Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Who Will Lead Us?


The Easter Convention of Church Leadership of the Good News Bible Church Tamale area..

I have an interesting activity for you to do. Look at 1 Timothy 2 and Titus 1. 

On a piece of paper, draw three columns. 

The heading of the first is Knowledge

Label the second column with the word Skills

Now let’s call the third one Character

Go through those two Bible passages and put leadership qualification into one of the columns. Really, if you have a couple of minutes, do it. Go ahead. I can wait. It is worth you doing to exercise to feel the full effect. I will give you three minutes.

On two, soon to be three continents, I have led pastors and church leaders in this exercise. In every instance, I am met with shock. Their shock surprises me. On my own placement, every single qualification is a character trait. This is because the phrase, “able to teach”, is, according to John MacArthur, the word “Teachable Teacher” in the Greek. The emphasis is on teach-ability, not ability to teach. Any way you categorized yours, I am sure the vast majority are in the character column. 

Now, what do we look for in our churches and missionaries when it comes to leadership? We want knowledge. They need to have a Bible degree and in most cases an advanced degree in some Bible as well. A Master’s is acceptable but a PhD is divine. Give us someone who knows how to parse a verb! Take a minute and apply this to church planting in rural, Northern Ghana. How much knowledge can our new church pastor have? Have to have? What if no one in the village can read?

We also look to some skill set. What do they know? What can they do? How experienced are they in the pastorate or organizational leadership? Once again, break out of your North American bubble....how does this work in an effort to reach converts from animist villages and plant churches in areas where 98% of the population is not Christian? 

The question we should ask is “Who are they and what are they like?” If they are people of character and Christ-likeness, then their teachable and humble attitude will let them learn what they do not know but need to, and develop any skillset they lack. A man can learn to preach, but how does he treat his children? That says more about him than any three point sermon. The man I disciple in the village might not have a degree from grade school, or any experience in church leadership since there has never been a church, but if he loves Jesus and will follow the Holy Spirit, he is the man for this time and place.

Leadership is about character. In the bottom line, it is because true character is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Wisdom, patience, kindness, generosity, goodness, righteousness, love, knowledge, faith, mercy and other such things are not taught. They are fruit the Holy Spirit bears in us as we abide in Christ. He gives us fruit. The Holy Spirit transforms us into the Image of the Son as we grow. Our church leaders do not need to be successful businessmen, although most of the time these are who we choose. They do not need to be able to teach systematic theology. They need to be like Jesus. They need to follow Him. We see this in their character. 

Practically speaking, character is what defines a leader's integrity. Integrity is the foundation of trust, and trust is crucial for effective leadership. Leaders who have strong character are honest, ethical, and do the right thing, even when it's difficult. This earns the trust and respect of those we try to reach with God’s love.

Secondly, character helps missionaries and church leaders make better decisions. Leaders with strong character have a clear set of values that guide their decision-making. They make decisions based on what is right, fair, and ethical, rather than what is expedient or personally advantageous.  Their hearts and lives prove they are in sync with the Holy Spirit and led by Him. This leads to better decision-making, and the ability to inspire and motivate the team with a clear vision of what is important.

Thirdly, character is crucial for building strong relationships. Great leaders recognize that leadership is about people, and building strong relationships is essential to effective leadership. Leaders with strong character are empathetic, respectful, and communicate clearly, which leads to trust, collaboration, and a positive work environment. People in our ministry field do not care how much we know until they know how much we care.

Finally, character inspires others to follow. People are drawn to leaders who are authentic, genuine, and consistent in their behavior. Leaders and missionaries with strong character inspire and motivate their team members to become better versions of themselves, and to strive for excellence in their work. I tell church leadership this. 

A leader is a follower being followed. 

Say that again. A leader is a follower being followed. I am to follow Christ and be led by the Holy Spirit. As I do that, I will grow into His likeness more and more. A benefit of this in church leadership is those following us, by default since we follow Christ, are also following Him. We go from being followed to stepping out of the way and let them be first in line behind Jesus as others follow them. 

In conclusion, the importance of character in leadership cannot be overstated. Leaders who possess Christlike character are who we need. Give me a Spirit-filled and Spirit led person with no diploma over an arrogant PhD holding theologian any day of the week. 

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, April 19, 2023



Patience and Mercy under a Baobab tree. The village pictured just received water for the first time, see the tank in the background. Until this day, they walked a fourteen mile round trip journey to an unclean water source. Every day, seven miles with an empty bucket and seven miles back with a full bucket of dirty water. Today, this day, they turned a faucet, they had to be shown how it worked, and clean water flowed into their hands.

This is my last blog on TCK’s. I recommend anyone interested in it, even if is for nothing more than understanding and/or encouraging your missionaries, read the book, Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds by Ruth E. Van Reken , David C. Pollock. Denise and I read it twice and still find it helpful. We purchased our home in Florida based on the advice in this book!

In a nutshell, my kids and others we know state the negative aspects of growing up as a TCK/MK are:

Loss of identity: TCKs often struggle with their sense of identity as they have grown up in different cultures and have been exposed to various influences. They may feel like they don't belong anywhere or struggle with their sense of belonging.

Difficulty with relationships: TCKs may find it challenging to form lasting relationships, as they have grown accustomed to moving frequently and saying goodbye to friends. They may also struggle with cultural differences in relationships, which can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunications.

Feeling of isolation: TCKs may feel isolated as they may not have a strong sense of community or support network. They may struggle to find people who understand their unique experiences and struggles. They feel like outsiders in every group.

Cultural confusion: TCKs may struggle with cultural confusion as they may not know which cultural norms and values to follow. They may also feel like they are constantly adapting to new cultures, which can be exhausting. They send the wrong messages or read the wrong messages nonverbally. They do not understand or meet expectations.

Emotional detachment: TCKs may struggle with emotional detachment as they have become accustomed to leaving people and places behind. This detachment can make it difficult for them to form deep emotional connections with others. Too many goodbyes cause them to stop saying hello.

Lack of stability: Finally, TCKs may struggle with a lack of stability in their lives. They may not have a sense of home or a stable support system, which can be difficult to cope with emotionally. This goes with no identity. They do not know who they are or where they belong. 

The top benefits of being a TCK/MK are:

Experiencing God’s work firsthand: Most TCK/MK’s speak of this. They believe it is/was beneficial to grow up in a home where Jesus truly was the Lord of the House. Participating in God’s kingdom changed their values in every area of life, especially in materialism and financial stewardship.

Multilingualism: One of the most significant benefits of being a TCK is the opportunity to learn multiple languages. As TCKs are often exposed to different cultures and languages, they have a higher chance of becoming fluent in multiple languages. This skill is not only useful in communication but also helps in personal and professional growth.

Adaptability: TCKs have the ability to adapt to new environments and situations quickly. This adaptability stems from being exposed to different cultures and lifestyles, which makes it easier to navigate new experiences in life.

Open-mindedness: TCKs have a broader perspective on the world and are often more accepting of diversity. They are more open to different ideas, lifestyles, and cultures, which can be a valuable asset in a globalized world. They do not possess a single country worldview. Instead they process information through two or more frameworks. TCKs have a global perspective on the world, which can be a valuable asset in a globalized world. They are more likely to understand and appreciate the complexities of different cultures, languages, and lifestyles, which can be useful in personal and professional relationships.

Global network: Growing up in different countries, TCKs build a diverse network of friends and acquaintances from different cultures and backgrounds. This network can be beneficial in both personal and professional life.

Resilience: TCKs have faced challenges in their lives, such as adapting to new cultures or making new friends in each new location. This experience makes them more resilient, adaptable, and better equipped to handle difficult situations in life.

Empathy: TCKs are more likely to have empathy towards others as they have experienced different cultures and lifestyles. This trait is valuable in personal and professional relationships and can help to build trust and rapport.

Creativity: TCKs often develop creative problem-solving skills as they adapt to new situations and environments. This creativity can be useful in personal and professional life.

Independence: TCKs often have a higher degree of independence than their peers as they have had to navigate different environments and cultures on their own. This skill can be helpful in personal and professional life, as well as in building confidence.

In closing, I asked ChatGPT to tell me some positive things about TCKs. It focused on the fact that TCK's often become leaders within organizations or their own businesses. Here is what Mr. GPT said. 

They have a cultural diversity that unites differences. The world population is now estimated in excess of 7.3 billion people and the nature of cultural identity is also evolving at a rapid pace. Developed nations have an increasingly multi-cultural society. This creates a number of social challenges, as cultural differences breed variable expectations and misconceptions. Third culture children are therefore ideally placed to lead multi-cultural societies, as they have a greater understanding of these differences and practical experience that can enable them to inspire unity.

They are easy to identify with as leaders. On a similar note, the cultural diversity of third culture kids makes them easier to identify with across a broader demographic of people. This has huge merit in multi-cultural communities, where those with a third culture background can share their experiences and unique insights to connect with individuals on a deeply personal level. While voters tended to elect candidates that shared their background in regions where one culture was dominant, mixed communities tended to select politicians with a more diverse cultural background.

They have the practical skills to communicate with people from various cultures. By their very nature, third culture children tend to have advanced linguistic skills. Not only will they speak their parents’ language, for example, but they are also required to learn the verbiage and dialects of their adopted country. This can even inspire a thirst for knowledge that inspires them to learn more languages, as they embark on a course of higher education and their career. This translates into a practical leadership skill, as TCK’s find it easier to communicate with people of various nationalities and origins whether they are looking to mediate or interact with an international team of employees.

They have an innate understanding of remote communication and its platforms. Not only can third culture kids interact in various languages and dialects, but they are also well-versed in contemporary communication techniques and platforms. With friends and relatives living across numerous continents, they are forced to use instant messenger and video call resources regularly in order to maintain contact while also reducing living costs. Modern communication tools play pivotal roles in driving global businesses and political movements, so those in positions of leadership must have knowledge of how to use them to their fullest potential. 

They are well-suited to managing change. No matter how or where you apply your leadership skills, one of the key requirements is that you are able to effectively manage change. This is something that comes naturally to third culture kids, who at some point in their infancy are forced to relocate and adapt to a new and entirely unfamiliar cultural environment. This creates a stronger and more robust mental focus, which enables individuals to cope better with change and empower others to do the same. As leaders, this demographic is able to empathize with the negative impacts of change and manage these in a way that helps those who are struggling. 

They are constantly seeking knowledge and understanding. In some respects, TCK’s are rootless. This is not necessarily a negative thing, however, as the lack of a fixed cultural identity tends to encourage curiosity and empowers individuals to seek out their own sense of belonging. As a result of this, third culture children are constantly seeking out knowledge and understanding, as they look to carve their own unique place in the world. This translates well into leadership, where those with the responsibility for others must embark on a path of relentless self-improvement and constant learning. 

They are likely to have grown up with a strong business background. Children born to powerful parents in the worlds of business and commerce are among the most likely to become third culture kids. An estimated 63% f this demographic lived overseas for a period of 10 years or more, while the majority have also resided in more than two nations. As a result of this, third culture children grow up with an in-depth understanding of business and its demands, making them ideally equipped to evolve into a wide diversity of leadership roles during adulthood.

There you have it. ChatGPT agrees with me. TCK/MK’s have a unique life. That life presents them with significant challenges and emotional hurdles. However, it also can be used by God to forge awesome Christ Followers and Cultural Leaders. The bottom line is the same as anyone. If we let Jesus have our joys and sorrows, He will bless them both. He will use them to help us and in turn help others through us. 

My hope in these four articles is you can get some insight into what we parents deal with in our children. It is hard. It is painful. We suffer loss. Right now, Patience and Mercy are so alone and feel so lonely. We just arrived on a new continent. It is their third one to live on. They do not have friends and the five hour time difference makes communication with family and friends in States or Bolivia difficult. It is hard for mom and dad to see sad kids. 

I hope you share this with your mission committees and teams. Share it with those in charge of your mission programs. Pass it along to missionaries and agencies. Maybe it can give some direction of ministry. 

Lastly, look for ways to tangibly encourage MK's. Let them know you at least want to understand their path. Seek to bless them, encourage them, pray for them.

Leia Mais…

Saturday, April 15, 2023

TCK 3 by the TCK'S



This is the latest family photo we have. Interesting thing, since this article is on topic. Joy's husband is an MK. Hope just got engaged this week...to...you guessed it, an MK. The research shows MK's relate to MK's more than to any cultural connection. Here is little field data to support that. 

This blog is written by my children. I asked them to send me five positive things and five negative things about growing up as a TCK/MK. I compiled them because of overlap and did a little editing to make different sentences from different kids flow together. It might seem a little 'chunky' to read because as much as possible I just did a copy/paste.

It was interesting to read their responses because they did it without collaborating with each other or me. There are more than five benefits listed because they did not have total overlap. On the plus side, there was almost total overlap on the negatives and we did not hit the five mark. I guess I should feel good about that. 

It is funny how this hit me. I wrote a message to the kids telling them thank you and I was proud of them. I knew life was tough, and I literally started to cry. I know we did/do what God called us to do. I know every one of them tell me the good far outweighs the bad. However, so often I feel like my calling hurt them. I think it is just evil forces trying to discourage. That is one reason I wrote these blogs. Encourage your missionaries! 

Benefits of growing up as a TCK/MK.

Seeing the faith of my parents. One of the biggest reasons kids walk away from Christianity is because they see hypocrisy in the household. (i.e “If God is sooo real to my parents, how come my dad is a jerk?”). Growing up as a missionary I saw that my parents took their faith with utmost seriousness. They truly believe having a good life isn’t why we’re here. They willingly and happily gave it all up to serve others. Seeing that God was legitimate to them, and they would do anything for Him, made me look deeper into my own faith. Turns out God is pretty great! 

Growing up bilingual. Who doesn’t want to be able to speak multiple languages? It looks cool at parties, gets the ladies, and has opened doors within my career that would otherwise be closed. As an adult now I learned to be more grateful and able to speak Spanish to those who don’t speak English. I will often translate for people in public places just because I remember what it was like to not speak the language. These people are not ignorant. They just don’t need English in their home. I feel like it helps me show love. I currently disciple a couple of teenagers from work in Spanish. I only know to speak Spanish, but hearing Chumani and Quechua kinda tie back into my first benefit of having a large worldview. Speaking Spanish really has benefited my life in so many crazy awesome ways. It has been one of the best skills in my life.

Possessing a bigger worldview than one country gives you. I have a deep understanding that the USA is not the only country in the world. Most people somehow don’t realize this. I’ve recognized that the North American way of living is not the only way, and frequently not the best way. Additionally, North American policies don’t impact other countries as much as many people believe. Don’t get me wrong, there is a trickle down effect for major decisions, but turns out the day to day operations of South American residents is not really affected at all by the sitting Speaker of the House. For me just the experience of living among people who have different cultures was awesome. I did not realize it until I became immersed in a single culture mindset of my friends. I can understand things differently. It also allowed me a bigger worldview. There’s a different way to see everything and being a TCK made that so much easier. As a TCK I have a broader understanding of how some countries outside of the US do things and know their way is not wrong, our way is not right. They are simply different. As a MK, I met people from different cultures, not just the two ones of my own life. I knew missionaries from six countries in my teenage years. I’m confident I could get a free night or two in Canada, Egypt, Paris, South Korea, Ghana, Bolivia, Mexico, South Africa, Germany, or Switzerland. Plus all over the USA. It’s always good to have a global network of friends. I am even a dual citizen. I am a Bolivian American (dual citizenship) living in Ghana. That is worth some street cred! It’s crazy sometimes to meet people who have never been to other countries, let alone lived in one. I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

Growing up doing awesome things. How many people get to carve/burn a canoe out of a 40 ft tree, take said canoe 3 days down the Amazon River, hike into the jungle, and make contact with an unreached people group? How about holding a flashlight during an emergency surgery and translating for the doctors? What about flying an airplane the size of a Volkswagen? How about going spelunking in some super sketchy places that tourists would never go? Being a TCK also allowed me to have experiences that no one my age even dreamed about.  It’s so great to watch an adventure movie with my friends now where the protagonist is making a path through the jungle, or someone is standing on a mountaintop, or riding in a bus with a goat, and getting to think: “Hey, I’ve done that!” It is also cool to be able to travel a lot. I had more passport stamps before I turned 10 than most people will ever have. In my two year old passport right now there are 24 stamps in it. I learned so many skills my USA friends never did, especially girls. I know how to wire electricity, put in a water heater, lay bricks, pull teeth and build a house. 

Getting to see God work and be a part of it. You get to see and experience the frontlines of Christianity and watch God change lives. The sheer joy of it is indescribable. Just last month we were in a village who had no water. The women and children walked fourteen, yes, fourteen miles a day round trip to get water. We were there when the ministry we worked with opened up a faucet in the village center and clean water came out in the name of Jesus. Grown men and women had tears in their eyes. I can truly sat it helped strengthen my faith being on the mission field most of my life. I got to see in real time what the money supporters gave us would do to expand the kingdom. I experienced the giving and receiving and it is neat. There’s a difference between living with those in need vs hearing about those in need. I got to experience that difference. I understand how God loves them and meets their physical and spiritual needs through missionaries. Do you know I was five years old the first time I explained the gospel to someone! I grew up sharing the gospel. My dad told us by the time we were 15 we led more people to Christ than most Christians ever will. I met people in desperate need and watched God meet their needs through me. I have translated during surgery and pulled teeth. In the name of Jesus we bathed children, brushed hair with lice in it, fed thousands, drilled wells and built homes. We helped orphans and shared Jesus with drug addicts and prisoners. Who gets to do that? As a MK, I knew people skills on a whole new level. I met people and tribes that most if not all of my friends of never heard of. I was able to be hands on with helping build the kingdom of God. Even though there are a lot of scary and stressful things that come with being an MK I would never ever take it back. God is good! He has shown me first hand his amazing works! I have been a part of building His Kingdom in so many different ways!! I have seen His mercy, His love, His peace, His joy! I am beyond blessed to have been a missionary kid.

It enables me to adapt to changing circumstances. I think this is a big one for me. My coworkers at the office can get so easily stressed out at the smallest new variable or unforeseen circumstance. I believe my being a TCK made me so flexible I can have a “go with the flow was long as you have a goal” attitude that mom taught us. It doesn’t matter what is going on around you, as a TCK you will be able to adjust, flex, and go with it in a way most stable people cannot. Dad always told short term teams it was important for them to be flexible and not stress over plans changing. That is just part of our lives because plans always changed in a country with poor infrastructure and political instability. It has giving me a since of peace with whatever I have. I can rejoice in little and lot. I have learned to use anything and everything that I have to help others.  I just feel way more well rounded and educated overall. There’s something about being bilingual and bicultural that I will never be able to explain, but it has benefited my life so incredibly

Being a MK strengthened my family. Dad says many times the opposite happens, but in our case, MK life drew us closer. We had each other’s back since no one else did. We did ministry together and in doing that it was US serving THEM. In the market, the only other white skin visible among ten thousand people was my brother. It is not racist. I am just saying the identity we shared in our family and ethnicity strengthened us. We were brothers/sisters in arms, in ministry, in unity, and spiritually. This is stronger now as adults. I didn’t really have many friends growing up, and so I made them with my family. My siblings have always been some of the dearest and most intense friendships I’ve ever had. Even now as adults I’m still reaping the benefits of being friends with my siblings. I have great relationships with all the boys, calling Jake and Jessie just to talk all the time, spending afternoons and double dates with Ben and Kara, playing video games with Caleb…but the girls in particular warm my heart. Hope and I doing wedding planning together and I’m currently spending tons of money putting together her bridal shower and loving every minute of it. Joy will come over with her baby and just sit on my couch for hours while we talk and enjoy each other, and Coy is in both of Tim’s dnd groups. Patience and I text all the time and laugh about dumb teen drama, funny embarrassing stories and even have tearful conversations over the phone. Mercy and I will always have a special type of twin bond that’s unique to us. She is like my baby girl. My sweetheart. I see so much of myself in her, and before I became a mother myself I don’t think I’d ever been prouder of a small (although she’s not so small anymore) human. My familial relationships mean so much more to me now because of everything that we as a family went through together

Negatives of growing up as a TCK/MK

It was difficult to make or maintain friendships. I’ve been blessed and welcomed in by an awesome community of believers. But all my closest friends have been a friend group for 20+ years. They grew up together; I didn’t. As close as we all are, I wasn’t at their proms, and I wasn’t in their weddings. Everyone I grew up with live everywhere but where I am now. I have little to no lifelong friends. Most, if not all, of the friends I have made are new or recent friendships. It’s because I moved so often that I did not have time to create bonds with people, and so all my friendships were shallow or ended too soon. On the mission field, this is what happens with your missionary friends. Your home assignments, furloughs, or whatever you want to call them overlap. My family lived in Bolivia and I became best friends with another missionary girl from the States. We took our home assignment and went to the USA for nine months of traveling to visit churches and donors plus down time. Two weeks before we returned, her family went to the States for their one year furlough. It ended up being a year and a half due to family circumstances. So, we were best friends and then did not see each other for over two years. A year after she returned, we went to the States for six months since had been three years on the field. Even though we were MK’s together, life kept us apart a large amount of time. In the States, no one wants to be our friend. Even if we are going to live there nine months, everyone knows, in my dad’s words, “This friendship has a short shelf life. It isn’t worth my investment.” We were in Bolivia for almost four years and returned for the first time to our home church. We lived in our own house! At our home church where my dad had been the pastor, no one in the youth group wanted to be our friend. We were there for one year, and not once did I get invited to an event. This is probably the biggest emotional negative of TCK. You grow up without real friends because they are stationary and you are not. One of my brothers summed it up once. He said, “My life is nothing more than one goodbye after another. Always having to say goodbye to someone sucks.” It’s hard to fit in because you are always different than everyone else you met. The lack of friends and loneliness is hard. Although I had my siblings, sometimes it felt like they were all I had..and in many ways they were. I often would see groups of other teens hanging out and laughing together and I’d instantly be insecure and sad. I felt like I’d never had that, and in many ways I never did.

As a TCK who returned to my home country, I felt behind. Most of my peers at this time had been driving and working for years. Also, several peers, (my wife included), graduated high school with their AA or at least college credits. I was brand new to everything and felt like I was trying to catch up to everyone else. This is a rule with few exceptions: every single TCK I know say the hardest year of their life was the first year off the field. It’s your passport country, so you should be in the know, but you’re not. The simple things are overwhelming and hard. I almost cried the first time I filled up my gas tank. I didn’t know how the pump worked. I went into the 7-11 twice and told the attendant it wasn’t working. The third time they yelled at me. I walked out and fiddled with it for several more minutes before someone came over to help, they probably thought I was high as a kite. (Side note: I’m not an idiot). 700 chip options at the grocery store don’t help.

You always feel like the outsider. When I was in the USA, I was an outsider. When I was in Bolivia, I was an outsider. Not belonging anywhere is an awful feeling as a kid/teenager. It really wasn’t until I was 22+ that I felt at home in the USA. Even now, I’m fully aware that my childhood experiences were vastly different than most people. When I moved back to the USA, I did not know how to fit in to the group. I did not know how to talk to people. I did not know perceptions or norms. This is hard enough to navigate in your own culture as you go through puberty, but to feel different and to actually be different is harsh. Even though my childhood was much more exciting than most of my friends, there’s an isolation in the experience. I can’t relate to my friends talking about childhood memories or camp experiences because I never got them. I do not relate to their history, nor do they understand mine. Sometimes you feel stupid for not knowing things. Normal, everyday things need to be interpreted to you. My best friend had to show me how to use a vending machine, and my fiancé walked me through how to use a chip reader at a self checkout. No matter how much you try to teach yourself, there is always something you don’t understand. Here is my perspective. “I am lonely.” That is how I feel a lot of the time. There are so many times where you will just feel lonely. Not for any one reason…just a feeling that will randomly come. I do not have a sense of “home”. Where is my home? As a MK, I learned and worry about things that my friends don’t even think about. Do we have enough money? Do I really need this many things?  How fast and effective can I be to defend myself I if someone tries to take me? These are things I learned about at a really young age. I didn’t even realize most, if not all of my friends don’t even think about it. They never thought about avoiding a kidnapping. Dad taught us how to. We are different. It’s hard for me to make friends sometimes now because I am still living in the “dive deep and dive quick” mindset and adults aren’t as receptive to that as teens and kids are. I’m labeled an “over sharer” a lot and people don’t understand why I’m so open so quickly on things. On top of that, my life experiences have made me different than your typical 23 year old and It’s hard to feel so different all the time. Making connections with people is definitely a lot harder on me. I don’t feel like I was ever really just a teenager. I feel like I never really got to just go out with my friends at night and hang out for hours on end, especially once Josh and David moved out (I lost my bodyguards) and it was way more dangerous for me to be out. 

It stinks being so far away from people you love. I really see this in my parents as they cry from time to time because of missing life with my siblings in the States. They will just say, “I am okay, just sad today. I miss your siblings. Today was a holiday and we weren’t there.” That is the M view. The MK view is the same. I want to be with my brothers and sisters. I want to be with my nieces and nephews. I want to babysit and play with them. I want us to do things together. Talking on the phone helps and hurts. Also, it cost so much money to travel, it doesn’t make sense for us to go back. Every time one of my siblings stays behind it hurts. Now that I live in the States, I hate being away from my parents. It is hard to try and schedule a chat so they can see their grandkids, only to have the internet go out in their home. I want to just call them and I can’t. I think this is one of the greatest sacrifices missionary’s make. Although there as SO MANY things that you can experience that most people can’t…there’s also so many things that you miss out on wherever you aren’t there. When I was in Bolivia, I saw my friends and family get together in the States without me and do amazing things. When I’m in the USA, I see my friends get together in Bolivia without me and do amazing things. It feels like you are missing out on something almost all the time. I live with a sense of FOMO. Traveling all over can really get stressful. Packing and going over and over again can take it’s toll on you. I have had a really hard time being away from Bolivia now that I’m an adult. I spent my whole life with that as my home and once I became an adult I had to leave it behind. I feel like it’s a lot different than leaving your hometown to go to college. I left everything. The culture, the people, the environment, the climate…it is all so different and I won’t ever have it again. It’s a really hard part of growing up…knowing I’ll never go back.

There you have it. Eyewitness and firsthand testimony of some of the good, bad and ugly of life as a TCK/MK.

Leia Mais…

Monday, April 10, 2023



(continued from previous blog)

    We just celebrated Easter. Patience talked over lunch and said, “You know something? This is the third Easter celebrated on a different continent in three years. Three years ago we were in North America for Easter. Last year we celebrated in South America, in Bolivia. Today we are in Tamale, Northern Ghana in Africa. Three Easters. Three Continents. Three Years.”

    We went to Immigration for visa work a couple of weeks ago and Mercy said, “This is my third passport since I was born and I have 22 visa stamps in it.” Patience’s passport is two years old and she has 24.

    Welcome to the life of a Third Culture Kid. I mentioned last time they had a unique life. 

    When the girls were preschool age, I walked in on them playing pretend. They turned over a clothes basket to be their countertop. Mercy sat on one side and first Patience, then Joy walked up to the other. They slid a folded sheet of paper across the ‘counter’. Mercy picked it up, opened it and looked at it. She then looked at them, and it once more. She mumbled a question and they mumbled an answer. She sighed as if she hated her job, picked up her stamp off her ‘desk’ and stamped it, then casually slid it back and said, “Next”. 

    “What are you doing?” I asked. 

    “Playing passport.” They answered. Mercy was three. 

    I took Joy with me on a trip to visit other missionaries when she was 11. We checked out of our hotel in downtown Mexico city. I looked at her and said. “Okay. You are in charge. Get us home. I will not say a word unless you ask me.” 

    She hailed a taxi and bargained over the price. We went to the airport. She looked and found the right place and checked us in. After check in, we had to take a train to the international terminal. To board the train we showed an officer our passports and boarding passes. At the international terminal we went through immigration, turned in our tax forms, and made it to our gate. 

    She did it all. It was also all in Spanish since we were in Mexico. I did not say a single word until we sat down at our gate. Remember, she was 11. 

    TCK’s develop different skillsets than other children. Patience and Mercy will be trilingual and know how to read Arabic. I remember when Ben returned to the States. He could do mechanic work and built a dugout canoe in the Amazon, but did not know how to use a credit card. 

    For a kid, you just feel awkward and silly not knowing how to do something which is so much a part of normal life. Normal if you are Blue. Ben is Green. He was 18 years old and never saw a credit for debit card. He felt like a moron.

    Our kids have been over 17,000’ high on a mountain peak, swam in the Amazon jungle, and shared Christ in sub-Saharan villages, but have never been part of a youth club or organization. Wild monkeys jumped from trees onto their shoulders, but they never had a job or drove a car. They speak multiple languages but do not understand non-verbal cues in their passport country.

    They are Green. 

    Blue people (all color people) can be brutal to Non-Blue people. This is one of the reasons it is difficult to be a TCK. You find yourself, during puberty when all of life is topsy-turvy, without anyone who understands you. 

    I once joked about my two sons, David and Joshua. “They are Korean Americans, with Jewish names who grew up in Bolivia speaking Spanish. No need for therapy there.”

    TCK’s struggle with a sense of identity. This is just one of the issues they face which puts a little more pressure on them than normal kiddos. I will talk some about that in my next blog.

Leia Mais…

Friday, April 7, 2023


 I thought I would take a few blogs to chat with you about TCK’s. TCK is the shortcut for the phrase, Third Culture Kids. It refers to children who live and grow up in a country other than their passport country. Virtually all missionary kids are TCK.

The best way to explain it is with color. Imagine a child from the land of Blue. All of the people are blue and all of the systems are designed for Blue Life. His church, relatives, and friends are Blue. 

His parents are called to the mission field. They leave to the land of Yellow. It is so strange. The people are Yellow. The government and social systems are Yellow. Church is full of Yellow people singing songs about a Yellow person’s understanding of the Bible. The boy feels so lonely and different. He doesn’t speak Yellow. Life is simply upside down. 

They live there for a while and he begins to adapt. Over a period of time, he looks in the mirror and notices something which shocks him. He is not Blue any more! He isn’t Yellow either. His Blueness combined with the new found Yellowness. He is Green. He is no longer a Blue person in the land of Yellow. He assimilated a lot of Yellow and is now Green. 

Either he grows up, or his parents move back, either way he finds himself back in his passport country of Blue. You would think he would love it. Finally! The Blue Boy is home in his Blue world! How exciting. 

It isn’t. You see, he isn’t Blue anymore. The Yellow which he assimilated is permanently a part of his soul. He doesn’t think like a Blue. He doesn’t have a Blue worldview. He isn’t Yellow. 

He is both.

He is neither. 

Blue people consider him Yellow. 

Yellow people consider him Blue. 

He doesn’t know what to think. 

That is a TCK. 

It is a hard life. 

I know a lot about it, because 10 of my 11 kids lived as TCK.

As a Green Person with Green Children, I know how hard it is for me. It is even more difficult for them. 

Pray for the children of your missionaries. They have a unique life with specific challenges along with the normal growing up stuff. 

Leia Mais…

Monday, April 3, 2023

America or Africa...Which Church Is Better?


Church service here is different from that in the good ol’ USA. I thought about it and figured I would jot down some things. 

Start time. 

It depends on which service you attend. Some churches try to begin in the ballpark of the same time each week. Others just wait until a critical mass arrives. I planned on speaking at a church and asked three people, one of them an elder and the other the pastor, what time it started. No one knew.  Compare this to the countdown clocks you guys have. Your church will begin in 5, 4, 3, 2, “All Hail The Power….

Length of the service. 

This is drastically different. It is anywhere from two to four hours. It ends when everything is done. The churches do not even bother advertising some type of ending, like the States. You will say, “Our service is from 10:15 until 11:30. Here we say, “It starts in the morning sometime in the vicinity of 10 and ends a few hours later. 


I should say the lack thereof. In the US, we try to balance the form vs function aspect. You have comfy chairs, Heating and Air Conditioning, pleasant carpet, fresh painted walls, nice lights including stage lights, etc. Here we have a place to meet. Most churches in the city have plastic chairs. Outside in villages they might have plastic chairs, and for sure some logs to sit on. No padding. No comfort. The only thing in mind is function. It is hot. Very hot. No air flow. Floor is tile or dirt and the walls were painted once, but that might have been many years ago. The lighting system is a bulb here and a bulb there. 

Sound System.

Tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on sound systems in the States. When we built our auditorium in Virginia, the sound tech company brought out computers and microphones and mapped the bouncing of the sound waves. Speakers placed in exact locations to optimize sound. Here, speakers are put at the front and turned up all the way. The speaker itself blew in 2003 and has been rattling away ever since. The sound mix is simple. Turn everything, every microphone and every instrument up all the way. Let the listener sort it out. 


Drums. More drums. Loud drums. Soft drums. Cymbals. Guitar. Drums. Keyboard. Drums.. Flute. Drums. We love drums. The music service is also extremely upbeat for the most part.  The worship leader dances, others people dance, people form a dance line and walk through thee church. Tambourines are played and towels waved in the air. We start with pre-game worship. There is a 10-15 minute worship time and then church begins. Prayer time is loud and long with faith declarations and Holy Spirit being called down, spiritual truths declared and spiritual forces bound. Music continues during the prayer. I went to a service that started with a thirty minute prayer time. After pre-worship, prayer, worship, it is testimony time. Testimonies can be in word, song and dance. We then have an official ‘Time to Dance’ and the worship team sings and the church dances. Sometimes, like what just happened in our church, the worship leader will declare it is time for a ‘Second Worship’. It is like second breakfast. The first one just whetted your appetite. Worship was going so well, we just added thirty minutes more to it.  Giving time is next and everyone takes turns walking/dancing to the front of the church and putting, or pretending to put, their offering in the basket.  Now it is sermon time. Just like in America, this varies greatly due to the ability, giftedness and training of the pastor. It is also one of the reasons we are here, to try and make this time better and Bible based. Some pastors are good speakers but little training. Others are not either. A select few, very few, are both. 

So, which is better? 

There are pros/cons to both. The efficient American in me wants and likes a well run programmed with time allocations given and followed. I like to know when church will end so I can plan my other activities. However, I have to say, I like the free spirited worship better. It is nice to not have time constraints. It is good to just do what needs to be done. After all, isn’t worship, encountering God, fellowship, testimonies and corporate teaching what we are here for? I don’t like the way in America we cram everything into an hour and fifteen minutes. God do it now or don’t do it. I like how here, we have structure, but it is our servant and not our master. So, I vote African Worship for the win.. 

Leia Mais…

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Trust Me


One of the things about living in a developing country is travel. 

Roads can be non-existent, rough, impassable if it rains, or just dangerous. Travel by air is typically in airplanes discontinued long ago by larger airlines. My ministry in Ghana took a turn I did not expect and I am being asked to preach and teach in other cities around the country. 

This means I have to fly to get there. There are two options, one of which is not an option in reality due to the horrible customer service and scary planes. So, I fly with African World Airlines. All of their planes are the same. They have twenty rows with two seats on one side, an aisle and one seat on the other. They park on the tarmac and you walk, or if you are in the largest airport in Ghana, take a people mover to it. 

I recently flew. We took the people mover. On arrival everyone got off and walked to the only entrance to the plane, the stairs at the front. They were putting fuel in the next plane to us and the smell of it was heavy in the air. After five minutes of waiting in a human blob at the bottom of the stairs, they put us back on the bus. It drove to a spot 100’ or so away and parked with us on it. They gave no explanation. I watched. The reason they moved us was the same reason I smelled the fuel. There was a spill. I guess they figured the 103 degree heat would evaporate it soon enough. So, after someone subjectively determined risk of explosion was gone, they let us board. 

I started this blog in midair. There is duct tape on the seat in front of me. The seat beside me has 1/2 of the pouch on the back of the chair ripped off and dangling against the leg of the woman in the row. My armrest is broken. We looked around and Patience said, “This is the only time I ever thought we really should turn our phones off or it might cause a problem.” 

Here is the thing. I do not know the pilots. I do not know the maintenance people. Yet, I am in midair at 20,000 feet going two hundred miles an hour. Why? I trust the mathematics of aerodynamics. I trust the pilots have the knowledge and skill set necessary. As run down as the plane looks, I have faith in the governmental aircraft oversight and maintenance requirements. I simply believe I can get on this beat up old plane and in less than an hour be in my home city. 

If we do this, and we all do it every day, if we blindly trust in human systems and engineering, why do we have such a problem trusting God?

Why is it I will trust math I do not know, yet doubt my Savior Who I do know?

Why do I believe the pilots have the necessary skills to do their calling, but God won’t give me the ability or gifts I need to do His?

I believe the main reason most Christians do not attempt great things for God is we do not trust Him. It is not we do not believe in ourselves. It isn’t about us. We do not believe God is big enough, strong enough, powerful enough or wise enough to use someone like me. I cannot do it, send Aaron. 

It is time to get in the plane. God wants to take you somewhere incredible to do things unbelievable. Just trust Him and go.

Leia Mais…