One of the blessings of the internet is being able to connect with other believers all over the world. I am so honored to be in touch with believers all over the world through my blog.
Not long ago, I received an email from a young lady who lives really far away from me, but is asking a lot of the same questions that I struggled through. Recently, I have come in contact with a lot of young women who have been asking the questions. So I wanted to share with you a portion of our correspondence (with her permission), in hopes that it might help those of you who are thinking through the same things.
“I have a question regarding the role of young women in the mission field. My desire is to reach the nations with the gospel… I view all [my] education as what might someday bridge me to another nation to serve the Lord there. I am single and have a strong desire to have a family of my own someday. My question is, how should I reconcile this desire for marriage with my desire to be used in global missions? I have heard people say that it is often more effective that families serve together on the mission field than for a young woman to serve alone. I also thought about making the most of short-term opportunities to test that desire for long-term missions, but it seems that the Lord has closed this door for me for a particularly long season. During this time, however, He has burdened me to pray for and support missionaries more than I have ever before, giving me many opportunities to support my friends on short-term trips. Am I too young or immature to serve the Lord overseas? Should I trust that this desire is God-given and continue to explore opportunities?”
Your question is actually one that I have struggled through myself. Before I met my husband, I was planning on going to the mission field. I was wrestling through the same concerns. Hopefully I can address some of your questions with what I worked through.
First of all, there is the question of being a single missionary. In college, I posed this same question to a missionary friend. She wisely suggested that if I was contemplating serving as a single missionary that I join a family on the mission field. In her experience, there are certain complications that come along with being a single missionary woman (such as safety, propriety, and just even teaching the Gospel to the church). It is beneficial to serve with a family so that you can be under the protection and provision of a male leader under appropriate circumstances. I thought that this was great advice!
But I also think that if you were teaching at a school overseas, that would be a great option for a single missionary woman! There are the same elements of safety and provision that come with being part of an establishment like that. I know there are always schools looking for teachers overseas!
As a single woman, you are in a unique position to serve the Lord. You have more free time and more ability to focus on the things of the Lord. Being married with a little one on the way, I can certainly attest to that! This time of singleness is a gift from the Lord as much as it is a gift from the Lord to be married and to have children. Be a good steward of this gift while you have it!
When I was dating my husband, I had to work through my desire to go on the mission field and my desire to be married. My husband-to-be wanted to be a pastor and stay in the United States. I had to wrestle through what was truly the Lord’s calling on my life. Among the things that I learned during that time, I learned that my heart for missions could be used in other ways than just going overseas. I interned at an organization that had orphanages in Thailand and I saw how I could have a global impact in my own backyard. I have also seen how the Lord has used my love for missions to help my husband have a more global vision. My husband has a deep love for the local church and my passion is overseas missions. We have learned that it is really two sides of the same coin. Everyone needs the Gospel, regardless of where you are. But our different passions have influenced one another positively! But the Lord may bring you a husband with the same desires as you!
The Lord definitely puts desires our hearts for a reason! But He does not always use them in the ways that we would think. I would say wholeheartedly to keep pursuing those desires! The Lord never wastes desires or experiences.
It was such a blessing to be able to connect with this sweet lady! If you have more questions about choosing a spouse, you might want to read The Best Dating Advice I Ever Received.