In 2015, my family moved from Canada to Scotland to serve as missionaries. Today, Malaya and I share how being Missionary Kids (MKs) has affected us.
Malaya’s answers are in italics, mine are normal.
What kind of missions is your family engaged in?
My family moved to Scotland from Canada five years ago. Since then, we’ve been involved in over thirty churches around Scotland. At the moment, we’re leading a church in Fife. We have a vision to help young people find Jesus and share the gospel with ALL generations.
While many people think that Scotland is a “Christian country”, only 3% of people are bible-believing Christians. We want to see people encounter Jesus in a way that shapes their lives.
My parents do college ministry. Even though this is something in which they are more directly involved than I am, our family has always committed to doing ministry together. Whether that be interceding together for the ministry happening on campus, or opening our home and offering hospitality to students, missionaries, and whoever else God sends our way, our family’s informal motto is ‘if God calls, we’ve already said yes.’
What’s your favorite thing about being an MK?
I love meeting different people and all of the chances to travel that I get! I also love learning from different people. I have gotten to hear so many people’s testimonies and I am so blessed every time.
I don’t know if I can choose one favorite thing! I love hearing stories about how God is working in people’s lives. I love the unique perspective on life that being an MK gives me- it’s really helped me to grow in my relationship with God! I also love getting “hands on,” practical opportunities to live out what I read in the Bible and to reach out to others.
What’s your least favorite thing about being an MK?
Moving + not being able to see friends for…years at a time. It can be a struggle to form close friendships with people who are near to me- especially if I feel like people see me as an outsider.
I love to get up and start new things, and so the seasons of waiting and discernment can be particularly challenging.
In your perspective, what are some unique challenges about being an MK?
Oooft, there’s a few. In no particular order:
-not being able to get snacks from my “home” country (!!)
-making friends in a different country and not seeing them.
-going “home” and feeling like people have changed or moved on. While it’s fantastic to see how people grow, it can also be sad to let go of the “growing up together” mindset.
-having a different sense of humour than people in your new country (we all try to understand though!)
- It can be hard to explain to friends what we do as a family as well as why we do it. Sometimes people get confused when we say we’re missionaries because we’ve never lived in a different country. Other times it’s just hard to describe to people what being a missionary family looks like.
- Intense dreams- I don’t know if this is a common thing for MKs or not, but both my sister and I tend to get intense dreams in seasons where there is a lot of spiritual warfare.
Has being an MK shaped your faith and worldview? If so, how?
Being an MK means that I need to trust God constantly. Whether it’s when I feel like I have no friends, waiting to find out if we’ll get the visa’s we need, or dealing with personal health issues, I have had to turn to God time and time again. While I should always be doing that, in every circumstance, sometimes it takes something overwhelming to remind me to turn to God.
I also think that being an MK means that I have a more “global perspective”. Yes, that’s a clichè phrase, allow me to unpack it.
I’ve had the privilege of traveling to different places, meeting different people, and hearing different stories. I think that this has helped me to empathise with people who have different perspectives from me. It has also helped me to feel so grateful for the privileges that I do have-I am often overwhelmed by people’s stories and how God has been faithful to them in the hard places.
Being an MK has made me realize how faithful and trustworthy God is. I’m reminded of the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with a young boy’s 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Sometimes doing ministry as a family feels risky, but without fail, God is faithful. As we hold our hands up and offer our meager 5 loaves and 2 fish, God takes care of the rest.
Being an MK has also shaped my perspective on what God’s call to ministry looks like. As a kid at summer Bible camp, I learned that missionaries were people who moved to different countries to share the gospel. It was a little disorienting at first to hear my parents explain that we are a missionary family as well. International missions is quite near and dear to my heart and something I hope to be involved in someday. However, I’ve also learned that God calls us to be missionaries in our own contexts. Learning this changed the way I viewed my school, my neighborhood, even my apartment building. God has taught me that these are all places where I am called to live out my faith and reach out to others.
What’s one thing you’ve learned from being an MK?
Love everyone you encounter, write your emotions to process, praise God continually.
I’ve just released a collection of poetry called “Waiting Spaces” and it is incredible to go back and read the different struggles that I had and how God has answered them with redemption.
Ministry is about walking alongside God just as much as it is about reaching out and loving others. As an MK, God has given me the opportunity to grow up in a context where both these things are a norm. It has definitely taught me a lot!
Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
A few! The first that comes to mind is Isaiah 41:10- “So do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
John 10:10 is one of my favorites- “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
What’s one thing about being an MK that you wish you knew when you were younger?
You don’t have to try to be perfect. Sometimes it can feel as if I need to be perfect because I’m this missionary/pastor’s kid. However, I’ve slowly learned that I should only ever be striving to do what God wants me to be doing in each season, and not trying to impress the people around me into thinking that I’m some super holy person.
It’s up to God, not up to me. It is super easy for me to take on other people’s burdens or even to feel responsible for what happens to them. If I could tell my younger self one thing about being an MK, I would say “be faithful with what God tells you to do. Pray in faith, take the risk, and reach out. But ultimately release the outcome to God. He is faithful, good, and trustworthy, so trust him!”
Malaya Gaboury is a native New Yorker who loves Jesus, coffee, sappy books, and theater. When she’s not writing, you can find her singing show tunes with her dad and sister, roaming about the city with friends, or curled up on the couch with a book in hand. She firmly believes that God is actively at work in her generation and that no one is too young to have a big life with God.
Connect with her on her blog, Life Abundant, where she explores what it means to follow Jesus in our day to day lives
Image taken from Nabilah Saleh on Unsplash.
4 thoughts on “Missionary Kids: how growing up in ministry shapes your view.”
This is an excellent piece of work. Bless! Ian
Thank you Ian!
Loved every bit of this.
Giving your perspective is so powerful & we all know how good our God is.
It is incredibly precious to hear stories of what God has done in young lives, the big and small details.
The phrase that keeps going round in my head is ‘his mercy’s are new every morning.’
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Thank you thank you my love! I LOVE that- his mercies really are new everyone morning.