What About the MKs?

It can be easy to forget that MKs (missionary kids) have a part in the work their missionary parents are doing overseas. When people answer the call to serve in full-time mission work, their decision affects their children’s lives, as well as their own individual lives. For these MKs, the JAARS Refuge 139 ministry provides a program of Bible study and fun activities, designed especially for them.

When Mary Lane and her husband, Brant, recently began serving at JAARS, they didn’t realize that Refuge 139 might become part of their ministry. Their children are Mary’s main ministry, but she also desires to support Bible translation efforts. She wants to see everyone have the opportunity to receive the gospel in a language they can clearly understand. Through friends and posts shared on social media, Mary learned about Refuge 139.

Team member Mary Lane with her helpers and the first grade class

This past November and December, JAARS posted a need for volunteers to serve on the Refuge 139 Papua New Guinea (PNG) trip. Each time Mary saw the posts, her desire to go deepened. She mentioned to Brant how much she wanted to go but never imagined it would be possible because of her responsibilities at home. With three children who home school and a four-year-old who requires constant supervision, she knew many arrangements would have to be made in her absence. Someone would have to be with them while Brant worked.

Mary Lane (second from left, first row) and her Refuge 139 team members

“To my surprise, on Christmas morning, Brant gave me a card with a note saying he had the details worked out so I could go with Refuge 139 to PNG. Overcome with emotion, I started crying. I was very overwhelmed and excited for this opportunity,” Mary said.

All the details fell into place, but as the day to depart drew close, Mary became anxious about leaving her family. The trip would last 18 days—the longest time Mary had ever been away from her family.

“My husband was a great encouragement, as well as other friends, who reassured me that I had no need to fear; the Lord held me in his hands. The Scripture I continually clung to as we departed Charlotte on March 14 was from Proverbs 18:10: ‘The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.’”

The nine volunteers serving on this Refuge 139 team were glad to land safely after their four-day journey to PNG. They soon were ministering to MKs whose parents were attending a biennial conference held in Ukarumpa.

“It was a surreal feeling having my feet on the ground in a country I’ve only heard stories of,” Mary expressed. “The team worked well together. Everyone stepped up when help was needed, and we could rely on each other. Whenever we were together there was laughter, even during times that weren’t easy.”

The team spent six days with the MKs, teaching them about the fruits of the Spirit and doing fun activities. Mary had the opportunity to lead the three-year-old class.

The missionary kids who took part in the program in PNG with the Refuge 139 team

“They were amazing! Being a mother of four MKs, I have a big heart for these kids who are in constant transition. Seeing their smiles as we sang together and just witnessing their bright spirits made each day joyful. One of the boys in my class looked at me one day and said, ‘Teacher, I love God!’ That is why we were there—to show them God’s love, and pray that they will grow to love God with all their hearts.”

As a result of the team’s time together with the kids, two students placed their faith in Jesus for the first time. Through all the team’s experiences, it was obvious that God had united them to serve in PNG.

“The Lord used those 18 days to grow me and allow me to be a small part of a much bigger picture in supporting everything that has to happen for Bible translation to work. Taking care of our MKs is key to having a healthy ministry, and I pray that the Lord will continue to use me in helping them, especially the four he has given our family.”

Refuge 139 trips for 2020 are posted here. Please consider serving Bible translation in this way—God will bless you in ways innumerable!

Mary Lane