When we recently unpacked our boxes in suburban Denver, it was into my daughters’ third home. But not only their third home, their third country. Third continent, actually. Third culture, third language, third way of life, third new beginning.
Though my husband and I are Colorado natives, we’d been gone a long time, and our kids had never lived here. As we met our new neighbors, they were either awestruck or incredulous. We heard, “Wow, what a great experience for your kids!” But also, “How sad. Didn’t you want them to have roots somewhere?” Even those who did respond positively would often quietly whisper their concern: “How do you think they’re handling it?”
By the time we moved back to the States with a gaggle of teens and preteens, we’d lived out the spectrum of great joys and deep sorrows in cross-cultural church planting. The joy of new believers and baptisms and discipleship was tempered by sorrow over our girls being bullied for being different. Not to mention the long, hard days in foreign schools with vastly different values from our own.
The skeptical neighbors weren’t wrong. Our kids didn’t have roots, at least not in the traditional sense.
Instead, their roots are global, established in the soil of the Great Commission. When we left America to make disciples of all nations, we trusted that Jesus would be with us always (Matt. 28:18–20). This promise was our bedrock then, and still is now. He’s proven faithful to us and our children time and again. Cross-cultural church planting– though not without its challenges – has ultimately been a great gift to us.
Here are six things our kids – and our whole family – have learned.