For congregations to thrive and Christ’s mission among us to flourish, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has entered a season of discovering where God would focus our work together. Take CBF’s online survey about your church and your personal ministry aspirations before Feb. 2.
This devotional is part of a series in January that tells stories of “Bold Faith” written by CBF field personnel and members of a team composed of clergy and laity from across the Fellowship who are leading of process of prayerful discovery that will result in a faithful response. Find out more about this process called Toward Bold Faithfulness.
By Shane McNary
If you know how much more I would rather be engaged in ministry rather than sitting in a meeting listening to reports about ministry, it might come as a surprise to know that meetings with CBF field personnel fill me with a reminder of what bold faith is—not necessarily the bold faith of my colleagues…but of the children.
Dianne and my two children, Taylor and Allie, are grown and out of the house. They and other Third Culture Kids (TCKs) like them often bear significant burdens when it comes to fulfilling the ministry of CBF Field Personnel. The simple childlike faith of TCKs enables us and our colleagues to serve in places around the world.
It takes boldness to be the only English-speaking child in a class at a national school. It takes boldness to grow up with your sibling(s) as the only other person(s) your age who understand(s) you. It takes boldness to go along with mom and dad on the journey of their calling.
The call to be bold during the fragile years of adolescence can nurture resilience. It is no wonder that so many TCKs I know are boldly prophetic when expressing not-so-parochial beliefs. Sadly, constant boldness can also fracture confidence. So, when we gather as field personnel for those laborious meetings, it is the faith of the TCKs manifested as confidence that is most encouraging and scary for me.
It is encouraging because the risk of parents and families to take children into different cultures really does pay off! Hearing our colleagues’ children quack together in Slovak or seeing a confident pre-teen order his or her meal in a language I do not think I could ever comprehend is amazing. It is encouraging to look at pictures from when TCKs (re)connect together after a year apart at the camp that CBF Member Care coordinates for their emotional, spiritual and even physical well-being. It is awe-inspiring to celebrate the graduation of a TCK from high school and then see them leave parents on the other side of the world.
It is also scary—scary because being bold is a lot to ask of a child who may want to see grandparents or cousins in person more than once every few years; scary because being bold requires a lot of sacrifice from TCKs so parents can follow their calling; scary because once our TCKs learn to live somewhere else, it is not possible to return home since they may never be sure where home is. Bold faithfulness in the lives of field personnel is possible only because of the bolder and greater faithfulness demonstrated in the sacrifice of our kids.
There are perks of course: vacations in Paris; being multilingual; flying as an unaccompanied minor across the ocean; having an eclectic group of international friends; always having a way of communicating “back home” that no one else understands. And, yes. They do talk about you in that “foreign” language! TCKs understand that distance is no barrier to relationships even if getting close to someone else may be a challenge after seeing so many friends leave over the years.
Inspired by TCKs’ bold faithfulness, it is possible to muster the courage to endure meetings to talk about ministries enabled because of bold prayers and faithful financial giving from our wider CBF family. The Offering for Global Missions helps take care of our TCKs—including that vitally important TCK Retreat that Member Care provides for the boldest and most faithful members of the CBF Global Missions family.
Shane McNary serves alongside his wife, Dianne, as CBF field personnel ministering among Roma people in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. You can learn more about and support their work at www.cbf.net/mcnary. If you’re inspired by the bold faith of TCKs, take CBF’s online survey today and help shape the future of the Fellowship at www.cbf.net/survey.