Outreach Canada Website
/ Thursday, March 19, 2020
As we think about praying for missionary kids during this time of global health crisis, especially in view of the fears worldwide, a number of thoughts pop up out of my own African MK experience, as well as from my later experience as a parent of MKs in times of crisis and trauma.
1. For MKs in boarding school away from parents
- Younger ones: Hearing adults around them talking about a crisis, and not fully understanding what it is all about - but scared just the same. I have memories of nightmares in my dorm room about events I could barely understand; like a Lassa fever epidemic, or rebel attacks - visualizing in my imagination, whispering about it with others, but somehow unable to talk about it with the adults.
- Older ones worried about how their parents are - some far away, and out of immediate contact. I still remember my own kids at RVA finding out about a violent attack on us in Chad, considerably after the fact (and, through the grapevine) - and their sense of some kind of betrayal that they had not heard it from us first. (And what else were we hiding from them?)
- MKs wondering if they may not even be with their families if there is an evacuation and emergency travel. Being billeted with people you don’t know, waiting alone through delayed or cancelled flights, unhelpful (or even corrupt) immigration officers, and “offers of help” from strangers you don’t know you can trust.
- The feeling that "I have been through this before, I should be able to handle it”, and realizing that I might actually be less able to handle it than last time.
2. For boarding school personnel and others responsible for MKs
- ·For staff resilience, wisdom, empathy, and support - those entrusted with caring for and loving kids who are not their own, on behalf of distant parents
- For school emergency protocols, especially when the unforeseen becomes the reality
- For larger school communities exposed to increased danger and complexity because of their size or prominence.
- For staff who are at times struggling with fear for themselves as well, even while trying to keep up a confident front for the MKs in their charge
3. For MKs on the field with their parents
- Wondering if their parents are making the right choice by staying, and are scared for their parents and for themselves.
- Suddenly leaving and uprooted, with no opportunity to say good farewells, or experience closure.
- Worrying about national friends who are even more exposed than they are, or unable to evacuate as they can. And the sense of guilt that can come from that unfair reality.
4. For young adult MKs away from parents and in their home country
- Wondering what distant parents are not saying, to protect them from worrying…
- Worrying about a situation that seems ok today, but might evolve so quickly before one has a chance to take effective action. Will there be medical help or logistic support available if things get worse down the road?
- Worrying that their parents might be worrying about them!
- And hearing news that once close, and now far away, national friends are affected, or have even died. And sometimes wondering, “What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I seem to even be able to cry about it…?”
5. For all of the MKs in this situation
- That there would be an awareness of need for an intentional and positive debrief opportunity, giving them the place to process their experiences and feelings. Whether we realize it or not, crises lived have an outsized impact on our lives as MKs, both positively and negatively.
- Whether in the direction of personally learning to trust God for ourselves, or disappointment and even anger with a God who seemingly allows bad things to happen to good people.
- Whether missionary service is seen as a right and sacrificial endeavour, or a wrong-headed and self-absorbed delusion that harms the ones I love the most.
- Whether I see my parents as loving and caring about me as they follow Jesus, or whether I perceive them as having somehow abandoned me along the way.
As an MK myself, I have seen all of these responses, and I am so grateful for the special people who reached out to me, as well as for those who prayed me through. In times of crisis like now, fears swirl and can overwhelm.
May MK's see the God of their parents as mighty on their behalf as well.
May each one hear, and experience, the quiet voice of the God’s Spirit saying, "I am the Faithful One, to all generations, and I hold you - you and your family!”.
Pray for our MK’s!