The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound. (Isaiah 61:1)
At the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus read this passage in a synagogue when he started his ministry. It’s a striking summary of Christ’s work on earth. The Gospel is the news that every person on this earth, no matter what languages they speak, their skin color, or their record of wrongs, can be set free from their past, themselves, and their sin.
Isaiah’s words (inspired by God) are put so beautifully and remind us of something important. While we have all sinned and have all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), we each have unique struggles that Jesus personally sets us free from. The captives are given liberty. The brokenhearted are given comfort. But what about the Third Culture Kids?
Many studies on Third Culture Kids have established that this particular group of people have a unique set of struggles. Since the Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16), any TCK who accepts Jesus as their Savior can be set free from these struggles. Here are 5 things the Gospel sets TCKs free from:
1. The Gospel Sets the TCK Free from Their Lack of Home and Belonging
TCKs grow up in many cultures simultaneously. Different values, beliefs, and narratives influence them throughout their childhood. This can open a floodgate of identity struggles for the older TCK: “Where do I belong? Who am I, really? Am I who my parents told me I was? I don’t fit in here.”
The Gospel gives the TCK a clear identity in Christ. Once a Christian, they are citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20, Hebrews 11), they can be rooted and built up in Christ (Colossians 2:6-7), they are no longer fearful slaves but children of God (Romans 8:15). The TCK can let go of the world’s definition of belonging in one place and embrace God’s truth: they belong in Jesus, and their eternal home is in Heaven.
2. The Gospel Sets the TCK Free From the Fear of Being Misunderstood.
Throughout their formative years, TCKs look to others’ approval to learn multiple cultural norms, customs, and languages. This is a natural tendency, but the constant analysis of others’ opinions of oneself can be detrimental.
Proverbs 29:25 says: The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. Once one’s identity is in Christ, they can be liberated because their God is unchanging; thus, their identity is also. They don’t have to worry about what others might be thinking of them… because God’s view of us is immovable. The Bible reminds us repeatedly: The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6)
3. The Gospel Sets the TCK Free from the Pride of “More Experience and a Wider Worldview.”
Third Culture Kids grow up living in diverse places, making friends with people who have drastically different worldviews, and perhaps speaking multiple languages. They are given more opportunities to look through the eyes of the “other.” Many TCKs choose to do so and have a broader worldview as a result. They look at things with a more global perspective, and their world is most often indeed the world, not just their hometown or country.
I know many TCKs who have felt that monocultural people or people from their birth countries can be ignorant. The natural reaction to this feeling is pride: pride in what you can see and disdain for others that can’t see it.
The Gospel answers with a resounding truth: Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! (Luke 10:23) Here, Jesus talks to his disciples about their privilege of seeing Christ incarnate and the miracles he did. However, as the TCK, we have had the privilege of seeing and experiencing much. We can give thanks to the God who, in his providence, chose this blessed life for us, not be prideful for it. We didn’t earn our experience; it’s all grace. As the TCK, we can use our gift to serve instead of tear down. The Gospel also gives the TCK hope for their struggle: if one is a child of God, they are being sanctified daily. The sin of pride will wear away as they pursue their Savior.
4. The Gospel Sets the TCK Free from Constant Change and Lack of Stability.
To the majority of TCKs, mobility is the norm. TCKs will move several times internationally throughout their lives, and even if they move only once or twice, their community will also be constantly moving. Friends will come and leave within years or even months. The TCK learns to grasp onto things that don’t seem to change, but when those things do change – such as a family falling apart or a trusted thing turning faulty – it can undo them.
As a Citizen of Heaven, the TCK can anchor themselves in the One who never changes. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
5. The Gospel Sets the TCK Free from Unresolved Grief.
TCKs lose beloved people and things from a young age: they leave cousins, grandparents, and extended family to live in another country (or countries.) They make friends in the countries they live in, but either they or their friends can leave. TCKs also leave familiar and dear places to them, which can sometimes be as hard as losing a friend. As children, they don’t know how to fully deal with those losses, and if there isn’t someone around to help them really process it, it results in unresolved grief.
When TCKs believe in Jesus as their Messiah, they gain such a Savior: He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:3-4) He understands, and he bears our grief, and he comforts us. How great is our God!
The Gospel sets TCKs free from their struggles and losses. It frees them into a life where they can use their gifts to his glory and the good of others. They can act as cultural bridges and impact a divided world that is in so much pain. That’s the power of the Gospel and the blessing of the cross-cultural person.
How has the Gospel set you free from your personal struggles? TCKs, what areas can you ask God to grow you in?
Editor’s Note: This is the final part in Breanne’s three-part series on TCK’s. Check out part one, Where Are We From, Anyway? The Common Struggle of Third Culture Kids and part two: 9 Ways to Be a Friend to Third Culture Kids.