I started life as a missionary kid, living each day in community. When my parents moved us back to the states, church took on a very different form.
Church in Nepal had been a community of messed up drifters, ex-hippies that found themselves wandering the old hippy trail, and locals. They were sinners, but they were also seekers. Malnourished and longing for sustenance for the soul, they knew they didn’t have it altogether and so they sought answers. The gospel. They gobbled up grace like the starving, feasting upon His goodness.
Dependence on God was as commonplace as anything. They were searching and He was showing up. We saw God move in the midst of the muck. This may have been the idealism of my childish eyes, but these were the days when God was good and powerful and provident.
But there is a cost to be counted when you move your family to foreign land, plant stakes in the devil’s territory and venture into the darkness as obedient servants. And the cost was high. I very nearly died as a child.
When we came back to the states and my leukemia was gone, the doctors urged my parents to keep me out of the third world until I was stronger. They settled back into lives that never quite fit them. Their hearts were always on the mission field.
My grandmother had been acting strange and was diagnosed with Alzheimers soon after our return. Her health and mental state was in rapid decline and my parents took on her care.
We moved to Albuquerque and settled down for the long haul, buying a fixer upper in an upper middle class neighborhood. Getting jobs, doing life and yet we never really belonged to a church for any length of time.
We were suffering from culture shock and problems with re-entry. Now they have books and missionary preparations that talk about the struggles dealt with when thrust back into a culture they left but found they no longer related to. But then, there was no one paving the way to make peace with the situation they found themselves in; living in suburbia in a churched culture.
American church was a disappointment. Lip service was common. Materialism was rampant. Bodies filled pews deadened to anything beyond a tidy message and some platitudes about being a good Christian which meant not drinking, smoking, having premarital sex and tithing regularly. My parent’s hearts turned to bitterness and it bled out of them into their children.
There was no body like them. No one who clicked and got it. We were a third culture family, neither here nor there. We disconnected completely and that led to the next nine years. Some of the worst in my life. Because you’re either obedient to God where He has you, or you push so hard against your circumstances that you destroy everything around you. And over the next nine years, everything around us was destroyed.