How do we prepare kids when their family goes overseas for Jesus?

My name is Sharon Davis, and together with my husband, Hugh, we have 6 children and 17 grandchildren. Our daughter Susan and her husband Mark have been serving with OMF for about 25 years, first in the Philippines, and recently moving to Thailand to take up International Leadership roles. Their two daughters are now both young adults, and are studying at universities back in Brisbane and Sydney, while Mark and Susan continue to serve overseas.

Over the years, we have naturally looked for opportunities to visit our family and support them in any way that we can. Being able to see where they live, meet their fellow workers and live in their area of service has made it easier for us to communicate to their supporters and help our local church pray more intelligently.

Because we have grandchildren who grew up in a different culture, Hugh and I especially have a heart for Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and often go on short-term trips to help with kids’ programmes. TCKs often take on a mix of their parents’ culture and their host country’s culture, and hence, have a unique ‘third culture’ worldview. One way we’ve chosen to serve TCKs is helping with KidZone in Singapore, which I have now done four times. KidZone is an orientation programme for the children of new missionaries, while their parents attend OMF’s month-long International Orientation Course.

Orientation Course aims to welcome new workers into the OMF International community, providing support through major transitions, and facilitating emotional, spiritual and physical health as they prepare for their new lives in Asia. The programme for children is not just child minding, but an intentional time to help kids understand that ‘different’ is not wrong, just different and to help them transition well. We explore different ways of living, travelling, eating and talking.

Children are encouraged to share their feelings about moving to a new home in a new country while learning more about the country of Singapore and its culture. Caregivers help children to understand that God will be with them and their family wherever they live. We travel to fun spots in Singapore and do a lot of play, craft, and Bible lessons. We focus on the way God led people, and through stories like Joseph’s, the kids learn to recognise that God is sovereign and is in control of everything. As the kids head out to a new country with their families, God is in control of their lives also, and he has a plan for each one of them individually.
It is lovely to see a child transform through Orientation Course. When they first arrive, many are very uncertain about what is going on. However, they often leave excited to see what God has in store for them and their family!

Serving families from all over the world, alongside other short-term workers from all over the world, we get a small taste of learning how to work with folk of different cultures and experience different ways of doing things.

Sometimes it stretches us, but God is our centre point and helps us to work together.
Living in community for four weeks gives us plenty of opportunities to build new relationships. Evenings and weekends are free time, but we are invited to join in on social events such as cultural tours of Singapore, or games nights. By attending these events I was able to connect more with the new workers stepping out in faith to work for God cross-culturally and get to know them individually.
I was also able to build relationships with children and their parents by sharing meals each day, participating in morning prayers, and hearing their testimonies. All of the workers have wonderful and varied stories of how they arrived at this point in preparation to serve God. These testimonies were always a highlight of my time. It’s especially encouraging to see how God leads and directs people in so many different ways.

I would encourage anyone, of any age, to support missionary families by volunteering as a KidZone worker. It is a fantastic opportunity to travel overseas, taste different cultures and be involved in God’s mission.
If you haven’t got a month of free time, there are plenty of opportunities to go to other countries for around two weeks to help in children’s programmes at different field conferences
and trainings.

If you are interested in helping in this way,the first step is to follow the link below to find
out more. Also getting a passport is a good start!

Sharon Davis
KidZone worker

Find out more about serving at KidZone