When Singleness Raises Questions & Opens Doors
We love to see couples modeling godly marriage and family life, especially in places where this is rare. But that isn’t everyone’s story. Many Pioneers women—and men, too—serve single in places where singleness may seem shocking. You may wonder… how does that work?
“I don’t want to get married to the man my parents have picked out for me. He lives in Saudi Arabia. I want to be single and live like you do,” a local friend confided in “Susan” one day. But that isn’t an option for young women in the South Asian culture where Susan serves. Deciding to leave home and not get married can cause trouble for a young woman without special permission from a judge. So where does that leave Susan, an American woman who moved alone to another country?
“This has been a challenging question to answer,” she says. “How do I respond to the fact that my presence alone is counter-cultural? Or that just by living here I might encourage other young women towards a lifestyle they may want but can never have?”
Susan took her questions to God and asked for clarity. “‘Yes, I know, but I choose you,’ He tenderly said to me one day. God understands the full measure of the oddness and counter-culturalness of me being a single woman in South Asia and yet He called me here. Surely His purposes for me here include using my singleness,” she concluded.
Sometimes Single Women Can Go Where Others Can’t
Recently Susan traded her independence for the chance to do things a man, married woman or family could not do. “Last past spring I moved into a dorm for college-aged girls coming to the city for university. This provided a unique opportunity for me to live 24/7 with other unmarried young women in a culturally acceptable context,” she says. The girls come from all over the country, including places Susan might never visit. For many, it’s their first time away from their villages and families, which can create a hunger for comfort and truth. This was the case with “Kira,” one of Susan’s roommates.
“I hadn’t even unpacked all of my things before she asked me, ‘If I get a copy of the Gospels, would you help me understand it?’ Ever since her dad died three years ago she’s been desperate to feel close to God, without any success. Her unsatiated desire for intimacy with God has led her to explore beyond the traditional religious beliefs and practices.”
“God has shown me through Kira that I have unique opportunities only available because of my singleness.”
The next day, Kira managed to get a Bible from a university friend. “So far we have read through about 30 stories together, from Creation to the Resurrection,” said Susan. “She is fervently praying for God to reveal Himself to her so that she may know the straight path and find meaning in life. May it be so! God has shown me through Kira that I have unique opportunities only available because of my singleness.”
More About Single Women in Missions
- Since the year 1900, missionary women have outnumbered missionary men, sometimes by a 2:1 ratio—especially in the hardest places. Why is that? Is it a problem?
- Read about a Pioneer named Megan, a single woman who became a spiritual mother in North Africa (Mission Frontiers). It’s part of a whole issue of the magazine Mission Frontiers focused on women in mission: the quiet majority.
- Read about a single man who was embraced by a family and found a place to belong in an unreached village.
- See also our article Serving Single, in which a former missionary shares what she discovered about singleness and the hidden benefits it may offer those serving cross-culturally.
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