3rd Culture Kids by Rodney Tilley

They are called many things: 3rd culture kids, military brats, missionary kids (MKs), immigrant children, and the list goes on. It means any of those children who, because of their parents’ occupation or ethnicity, move a lot, and feel misplaced due to barriers seen and unseen. 

The military children know, for example, that if they are military brats, they will be in one place for a couple of years, only to be transferred across the globe as soon as they make friends. 

Then of course, what we see in Van Horn are those children who have moved here, speak another language, and have a difficult time trying to live in both cultures. They constantly move from one side to the next hoping that somehow they will fit in. It is hard on those children for sure. Today it may be Van Horn and tomorrow California.

These 3rd culture kids have a strenuous time putting down roots and making friendships. They commit themselves to others, but not really, for they leave only a small place in their hearts for a select group of friends for they know that in a short time they will be living in another place and maybe even in another country. They make friends superficially and leave true friendships only for family. 

I have been there too for I have left friends in Europe; Bato in Albania, Ercan in Cyprus, and who knows who else in all the other countries where I have lived. 

Many of you too feel disjointed as I do as we struggle to give, but find we are always holding back. We ask the question of our friends, “Will you leave also?” and we often hear the reply to the affirmative as again we relocate. 

It is interesting for Jesus too asked the same questions for he was the ultimate 3rd culture kid. He had made a celestial move, one much further than Mexico or California, and now he asked his disciples, “Do you want to go away?” (John 6:67). 

Jesus was an MK, a missionary kid for sure, for now he was feeling what many of us feel; a loss of friendship due to a move that would be permanent and one that would be irreversible. He told his disciples that he no longer called them slaves or servants, he called them friends (John 15:15). He was feeling the loss. 

But there is good news for all of us 3rd culture kids: Jesus never left. He remains our friend for he said, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” (Hebrew 13:5). 

We have a God that understands completely what MKs feel, how military brats survive, what foster children experience, and how children from Mexico live in a new culture with a new language. Jesus has been there, he knows. He loves us, all of us, and gives us the ability to make it just one more day. 

So today, lift up your heads, wipe those tears from your eyes, take that frown off your face, and give your whole heart to one who has given His whole heart to you. You may be in Van Horn or living in the Horn of Africa, Jesus will still be there as friend and companion.  He never left.

 For more information on the abiding Christ, call Pastor Rodney Tilley at 432-207-0015.      


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