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Author Archives: Youth in Asia

About Youth in Asia

YiA (Youth in Asia) aims to resource and support leaders with a heart for youth to enable them to reach kids more effectively. The vision is to reach youth across Asia through well-equipped leaders. This means both local youth and TCKs (Third Culture Kids) who live in Asia due to parents' occupations etc.

Expat Youth Camps in Beijing this Fall

The annual fall camps for expat youth in Beijing are coming up this November. It’s a two day, overnight event for expatriate teens from around China. There are activities, worship, teaching, and a whole lot of fun with 100+ TCKs!

High School camp is for teens in grades 9-12 (approx ages 15-18) and is on November 5th and 6th. Click here to register online.

Middle School camp is for teens in grades 6-8 (approx ages 12-14) and is on November 12th and 13th. Click here to register online.

The camp fee is 500 RMB, which includes accommodation, food, and transport from Beijing to the campsite and back again.

Kids come in from around China to attend, so if you know any teens in China who would enjoy attending, pass the info along! Travel scholarships are available for families without the financial means to send kids to camp (post a comment if you want more info about that).

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Special Events, TCKs

 

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TCK Workers Retreat next week

Today’s short post is a request for your prayers. Next week in Thailand several TCK workers from China and Cambodia will meet for a thee day retreat. Several people had to pull out so it will be a small group, but with a diverse range of roles, working with youth from 5 different international churches.

The goal of the retreat is to provide a retreat space for ministers, encourage networking among TCK workers, and create a forum for discussing some of the unique needs of TCKs. Please think of the group next week and ask that there would be relaxation, connection, and stimulating conversation.

 

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Top 10 things I like about “Divided”

Today’s guest post is by Tim Carigon. Tim was a youth pastor/senior pastor in Hawai’i for 20 years, before moving to China with his family to work on behalf of Chinese youth. He is now beginning a new position as the Youth Pastor at BICF, the biggest international church in China.

The only thing productive about my vacation so far has been extended time being challenged by God  to prepare me for this upcoming youth ministry journey. I have come out of it frustrated and confused, until last night when it all started to come together.  This all happened while watching the movie “cowboys and aliens”.  I know it would have been more impressive to say my prayer closet but…. I have found God speaks to me in the shower, at movies and in the car more than my prayer closet.  I just realized I don’t have a prayer closet, or MAYBE these places ARE my prayer closet, hummmm.

Anyway, this morning as I woke up with all of this YM stuff on my mind a link to the movie DIVIDED came to me and I watched it in anticipation that it would confirm the things God has been showing me about this upcoming YM journey.  I spent the morning pouring over it.

Well, I am naturally cynical of new things coming down the pike, but the timing was just too curious in relationship to what God has been speaking to me lately about YM.  The first scene was of Marko and I was excited to see someone I knew; I know a little of his background and thought this is going to be good.  I went to get a drink so I could settle into the rest of the DVD.  And then the DVD drove off a cliff, and I was forced to ditch the car doing one of those Clint Eastwood jump and rolls out of the car as it goes over the cliff in slow motion.  I could write a really long post on this DVD, but I thought I would check out what Marko thought (cause now I was doubting his sanity), and was shocked to find out he was highjacked, and his clip was a surprise to him.  He writes an awesome blog on it here.

I will not, in an attempt to sound cool and original, try to out do his blog, (cause it is perfectly said) but I encourage you to read it and then you will get linked to a host of others who write about it as well.  I wish I could say things as well as he does on this topic.

Instead I would like to list the Top 10 things I really like about the DVD.  This is my attempt to be a positive person and overall good guy.  (Please do not read this if you are sarcastically handicapped)

Top 10 things I like about the awesome DVD “Divided”

#10 I like the irony of the title “Divided”
#9 I love the emphasis on families, fathers and scriptural purity.
#8 I like the videography.  The pan and blur things are really good.
#7 I love how the DVD throws the baby out with the bathwater.
#6 I like how the DVD asks all of those well worded leading questions to unsuspecting teens with really cool haircuts and edgy clothing.
#5 I love how seriously they take God’s Word and how they stress living radically different in a dark and perverse generation.
#4 I like the grumpy little kid on the front cover of the DVD who is not even a teenager.
#3 I love the DVD’s criticism of YM in America, and it’s attraction driven, program driven, budget driven, personality driven approach to youth ministry.  (Really I do love that part)

#2 I love the idealism of this DVD, pointing all teens in America toward their spirit filled fathers.  This is truly the God designed first line of discipleship.  I am concerned though because I think we may be a few good fathers short.

and the #1 thing I like about the movie “Divided”….

I like it’s transparency and obvious agendas running throughout the DVD.

I hope this DVD gets people talking about making disciples of the next generation and that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose.  I know Paul Washer and the rest of the experts in this video love Jesus.  And I hope this at least raises the topic of youth ministry in our local churches.  I also pray God will grant all of us discernment and wisdom to know how best to reach the teens of America, not to mention the 110 million teens in China.

In Kindred Spirit,

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2011 in Guest Posts, Leading Youth

 

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Why we should throw kids in the deep end

This is Danny Coyle’s second guest post (click here to see his post from last week on trust). Danny is an ATCK who pastored TCKs and is now raising 2 TCKs of his own.

When I was growing up, my Dad would take me and my brothers on his mission trips.  I never really enjoyed it when he asked because it meant spending time away from my youth group and my friends.  There were times he forced me to go, however, and now I’m so glad he did.

In our youth group, we were constantly involved with ministries to beggars, the lost, the demonized, and the sick.  Our youth pastor was not afraid to put us in uncomfortable situations.

In my family and my youth group, I got plenty of practice living out my faith.  By the time I went to college, God had proven himself so many ways by using me.  Not someone else.  It was my hands, my mouth.  This made the reality of God undeniable.  How could I discredit the people that asked Jesus into their hearts because I said they needed him, or the demons that I helped cast out?  I had seen the truth in action, and there was no way I could walk away from it.

When I pastored youth, we stayed in our youth group room.  I was too conservative.  I didn’t have time to plan outreaches, and I was too insecure to throw the kids into the deep end – like my parents and youth pastor did for me.  I can’t speak from the place of “This worked for me.”  I’m speaking from the place of “If there was one thing I wish I could have done differently…..”

I wish that I had done more to put kids in situations which required them to totally depend on God.  Places where they had to prove him.  I thought my teachings would be enough – but they weren’t.  Teaching alone never can be.

Youth are supposed to be sent out.  They are supposed to be sent out way before they go to college.  We need to be sending them into their schools, into the streets, to be the ministers that God has already made them to be.  Why? Because that’s where they prove Him for themselves.

Of course, there are many people who have turned away from God after he used them in incredible ways.  This is not a magic formula to keep kids walking with Jesus.  But I think it is the best thing we’ve got.

Throw your youth into the deep end and I’m sure you’ll find the pool filled with grace.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2011 in Guest Posts, Leading Youth

 

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The TCK challenge in one word: Trust

We are delighted to share with you this guest post by Danny Coyle. Danny is an American ATCK who pastored TCKs in China and is raising 2 TCKs of his own.

I moved to Hong Kong when I was 9yrs old.  I grew up as a TCK, in a youth group and school full of TCKs.  When I left university, I became a youth pastor of TCKs for 3 years.  Now, as a father of 2 kids growing up in Beijing, I’m raising 2 TCKs.  I would say this gives me a unique perspective on TCKs.

If I could boil the TCK experience down into one word, it would be trust.  What is trustworthy? In the storms of change, where is the foundation?

For a TCK, nothing is predictable.  Relationships change, schools change.  It seems like every year there is a major upheaval, and you aren’t sure if things are going to work out favorably next time around.  In fact, they rarely do.

We develop mechanisms to insulate ourselves from the insecurity and pain.  None of the mechanisms I developed for myself were healthy.  They were all based in pride, selfishness, fear and shame.  I still deal with the repercussions of those decisions in my own life to this day.  But that’s all I knew how to do then.

Now that I’m older, I can look back on growing up as a TCK. I can look into the lives of the kids I pastored, and now my own children. It’s easy to see the message that I want all of them to hold onto for life, for dear life.

This is what I want my kids to live out loud:  I will trust Jesus with everything I am – even though I may not agree, don’t understand, no one else is doing it, and all my inner urges point in a totally different direction.

For a TCK, trusting Jesus in this way is impossible – without a savior.  Our TCKs need to know that they were not designed to endure such unpredictable circumstances.  It’s actually impossible to survive them with hearts intact.  They must trust Jesus in every way, always; he is their only hope.

In my mind, there isn’t any higher theme or higher goal in life.

If we are going to tell this to our TCKs, however, we first need to model it in our own lives.  Our TCKs are bright enough to know when we are preaching something that we aren’t living.  This message will stink like a sewer if you aren’t living it first.

And the first step to living this life of trust is recognizing that you can’t do it without a savior, either.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Guest Posts, Leading Youth, TCKs

 

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5 Things That Mess With A TCK’s Brain: A guide to helping you relate to TCK youth

This guest post is written by Joyce Teo, a TCK from Singapore, now working with TCKs in Beijing.

A BrainMashed Joyce

A BrainMashed Joyce

5 Things That Mess With A TCK’s Brain
A guide to helping you relate to TCK youth
by an ex TCK-youth

I’d consider myself a TCK thrice removed – born in Singapore, left for Hong Kong at age six, moved back to Singapore for two years, then uprooted again and replanted in Beijing for the next seven years, then back to Singapore for three long years in university, and now back in Beijing for the past year and counting. (You think that sounds confusing, wait till you meet my friend who has lived in 9 different countries over 12 years).

Over the years I have found myself transitioning from TCK youth to TCK youth leader, currently dealing with a group of wacky high schoolers out in my old suburban home of Shunyi, Beijing. As one who has moved into, out of, and back into the TC community, I’ve come to both observe and experience the 5 main things that really mess with a TCK’s brain – or Brain-Mashers, as I like to call them. Now before I continue, let me first clarify that this list is drawn from my knowledge of living in China, and may or may not apply to TCKs elsewhere. Yet regardless of where your ministry is, understanding the phases and challenges your TCK youth go through is extremely important before any sort of real communication and rapport can occur.

1. Answering the question, “So where are you from?”

While this seems like a no-brainer to most people, throw this question at any TCK and watch his/her face go blank as his/her brain scrambles to come up with the most reasonable-sounding answer. “Well uh… I was born in Hong Kong, but I have a Canadian passport and lived there when I was three, and then I moved to China in second grade and then moved to Singapore for Middle School and then back to China for High School so uh… I guess I’m Canadian?” Now the person who asked the question draws a blank, and the TCK moves on to Brain-Masher 2.

2. Figuring out just exactly where you are from.

This probably tops the list of things that TCKs struggle with. Though many TCKs pride themselves on being skilled at adapting to any new environment or situation thrown their way, juggling multiple cultures at once – especially as a growing adolescent – inevitably leads to a case of identity crisis. This uncertainty shadows a TCK like a serial stalker, intensified with each new city or yet another year away. Where do I belong? As I start identifying with my host culture, what happens to my “home” culture?

This is particularly true when a TCK returns to his/her parent country, and realizes he/she has little to nothing in common with the culture there. Just like the culture shock experienced when they first moved into a new country, reverse culture shock kicks in upon returning home after several years away. Realizing that you’re a foreigner in your own so-called “home” country proves to be a daunting reality for many TCKs.

There are a million things one could build their identity on, but these things eventually change – best friends move, parents relocate, teachers’ contracts expire, mentors leave… What happens when all the things you’ve framed your identity and purpose around suddenly disappear? A ginormous Brain-Masher that may result in you backpacking to Tibet to “find yourself” (true story). That is why I strongly believe that a primary life lesson TCK youth should learn is to base their identity on the One that never changes.

3. Having to explain that China is, in fact, not in Japan.

For people who have grown up in one place their entire lives, the perceptions (or rather, misperceptions) of other countries can range from Pretty-Close to You-Really-Need-To-Get-Out-More. TCKs often have to deal with stereotypes and misguided conceptions of their host countries when explaining “So where are you from?” (see Brain-Masher 1) to non-TCKs. “No, I do not ride a panda to school.” “Yes, we do have toilet paper in China.” “No, it’s not mandatory to learn kung fu.” “Yes, my English is indeed, ‘very good’.”

Growing up in multicultural communities endow TCKs with a broad worldview, and frustrations often arise when it comes to explaining their differences to others who may not share the same open-mindedness. This again leads to communication barriers and a sense of isolation, especially when TCKs leave and trade their TCK bubble for a community in which the majority shares a single hegemonic culture.

4. Having to explain that yes, we have a driver and three ayis, but that’s only because we live in China.

Many are quick to label international-schooled TCKs as spoiled, rich brats with personal butlers who never worked a day job because their parents spoon-fed them their whole lives. But if you ever plan to work with these TCKs, you’re going to have to understand that even among TCKs within one country, there will be TCK subcultures and sub-subcultures (e.g. international-schooled TCKs vs home-schooled TCKs vs MK TCKs etc). Granted there will be some TCKs born and bred to become expat pricks, but that does not mean that being in a big obnoxious international school will invariably churn out a big obnoxious TCK.

For many international school TCKs, their “luxuries” stem from company expatriate packages which aim to compensate for respective inconveniences the families have to face as part of living overseas (e.g. living in a third-world country, being away from family, security etc.). For them, the lifestyles they’ve grown accustomed to in their host countries vary significantly from that of their parent country. Sure, every other family may have an ayi (domestic helper) or a masseuse who comes to your house twice a week, but that’s only because you’re living in China where labor costs are next to nothing. For my family at least, we would never be able to afford this same expat lifestyle back in Singapore (see Brain-Masher 5).

Understanding your TCK youths’ backgrounds (why they moved, parents’ jobs, previous places they’ve lived etc.) lends a better understanding of the various issues they face and, hopefully, eliminates some of the pre-conceived negative biases of TCKs.

5. Adjusting to life outside of the TCK world.

No one stays a TCK forever. When a TCK hits that imminent age of 18, all bets are off. That great expat family package? No longer covers your medical insurance (though your younger siblings still count). Your flamboyant en suite bedroom with a Jacuzzi and heated floors? Shrunk to a dorm room you now share with your eccentric college roommate. Goodbye ayi and private driver, hello public transport.

I dub this the Shunyi Bubble Effect – a phenomenon many of my own friends are all too familiar with (Shunyi is the name for an area north of Beijing dominated by the expat package set). Lifestyles aside, TCKs who leave are faced with yet another enigma – social support. Sure, high school kids leave home for college all the time, but most of them do so with an entourage of the same high school friends who may very well end up in the same college. Transitioning to the next chapter of your life isn’t so bad when you have familiar faces for support right? Not so much for a TCK. A third of your social group ends up in the US. Your best friend is now in London. Your other best friend is now in Australia. Another friend has decided to take a gap year and help breed baby turtles in Indonesia.

Just like Brain-Masher 2, the drastic changes that accompany a TCK’s transition out of the TCK bubble can have significant impact on TCK youth. And scrambling to get back in or recreate the bubble may not be as straightforward either. Like trying to join a Chinese society only to be reminded that, despite living 9 years in China, you are in fact not Chinese (as did one Sri Lankan friend). Or to “show up for International Students Orientation but get barred from entering because you have a US passport”, as did another friend.

Working with mashed brains

Culture shock, reverse culture shock, identity crises, confronting misconceptions, and dealing with ever-changing environments are just a few of many things that mess with a TCK’s brain. The thing is, most TCK youth probably won’t admit that these are the things that bug them till they’ve been away for long enough and come back as ex-TCKs. Or they aren’t aware that these are the things that WILL bug them once they leave the TCK bubble, be it as a high school senior or a college freshman or a returning TCK.

This is where TCK youth workers come in, to better equip these TCK youth for a life away from the comfort of a world so unique to the TCK community. Hopefully this article helps you better understand the areas in which your youth are struggling. Better yet, talk to them and ask them what their Brain-Mashers are!

 
 

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YiA Retreat for TCK Workers – Register Now!

The TCK Workers’ retreat will be held at Dolphin Bay in Thailand on October 3-6. We will be staying/meeting/eating at the Juniper Tree, a Christian guesthouse by the beach near Huahin.

The retreat is aimed at anyone who sees their primary calling (whether longterm or “right now”) as working with TCK youth, especially those living and working in Asia. This includes paid and volunteer church staff, bible study leaders, and teachers with a heart for ministering to their students.

The retreat has four main aims:
  1. Retreat – space for Christian TCK workers to relax
  2. Networking/Fellowship – meet and connect with other TCK workers
  3. Targeted training – discussion about issues specific to TCK work
  4. Spiritual uplifting – devotions, sharing, corporate prayer and worship

The main program is happening on the 4th and 5th (Tuesday and Wednesday). The assumption is that some people won’t be able to come early, and others won’t be able to stay late, so feel free to make arrangements based on your own time constraints.

3 nights’ accommodation (two people per room with laundry included) and meals will be provided. There are limited funded places available, but please pass this information along to anyone you believe would be interested.

If we run out of space, or you’d like to stay somewhere fancier, there are other guesthouses/resorts just up the road. YiA won’t be able to cover accommodation costs for these places but the option is there.

For more information, or to express interest in attending, comment on this post or fill out this form:

 

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