As an 8-year-old, Esther Joy King spoke to crowds of 8,000 people about God. She helped build schools for poor children. And she learned daily about the importance of caring for others.
Such is the life of a child of Christian missionaries devoted to making the lives of others that much better.
Esther, the Republican candidate for the 17th Congressional District in Western Illinois in the Nov. 3, 2020, election, says she was raised a Third Culture Kid, growing up with one foot in two different worlds. From the age of 3 until she left for college at age 18, Esther was an American growing up in the border towns of El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico.
“I consider it to be a gift to have been raised that way,” Esther says. “It gave me the capacity and skill set to live an empathetic life. When you spend your childhood stepping into different cultures and stepping into other people’s shoes, you learn that’s what life is about. It’s the best way to connect with people and make a difference in the world.”
Following her parents’ example, Esther, the second youngest of five siblings, learned service to others and hard work can lead to a better world.
“We lived our lives working to help others improve their lives, even while we were poor ourselves and had nothing, we worked to help people who had less than us,” King says.
Esther’s parents, Robert and Susan King, served as missionaries in Juarez for more than 25 years, and continue their service today in Central Asia.
“Esther and her brothers and sisters grew up helping others,” Susan King says. “Esther was always a very helpful little girl. One job she always loved was preparing for 10,000 stuffed animals to be distributed to the children in Juarez. She loved that job and she sorted them and washed them and then handed them out.
“Leadership was part of her training and she enjoyed the responsibility, and that had continued for her the rest of her life.”
In Juarez, the King family worked with several churches, helped train dozens of pastors, started four Christian schools, created nutrition programs, built homes for the poor and hosted mission teams from across the United States.
“During summers, we would have groups of 10 to 40 people from churches in the United States who would come for a week to volunteer,” Esther says. “We would do services at churches and give away goods and clothing they would bring with them.
“One of my favorite memories is every Christmas we would do huge events and invite the community and have 5,000 people come for a service and perform a Christmas drama. We’d give away the gifts we collected from people in the United States who made donations throughout the year. Everyone got a Christmas present. The program built on itself over the years. At one time we gave away 20,000 Christmas presents in one week.”
Esther cherishes her childhood in Juarez and after she left for college she would return to Juarez each summer and Christmas.
Her commitment to service remains and is one of the driving forces for her run for Congress.
“Along with standing up for conservative values, there is the element of making a huge difference right here in the 17th District and serving people better,” Esther says. “I have the capacity and skill set to do that. I’m going to jump in and work my tail off to serve our country and to improve the lives of people in the 17th District.”