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Raising Resilient MKs

Raising Resilient MKs:

Resources for Caregivers,

Parents, and Teachers

Edited by Joyce M. Bowers


Association of Christian Schools International

Cover design by David Tieszen

Interior design by Elizabeth G. Stout

Published by the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI),

P.O. Box 65130, Colorado Springs, CO 80962

Copyright © 1998 by Association of Christian Schools International

Printed in the United States of America.

Reproduction of chapters from this book or the entire book in any manner for use in education and training, not for commercial sale, is permitted, except as noted on page 53.

Those downloading have permission to forward the downloaded files (unchanged and without charge) to others who would benefit from the content.

Please do NOT post this book anywhere else on the Internet.


Margie Bowers

My sister-in-love




Forward—Robertson McQuilkin xi

Preface—Joyce M. Bowers xiii

I: Historical Perspective

1. Looking Back, Pressing Forward: The Legacy of the

ICMKs—Joyce M. Bowers 2

2. ICMKs in Perspective: Deacons for the 21st Century—

Ted Ward 11

II: MKs, TCKs, and the Body of Christ

Resolutions from ICMK Nairobi 20

Discipleship and Nurture

3. Discipleship: The Kingdom Perspective—

David C. Pollock 21

4. Developing a Flow of Care—David C. Pollock 33

III: Understanding MKs and TCKs

Resolutions from ICMK Nairobi 39

Understanding the MK as a Third-Culture Kid

5. Being a Third-Culture Kid: A Profile—

David C. Pollock 40

6. I Am Green—Ruth Goring 50

7. The Real Value of Growing Up Overseas—

Michael G. Loftis 54

8. The MK’s Advantage: Three Cultural Contexts—

Ted Ward 59


9. Transitions and the TCK—Jean M. Larson 71

10. Preparing Children for Missionary Life—

Sandra D. Wright with Paul E. Nelson 85

11. Adventurer, Observer, Member: Helping MKs

Appreciate Local Culture—Sally Jane Norton 95

12. The Re-Entry Task—David C. Pollock 103

13. Sudden Removal from the Field—John Powell 113

College and Career

14. Preparing Our MKs for College—Beth Wyse 124

15. Making Career Choices—David L. Wickstrom 134

16. Career Developments: Woodstock Class of 1968—

Steve Van Rooy 145

Adult MKs

17. A TCP String of Five Pearls—William D. Taylor 150

18. Emotional and Behavorial Patterns of Adult MKS—

David L. Wickstrom 159

19. Bruising: When Things Go Wrong—

David L. Wickstrom 170

IV: Resilient Families

Resolutions from ICMK Nairobi 185

Families and Parenting

20. Raising Resilient MKs—Diane Morris 187

21. Family Dynamics That Affect the MK—

John Powell 197

22. The Importance of Fathers in MK Development—

David L. Wickstrom 204

Healthy Development

23. Preschool Curriculum: Structure and Wonder—

Diane Lilleberg 214

24. Development: The Twig is Bent—Wayne D. Lance 221

25. Helping Students Develop: Key Concepts—

John R. Powell 240

V: Educational Issues

Resolutions from ICMK Nairobi 250

Overview of MK Education

26. Identifying Issues and Defining Terms—Brian V. Hill 252

27. The Christian School in a Missions Context—

Richard J. Edlin 258

28. Options of MK Education—Joyce M. Bowers 273

29. Making Informed Decisions—Joyce M. Bowers 282

Education Across Cultures

30. Transcultural Education: A Model for Expatriates—

Brian V. Hill 288

31. Foundation Stones of Transcultural Education—

Ollie Gibbs 301

32. Building a Conceptual Framework for Transcultural

Education—Peter and Jan Blackwell 308

Language Learning

33. Nurturing Our Student’s Native Languages—

Anne-Christine Marttinen 319

34. Learning the Rules or Learning the Language?—

Marilyn Pool Andreasson 323

35. Second Language Issues for MKs in National

Schools—Cynthia Storrs 331

Multinational Complexities

36. Multiple Choice in MK Education—

Alan McIlhenny 339

  1. Understanding the Needs of Asian MKs—

Polly Chan 346

Boarding School

38. Boarding: Getting Back to Basics—

Tom and Wendy Ballentyne 360

39. Preparing Children for Boarding School—

Nick and Dora Pauls 365


40. Developing Christian Curriculum: A Complex Task—

Diane Lilleberg 369

41. Choosing a Curriculum—Diane Lilleberg 373

42. A Framework for Culturally Sensitive Curriculum—

Richard J. Edlin 377

MK Schools—Administrative Issues

43. Pre-Field Orientation—Philip M. Renicks 381

44. On-Site Orientation Programs—Bonnie McGill 385

45. Staff Relationships That Work—Roger H. Luce 389

46. Promoting Staff Continuance—David K. Wilcox 402

MK Schools—Staff Issues

47. Effective Parent-Teacher Partnerships—

David C. Pollock 405

48. Relations Between Teachers and Dorm Parents—

Evan and Jewel Evans 412

49. You Are a Protector—David C. Pollock 417

Special Needs

50. Children with Special Needs—Wayne D. Lance 422

VI: Collaboration

Resolutions from ICMK Nairobi 450


51. MK Research: Notes and Observations—

John R. Powell 453

52. Doing Research Together—Ted Ward 466

Regional Organizations and Conferences

  1. Development of Regional Networks—

David K. Wilcox 478

VII: Looking Toward the Future

54. Trends in Missions: Implications for MKs—

Paul E. Nelson 489

55. Trends in Member Care—David C. Pollock 500

56. Facing the Future: Issues in MK Education—

Philip M. Renicks 508


About the Contributors 518


There are significant ad­van­tages of being born into a missionary home. Many outstanding Christian leaders grew up in mission settings.

Jack Layman is a leader in the international Christian school move­ment and long-time headmaster at Ben Lippen School, which has provided secondary education for generations of missionary children. After over­seeing the education of hundreds of MKs, and conducting statistical and evaluative studies, Jack Layman concluded that, taken as a whole, children of missionaries are ahead of their monocultural American counterparts academically, spiritually, and even socially. Most readers of this book would concur that opportunities given to missionary children for cross-cultural learning and direct partic­ipation in the spread of the gospel are great privi­leges, which far outweigh any difficulties involved.

However, there are also hazards, as both critics and friends of the missionary enterprise point out. Not all MKs thrive. This volume is designed to shrink that number and increase the proportion of MKs who do flourish because of their heritage.

Joyce Bowers has compiled a truly encyclopedic reference library in one volume, treating every aspect of missionary children’s exper­ience. For many it’s a long-awaited resource:

 Missionary parents should find it invaluable; it will impact the missions movement at its most critical—and vulnerable—point.

 Caretakers and educators of missionary children will find their concerns addressed in detail in a major portion of this volume.

 Adult MKs will find resources for understanding, evaluating, and responding to their own heritage.

With more than forty authors, both theoreticians and practitioners, you can expect a wealth of experience and research data. But with so many contributors, there are some things you should not expect:

 Don’t expect all the essays to be of equal excellence. The quality is uneven.

 Don’t expect all the authors to agree. One of the contributions of the book is to present varying, even opposing, viewpoints.

 Don’t expect all theories or interpretations—even all “data”—to be equally convincing or meet with your approval.

If you are like me, some analyses will frustrate you and some proposed solutions dismay you. But we grow as we are motivated to examine a variety of ideas and sort out what is valid and valuable in particular settings. For example, I would prefer more attention given to a broader frame of reference and less treatment of “the MK” as a single category with predictable characteristics.

My theory is that the common-denominator MK status is less formative than the particulars of each home, each culture, and the response of each child to his or her circumstances. On the other hand, I agree that bi-culturalism is a major factor in the formation of a person. We all have the option of developing our own approach, choosing what we will from the large variety of resources provided here.

The editor and publishers have reached their goal in providing the first of its kind, a unique contribution to the cause of world missions: a plethora of resources on how to raise resilient MKs.

Robertson McQuilkin

Executive Director, Evangelical Missiological Society 1994-97


For the past ten years, I have worked with missionary personnel through the Division for Global Mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. My responsibility for family and children’s concerns of missionaries included discussions with missionary candidates, whether parents, teachers, or house­parents. I always wanted to put resources in their hands which they could consult when needed. The two-volume com­pen­dium from ICMK Quito (International Conference on Mission­ary Kids held in January 1987) served that purpose well, but at least one volume is no longer available.

My awareness of MKs also comes from being the wife of one MK, the mother of two, the sister-in-law of four, and the aunt of five more, several of whom are preparing for their own missionary service.

I was aware of many excellent articles on MKs which had been pub­lished during the last decade, especially in Interact and World Report, as well as Evan­gelical Missions Quarterly. Many were based on presen­tations at post-ICMK regional conferences about MK issues, or on new re­search pro­jects. My files of articles on MKs and their education grew thick over the years, but they were not easily shared with others. I wished that “someone out there” would compile a single resource book, similar to Kelly and Michelle O’Donnell’s Help­ing Missionaries Grow (1988) or Kelly O’Don­nell’s Missionary Care (1992), both published by William Carey Library.

The idea that I should consider filling this gap was born in conver­sations at the 1996 Mental Health and Missions conference. John Pow­ell and Dave Wickstrom, who founded that network of profes­sion­als in 1980 and coordinated it through 1997, were extremely supportive.

Not long afterwards, the coordinators for the three ICMKs, Dave Pollock, Paul Nelson, and Phil Renicks, constituted themselves as an editorial board and discussed the possibility of publishing a book which would make resources of the ICMKs and numerous other conferences available to new “generations” of MK caretakers, parents, and educa­tors. Their interest had devel­oped independently from mine, but in God’s providence we were brought together.

It has been a great pleasure to work with these three men, each of whom is fully committed to the growth of God’s kingdom on earth, expressed through training and care for missionaries and their children. Their chapters in the final section, “Looking Toward the Future,” are provocative and challenging.

Dave Pollock, who is the founder and Executive Director of Interaction, Inc., is the ultimate “people person.” His analysis and artic­ulation of TCK issues has been the foundation of much of the work in that field for two decades. The importance of Dave’s contributions is reflected here, as eight chapters were written by him, and a ninth is based directly on his work. Dave’s deep love for people is expressed even in discussions of nitty-gritty details of deadlines, editing, and revisions.

Paul Nelson was Superintendent of Education for Wycliffe Bible Translators when he co-chaired the ICMKs. Now he is President of Mission Training International. Paul has provided guidance and coun­sel during numerous telephone conversations and a few in-person consul­tations. His ability to listen well, identify basic issues, and suggest workable solutions is unsurpassed.

Phil Renicks is Vice President of International Ministries for the Association of Christian Schools International. Hundreds of pages of typed transcripts of ICMK Nairobi workshops came from his office, providing considerable groundwork for this book. ACSI has provided the expertise and facilities for the cover design and publication.

The ICMKs had contributed significantly to my own professional development. It was exciting to pre­sent a workshop on young families at ICMK Quito, when I had completed missionary service in Liberia and was a social worker in foster care. At that time, my direct involve­ment in what is now called “member care” for mission­ary families was still a dream.

The speech was riveting. For me, it put the conference in a pack­age, wrapped it and tied a ribbon on it. I could not have imagined at the time that I would be the one to transcribe and edit that very presentation (Chapter 2) to make it available to a wide audience. Its relevance has only increased during the past eight years.

My tendency to be a collector of papers served me well, as I had original copies of the ICMK Nairobi schedules, workshop descrip­tions, and daily newspaper, which were a great help in working on this book. Eleven chapters are based on presentations made at Nai­robi. With three exceptions (Hill, Edlin, and Gibbs) they have previously been available only on audiotape.

Although Janet Blomberg’s name does not appear as an author, the stamp of her professionalism is evident throughout the book. The high qual­ity of her work as editor of the quarterly Interact (from which fourteen chapters have been reprinted or adapted), her comprehensive knowledge of MK issues, and her advice regarding material for this book, have con­trib­uted much to the quality of the product.

The person who has coached me through an incredible learning process, as I produced more than five hundred camera-ready pages for this book on a desktop computer, is free-lance editor Elizabeth Stout of Evanston, Illinois. In both copy editing and production editing, her attention to detail has given me a whole new definition of that phrase.

On a personal level, I was poignantly reminded of MK issues during the past year while reading letters and diaries of Margie Bowers, my late sister-in-law. The image of the “signet ring” is from one of her diaries. If someone could have placed this book in her hands when she was a student at Wheaton College, she would have read it eagerly and been reassured that her experiences were perfectly normal.

Margie’s life was cut short at age 25 by a hunting knife in the hands of a “repeat offender.” Except for its tragic ending, Margie’s life was so typical of MKs that she would be an unlikely subject for a book. But in her desire to reflect Christ’s love to others, a major theme of this book, she was outstanding. The story of her brother Tom’s spiritual journey, as he wrestled with his need to forgive the man who took his sister’s life, was told in The Christian Reader (June 1993) and Decision Magazine, April 1995.

The following is a short summary of Margie’s short life. The book is dedicated to her memory.

Joyce M. Bowers

Margie Bowers

In Memoriam

Her birth:

April 12, 1952, small mission hospital, Zorzor, Liberia,

a daughter following four sons.

Her evangelist father trumpeted to the world:

“Boy-oh-boy-oh-boy-oh-boy! A girl at last!”

Her life:

Liberia: Totota, Sanoyea, Yanakwelle, Salala, Phebe;

Typical MK life: home schooling, boarding school.

High school at Ben Lippen, Asheville, North Carolina.

Another year in Liberia, then Wheaton College;

Finally, editorial assistant, Moody Press.

Her loves:

Her best friend, God,

In whom she confided more than in any human;

Her parents, her brother Tom;

Family, friends, church;

Music, literature, making things for others.

Her death:

April 29, 1977, Oak Park, Illinois.

Sudden, violent, ugly.

Headlines all over the U.S.;

Controversy about the insanity plea.

Her prayer:

To be a signet ring for God;

To leave the imprint of Christ’s image

when pressed into the circumstances of life.

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