Moses Kim, Graduate Student from Laos
“Mom, Dad, can we please go back home now?”
Don’t tell me you’ve never said that before. As a child we’ve all been there and done that. Dad’s workplace, shopping with mom, a dental clinic...you name it.
The only problem I had was that home was quite far away... or rather, whether I liked it or not, home wasn’t really “home” anymore.
My name is Moses Kim, and my parents are missionaries from South Korea to Laos.
When my family moved to Laos, I absolutely hated the place. Sure, you can’t ever make a seven-year-old happy, but I begged my parents every day, “Can we please go back home now?”
I missed home. I missed my friends. I missed food. What’s the point of living in Laos, where everything’s covered with dust and people don’t speak Korean at all?
But my perspective changed when I visited Korea after living in Laos for four years. When I heard from my parents that I get to go back to Korea during summer, I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep for a whole week.
The plane landed and I was back “home.” But… was I really home? Everything was so foreign. Same country, same people, same food – but just different. I spent 45 days in Korea and came back to Laos. I felt much more at home, but still different.
Have you ever heard of the Aesop’s fable called, The Birds, the Beasts, and the Bat? The story goes like this: there was a war between the birds and the beasts, but the bat didn’t know which side to join. When the birds were winning, he said, “I have wings, so I’m a bird like you!” When the beasts were winning, he said, “I have fur and teeth, so I’m a beast like you!” When the war was over, the bat was driven out of both groups because of his act.
Obviously what the bat did was wrong, but let’s try to look at it in a different angle. What if the bat honestly didn’t know what he was? Maybe he just wanted to find a group that he could relate to. Maybe he just wanted a place to call “home.”
People often ask me, “Where’s home for you?”
My answer is, “Uh...that’s a great question.” I don’t really have a place I could call “home” without a second thought.
I had days of identity crisis. I was swamped by the fact that I didn’t know where I belonged. Sometimes I blamed it on my parents.
I didn’t choose to be an MK. They chose to be missionaries. “Why, God? Why am I going through this? I just want to belong somewhere. I just want to live with people who are like me.” I was a hopeless “bat” which couldn’t be fully bird or fully beast.
I slowly got tired of asking the question as I got more used to my life in Laos, but it all came back when God brought me to the States.
Initially I tried to hang out with the Koreans, but it was pretty clear that I’m not one of them. Then I started hanging out with other international students – but still some barriers.
After them, I tried my beloved American friends. My freshman year, my roommates’ one and only goal (perhaps more than their GPA) was to “Americanize” me. Well, apparently they failed, since I don’t really feel at home in America yet.
When I began to seriously pray about it as I searched for an answer, God showed me some truths from His Word.
Because God made the word “home” a little bit vague for me in this world, I long for my heavenly home more. I have God, the Church, and Heaven. With those, I’m quite content. God taught me many valuable lessons (and He still is!) by making me a “bat.”
There are many different kinds of people in this world—different cultures and even some who are “third-culture-kids” like me.
But I don’t care what culture you are from. Are you my brother or sister in Christ? Let’s praise God together!
The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.