministry. They heard every conversation, whether you wanted them to or not. They were the source of much joy for their service-weary parents and provided much-needed comic relief to an otherwise hard day.
These were the kids I grew to love.
After marriage and moving to a new field of service, MKs became nieces and nephews, as we added to their long list of aunts and uncles on that side of the ocean. We didn’t replace blood relatives, only tried to fill the void of needed relationships.
Then we had our own MKs, and I watched the cycle all over again. The struggles, the love, the relief and the fun, all neatly packaged in the life of our children. They have more aunts and uncles than they can count, along with the perpetual MK cousins they still meet wherever they go. I watched my youngest connect with fifty and sixty-year-old MKs at a meeting. Instant connections, understanding, common bonds.
As I look back at this picture of MKs from the 80s, I’m thankful for each and every one that has come into my life. Some in this picture have their own MKs, as they follow their parent’s path in overseas service. Even those who have remained in the States contribute in a unique way to society, for they see a much bigger world than the average American.
Pray for these special children and adults that God will bless them with the sense of home no matter where they live or what language they speak. Pray that even as this world feels foreign, they can be sure of the homeland to come and rest in that reality. Bless the MKs you know and you will be blessed.
Grace and Peace