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Children's advocate

Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14

Jesus desires children to be nurtured with His love. Children are an important part of a mission assignment and need to be cared for along with their parents.

What is a children’s advocate?

A children’s advocate is an adult on the MST who looks out for the needs and well-being of the missionaries’ children. Depending on the family size and ages of the children, you may want to consider having more than one person in this role. As the children’s advocate, you do not provide all the care given to the children but arrange for others to participate with you in seeing that the children's needs are addressed and they feel cared for.

When older children or teens are part of the missionary family, you might consider having a peer be a part of the MST. He or she can serve as a link to the youth group, Sunday school classes, and other youth the same age.

What is a TCK?

A TCK, or third culture kid, is “an individual who, having spent a significant part of the developmental years in a culture other than the parents’ culture, develops a sense of relationship to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any” (David C. Pollock). Please feel free to contact the TCK Coach at EMM as desired.

Benefits of having a children’s advocate
  1. The children will feel they are an important part of the mission assignment.
  2. Sometimes children will more readily open up to an adult other than a parent, especially if they are having struggles with being on assignment.
  3. Children will feel cared for and loved.
  4. If a peer is on the MST, the children will have friendships already established when they return for home leave or completion of assignment.
  5. Children in the sending community can be coached on how to relate to the missionary child when he or she returns.
  6. Having a peer on the team encourages children to be involved in missions through prayer and communication.

Suggestions for ways to bless children

Before the missionary family leaves for assignment:
  • Be available to help the children process the move.
  • Help them find out about the country where they will live.
  • Connect them with peers in the congregation.
  • Pray specifically for the children during this transition time.
  • If the destination is far away, prepare wrapped gifts for the children to open during the long trip.
  • Find out their interests and small things they like that you can send in packages to them (specific candy, books, music, toys, etc.).
  • Provide a subscription to magazines they are interested in.
While the missionary family is on assignment:
  • Pray for the children.
  • Stay in close contact during the first few months to help them through the transition.
  • Continue to email or write to the children; stay in touch throughout the whole assignment.
  • Send birthday cards, care packages, etc.
  • Send audio/video recordings of friends or children’s/youth events, etc.
  • If possible, have someone visit the family while they are on assignment and then communicate back to the congregation.
  • Be a resource for parents as they raise their children.
As the missionary family returns from assignment:
  • Help the children process the return to the U.S. (before they actually come).
  • Find out any concerns they have, and help to address them as much as possible.
  • Pray for them.
  • Be available to listen and talk when they return.
  • Help them shop for clothes.
  • Help parents look at educational options.
  • If a teenager is coming back for college without his or her parents: arrange to meet him or her at the airport; find a “home away from home” for college breaks; give a gift subscription to the teen magazine “Among Worlds;” send email messages, cards, packages, etc.

Home school adviser

Many missionaries home school their children. Often they do so without the luxury of the home school support networks that exist in the U.S. Parents may have no background in teaching, but choose to home school because of the nature and location of their assignment. Your MST may want to consider including a home school adviser role on the MST. This person could be an experienced home school parent, or perhaps a professional or retired teacher who is available to advise the missionaries on home schooling issues.