Alabama Woman’s Missionary Union will host the 2022 MK ReEntry Retreat Aug. 1–6 at WorldSong Missions Place in Cook Springs for children of missionaries (MKs) entering college in the United States for the first time.
The annual event, a partnership between state and national WMUs and the International Mission Board, provides a setting where MKs can process the transition to college and envision what life in the U.S. will look like.
Each year some 80 MKs from around the world attend the retreat designed to teach the life skills they will need to adjust to living in the U.S. and navigating college life. The retreat helps them prepare for the transition — spiritually, academically, emotionally and mentally — with everything from sports to Bible study and mentoring.
“[MKs are] going through a culture training because to them the U.S. is not their home country,” explained Alabama WMU Executive Director Candace McIntosh. “Where they grew up is home. So, just like their parents had to learn how to do life in another country, the reverse is true for their children.”
MKs will have recreation and fellowship time at the retreat, and are encouraged to connect with a local church near their college. They also can make close friends at the retreat which, McIntosh noted, help them not feel quite so alone during the transition.
IMB coordinates event programming and connects with missionaries to invite transitioning students. State WMU organizations sign up years in advance to sponsor the annual retreat and pay for housing, food and transportation.
McIntosh said parents usually pay for their student’s travel, with some coming directly from the mission field. Others plan stateside furlough so they are in the U.S. to help their student transition to college life.
Many state WMUs also offer financial assistance to help MKs get to the retreat.
“Alabama WMU is blessed to be able to help our Alabama MK’s attend the retreat,” McIntosh noted.
History of the retreats
The retreats have a long history with Alabama WMU, which hosted the first one for 19 students in 1987. It was the effort of then-executive director Beverly Miller, along with Audrey and Bill Cowley who were missionaries-in-residence at Samford University.
“[The] labor of love began at the requests of personnel on the field who saw a great need for their children heading back to the U.S. to attend school,” McIntosh related.
Alabama and Texas WMU sponsored the retreat on a rotating basis for the first few years providing lodging, meals, local transportation and arrangements, with programming assistance from the IMB. Some other states provided funds for MKs to travel to the retreats.
In 1996, state WMU executive directors and IMB personnel assumed responsibility for the project, with assistance from national WMU, and churches and individuals are encouraged to help. Churches are needed to adopt an MK by providing for their needs during the retreat. For a $100 donation per student, items like sheets, towel sets and school supplies will be provided, purchased by WMU.
“Adopters” commit to pray for the student during the retreat and write a personal note.
Churches and individuals also can provide funds for gift cards. Each student will receive a gift-filled bag that includes a $100 gift card for settling into college. Contributions are needed to help Alabama WMU purchase the cards.
To learn more, visit the MK ReEntry website here.