I am a Pastor’s Kid: Constantly changing churches all my life, I was ready to leave
Audrey Fong // July 12, 2020, 11:38 am
I am a pastor’s kid (PK), but that makes me no different from any other person.
Being in the spotlight as a family has definitely brought about additional challenges that other church members don’t necessarily go through. But through the different challenges, all the more I think people need to know that PKs are ordinary people, sinners saved by grace.
I know that I cannot speak up on behalf of other PKs for we each have our own story to tell. But I hope that the church will be loving, patient and accepting to those who have been struggling, as some have been for me and my siblings.
So here is my story.
Due to the traditions of my denomination, my dad gets posted to an new church after every few years (typically 3-4 years).
It was not easy uprooting ourselves from a community that we had settled into, saying goodbye to friends and having to enter into a new church and form new relationships repeatedly.
Over 20 years, my family has moved 6 times to 6 different churches.
Teary farewells were often filled with many questions, like “Why do we have to move?” and “My best friends are in this church, why can’t I stay here?”
I remember my parents would always reply: “We serve God as a family, so we move together as a family.” It took me many years before I could appreciate the significance of those words.
Over 20 years, my family has moved 6 times to 6 different churches.
In Sunday School, we were taught the importance of the Body of Christ but I never could fully grasp the concept of a spiritual community because I never was in one church long enough.
Over the years, I remember many extremely long nights of crying out to God, soaking my pillow in tears. Deep in my heart, I desired a stable church community that I could truly call my spiritual family.
But from a young age, I was made very aware of the humanness of the church. Through church conflicts over many years, I saw both the beauty and ugliness in ministry.
I saw how power could corrupt, and how fear could drive people to aggression, defensiveness and illogical behaviour.
As a young girl, it left me confounded by how people who professed to love and follow Jesus would talk and act in a manner that didn’t reflect so.
I saw how it really took a toll on my dad’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. Yet, my parents constantly reminded my siblings and I that God is sovereign and we can trust in Him.
I wrestled a lot with this matter before God back then, asking Him why the very people who were supposed to be loving, kind and supportive, were the same people who were inflicting so much hurt on us.
There were moments that I felt really bitter and resentful, and I questioned God in the midst of all that was happening.
Yet, there was still a deep sense of peace within me, that God was in control of the seemingly hopeless situation. I knew He was the One fighting our battles.
As I was actively involved in ministry, I also ended up getting burnt by the politics in the different churches.
It was terrifying experiencing multiple betrayals from people I initially thought were my friends, and I grew to become very wary and sceptical of people.
By the time we had to leave our fifth church, I was very disappointed with the church.
When we moved to the sixth church, I tried my best to keep to myself but it was a challenge to remain in the shadows.
Soon enough, I decided to stop attending church services physically and resolved internally that I could just worship God alone at home.
I saw that I could only find full security in my true identity as a daughter of my heavenly Father.
In the midst of my angst, I felt God gently impress this question upon my heart, “What are you looking for?”
That did it. The question pierced straight to my heart and convicted me that the deepest longings of my heart could only be satisfied by my Maker, the lover of my soul.
Through that moment, God sparked a personal revival in my heart and ignited a passion for more of His presence in my life.
Through His word, He opened my eyes to see where I had misplaced my affections. I saw that I could only find full security in my true identity as a daughter of my heavenly Father.
He is the only One who fully knows the depths of my heart, yet loves and accepts me completely.
Back in church, He blessed me with a very loving community to be in.
Through them, I saw how God was redeeming my past and helping me to see how He intended for the Body of Christ to be a safe place for authenticity, vulnerability and mutual edification.
A couple of years later, God also spoke to me strongly through Isaiah 43:1-2 and gave me a vision of some key painful memories through His perspective.
Through the vision, God showed me how He was with me in the fire of trials and afflictions, and how I had experienced the comfort of His presence (even before I was able to put it into words back then!).
My parents’ surrender and obedience to the Lord taught us from a young age what it means to put God first and walk by faith.
He also showed me how those painful times were actually foundational to my relationship with Him, in building my faith and trust in Him who is always faithful, always good and perfect in all His ways.
Through the afflictions, He revealed Himself to me, drawing me closer in intimacy with Him where I came to know His heart and love deeper!
For example, I gradually learned to appreciate that God had given me an inheritance in my parents’ “yes” to Him, with both serving in full-time ministry!
Their surrender and obedience to the Lord taught us from a young age what it means to put God first and walk by faith.
Truly, I have seen how real and good God has been in providing for my family’s every need, and protecting and defending us through the challenges.
Everything changed when I began to see God’s purpose for me and my siblings.
Growing up in a family deeply involved in ministry allowed us to know God from a young age, and laid the foundations for strong faith and trust in Him.
And as I grew in my faith, I’ve begun to understand God’s design for family a bit more, knowing that it is His basic unit of discipleship (within the family and externally to others).
Indeed, Joshua 24:15 is a key verse for my family. We know that when God called my parents into ministry, He was calling the whole family to serve Him together.
I also came to a better understanding when I enrolled into a missions training school where I got to speak with other missionaries’ kids and PKs.
It gave me a clearer picture of how God places us in our families for divine purposes. So it’s a joy and privilege to be a family in ministry and serve Him together!
Looking back, I can see how God alone was my Rock, Hiding Place and Defender, who sustained and carried me and my family through those difficult years.
Even in the midst of sorrow, I am learning slowly but surely that I can say “it is well with my soul” for He is Immanuel, God with us.
THINK + TALK
- Have you ever felt lonely in church before? Why?
- What changed to improve your situation?
- What is one practical way you can be a blessing to someone who might be longing for community or acceptance?
- Know a pastor’s kid? Reach out this week to bless and encourage them!