We Minister to MKs!
This MK is communicating strong feelings experienced by many missionary kids. As the son or daughter of a “real, live missionary,” an MK may feel pressured to live up to an ideal, instead of feeling accepted for who he or she really is.
By setting apart MKs from the “normal kids” we know, we may fail to minister to them in their struggles and fail to meet their need for belonging.
Children become missionary kids at different ages. Some children are born on the mission field. Others are so young when they leave the States that they remember very little about their “home” country when they return four years later. Still others are old enough to feel the trauma of pulling up roots, leaving grandparents and friends, and moving to a faraway land. And coming “home” to America is often a greater culture shock for the MK than going to the mission field was for the parents
Whether MKs are on the mission field or in the U.S., they have needs you and I can help with.
The International Society of Missionary Kids (ISMK) refers to the entire group of 1400 we minister to from the Missionary Kids office in the Assemblies of God World Missions
Our primary objective is to help MKs make the necessary cultural adjustments, both overseas and in the United States.
“Tell the people in our local churches in the U.S. that we are normal kids, not super saints. We need to feel that we belong.” —Missionary Kid
You Can Minister to MKs, too!
Begin by looking at the list of missionaries you or your church support. List the names of your MKs, their ages, birthdays, mission fields, and addresses. Each church can contact their district office a “Call To Prayer” list, which will list the MKs names.
Secondly, the MK Ministry Office needs churches and individuals who will partner with them financially. The MK Ministry plans, staffs, and directs MK retreats all around the world. We need help to be able to continue to minister effectively to our MKs. We don’t want any MK to miss out on ministry because of finances. Would you prayerfully consider partnering with us financially? If you direct your contributions to AGWM account number 251398, they will go directly into the MK Ministry.
Last but not least, establish regular communication with your MKs. Get to know them in a more personal way. Help them feel that they belong to the American church family, whether they’re living in the U.S. or overseas. Here are some ideas. Please add your own.
You Can Minister to MKs Going to the Mission Field
- Remember birthdays with cards, letters, and gifts.
- Assign each MK a pen pal of the same age who will write to the MK now and after he or she goes to the field or before he or she returns to the U.S.
- You or a group in your church may want to “adopt” an MK.
- Prepare ahead for when an MK visits your church.*
*Send the MKs a card prior to the visit telling them you are expecting them.
*Prepare a special packet for the younger MKs. Include such things as coloring books, crayons, fun pads, stickers, etc.
*Ask a child or young person about the same age as the MKs to accompany them to classes, children’s church, or other activities.
You Can Minister to the MKs on the Mission Field
When MKs live overseas, it is important for them to keep in touch with American life. Sending letters and gifts to MKs on their birthdays, holidays, or at any time, helps them feel part of the missionary team and the church at home.
If you want to send a package to an MK, remember that small, inexpensive items are generally best. Flat packages, weighing less than two pounds and mailed in a manila or padded envelope, will usually be allowed into a country duty free and be delivered directly to the missionary’s home. This saves time and money as the missionary does not have to travel to the post office or pay duty for the gift.
When you mail the packet, the postal clerk will give you a customs sticker to fill out and affix to it. On the sticker, indicate that the packet is a gift with no commercial value.
Cash and checks should not be sent to foreign addresses. Money gifts for MKs should be sent to the Assemblies of God World Missions, clearly marked with the parents’ names and designated as “offering for (MK‘s name).”
MKs can also benefit tremendously by being brought back for a summer in junior/senior high to attend youth camp or to have a summer job. This will give them more “cultural currency” to work with when they graduate from high school and return to the U.S. for college.
Ask older MKs to send you their school newspaper from time to time. This is an excellent way to learn about their school life.
“What influenced my life most as an MK was the exposure to so many different types of people and being taught how to open up and minister to those who were unlovable, as well as those who were lovable.”
You Can Minister to MKs Coming Home For Itineration
When MKs are coming to your church, think of how you can make the day special for them. Remember that the MKs will be attending about 100 different churches that year. Many churches have special “baskets” of fruit, candy, coloring books, etc. that make the visit memorable for the MK. Many missionary families wait to purchase clothing, shoes, and specialty items for their year of itineration.
We always encourage churches to look at the missionaries that they support and make it a point to be involved in the MKs lives as well. People continually want to know how they can minister to “MKs” in general, without ever looking into who they already support. It becomes more personal for all of you when you don’t just support the missionary, but quite literally “adopt” the missionary family.
You Can Minister to College Age MKs Who are “Home Alone”
Each year a number of MKs return to the U.S. for college or to enter the work force. This is the most crucial reentry process MKs face because it’s often the first cross-cultural adjustment they make without their parents. In most cases the parents must remain on the mission field during this time. This reentry is also the most permanent since the MK probably will not return to the field to live.
The college MK must adjust to campus life. Entering college is a major adjustment for any young person. The MK must adapt to American culture, as well as to college. Also, the MKs will enter the job market for the first time. This can be a difficult endeavor because in most countries where MKs have lived, all jobs are reserved for nationals. Since MKs could not secure even part-time work, they have had no chance to gain experience.
Here are some ways you can help:
1. Write to us at the MK Office for a list of MKs who are reentering the U.S. for college or work.
Write or call one or more of those MKs, especially those from the missionary families you or your church support. Ask how you can help.
2. Open your home to college or career MKs on weekends, holidays, or summer vacations.
3. Send “care packages,” including non-perishable food items, homemade cookies, notepads, stationery, bedding, soap, shampoo, deodorant, detergent, room decorations, a check, etc.
4. Help MKs find a job. Tell them what to expect in the interview process and help them choose a job that would be compatible with their abilities and training.