Dr. Joy Anglea, medical missionary with Baptist Mid-Missions
What first comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “single missionary”? Is it Amy Carmichael, David Brainerd, Mary Slessor, Wilfred Grenfell, Gladys Aylward, Henry Martyn, or maybe even the Apostle Paul? I’d guess not. All too often our first thoughts might be challenges, loneliness, solo support-raising, tough decision-making, traveling alone, or even a very hard life.
Think about it for a minute. We rarely put the word “single” in front of other work titles, like “single nurse,” “single teacher,” “single accountant,” or “single businessman.” But adding “single” to “missionary” seems to conjure up something different in our minds—as if serving the Lord single is much more difficult than, say, serving married with several children.
The Apostle Paul didn’t seem to think that. Nor did Hudson Taylor, since he recruited both single and married volunteers for his early work, penetrating the unreached regions of China for Christ. He apparently realized that singles could be sent into regions with less educational resources and health care for children, and with fewer support dollars from home. Not that this made them any whit better, of course, but it did validate their usefulness on the mission field.
When Christ asks us to follow Him, He asks us to lay it all on the line, to be “all in” for Him. The invitation is not based on gender or marital status, academic prowess, personality, or talent. In fact, Jesus told His disciples that he rewards those who leave “house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for [His] sake, and the gospel’s…” (Mark 10:29-30) Relationships, including a marital one, may be part of the package of sacrifices we’re asked to accept in order to serve the Lord as a single missionary, but all missionaries make sacrifices—just the packages are different.
While none of us deserve it, the benefit package more than makes up for those sacrifices. The same passage states that Christ gives back by one hundred times. We sacrifice for love of Him, and He gives back for love of us.
So when I think of “single missionary,” I think mostly of one word: opportunities!
Opportunities to make the most of your life, to give your all to Him, and to see how He can—and will—use you. His goal and passionate desire is to reach as many people as possible with His love and truth, and marriage is (thankfully) not a prerequisite for engaging in that magnificent endeavor. If you’re single, you shouldn’t make marriage a prerequisite, either.
In fact, some of the most content and fulfilled people I know are veteran single missionaries. They didn’t specifically seek contentment and fulfillment, but they found it on the path of obedience and service. They invested their lives in something much bigger than themselves, and God used and blessed them.
The psalmist says that He opens His hand and satisfies our desires (Psalm 145: 16). If He calls you into missions, don’t let fear stop you. Don’t let anything stop you. He will meet your needs and satisfy your desires. Give your singleness to Him, and He’ll take care of it. After all, Christ really does understand singleness.
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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.