Joy Stout moved to Macedonia when she was 4 years old. Her family serves on a church-planting team in Skopje, Macedonia. Joy, now 15, loves the Macedonian people, whom she describes as friendly and easy to talk with. She enjoys dancing and has even taught dance. She also values the freedom she has to go places alone or with friends (she’s on the right with her friends in the photo above) and the “very awesome” team her family works with. In her winning essay, she shares about feeling like a foreigner, no matter where she goes — and why that’s okay.

By Joy Stout in Macedonia — Being a TCK (third culture kid) is exhilarating. There are many highlights to being a TCK — traveling the world, meeting new people, trying new foods and so much more. But there are a lot of hard times as well — saying goodbye to family and close friends, living in an area where you don’t know the language, and adjusting to a new life and culture. God uses these hard times to teach us more about Him and His perfect plan.

Being a TCK myself, I’ve experienced many ups and downs. Over the past 15 years of my life I have said many hellos and many goodbyes; I’ve lived in many different houses, cities, and countries. Through all of this change, I lost the sense of belonging somewhere; I no longer had a place I could call home. I felt out of place, a stranger, a foreigner.  

I realized that no matter how much I adapted to the culture, I could never be a Macedonian. I would always have my American blood and my American ways. 

Having lived in Macedonia for most of my life, I liked to consider myself Macedonian and call Macedonia my home. I realized though, that no matter how much I adapted to the culture, I could never be a Macedonian; no matter how much I wanted to call it my home, I would never belong there. I would always have my American blood and my American ways. Even though I was born in America, I no longer considered it a place to call home. I felt even more like a foreigner and stranger in my homeland and I sensed as if I didn’t belong anywhere.

Joy with her dance class.

Then God taught me something that only He could teach me through all my experiences. He taught me that I do not belong anywhere here on this earth. He revealed that on this earth I should have no place to call home because it is not my home. Although I might be a stranger and a foreigner here on this earth, God showed me that I am His child. God taught me, as His child, that my home is in heaven and that He is preparing a place for me and for all His children that will be unimaginable (1 Cor. 2:9). In heaven I will have a place I can finally call home. At last I will belong somewhere. No longer will I be a stranger and foreigner, rather I will be a citizen of heaven (Phil. 3:20).

Through all this I learned that although I might not belong here on Earth, this is where God has placed me. So it is up to me to be content with where I am and who I am, a child of God. Whether you’re a TCK or not, as children of God we all belong to Him and He is preparing a place for us to call home. If you feel as if you don’t belong anywhere here on Earth, don’t worry, you don’t. You belong somewhere far better than any place on Earth. You belong in the arms of God.  

Focus on third culture kids: As children in many parts of the world return to school, The Missions Blog will spend September exploring the unique ways third culture kids experience this world and how God uses missionary children to communicate his love.


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