Today we have Sophie with us! Welcome, Sophie!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the different cultures you are part of?
My name is Sophie, I’m 20 years old, and I’m a mix of Russian, Cossack, and Northern German. I was born in Germany and have lived there all my life. Within Germany, however, I moved from a Russian German community to the north when I was 13 years old. There I got into contact with the Afghan Muslim community because of the cultural similarities that we share.
When I was 19 years old, I started traveling to different countries like the US and Madagascar to learn about ministry. I only stayed for one to two months in each place, but it really impacted my cultural lifestyle and experiences.
My mum was born in Germany and has lived there for all her life. But my dad is the complete opposite. He is a mix of Russian, Kosakan, and Northern German, so he grew up in many different cultures. He was born in Kazakhstan and moved to Germany when he was 14 years old. My parents’ mix of cultures has had an impact on me as well.
What is an advantage of being a TCK?
I’m partly bilingual because I speak German and understand Russian. Moreover, I learned English in school. For me, being able to communicate with people from different countries is one of the biggest advantages of being a TCK. Also, because I’m from mixed cultures, I have family and friends around the world. This makes it easier to visit other countries.
Once I found my identity in Jesus Christ, it was also easier for me to move from one place to another. Before, every time we moved, the question “Who am I now?” popped up in my mind. Now, moving to a different place still impacts me in many ways, but I don’t have to ask myself who I am anymore. I’m a child of God. A citizen of heaven.
What is the hardest thing about being a TCK?
One of the hardest things I experienced as a TCK was never really having a place to call home and to not belong anywhere. Even if I tried very hard to fit in, I wasn’t accepted by the other people as one of them. This is also one of the reasons why most of my friendships are long distance, which also comes with its difficulties, such as when it comes to celebrating birthdays. I miss spontaneously visiting my friends for a quick encouraging conversation, an honest prayer, or a cup of tea because there are borders and sometimes even oceans between us.
What is one thing you learned from being a TCK?
I had to learn to give Jesus control over all of my life, and I’m still learning to depend only on Him. He knows me better than I know myself and He won’t forsake me. He knows how I feel and He cares! Nothing else in this world can ever comfort me like Jesus can, and no one knows what’s the best for my life better than He does.
Sometimes it’s easy to rely on God and sometimes it’s a struggle, so there are many ups and downs. Even if I’ve just seen how God is guiding my life and doing miracles, I still tend to fall back into trying everything in my own strength first. But whenever I try on my own, it doesn’t work out because God alone is mighty to do what He wants.
How has being a TCK influenced your faith?
Being a TCK has pointed out to me that I need to find my identity in Jesus Christ because everywhere else I tried to find identity has faded away: friendships, success, traditions…
Some things have faded more quickly than others, but they have all faded, just like even the most beautiful flower fades after blooming most beautifully. Only Jesus never changes, and He won’t fade away. As Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV) says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
When I found out about other TCKs and heard their stories, it got easier for me to not focus on the things here on this earth. Instead, I can look forward much more to an eternity with God in heaven.
What is one thing you would like to tell your fellow TCKs?
So far, I’ve heard many definitions of success, which were all different, depending on the culture I was living in. Therefore, I struggled with defining success for a long time. Now, to me, success means to glorify God with my whole life. This alone is very fulfilling and creates happiness even in the worst circumstances. And the way to be successful in this is by reading the Bible and getting to know Christ more each day. It was very relieving when I changed my perspective on success because I no longer had to try to fit into society and have the perfect life that others tried to define for me.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19–21 NKJV