Hi! My name is Harmony and I am a 2nd generation missionary. My parents were OMF missionaries in Thailand for 17 yeras. I was born in Thailand and called the beautiful country home for the first 8 years of my life. My transition to life in America at the age of 8 was a challenging one, but God used those challenges to inspire me to care for other missionary kids. I now serve full time with OMF as an advocate for our missionary kids, also known as Third Culture Kids (TCKs). As missionaries follow God's call overseas, let us not forget the young ones that go with them!
OMF has nearly 250 American missionary kids under the age of 24 who are growing up in East Asia. Our TCK Team in the U.S. currently has 2 individuals, including myself, who are working to serve these missionary families and their children of all ages.
As a Third Culture Kid (TCK) Advocate, I work in the development of resources for missionary families and their children, including trainings, newsletters, and virtual communities.
In addition to providing personal care for missionary families, I serve our families by reaching out to churches, individuals, and OMF staff to share about the experiences of and advocate for the needs of TCKs.
My role includes...
- Building connections with parents through a family newsletter and Facebook community.
- Developing pre-college consultations, care packages for college students, campus visits, and a college newsletter.
- Leading virtual check-ins for TCKs during their Home Assignment.
- Creating advocacy materials for our TCK Team
- Developing curriculum for pre-field and re-entry training weeks.
"Through God's grace we aim to see families with thriving
who understand and value their TCK experience,
growing in faith, towards being all that God desires."
- OMF International TCK Care Vision
There is much that can be done to transform the inevitable challenges of growing up overseas into beautiful life-changing opportunities that could help our TCKs grow strong spiritually and emotionally. Our vision is to see our missionary families THRIVING!
A 1999 study revelaed that 86% of expats will leave their field assignments because of stresses within the family.2 While this study is nearly 20 years old, it is believed that family stress could still be the leading cause of expats leaving the field. One of the best ways we can help our missionary families stay on the field and create a more positive environment for their children is to be caring for the family as a whole.
The Benefits of TCK Care:
- Decreased Missionary attrition.
- Increased health and happiness of families on the field.
- Reduction of child trauma and unresolved grief.
- Successful transitions of TCKs into adulthood.
- Growth in TCKs choosing to follow Jesus.
- TCKs choosing to contribute to missions.
What is a Third Culture Kid?
This experience of growing up in a culture outside of your passport culture is known as the Third Culture Kid experience. These expat children, including missionary kids, face a wide variety of challenges and blessings.
Challenges of TCKs:
Unresolved grief from frequent losses during moves.
- Feeling misunderstood: 67% of TCKs feel misunderstood by friends in their passport country.1
Confused sense of patriotism: "Which country am I supposed to love more?"
Confused sense of home: "Where do I belong?"
Loneliness: 56% of TCKs experience loneliness when first moving to their passport country.1
Yet with these challenges, we see TCKs really valuing their
90% of TCKs express being thankful for their experience overseas. 1
Advantages seen in TCKs:
- Expanded worldview
- Language skills
1. Crossman, T. (2016). Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing up Overseas in the 21st Century.
2. Storti, C. (2003). The Art of Coming Home.