When Missionary Kids Return "Home," Part Two

By Parker McCrary

Often, we look back on our circumstances as missionary kids (MK’s) and we realize how fortunate we were to see the world. By seeing the world, I don’t mean visual landscapes of European vineyards, old architecture engraved into French cities, or the mountains of northern Switzerland. I am describing conversations about the world with locals and exploring the voids of faith amongst them.

WHEN GOD TOOK ME THERE AND BACK

My name is Parker McCrary and I spent the majority of my childhood abroad. I was 6 years old the first time we moved overseas, following my parents as they went into their very beginnings of church planting in Madrid, Spain. What I thought was going to be the longest road at the time turned out to be the most eye-opening experience. Although I knew little about the Great Commission or what it meant to be a missionary, I had been baptized months before we moved and was ready to serve the Lord with my family. Through the years of traveling and having meaningful conversations in the communities around us, I developed a keen understanding of a universal problem: brokenness.

Then we moved back to the states in 2011 for my sophomore year of high school—for good this time. This is when I felt the hardships of staying connected to missions and the global community more than ever.

Feeling disconnected to the mission field was, honestly, something that I had hoped for at the age of 16. I wanted to be normal, go to school with Americans, and enjoy football games on Friday nights. These selfish desires actually put me in a place of confusion and dissatisfaction. I was trying to be someone I wasn’t. I was putting my identity outside of Christ.

WHEN GOD PUT ME BACK TOGETHER

I was broken, but, slowly, God started getting me back in place. I realized that the true connection I was trying to find was right in front of me. All the shadowing of my parents’ work and the integrating into European life had prepared me for my true mission: to become a difference-maker right here in the states. I suddenly saw the entire world as my mission field. God had specifically placed me back “home” so that I could be a witness to the broken people around me.

I began to get more involved in a church plant in Knoxville. I met my beautiful wife-to-be. I started networking so that around every corner I would meet someone with whom to share my faith. And all the hardships of no longer being overseas actually created conversations with Americans about the world and the gospel. God was and is continuing to work through me in surprising ways.

Ephesians 1:11-12 says,

In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

This blessing of inheritance often brings me peace. We as Christians have been given the inheritance of being children of God, of being connected to him forever. In moments where I feel disconnected to the mission field, I remember that it was God in his grace who allowed me to experience that part of my life. That helps me to be thankful and content in the Lord. And when I am thankful and content, it leads me to more eagerly tell my story—and share God’s story—everywhere I go.

If you’re an MK coming back “home” to the states, fight against your feelings of discouragement or defeat. There is much grace ahead of you, and I pray that you may find it. Perhaps like me, you may discover it in conversations—so keep sharing. For it is in the things of God that we grow up and stand on solid ground, wherever we go.