MK Safety Net

Please read these amazing essays, letter and stories from MKs who went through this long before we did.

A Petri Dish for Abuse.

The Children

“The second component in the Petri dish was the child, now known as missionary kids, or MKs.  The first seven years of life were almost idyllic – Mom and Dad close by, room to run and play, friends on hand.  At age seven, however, everything changed.  At age seven the MK was sent away to a boarding school, often several days’ travel away, for nine months out of the year.  Letters from home arrived but all letters back to Mom and Dad were read before they were dispatched.  The seven year old had to be fully self-sufficient, able to dress him/herself, take care of personal hygiene, maintain his or her room and clothes, do homework independently while responding to bells throughout the day heralding the next required activity – meal times, classes, homework time, prayer time, bed time, lights out time.  (One former MKs counts 17 bells each and every day.)  Many schools limited contact between siblings.  The goal was to make these little ones independent and to do so as quickly and efficiently as possible.  There was not enough time to pay individual attention even to the youngest in the dormitory.

The moment of separation from parents was painful and wrenching for both parent and child.  The expectation, however, was that neither parent nor child would cry. To treat the moment with sadness was taken for resistance to God’s will.  For the child the separation created a sense of total abandonment.  For a seven year old, previously held close in a nurturing home environment, the abandonment could feel so extreme as to engender a fear for life itself – how was the child going to survive?  But, survive they did, for the life force in the human being is very strong.  Some children acted out by demonstrating neediness; some cried all the time; some developed a covert way to get what they needed; others simulated being strong by bullying others; some grew into the perfect boy or girl who was above reproach while suppressing all need, creativity and self-expression and others rebelled and paid dearly for it.”

From The Role of Parents

There seems to be a major contradiction built into a missionary subculture whose whole reason for existence is to go around the world and “shout from the rooftops” that non-Christians are sinners and need to confess and repent. Yet when “sin is found within the camp”, the response so often is dead silence. As one MK victim stated so well: “my parent’s mission board was dedicated to two things: the Great Commission and the Great Cover-up!”

More Essays.         Letters from missionary parents.              MK Memoirs.

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5 Responses to MK Safety Net

  1. Craig Olson says:

    A TEAM missionary Molested my Son
    Please help me hold the leaders of TEAM mission responsible for allowing a pedophile to molest five boys including my own son without incurring any liability whatsoever (while I lost my life savings to medical and boarding school expenses).

  2. Beverly Shellrude Thompson says:

    Hi Aprile, I too found that my experiences at boarding school added particular difficulties to parenting. There are different kinds of therapies that can help heal those wounds that cause some of the “issues” related to parenting and to our relationship with our spouse. If you would like to contact me at I can help you find resources in the area you live. And of course we can talk about kinds of therapy that are useful for deep trauma (how we each respond to therapy can be quite individual).



  3. Aprile Hyder says:

    At 41 I am realising that there are some very deep rooted scars in my soul that have gone unattended for many years. I have 3 wonderful kids, but I am having difficulty emotional connecting with them. I am trying hard to get to the root of the emotional and physical damage done to my most inner self while I was in boarding school. I am looking for a counselor in the US to help me. Do you have any suggestions.

  4. richp says:


    Thought you might be interested in more information about MK Safety Net


    MK Safety Net’s Mission

    * To be a resource to and advocate for current and former MKs and TCKs who have been hurt or damaged by their experiences within the missionary environment

    * To call Evangelical mission agencies and their supporting churches to establish justice and healing, especially in those cases where the church has wounded its own children


    * Education/Resources – To educate individuals, organizations and the public regarding MK abuse issues.

    * Advocacy – To advocate for and be a resource to individuals and their families who have experienced abuse in the missionary setting.

    * Missions and Organizations – To be involved in activities that raise the awareness of MK abuse issues, particularly with those who have not adequately dealt with the issue in the past. This includes being a consultative resource for missions and organizations as they define policies, procedures and evaluation methods regarding the care of former MK’s, and those in their current community.

    * Networking – To create a safe networking environment where MKs, TCK’s, their parents, families and friends can tell their stories and offer mutual support.


    Rich Phillips

  5. Kira, thanks for linking to Stories from parents (and other stories) on the I have just reread some of these which were written several years ago and they still ring true. How can parents be so blind are to think their work as missionaries is more important than the privilege of parenting their own children? I hope the current generation of missionary parents will resist the authoritarian leadership and refuse to send their children to boarding schools. When business and professional couples choose their careers more important than their children, they are condemned as being unworthy and yet missionaries do this and are praised for “being sacrificial and serving God”. What a travesty! When I was a young missionary I believed that I was doing “God’s will” and obeyed the Mission agency and sent our sons to boarding school. They, and we, have to live with this tragic history for the rest of our lives. Yes, we love our children and they love us and have experienced much healing but that doesn’t erase scars that could have been avoided. Ann

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