TCKs For Christ Launches Today

Over a year ago, I met a beautiful young woman named Clarissa Choo. She, like me, had grown up in several countries. She, like me, had parents who were business people. And she, much more than me, loved Jesus. 

She had started a “TCK Letters” ministry… sending out newsletters to third culture kids to encourage them in their walk with God. On the other hand, I was just starting to write and blog more for and about third-culture kids. It was a perfect comradery. We began to write weekly and dream and plan. I remember when we started a TCK group chat and discussed what other ministries would be possible. 

Out of the small community we created grew Truth4TCKs, my organization that offers conferences and seminars for Jesus-following TCKs. 

However, that wasn’t the only ministry that grew out of our community. I want to share with you my dear friends’ project, TCKs For Christ. Their website launched today!


TCKs for Christ is a website ministry that strives to serve, encourage, and challenge teenage Christian third culture kids and young adult TCKs. These include business kids, cross-cultural kids, mixed-cultural kids, diplomat kids, etc. 

Does TCKs for Christ have an Email List?

Yes, they do! Upon signing up, you will receive exclusive content of one TCK letter and one newsletter per month in your inbox.

The TCK Letters convey heartfelt experiences through words, in which a few of our writers talk about the struggles and triumphs of their TCK life.

The Monthly Newsletter is a fun, convenient summary of new articles and interviews published on our website for the month.

Interested? Hit subscribe.

An Excerpt from a TCKs for Christ article:

The Identity of Home by Elisha McFarland.

Have you ever struggled with the idea of “home”? I know I have. As TCKs, we often battle this relentless onslaught of insecurity about our legitimate home. Throughout my entire life, the only insecurity I battled was found within a question:

Where is home? Do I have several, or none at all? What qualifies as a home? …

Questioning Home is a Difficult Insecurity

It bites deep, leaving us vulnerable and depressed. To make matters worse, this malady is not physical; it cannot be cured by drugs or remedies. This malady is of the spirit, and so we must turn to the One who created our spirit.

This answer was first given to me at TCK Camp Uganda 2016. The time spent in this camp was world-rocking. Sermons were preached, hearts were changed … and homes were found. …

Read more of this article in TCKs for Christ.

Where Can I Connect with Them?

Their social media handle is @TCKsforChrist. Connect with them through FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest.


Please, friends, go check their website out and subscribe to their newsletter. You won’t regret it. Their team is made up of unique, diverse, and Jesus-loving people. I’m so proud of them. 

13 Reminders for the TCK’s “Trip Home”

I’m flying to the USA soon. By the time this gets published, I’ll probably be there already. We’re going back to visit friends and family, and I’m tremendously excited. 

But to be frank, going back to my passport country is nerve-wracking. Every single time. 

My passport says I’m American, but I don’t feel like it when I take a step off the plane. Not at all. 

For one thing, everyone is speaking English. Like, what on earth? Since when does everyone speak English?

Then they say “Welcome Home” at the gate. The thing is, I feel like a fish out of water. Because these people sound like me, they are presumably just like me, and they expect the same from me. You feel like a fraud for the first two hours. You feel like you’re holding some sort of secret identity on the inside. 

Because this continent-hopping maneuver stresses me out, I thought it’d be kind of helpful to put together a list of things to remember before you take the leap. You know, from one TCK to another. 

But then I had a brilliant idea. 

I asked my other TCK friends. 

Behold our magnificent list of 13 things to remember when you “go home” for the summer. 

  1.  Visits to your passport country can often be hectic. Make sure you create time to ground yourself in God’s word. It will change your interactions and experience entirely. 
  2. Strangers will come up to you, call you by name, and claim they’ve known you ever since you were little. Be prepared to update them on your family. Talk with them – do it with a smile.
  3. Remember that not every foreign language you hear is your country’s language 😉
  4. Sometimes it’s good to bring a couple of gifts for the friends you might meet. You never know when you might meet your new close friend.
  5. Be prepared for: “Say something in so-and-so language.” Some people prefer asking for a sentence to translate, whereas some people come prepared with a phrase. Do what works for you.
  6. Many people will say, “Welcome Home.” If it doesn’t feel like home for you, that’s ok – you’re not alone. Personally, it always feels a bit like a vacation. You can mention it or not – but however you react, be kind.
  7. Be gracious. You’re not better than people just because you know more about the world internationally. They know more than you about other things. Reach out – make a friend. 
  8. Be grateful when someone goes out of their way (and their comfort zone!) to show you around and be friendly. Make sure you thank them.
  9. Be curious and ask questions. Don’t feel stupid if you don’t understand something. Chances are, it might not even be a cultural thing – they might not get it either. If it is cultural – brush it off. You are prized by the King of Heaven, and you don’t need to feel insecure. 
  10. Don’t be so excited about the “commodities” that you forget about the people. 
  11. Remember, the trips to your passport country shouldn’t define your expectations of the country’s culture. These short trips don’t show you the true face of the country. Stay curious and open to learning. Don’t assume you know everything.
  12. Spend quality time with people and say good goodbyes. 
  13. Take that first step to say hello. I know what you’re thinking – because I’m thinking it too. I don’t know these people. They don’t understand me. If I say something, I’m going to mess up. 

Take that risk. Life’s most beautiful moments are found when we step outside of our comfort zones. What we often forget is that we TCKs are comfortable traveling the world and speaking foreign languages. Honestly, I’d rather talk to the immigrant elderly couple at church than the teens my age. And that’s good.

But my friend, we can’t live our lives like this. We pride ourselves on having a broad perspective and traveling the world, but sometimes we forget that people are people no matter where you go and that your home culture is just another culture waiting to be discovered. Sometimes we forget that although the Church is Christ’s international body, our home country’s church is a part of it. Sometimes we forget that the teen we are afraid of talking to is just as freaking scared to speak to us. 

So take that awkward first step. 

“There is freedom waiting for you,

On the breezes of the sky,

And you ask, “What if I fall?”

Oh, but my darling,

What if you fly?”

― Erin Hanson

Thank You to God & Friends: You’ve Helped Me Grow

When I started writing last summer, I had no idea what God had in store for me. I became a Rebelutionary, a writer, and a champion of my fellow Christian teens who’ve grown up among worlds. I’ve grown in ways that were unimaginable to me at the time.

One way God has grown me is in my passion for using my youth to the fullest. I want to do hard things while I am young. I don’t want to give in to society’s flow of doing absolutely nothing worthwhile during my youth. I want to use it entirely for the glory of God. That’s not to say I still don’t have endless bad days where I’m lazy and selfish. I do. But He’s stretching me and leading me, and for that, I am grateful. I’m also so thankful for the Rebelution team and Brett Harris, who God has used mightily in so many people’s lives.

He’s also grown me in capability. I’m learning to be more proactive and more of a leader. I’m learning to make decisions. I’m learning more about the kind of leader I am and where I need to grow even more.

He’s grown me in passion for my fellow teens who’ve grown up abroad. There is so much that I’ve learned and wish my fellow teens would know as well. I’ve moved from simply a peer to someone who wants to see her peers changed for the better, passionate about the glory of God and about the good they can do as citizens of heaven.

One of the tangible processes he used to grow me was the Truth4TCKs 2021 conference. He taught me to trust in Him, to trust in His work, but also the work of others. He taught me to show up, day after day, even when it was hard. He taught me to model his faithfulness. I never succeeded – none of us can. But in my failure, I was reminded of His faithfulness and sovereignty, and I leaned on Him.

God also gave me great relationships through this journey – and I’m so thankful.

I’m thankful to my sweet friend Sara, who mentored me through the organization process and motivated me to make this whole thing happen. If she could do it, so could I. Thank you, Sara, for being encouraging and just someone I can cry with and laugh with. You are a joy.

I’m also thankful to my team: Clarissa, Bethany, Minjin, Kristianne, and Sophia. They have been why I was even able to put the conference together. They each contributed in their own ways, and looking back, it was beautiful to behold.

I’m so grateful for Megan, who became an encourager and friend, as well as someone who graciously helped me enter the “TCK world” of sorts. You, Megan, have been such a blessing, and you had a massive role in this.

I’m thankful to all the speakers who took their time and effort to help out. This was voluntary. I didn’t promise anyone money. Yet everyone served abundantly, and it was beautiful. Thank you, Will, Megan, Chris, Ms. Kate, Ms. C.B., Melinda, Ify, Wendy & Luke, and Sam. You were amazing.

I’m amazed at the blessing that God has given me. My family. They are so loving, so encouraging. Dad, you are the one who motivates me, gives me perspective, and helps grow my vision for what could be. Mom, you are my friend and joy, and you keep me accountable. Thank you to my brothers as well, who have been so encouraging and supportive throughout this whole thing.

I’ve grown, but I still am growing. We all are. That’s life.

Lord, thank you for growing me. Please lead me in my next steps. Thank you for being so faithful to me.

Third Culture Teen Stories: Interview with Adult TCK Liz Lovelace (part 2)

I got to interview a close family friend, who is also an adult third culture kid (or ATCK). She shared about growing up often feeling like an outsider, and also shared a funny story about ice-cream. This is the second part of a multi-part interview. You can read part one here.

As you read this part of the interview, I would like you to keep something in mind. The struggles Liz paints aren’t necessarily things that only third culture kids go through. However, the degree of those struggles was elevated, I believe, because she lived in a country where everyone was completely different from her.


Liz: Here’s a funny specific story. The Christian school I went to was a part of the church we went to as well. When I was in ninth grade, one Sunday after church, this college-aged guy who was helping with the youth group was like, “Hey, let’s go get some ice-cream after church.” The way I heard it… of course, I had no experience with how this actually played out. I had never gone out with other people to go get ice-cream in my life. I convinced my dad to let me go. My dad asked me, “Is he paying?” I said, “Well, I think so because he invited us.” Then we get to the ice-cream shop, and people start ordering, and everyone is paying for their own ice-cream. I just felt really stupid. And I’m kind of in trouble here because I was like, “oh no!” I was expected to pay for my own ice-cream, and I had no idea because all I had heard was this guy invited us out to get ice-cream, so he must be paying. So that was like a particular cultural moment, I guess.

Breanne: Is that an Argentine thing – to pay if you invite someone out?

Liz: Not necessarily, looking back, I don’t think that’s true, but I just didn’t personally have that experience. If we ever went out for ice-cream with the youth group, my dad, who served at our church in Argentina, always paid for everybody. That was the youth group thing. He paid for everyone; he didn’t expect people to pay for their own. But, looking back, if friends go out, usually everyone pays their own way. The way it worked out in my head was that this is a church thing. This guy works in the youth group; it’s a church thing.

So to my friend, I told her, “Oh, I didn’t know we had to pay for our own.” And she was like, “Oh, don’t worry, I’ll pay for you.” She was pretty nice. (And had money, apparently.) That’s a specific cultural story.

Breanne: Yeah… just not being in the know, even if it’s a cultural norm or not, just not knowing. I get that.

Liz: Yeah, and our parents didn’t even let us go out with friends much in Argentina, even as teenagers. We never went out and did stuff if it wasn’t associated with a church.

Going back to adapting in the States… I don’t know if people still give kids allowances. But when I was in fourth grade, that was a huge deal. I was the only kid in my class that didn’t get money regularly. So, I do remember that was something that made me feel like we didn’t fit in. It wasn’t something my parents ever did, and I don’t think they had the money to do that sort of thing. In fourth grade, kids would talk about their allowance or what they got with their money… just having that money to spend on something. Back to the topic of high school, if we wanted to go out, we would have to ask for money every time. Some high school kids also got allowances and had the money to buy stuff and go out for ice-cream. Anyways, money was always tight for us.

Breanne: Yeah, I think that’s a familiar story to pastor’s kids and pastor’s families overseas.

Can you talk about specific struggles you went through, maybe in teenage and young adult struggles, perhaps identity and belonging struggles? Any range of struggles and reactions, really.

Liz: I think as I got older, being in Argentina, I wanted to fit in and knew I just didn’t. As I got older, most of my friends were from church. You know, neighborhood friends, as kids got older, that had their own friends from school and had their own things they did… It was widespread for Argentine teenagers to go dancing on the weekends (and obviously, we didn’t do that.) There was a natural break with our neighborhood friends who weren’t Christians. As teenagers, our friends were from church. But even then, they went to public schools, or when they started college, they went there in Argentina. Their experiences were very different from ours. They went to the public high school… schools there can be very political there. The education system for high school is very different – from what we knew. As teens, we knew our life was very different. There were things sometimes that I would want to do with friends.

Our parents were super strict as well when it came to doing things with friends. They rarely let us do anything if they weren’t there. Sometimes we would do something downtown or go to some kind of event.

Breanne: So when could you go out with friends?

Liz: As a teenager, not a lot. To skip ahead a bit, I went to college in the states and then returned to Argentina. I was still living with my parents. I was older then; I was doing things with a friend then. I’m trying to think of something specific.

I had this one good friend in Argentina that is a few years older than I am. She would go to high school and go and come back by herself. When she started college, she would do all these things. She studied to be a physical education teacher. As part of the program, she would go hiking or camping… they had all these activities. I was watching her do all these things. Her parents were like yeah, sure, whatever… I don’t think my parents would ever let me go camping with a group of kids my own age as a teen without adult supervision.

Breanne: Yeah…

Liz: Not that one is right or wrong, but that sticks out in my mind. I think I was probably the first in my family that wanted to do stuff like that. I don’t remember my older siblings having that issue. Well, my brother, he played soccer for a club…

Breanne: And that was his social life.

Liz: Yeah, and he was a boy. In our family, boys got treated differently than girls.

Breanne: Was that a matter of the way they thought? Or was it a matter of society and it was a safety issue?

Liz: Definitely, I think it was a matter of keeping the girls safe. My brothers had freedom and could do public transportation much more than we could. I understand that now. But as a teenager, it was very hard. You don’t see that… my brothers have the freedom that I don’t.

Breanne: Even more so, I think when your parents are raising you in a country that isn’t their own. I feel like that would be even more of a concern.

Liz: Yes.


Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list so you don’t miss the next parts of this interview.

Global Nomad, Think You Are Accepting? Think Again.

Do you ride camels there?

I pause. And groan inwardly. These people – they have no idea.

No. We don’t ride camels. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in my country.

No kidding. I live in a huge city. The poor camels would continuously be run over by cars and hit by motorcycles.

No Different

I’ve heard it said that Third Culture Kids are some of the most accepting people in the world. 

With all the exposure we’ve had to different cultures, ways of thinking, and kinds of suffering, you’d think that’d be true. 

But are we, really?

Many Third Culture Kids have extreme feelings about their passport culture. They could go on and on about how wrong people are, how close-minded they are. Now, some of that is valid. There are definite faults or problematic aspects that TCKs can realize about cultures, and especially cultures of passport countries, that most people can’t see. But the fact that TCKs can see them doesn’t make TCKs inviting or open-minded. Most often, Third Culture Kids really struggle with being kind to their passport culture, with finding the good in it. 

And when we belong to a God who has called us to love our enemies, that’s not ok. 

Whether enemy or not, the people from our passport culture are just that – people. Created to mirror God’s glory. 

‘And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’

Matthew 5:43-48

You must be perfect. 

That’s hard. It doesn’t mean we will be perfect – it means we should strive to be perfect. 

Because as believers, if we hate or pridefully shame ignorant people with a more “closed” worldview, we are no different from unbelievers. 

Love When It’s Hard

TCK, your insight and your experiences are valid. Your passport country does need your perspective. But as followers of the one who counted his equality with God as nothing and who became a servant, we should be nothing less than that: servants. 

We should use the experiences God has given us to kindly and humbly help others think differently. 

We should be humble enough to recognize that we can learn from those who haven’t traveled or interacted with as many cultures as we have. 

Everyone has a story. Everyone is going through trials. 

Jesus loved the least of these. 

Will we think we are better? Or will we follow our humble Savior?


TCK, what things do you complain about when interacting with people? What pride might you be holding onto in your life? Bring it to the Lord.

The Secret to Living Fear-Free as A TCK

What if they think I’m bragging? What if they think I’m weird? What if they think I’m stupid for not knowing who so-and-so is? What if they don’t understand why I’m struggling? What if they don’t get why moving was so hard?

Have you had any of those thoughts before? They may seem like the thoughts of an average self-conscious teenager, but if you look closer, there is something more going on. These are the thoughts of the anxious TCK.

I’ve been there. I’ve been the awkward girl in the US sitting in the Sunday School room. A couple seats over from the end of the row… But not too close to the middle — that might seem weird. Sometimes I’ll sit there and barely talk with anyone. Everyone there has their friends and their clique — no need to try and interrupt. 

Once in a while, there will be a friendly girl. She’ll ask me where I’m from— the dreaded question. I’ll explain. “I don’t live here,” I’ll say. “I live overseas.” 

“Really?”

There is so much locked up in that word — her presuppositions about me, her expectations, curiosity, or lack of it. I don’t know what is coming exactly — but I’m nervous. 

Why?

Why am I nervous? Why do I care so much what people think about me? Why do TCKs especially struggle with this?

After years of moving, trying to fit into multiple cultures, and living an ever-changing life… the TCK finds themselves in another new place. 

And the fear kicks in.

Why Fear of Man Is Problematic

That fear is wrong and sinful. 

As humans, we were made to love and worship our Creator. He is to be first in our minds, our hearts, and our lives. 

When we worry about what the monocultural new person will ask us or think about us, God isn’t in the first place. 

We are fearing the approval of the created more than the Creator. The Creator’s approval is powerful and everlasting. The created’s opinion might seem powerful — but the approval will sway as easily as a blade of grass… and eventually wither up. 

Wanting approval isn’t wrong. What matters is whose validation you are seeking. 

This is where it gets tricky. 

All their life, TCKs have looked to people’s approval to learn multiple cultures and languages. That’s how they’ve navigated life. It’s taken them a lot longer than most to figure out where they stand in a community and culture because those cultures and communities change a lot for most TCKs. 

But here’s what we have to remember: Although people’s approval might teach you, you cannot let it rule you. Because when you fear their disapproval, you become a slave to their opinions. 

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

Proverbs 29:25

Escaping the Handcuffs

Trusting in the attributes of God — who God is — will change your perspective on who you are. Those who are secure in their identity won’t fear others’ opinions… because others’ opinions won’t change who they are. 

My dear TCK friend, if you are in Christ, you are no longer a slave to fear

That doesn’t mean you won’t still struggle with fear. It doesn’t mean you’ll never be anxious again. Nor does it mean you won’t feel awkward around people sometimes. It means your chain binding you to that cell wall has been broken, and you are free to walk out. 

Are you struggling to walk out? Here are 3 ways you can fight against the fear of man in your life: 

  1. Focus on who God is. He is:
  • Faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9)
  • Loving (1 John 4:8,10,16)
  • Kind (Psalm 116)
  • Eternal (Psalm 90:1-2)
  • Powerful (Psalm 90:11; Psalm 24:8)
  • King (Psalm 24:8)
  • Wise (1 Corinthians 1:25)
  • Just (Ezekiel 18:20-26)

If we have such a wonderful God as our Father, then his opinions and thoughts are precious. 

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

Psalm 139:17

Our identity is anchored in Christ. If God is immovable, then who we are in Him is as well. Focus on that.

2. Remember, you can’t control others’ opinions. They don’t define you. 

(…) in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?  Psalm 56:11 

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Out of my distress, I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.  Psalm 118:5-8

3. Pray that God would take first place in your heart. The higher a place God takes in our hearts, the less important the opinions of others become. 

As I write this, I feel guilty because I have not attained fearlessness. In fact, I am quite often the most fearful and anxious person in the room. But by God’s grace, I will lose fear… day by day.

Lord, please take first place in my life! Please destroy the idols of others’ opinions and take your rightful place on the throne of my heart. Let me take refuge in You. Give me the grace to focus on who You are and the immovability of my identity in You. 


Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash

A TCK Interview: God Loves the Sojourner (Luke & Wendy – Part 3)

I had the privilege of doing an hour-long (!) interview with some friends of mine, an ATCK Christian couple: Luke & Wendy. I had so much fun talking to them… listening to their stories about identity, belonging, love and truth… This is the third part of a 3 part series that I will be releasing over several weeks. Here are Part 1 and Part 2. Have fun reading!


Breanne: I think you already answered some of this question in previous parts. But nevertheless, how did your TCK upbringing influence who you are and how you see the world? Luke, would you like to go first?

Luke: Sure. Being a TCK is essential to me because I’m able to see my “home” country from an outside perspective. I don’t have to feel as if it defines me. That’s freeing because I don’t have to feel like I’m defined by things I disagree with. In another sense, it’s complicated. Because I don’t feel like I belong to anything in terms of a home on this earth. There’s no house, there’s no city, there’s no place I can call home. There are places I have good memories in that are precious to me, but nothing that’s actually “home.” That’s hard.

Breanne: What about you, Wendy?

Wendy: I think my upbringing changed my perspective of the world. Seeing how other people think of certain things has been exciting and has opened up my mind to different perspectives. I am a very opinionated person. I’m thankful I’ve grown up in other cultures. I feel more open and ready to accept other opinions and listen. It’s taught me how to listen.

Switchfoot has this song called “Where I Belong.” I think you would really like it.

Breanne: Oooh, I don’t think I’ve heard that one. I do know of a song with a similar title by Building 429. The chorus goes, “All I know is I’m not home yet. This is not where I belong.”

Wendy: Yeah… I know that song too. My other TCK friend loves that song. I think the Switchfoot song is excellent because that’s the perspective I have. Let me read you the lyrics. As a Christian TCK, this wraps up my feelings and beliefs.

Until I die, I’ll sing these songs

On the shores of Babylon

Still looking for a home

In a world where I belong

So, many people have asked, especially in college, “how do you feel not being rooted, or not having a physical home?” For the first few years, I didn’t know how to answer that question. I was like, “Wow, that’s really hard. I don’t know. I feel like I’ve lost my home.” Because we moved from Prague and that house was emptied. Our friends left. It was like our home died. I experienced the most profound feeling of loss when we moved from Prague and left our home and neighborhood where we had lived for 10 years. So I think experiencing the grief of the loss of place and feeling like I no longer entirely belong to any physical space… Not feeling at home literally anywhere made the reality of “that is how we are spiritually” much more evident. We aren’t entirely at home anywhere, physically or spiritually. That Third Culture Kid lack of home has actually enriched my understanding of what it means to be a Christian in this world.

Breanne: That was so good… that’s what I’ve been trying to communicate with my writing. The second question I was going to ask was regarding the intersection of your upbringing and faith. You’ve already answered part of it. How has your faith helped you in your TCK struggles, maybe in a way you’ve observed TCKs without a relationship with Jesus Christ don’t have?

Wendy: Luke, do you want to speak into that?

Luke: My TCK-ness is a part of me that’s both positive and negative. The negative is not feeling rooted anywhere or not feeling at home anywhere. But I also feel at home with the people I have come to love. What makes the homes I’ve been a part of “home” is not the place. It’s because of my friends or family and now my wife. I think my connection to all of those people is also a spiritual connection. God is at the center of all those things. Throughout the times I have identified certain places as home, my relationships with the people have also been connected spiritually. My faith has helped me find connection points with people that either I’ve just met or people I’ve known for a long time… and that makes me feel at home.

Breanne: Hmm… that’s good. Ok, another question: what Biblical truth has helped you most as a TCK?

Luke: First, that God is good, and second that He is never changing. Life changes so much. You never really know what it’s going to look like. One thing you don’t have to worry about is that He won’t change.

Wendy: I’d say the truth that I belong to God is very healing and important. That there is belonging there. That’s been good for me to remember. Also, I think all the Bible passages where the Lord is talking about the exile and the sojourner are significant. The idea that the Lord loves the sojourner and the gentile. Almost every woman in Jesus’ genealogy is a gentile. The fact that “this is not a religion for whites, or Jews only, this is God’s love for the world.” I love focusing on the global nature of God’s love. It’s something that has become more real to me, the more I’ve lived abroad.

Breanne: That made me think of the passage in Hebrews 11. It talks about the people of faith in the Old Testament. They lived not looking back to the country they had come from but looking for a heavenly country and recognizing that their citizenship was in heaven. They didn’t conform to this world. And right after that, it says: God was not ashamed to be called their God, concerning what it said previously. I think that’s so cool.

Ok. Last question. This is more of a practical question. How are you using/have you used your TCK giftings/abilities/superpowers to the glory of God and the good of others? This could be anything from being more empathetic to languages and translating to writing fantasy books with different worlds.

Luke: For me, it’s less of a specific thing. Not like one thing I’ve sought to do. But definitely identifying with people who are feeling displaced or have a different perspective on life. When they find out I have a similar worldview to them, we connect.

Breanne: Well, I do know of one thing you are doing that I think is intentional, I mean, I don’t know, but I’d love if you could talk about the youth group you are leading at your international church. That’s definitely a way you are using your TCK upbringings to bless others.

Luke: That’s a good point.

Wendy: I just think the Lord has given us a part for TCKs. A big part of how we remained sane in high school was a really solid youth community. Feeling understood by other TCKs. It’s an essential part of what we both believe in. That’s something we have a heart for, and we hope it is helpful. We really love it.

Also, because we were both Pastors’ Kids, we were involved in the music at church. It was partially useful that our parents made us learn music to help out in the worship team. So that’s something we have going for us. That has been really good to use. I’m really thankful it’s useful.

I think something else that I have used is my global perspective and ability to relate to the kids at the international school I teach. I’ll be like, “Hey, where do you like going back to vacation?” They’ll often answer with a “We go home.” I follow with “where is home for you?” That’s a question that pops into my head because it’s such a relevant question for me. It’s great to have those conversations and feel understood. So that’s helped me teach.

Breanne: I think that’s huge. I think that’s so cool. You’re helping awaken the students to a self-awareness regarding being TCKs a lot earlier than they might have otherwise. Like you just said, asking questions like, “where is home to you?” That’s crucial because all the adults in their life use the word “home” for the passport culture. As far as I observed, most parents don’t give kids a global perspective. It’s usually very home/passport country oriented. Especially at international schools, ironically, I feel like people exaggerate their passport country. Like “I’m Korean, so I’m going to be %100 Korean.” Or “I’m American, so I’m going to talk in a Southern accent and talk about how amazing America is and wear patriotic clothing to school.”

Wendy: So true. 

Breanne: It’s really sad to me. Obviously, those countries are amazing places. That’s not the point. It’s just that you have a much richer heritage—a heritage comprising of more than only one country. So I think it’s cool that you can partially give them that perspective. “You are more than just American, you are more than just Korean, more than just Canadian” or whatever it is…

Wendy: Thanks. So yeah. Those are the things that come to my mind.

Breanne: Man, that was all so good. Thank you for doing this with me. It went a lot longer than I expected.

Wendy: Oh my gosh. I know! I was surprised about how much we had to say. Thanks for listening and wanting to hear. I feel very honored.

Breanne: Yeah. There were many things you guys mentioned that were great. I think it’s good to listen to others’ stories because they might express something differently or have another perspective on the grand thing called being a TCK. I know people will be very encouraged and blessed by this.

Wendy: Aww, for what it’s worth.

Luke: Good 😊


Credits to Sharon Ko Photography for the picture 🙂

Truth4TCKs: I’m From… Heaven? – How The TCK Life Is A Blessing In Disguise –

The Confusion Of The TCK: Where They Are From

“So where are you from? “

I paused… Should I give them the long answer? Or the short one?

“Umm, I’m American.”

“Oh, cool.”

It was true. I am American – at least, that’s what my passport says. But I don’t feel like it. Not really. 

I have only lived there for a couple of years. Most of my life was spent in other parts of the world. 

So what? I am still American even if I grew up elsewhere, right?

Wrong. I grew up in a culture and environment very different from those of my cousins and friends in the States. 

I don’t feel patriotic. I am not as worried about American politics as they are. I don’t feel like America is as big of a deal as they crack it up to be. I don’t even think of America as home. 

So, where am I from? 

I don’t know. 

I am literally an in-between. I don’t belong entirely in any of the cultures in which I have lived. I do not belong to them, nor do they to me. I am a Third Culture Kid (TCK). 

Why Where We Are From Matters: Culture & Belonging

In the book Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds, authors Ruth Van Recken and Michael Pollock talk about “cultural balance”. They say: “A sense of cultural balance allows (…) freedom. Once we have internalized a culture’s customs and underlying assumptions, or know who we are in relationship to this culture, an intuitive sense of what is right, humorous, appropriate, or offensive in any particular situation develops.”

When we have grown up in a certain culture, we know who we are in relationship to it. We know if and how we belong. Being rooted in a soil of relationships and community gives people a sense of identity and belonging. 

When we have not grown up in a culture, we do not know how to act or behave or react in a situation within that culture. It becomes more complicated if we have grown up in multiple cultures. We never know which one we belong in because we haven’t had the time to completely absorb the customs and assumptions. Thus the paradox of the TCK: we’re expected to belong in one culture, but we don’t. 

However, we don’t fit into the other cultures in which we have lived. We have moved too often to pick it up, or we have lived in a family who embodied a different culture than the one in which we did daily life.

Since someone who has cultural balance feels free within their society, they find their identity there. Rarely ever does a TCK feel at home. 

A Home with God

One of the most amazing things about the Word of God is that it applies to every single facet of life. This includes the struggles of the TCK. 

When a TCK does not feel as if they belong anywhere, they can be reminded of Hebrews 11: 13-16 and Philippians 3:20.

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13-16)

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)

There is a common theme in these two passages: as followers of Jesus, we do not belong to this earth. 

We belong somewhere else. 

Heaven.

Paul says in Philippians 3:19 about the people of this earth: “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” When Jesus transforms the life of a wretched sinner, they no longer glory in their shame. They glory in the redeeming work of Christ. They no longer set their minds on earthly things. They set their minds on godly, pure, lovely things (Philippians 4:8)

I think that we could say there are two cultures: the culture of this earth and the culture of Heaven. 

We don’t belong in any way to the culture of the earth anymore. Instead, we live in accord with the culture of heaven, where our citizenship is. 

This is astounding news for the believing TCK. Although we might not feel like we belong in any country or national culture, we know there is one place in which we belong perfectly. A place in which we are loved perfectly by God forever.

What joy! 

Looking On The Flip Side

As my father likes to say, TCKs often feel that wherever they go, they are a dime short of a dollar. Then he’ll add with a smile, in reality, they are two dollars. 

Even though TCKs might not understand cultures 100%, they can understand them very well. Let’s say 90%. If they understand both sides of a cultural divide, they can act as bridges for those on either side of it.

TCKs get to live a multicultural life full of rich beauty and diversity. They grow up living among languages, different cuisines, various expressions of art, and values.

Also, TCKs can learn to be flexible and adapt no matter what the circumstance. This can be a helpful ability in life. What ordinarily might shock someone is less of a shock for the TCK. Flexibility is an asset that global businesses look for in employees.

Therefore, although the TCK may often feel rootless, without a secure national identity and a sense of belonging, they can make their weaknesses their strengths. They can help monocultural people succeed in their attempts at intercultural interactions. 

Rich Life and Hope

Third Culture Kids can feel like nomads. So did Abraham. He roamed the earth, not knowing where he was going, waiting for a better country. His faith was counted to him as righteousness. 

Dear TCK, have faith in the hope to come. You are a citizen of heaven and belong wholly there. Make use of the God-given talents your upbringing has allowed.

New Blog Series

Hello friends! I want to share with you something that has been on my mind for a while.

I am starting a blog series for Christian TCKs, written by a Christian TCK.

I want to encourage them. And I want to use my writing to do that.

But I know that I am not an expert on the subject. So I need to learn. I have already started doing this. I have currently read two books on TCKs, as well as doing research in the Bible about various topics.

But I can’t just wait until I finish research to write on the topic. Research never ends.

So I am launching a series called Truth4TCKs. You might have seen the term before on a couple of my posts. I have written on the subject before, but I’m making it a priority.

Here’s how it will work: I will be posting every week as I usually do, and the majority of the posts will be on TCKs and Biblical encouragement. (The intersection of the two.)

I might occasionally post something about different subjects. However, as of today, my primary focus will be writing for and about Christian TCKs.

If you have been enjoying my posts on other topics and can’t really relate to my TCK related posts, I am sorry. However, I feel that this is where the Lord is leading my writing.

I want to ask you a favor. If you know any TCKs, please tell them about this series. I want to reach as many TCKs as possible with my writing, to encourage them because there is honestly not much of it going around.

Thank you all so much. In relation to this series, I will be posting little snippets with the hashtag #truth4tcks on my Instagram handle, so if you want to share my writing, sharing those posts on social media would be an amazing and easy way to get the word out.

Truth4TCKs: Citizens of Heaven

This post was originally a guest post (written by me) on my friend Clarissa’s blog. You can find it here.


When someone asks you where you are from, what do you say?

My answer looks something like this: Well, ethnically I’m from X country, and both my parents are from there. But actually, my dad grew up in Y country, and I grew up in Z country. 

I have a passport from a certain country, therefore I am its citizen, but I’m not very patriotic. I don’t share many similar views with the people of that country. Thus, I don’t feel like I belong there. 

Instead, I live in a different country. I adore it immensely, love the people, and yet I’m not its citizen. I don’t belong there either. 

So where do I belong? 

That’s the question every human being tries to answer. Many do find their answer. However, TCKs tend to not really know. This can be frustrating to them.

But for us Christian TCKs, it’s different. 

Why?

Because the Bible tells us that our identity is in Christ, and our citizenship is in heaven.

Our Identity: If We Don’t Belong, Who Are We?

As TCKs, we’re different. Some people love that, and others hate it. We can tend to find our identity in our TCK-ness. We try to tell people that they don’t get us because we’re different. We wrap up who we are in the fact that we’re different. As a result, we can be defensive. We can have self-pity because we don’t belong, or we can get rebellious when people talk about our passport country as home, simce to us, it isn’t. 

Where is our identity first found? Are we first TCKs, or first Christians? 

The answer is pretty simple, but it’s important. First and foremost, we belong to Jesus. 

How does that change our relationships? 

If we belong to Jesus, we love others who belong to Him as well. That includes the person who hasn’t left their town their entire life. That includes the person who seems to know nothing about the “outside world”. That includes the billionth person who asks you how life is like where you live.

We love them completely. Christ gave His life up for billions of people who can never understand Him. He is God, and we’re not. If Jesus could love like that, we need to love others who honestly, can understand us more than how we could understand Jesus. 

Citizens of Heaven

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Philippians 3:20-21

The old english meaning of conversation is the place where one lives (Online Etymology Dictionary, 2020). In Greek, conversation is politeuma, meaning community or citizenship (Bible Study Tools, 2020). In the context of this verse, the idea is that there are two spheres: the earthly world, and the heavenly world. Returning to the verse which reads For our conversation is in heaven. We conclude that we don’t belong here. Our community, our citizenship, our home is in heaven.

Most Christians aren’t TCKs. Whether they are Canadian or Kenyan or Turkish or Singaporean, they’ve grown up in the same place their whole lives. They have roots. They have a culture, an ethnic or patriotic community. They have a sense of belonging. 

But the thing is, all Christians are citizens of Heaven. None of us truly belong here. We have a better Home. 

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

– Hebrews 11:13-16 

This passage comes after the “Hall of Faith” as many people call it in Hebrews 11. It lists the numerous heroes of the faith from the Old Testament. The passage is talking about them. They sought a better country. A heavenly country. A country where every nation will come together and will be one people. God’s people. 

What Our TCK Lives Teach Us

I think TCKs have an advantage. We don’t belong, anywhere really, on this earth. I’ve heard many TCKs call themselves “global citizens”. However, Christian TCKs don’t belong anywhere on this earth. Being a Christian TCK is a blessing. Because we’re not attached to any country 100%, we long for a better one. Thus, we can comprehend better that our citizenship is in heaven as compared to someone who has never left their town their whole life long. 

And just think about it! A country where all ethnic groups, all cultures, all languages will live together, as neighbors, praising God! Is that a comfort to a TCK soul or what?


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