Friday, August 4, 2017

Results from "Ask a Teen MK Survey"

Missionary teens from all over answered a ten-question survey. Here are the results:

Q At what age did you go to the mission field?
A        I was born there. 14%
1 month-4 years  43%
5-10 years  21%
11-13 years  14%
older than 13  7%

Q Do you speak any language besides English?
A        No. 14%
Yes, I speak 1 language besides English.  64%
Yes, I speak 2 languages besides English.  21%

Q Do you feel accepted by the teens where you live?
A       Yes. 23%
No. 0%
Most of the time. 31%
Only sometimes. 46%

Q What kinds of activities do you do with your native friends (not MKs) on your field? (Check all that apply.)
A      Hang out, go on walks 38%
Go shopping, go out to eat together 38%
Do ministry together—help others 77%
Visit each other’s homes 46%
Play sports 62%
Ride bikes, motorcycles, or quads together 15%
Play board games 54%

Q What would you say is your biggest personal need?
A      Acceptance 21%
Better personal relationships 43%
Educational issues 7%
Financial 29%

Q Do you have personal devotions (Bible and prayer time) daily?
A      Yes, every day. 57%
Yes, most of the time. Sometimes I forget or get busy. 36%
No, I just don’t. 7%

Q Are you active in your parents’ ministry and in your church?
A       Yes. 100%

Q If you answered yes to being active in church, check all of the ways you personally do ministry.
A       Music 93%
Cleaning the church 79%
Evangelism (tract distribution, personal witnessing, etc.) 79%
Teaching children 57%
Baking, cooking, serving tables 79%
Driving people to church 7%
Keeping the nursery 43%

Q Are you happy?
A       Yes, most of the time. 100%

MK Comments:

“For the longest time I didn't realize there was a difference between me and any other kid, on and off the field. But when I was about thirteen, it hit me, and I hated being a missionary kid. I struggled with this for about two years until God showed me how amazing it really was! I get to travel all the time and meet some pretty important people. My other friends don't get to experience this life that I live. Even though I don't have a ‘group of friends’ and I really don't fit it anywhere, it makes me grow closer to God, and just love Him more. It makes me look forward to my heavenly home even more! I absolutely love being an MK and hope I can encourage other MKs to be happy where they are in the world.”

“As a missionary kid, we don't fit anywhere really. We're the odd duck. But even as strange and hard as it is, I can't imagine my life any other way. Our Lord and Savior is worth the risks and hardships that come, and it isn't all bad. Almost all of the experiences that have shaped who I am have been experienced on the mission field, and I wouldn't trade them for anything.”

“Sometimes it gets lonely.”

“Being an MK is tough. Often we leave our homes, culture, family, and friends to go to a strange land in which we have none of the above. The struggle is real and painful. The devil uses this struggle to plant seeds of discontentment, bitterness, rebellion, and hatred within. Please pray for your missionaries—especially for their children. They . . . We need it. 1 Thessalonians 5:25.”

Encouraging observations: 

Just look at the potential! These kids are musicians, servant-hearted, can speak two and three languages, and they read their Bibles and pray. Every one of them is active in ministry and generally happy.

The needs:

It looks like a lot of these teens are sometimes lonely and have some struggles with belonging. Almost a third said their biggest need is financial. I don’t know what that indicates, but I suppose that MK teens are looking towards the future (college, training, etc.) and they are well aware of their lack of funds. More than anything, MK teens need prayer.

How can you help Teen MKs?
  • Prayer. The verse the one teen shared in his comment is, Brethren, pray for us. It doesn’t get any clearer than that!
  • Help them belong. I understand the difficulties. They don’t seem to belong where they are, and they don’t fit in in their parents’ home country, either. As parents and people in ministry, I think it’s important to keep our eyes open to what’s happening around the teens in ministry and help them not feel out of place. Sometimes, it means introducing them to other teens or making sure their clothing is appropriate. It’s involving them in the ministry and treating them as young adults instead of like babies. It’s building bridges and making friends. I believe everyone needs to feel valued, and of course, our teens need that the most.
  • Sacrifice for them. What can you do to help the teens in your ministry group? Be creative. Give. There’s no harm in buying an unexpected pizza or throwing a party. Encourage MK teens!
  • Love young people. Teens can feel genuine Christian love. Make sure part of your ministry is to minister to the young people around you.

Let’s close with a few Bible verses about young people:
  • For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth. O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works (Psalm 71:5, 17).
  • Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment (Ecclesiastes 11:9).
  • Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).

Thank you to all my MK Teen participants—and to their mothers who doubtless pushed a few to answer my questionnaire. I appreciate all of you and pray that God will supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).



Kyle Sheridan said...

This was enlightening, thanks so much. I'm thankful to be dad to four beautiful MKs, and they certainly are special people!

Olivia said...

Love this!! It's very accurate :) As an MK since I was 12 (I'm 19 now ;)), I've experienced lots of these feelings and struggles. I've been really burdened about writing a little devotional about life as an MK. It's coming together slowly, but it's harder than I thought sharing my heart so much!

Shellee Wilhite said...

Thank you for saying what the MK's would most likely feel uncomfortable saying directly to others. My children have been blessed immensely by this blog and their love for MK's. Thank you!

Karen said...

So glad you shared this!