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Neither here nor there

As a community committed to supporting families as they take the gospel to the least reached, SIM UK’s TCK coordinator Cheryl Gibson works within our People Care team to help families make good choices in order to reduce uncertainty and stress in their children’s lives.

Cheryl Gibson

Tell us about your role?

Cheryl: During our 15 years of serving with SIM in West Africa, my children got to experience a variety of educational settings – from home-schooling, local missionary school, boarding school and a few other options in between!  A lot of time was spent making sure they got what they needed educationally and emotionally and so I learnt a lot along the way.

On our return to the UK in 2015, there were challenges in helping our children make that huge adjustment to their passport country that was my home, but not there’s.

I appreciated the support and help I‘d received over the years and was keen to put my experiences as a mother, who had served overseas and as a home-school teacher, to good use. An opportunity came to help the TCK coordinator, mainly with home schooling resources, and then after he moved on, I took on the role.

My job is to equip and hopefully encourage our families as they leave for their country of service, to provide resources in both education issues and pastoral care and then when returning to their passport country, to be a support for our TCKs. 

I usually organise the children’s orientation programme before they head overseas and then a time of debriefing once they return. During these times of COVID-19, we have needed to adapt how we do this online.

A TCK, growing up cross-culturally while their parents share the gospel overseas, develops a sense of relationship to all of the cultures while not having a full ownership in any.

What advantages/benefits do TCKs enjoy?

Cheryl: Growing up abroad and having a world perspective gives TCKS a greater maturity and a heightened respect for other cultures. They are more also empathetic and tend to learn languages easily.

What do TCKs most struggle with?

Cheryl: The life of a Third Culture Kid is not a simple one. It’s wonderful, enriching, colourful, and filled with incredible life-altering experiences, but certainly not neat and tidy.

On their return to their passport countries, TCKs look as if they should fit right in – but they don’t quite. Differences in experiences and cultural backgrounds keep them from fully fitting to the patterns of their new home and this can give them a nagging sense of rootlessness and restlessness.

What do you hope to achieve in your role?

Cheryl: SIM UK desires to be a loving and caring community that believes in the worth and giftedness of each child, therefore my role is to try to meet the unique needs of all the TCKs so this can be achieved.

Please pray

  • For each of our TCKs to grow in their relationship with Jesus.
  • For wisdom for Cheryl as she seeks to encourage TCKs and help them in their transitions.
  • That God would use TCKs’ love of different people and cultures to glorify him.

This was posted on 27 October 2020.

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