TCK Voices: From Russia to Cambodia to Ukraine

Today on TCK Voices, we have Rebekah Fruin with us. Welcome, Rebekah!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the different cultures you are part of?

Hi, my name is Rebekah Fruin. I have had the opportunity to live for multiple years in the United States, Russia, and Cambodia. My time in Cambodia was once I had already become an adult. I am excited to have recently moved to the country of Ukraine (as of September 2021). The war, however, broke up my time here, of course.

bio pic of Rebekah Fruin
Rebekah Fruin

Although I was born in America, my family moved to Russia as missionaries when I was 14. My first year there was rough, and I daily longed to be back in the States. By my second year, however, the Lord had done a work in my heart. I had fallen in love with the people, language, and culture of Russia. In fact, I remember returning to the States and telling my grandma that while I was an American by birth, I was a Russian at heart. FYI, she wasn’t impressed.

I wanted to be a missionary to Russia when I grew up, but the Lord had other plans. In 2014, I moved to Cambodia as a missionary, where I served for the next five years. The culture was completely different from anything I had known in Russia, so I took a while to adjust. However, I knew that was exactly where God wanted me.

In 2019, though, God closed the door for me in Cambodia. Then He led me through a series of events to complete additional deputation toward the field of Ukraine. It was neat for me to see how the Lord used the culture and language of Russia to give me some headway in learning things in Ukraine, while He used the skills I picked up in Cambodia to prepare me for the work He has planned for me here.

To be quite honest, I love to think that I am a mix of four cultures. I am so thankful for the Lord bringing each of them into my life at different times and for the things He has taught me through each of them.

What is an advantage of being a TCK?

I think one of the advantages of being a TCK is that your worldview is broadened. Culturally, linguistically, and relationally, you are a different person than if you had merely stayed in one location for your entire life. Living in Russia, I learned to love a people that are often portrayed as the bad guys in American movies or who are stereotyped as hard and unfeeling. I found that they were quite different from anything I had expected.

In addition, I learned to think about things from other points of view. Growing up in America, it seemed like we had everything figured out – great roads, modern shopping centers, comfortable houses, etc. But I began to see how another culture views the rest of the world. I remember often being embarrassed by how loud, flashy, or rude American tourists could be in our city. Learning to look at things from a broader worldview allowed me to be more flexible, more tolerant, and more open-minded toward people from cultures that I had not yet learned.

What is the hardest thing about being a TCK?

The hardest thing for me as a TCK ended up being that our plans changed often. Our move to Russia when I was 14 was hard because I left all my friends behind in the States. Three years later, although I had already started making plans to attend Russian university and get more involved in the ministry there, the changes in visa laws forced my family to leave. It seemed to me, as an outsider, that all my friends and family in the States could depend on their plans to stay consistent. On the other hand, for my family, it seemed like life was one big roller coaster.

Through this, however, God taught me that He is always the same. Even though everyone and everything around me may be constantly shifting, He is always there. One of my favorite verses is Joshua 1:9 because it tells us not to fear – God is with us, strengthening us, and upholding us. Along those lines, I learned that I should never be afraid to embrace adventure. Although circumstances in my life may be constantly fluctuating, I can eagerly await the upcoming turn in the river, because life with our great God is always an adventure worth having.

What is one thing you learned from being a TCK?

One thing that I learned from being a TCK is that I have received one of the greatest possible privileges in life. Even though being a TCK was hard as a kid, I would never wish to undo that part of my life. Sure, I regret some of the choices I made at that time and my initial reaction to my parents taking us to Russia, but I am so thankful for the Lord giving me the chance to live in another country, learn another language, get to know another people group and their culture, and see ministry in a national church. I do know that if the Lord ever chooses to give me kids, I want them to have that same opportunity.

How has being a TCK influenced your faith?

Being a TCK has taught me to rely on God more. I have seen Him, again and again, take care of each need in my life and in my family’s life. I have seen His protection, His leading, and His provision. He’s shown time after time that He is more than enough – when we were forced to leave Russia rather quickly, when my parents switched fields and I felt homeless and alone in college, and when I didn’t know where I should serve Him as a missionary – He showed Himself strong each time.

Even now, with the war going on in Ukraine, I am not worried about staying in the country. Although my leadership team in the States has determined it best for me to go to another European country temporarily, I have had the opportunity to visit Ukraine a few times since the war, and I have experienced God’s peace each time. As I stay close to God and His Word, I am assured that He will be with me and that He will guide me in the way I should go.

What is one thing you would like to tell your fellow TCKs?

One of the biggest things I would love to tell my fellow TCKs is to take advantage of every opportunity offered to you. If you can learn a new skill or subject in life, do it – you never know when it will come in handy. If you live in a country with a different language, learn it! This will be a huge show of faith to the people you are living amongst, plus you can do some pretty incredible things as you amass languages. If the Lord opens doors for you to travel, meet people, and minister, walk through them. Even though the prospect may seem minimal and unimportant now, you never know what God is going to do in you and through you.

But, along those lines, make sure that you keep God the goal and center focus of your life. If you do any of those things just for yourself, they’ll never amount to much and they probably won’t be nearly as much fun. God has a special plan for each person’s life, a plan that is catered specifically to you – your talents, personality, and proclivities! If you are walking with God, staying deep in His Word, and following what He wants for your life, then your life will be a wonderful adventure beyond your wildest imagination.

Thank you for sharing with us, Rebekah! TCK Voices looks forward to having you again!

You can find more about Rebekah here.

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