Four Things I’ve Learned as a Missionary Kid (MK)

Jonathan with his sister and friends enjoying a beautiful waterfall in Papua, Indonesia.

Jonathan with his sister and friends enjoying a beautiful waterfall in Papua, Indonesia.

As I’ve just graduated from high school, I’ve spent lots of time looking back on my life as a missionary kid. The people I’ve known, the places I’ve been, and the experiences I’ve had have all taught me something. Here are four lessons I’ve learned as a Missionary Kid (MK):

1. God is the same everywhere.
After living in Africa, Asia, and North America, I’ve realized that God doesn’t change depending on where you worship Him. Everywhere there are stories of how He has helped people overcome fear and frustration. As I’ve experienced the Church in different parts of the world, I’ve noticed a common thread: the Christ-like character and attitude of God’s people.

2. Friendships can last.
I met one of my best friends after my family’s first week in Indonesia when I was eight. We’ve spent 4 years together—separated when our parents moved to different places to do ministry, or because of furloughs or other life issues. Through it all I’ve learned that the strongest friendships can last forever, as long as I cherish and use the time God does give me with my friends and don’t give up when circumstances get in the way.

3. There is so much to learn from other nations.
Clashes of opinion and different values can cause conflict. But despite the anxiety that a misunderstanding can bring, I’ve found that culture is actually one of the world’s best teachers. I’ve learned patience in dealing with people who are different than me, and how to evaluate their ideas as they relate to my own.

4. Everybody has a story – and it’s worth listening to.
Can I say that again? Everybody. Is. Worth. Listening. To. From the old bearded man who sits in his hut in the mountains, to the young becak (motorcycle taxi) driver I see every day on the way to school… everyone has a history of lessons learned, and stories to tell. The only way to understand a culture, to make strong friendships, and to understand God better, is to connect with the people He has created.

I’ve learned a lot as an MK and interacting with the many people God has put in my life. My unique experiences will be applied to a whole new set of circumstances while I transition to another stage of life—college. I’ll tell you about leaving Papua and my thoughts on “home” in my next (and last) post. Stay tuned.

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