Monday, March 9, 2009

Houston, March '09

I just returned from the 'Families in Global Transition Conference' in Houston, TX. This conference brings together leaders from several sectors that deal with personnel living cross-culturally (Military, Missions, Int'l Business, and various forms of Foreign Service).

One of topics that came up in conversation and in the seminars, was the issue of grief. For many of the TCK's I encounter, grief flows as an unseen current just beneath the surface of their lives. Occasionally the rip tide drags them under in depression, anxiety, and rage. But often they don't even recognize the currents of loss which accumulate subtly, wave upon wave, until they find themselves standing in the high tide of hurt. And when the dam bursts it's often about more than the precipitating event (like moving), but rather the culmination of unresolved grief. As one presenter put it, many TCK's are crushed under the burden of "paying debt" on accumulated losses in their lives.

Sara, a 21 yr old missionary kid (who grew up in Australia, Singapore, France and Russia) shared a bit of her story with me. She talked about how her initial transition back into U.S. culture felt like "no big deal" during her freshman year in College. But by the time she entered her sophomore year, she found herself feeling disconnected, depressed, like an "outsider". The subtle effects of culture shock and the losses sustained through the many cross-cultural moves finally caught up with her after the thrill and challenge of her first year in college had worn off. In his mercy, God led her to an understanding counselor, a caring adult, and a small group of fellow TCK's who came alongside her. Through these relationships, Sara began to uncover the grief that lay dormant in her heart--naming the losses and and working through them before the Lord. God has brought a lot of healing in Sara's life. In fact, through it all she has come to embrace her cross-cultural heritage and uniqueness--graduating with a degree in Intercultural Studies and Russian. Sara is looking to the Author of her life to show her how He intends to use her story to make a difference around the world.

Sara's is the kind of redemptive story you are helping to write. By supporting the Global Youth and Family Ministry, you are investing in the lives of kids like Sara. Please continue to pray that God would enable us to provide effective resources, care and crisis intervention for God's mission kids and their families. We are working to build a team of youth ministers and counselors who are equipped to engage these unique issues, and who will invest in personal relationships with over 400 adolescent MK's around the world. In turn, we continue to develop training and resources to encourage and equip missionary youth, parents and leadership to thrive through the challenges of adolescence and the Third Culture Kid experience.

In fact, next month Rebecca and I will lead a team of 18 pastors, counselors and youth ministers to provide a retreat for 100 MK's from all over Europe and Africa. Please pray that God would use our team to bring spiritual refreshment and encouragement to these mission kids. Pray that we would be sensitive to those who are hurting and apply the healing of the gospel. And pray that we would know how to challenge and inspire those whom God is calling to live out of their unique gifts and callings to engage a broken world with the love of Jesus.

Thank you for sending and supporting us!

In His Grip,

The Larsens