Today we have Elisha with us. Welcome, Elisha!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the different cultures you are part of?
Absolutely! My name is Elisha McFarland. I’m 19 and a sophomore at Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky, with a major in communications. I spent 16 years in Uganda, East Africa, as a missionary kid alongside my parents and five siblings. My parents have since left the mission field, and my dad is now the associate pastor at our sending church in West Virginia.
What is an advantage of being a TCK?
Being a TCK is the greatest gift imaginable. The opportunity to grow up and experience life in another culture does more than shape your character; it molds your worldview. You tend to approach seemingly difficult situations with a different, helpful point of view; often one unheard of by those involved.
Another extraordinary advantage I’ve found in being a TCK is in the giving of my testimony. I work at a hotel on campus, and my nametag states my name and homeplace. The home title of “Luwero, Uganda” often catches guests off guard and gives me a wonderful opportunity to share a bit about myself and what Christ has done in me. Your background as a TCK provides incredible paths to sharing Christ.
What is the hardest thing about being a TCK?
The hardest TCK-related experience I’ve walked through has been the re-adaptation of myself and my family to another culture. Upon returning to America, I found it quite difficult to spend time with my American peers. Often, the topics they chose to converse on seemed foreign and entirely different from what I was used to. It took me two years in the Christian school system to adjust and learn normal social cues and cultural values, allowing me to carry on a somewhat normal conversation without appearing too out of the ordinary.
What is one thing you learned from being a TCK?
Being a TCK has taught me to approach all situations in life with caution and an open mind. The former is helpful in analysis and the latter is helpful in politics. Allow me to explain: caution, or the use of a stable, careful mind, is wonderful in analyzing relationships and conversations. As a communications major and one fascinated by human relationships, this skill has helped me better understand the dynamic of conversation within relationships. Moreover, a fully open mind is a wonderful and desperately needed skill in today’s political world.
As we receive and “download” information, our brains tend to filter what we have learned through our natural biases. As we process and re-state this information to others, the same biases are at play. Over the course of time, as we receive and re-give information, many biases begin to infiltrate the information. From here, we find much false news, gossip, or telephone-like (the telephone game, for example) information being given. Many mainstream news sites are blatantly slanted and try to force their viewers to think in a certain way.
Being a TCK gives us an incredible advantage in this regard. We are often taught to think on our feet and to carefully consider what we are taught. These gifts help us to dissect the information we are given and to carefully consider it. Is it true? Does it seem biased? Does it claim to be fact? Who was the giver of this information? From where did they receive it?
How has being a TCK influenced your faith?
Although it would be easy to answer with the obvious, “Well, I grew up in a missionary family, so Christ was the focus since the time I was born,” a far more satisfactory example is found in the form of spiritual warfare. You see, I lived only two miles from the witchcraft capital of the entire country of Uganda. For many years, witch doctors would travel from across the country to the small town of Kiwoko for various reasons.
This spiritual influence created many dark situations for my parents and their ministry to face. From the time I was six years old, I was alerted to these situations and to the reality of spiritual warfare and demonic oppression. My early life was a period in which I was controlled by much fear and anxiety, and it was not until Christ began working in my heart that I learned to place these fears upon Christ. I learned to join the spiritual battle through prayer.
What is one thing you would like to tell your fellow TCKs?
Press on! God knows your fears, difficulties, pain, and anxieties. There will be a day in which Christ will return, and He will wash away all your hurt and grief. He will take us to our real home, the place where we belong. That will be a place of rejoicing, not tears. Until then, He has given you many wondrous gifts to use in service of His kingdom, and He will continue to bear with you as you learn and grow in who you are. Although it may be years away, a time is coming in which you will walk with God as an adult, firm in who you are, loving in your convictions, secure in your personality, background, and home, and diligently pursuing Christ and who He is. Walk with Him!