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Growing Up MK

Growing Up MK

AUGUST  28,  2019    |    4  MINUTE  READ    |    ANGELA  OLSEN

Missionary kids grow up with an incredibly unique view of the world. They learn to call more than one place home and often travel more miles before high school graduation than most people will travel in their entire lives. These kids see the ins and outs of ministry, the good and the bad. They make friends across cultures and languages and learn how to say hello and goodbye far more often than most people imagine.

the Kenneth and Delight Hopson family

Austin Hopson knows what it’s like to grow up as a missionary kid (MK). He first moved to Tanzania when he was just six months old and then to Kampala, Uganda when he was seven years old. He graduated from an international school in Kampala in 2015 and moved to the U.S. to attend college. Austin is now preparing to intern with Mike Banks, WGM MK ministries coordinator, as a mid-term volunteer.

What brought Austin to a place of wanting to work with kids who are growing up as MKs like he did? Austin’s parents, Kenneth and Delight Hopson, give us a little insight by sharing what life was like as he was growing up.

Today Austin has a very adventurous spirit, but as a little boy, he was always the quiet one. Many times, while on Home Ministry Assignment (HMA), traveling from one church to another, we would have to make sure Austin was in the vehicle because he was so quiet. Austin’s adventures took him to the village with his Dad to show the Jesus film, and the village kids would flock to him.

Austin as a toddler

Over the years, especially in his teen years, he came out of that shell. He developed a soft heart for the little ones, learned how to play the guitar, played soccer and volleyball, was in school productions, had a knack for talking in different accents, and loved playing jokes on people. Like the day he got a remote-control spider and freaked his teacher out, or when he and his friends convinced the new Kenyan science teacher that he couldn’t speak or hear and relied on his friends to communicate what the teacher was saying. Oh boy, was that teacher shocked a few days later when he found out it was all a prank! It was a new Austin. We came to realize his potential in developing relationships and caring for people and his outgoing personality was like a magnet. It drew people to him and still does. He loves talking to people. He loves getting to know people and rarely finds a stranger.

Austin on a quad bike surrounded by kids.

Being a missionary kid means your buddies are more like brothers or cousins. That’s how it is for Austin and his friends. Some of these guys have been Austin’s friends since the beginning, and some have joined the gang as the years progressed and from faraway lands: The Netherlands, Eritrea, Uganda, Canada. No matter where they are from, though, they are brothers at heart.

Austin with friends on the hood of a car

Austin’s favorite lookout spot on trips to the game parks in Africa was obviously on top of the vehicle. He couldn’t wait to get up there! Game drives in the national parks, falling asleep on the floor in the London Heathrow airport (waiting to board the plane), boat rides on Lake Victoria and the Nile River, quad biking through African villages, and graduation in the torrential rain are just a few things that resonate with Austin.

Austin asleep on the London Heathrow airport floor

Austin’s experiences as a missionary kid were not always full of adventure. He dealt with bullying, difficult transitions, saying a lot of sad and tearful goodbyes and experienced losses of friendships. Because of all of these life experiences, he can empathize and cares deeply for other MKs who feel the same way or are going through similar trials. He has a heart for the hurting. He wants to dedicate his life and ministry to helping MKs not only cope but thrive. He wants to help build them up and help them realize they are equipped with some great potential as Jesus helps them in their lives, as He did and still is doing for Austin.

graduation day

Austin gives us an idea, as well, of why he is drawn to a career path of working with MKs.

What I valued most about growing up as an MK was having other MKs to share my experiences with. I was lucky enough to have other missionary kids around with whom I’m still very good friends today. MK camp was really helpful with that. To have the chance to meet other MKs, to share my testimony and have it understood and empathized with has had a lasting impact on me.

The reason I chose to come back to WGM is because of how they partner with their missionaries. WGM is very intentional about not only being a vessel to get missionaries to the mission field but also partnering with the missionaries and being active in the ministries as well. In the process, WGM is intentional with missionaries and MKs in a member health aspect as well, and that is what stood out to me the most.

What I hope to achieve is exactly what I experienced growing up. Through MK ministries, I had mentors who have helped me grow emotionally and spiritually. I want to provide the same encouragement and support that I received.

Austin’s parents add:

We couldn't be prouder of our son. He faces his difficulties and learns from them. He looks at his struggles and difficult times as learning tools. He knows where he came from and sees that God brought him to Himself and has been carrying him all along. Austin is a hard worker, has a caring heart, is fun to be around, and loves a good adventure thrill, all with a heart for Jesus.

We are excited to have Austin working with our MKs as a mid-term volunteer and, Lord willing, long into the future. He is an inspiring example of who our missionary kids can become while living a life in Christ!

Austin Hopson is currently preparing to begin his time as a mid-term volunteer. You can follow him on Instagram @thereal_austin8.

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