A Christian heritage is a huge factor in mish kids (missionary kids aka children of missionaries) staying on track. Growing up surrounded by men and women of faith can have a positive impact on the spiritual growth of mish kids.
I remember how much I learned from two Godly men who visited our home in the fall of 1958 when I was a TEAM mish kid in Pakistan. Dr. David H. Johnson was the General Director of TEAM in those years, and he plus TEAM Board member Carl Gundersen and his wife all visited our home. We took them to Peshawar and the Khyber Pass. While Dr. Johnson was walking around looking at sites or riding in the car with us, he would pray spontaneously, no matter where we were or what we were doing. I remember he visited us in the winter, so we were all bundled up against the cold in the car because there was no heater in the back where the kids rode. All of a sudden, Dr. Johnson started praying, and I realized I still had my hat on. I whipped it off my head out of respect and felt the cold of the air, but also felt the warmth of a Godly man who was talking to his friend in heaven. As a boy, I thought it was cool that Dr. Johnson could talk to my Dad one minute, and then the next minute be talking to God. He’d take a breath and be back in the conversation with my Dad. I learned a lot about how to pray from Dr. Johnson.
During that same visit, Dr. Johnson and the Gundersens joined us for our evening family devotions. My mom played the piano, and that winter she led us in singing through the Swedish Covenant Hymnal from hymn number one all the way to the final song on page 428. We didn’t know all the hymns, but we knew many – and I still do, thanks to my mom. When it came time for Bible reading around the fireplace, Mr. Gundersen said, “Which would you like to hear? Ephesians? Galatians? Or Philippians?” We chose Ephesians. He then quoted the whole book. It was like Paul was sitting there telling us his story. It was real. It was alive. It was impressive! It helped me to stay committed to memorizing scripture. I can’t do the whole of any book now, but I do know much scripture today because of those examples in my mish kid days. I’m grateful for Godly men like Dr. Johnson and Mr. Gundersen who led TEAM and visited families “out there”. I’m grateful for the Godly example my parents set for us kids. And I’m grateful for the chance my wife and I had to impact our own mish kid, who is now a missionary with mish kids of his own!
-Written by Dave Davis, TEAM Placement Coordinator, former missionary kid and missionary in South Asia