The future for single female missionaries looks a bit bleak. Why? Because single women outnumber men 4 to 1 on the mission field.
There are many wonderful women who want to become missionaries, but they desire another godly thing that conflicts with this desire: A man.
This is no sin. Women have the God-given desire to marry and to have children, just as men do. In fact, they probably have it stronger than men.
What are they left with? If they become missionaries while still single, the chances that they’ll marry somebody from their home culture are not very good. Now they’re left with a choice: To be a missionary and an old maid, to marry and live the American dream and not be a cross-cultural missionary, or become a missionary and marry somebody from a different culture.
If you’re a missionary in Western Europe, marrying somebody from that culture is probably not much of a change. A single missionary in Europe (if the missionary is from the West,) won’t deal with too much cultural difference. Both of you are from the developed world, both of your countries share capitalism, a strong work ethic, similar worldviews, respect for education, women’s rights, and even your food will be similar. The language might be different, but you’ll both likely speak English as your first or second language.
No big deal, right?
Now, if a woman goes to North Africa, the story is very different. A converted man in North Africa has a different worldview and a much different perspective on a man’s and woman’s roles. He doesn’t come from the “first”world. Certain aspects of education and rights for women are very different.
Now, he’s not necessarily wrong about any of these things, not any more wrong than a Westerner is, but his view is radically different, making marriage (the equal yoking of two human beings) nearly impossible. It is generally accepted by Christian and secular psychologists that it is very hard for two people from radically different cultures to marry. However, God can still ordain this and definitely works through it.
So, it depends on culture. If you go as a single missionary to Amsterdam, no biggy. Scotland, even less. You can find a spouse from the people-group you’re trying to reach. If you go to Libya however and marry a local that came to Christ after being a Muslim, you’re in for a world of shock.
Every culture has their preferences. There are biblical commands and principles that need to be followed, but after that, Christians the world over have remarkably different preferences. It’s very hard for people with different preferences to be yoked together. For example, it would be hard for a Western woman to submit, (a biblical command) to a man whose preference is that only their sons be educated.
That said, many woman have to choose between marrying and being missionaries.
This is a very grave issue, and I can’t decide which is worse:
1. That less women are going on the mission field because of this, or
2. That so few men are going on the mission field.
I lean on the second one as the greater problem. Yes, it is definitely the second one. Men should be leading in this field. It should be the men if anyone who risk never marrying because of the Great Commission.
Where are all the single men? Why aren’t men leading in this?
Men, go into missionary work! For those of you who’ve considered this strongly at one point or another, and you know who you are… seriously, take the plunge! Not only will you be fulfilling a biblical command, but you will be giving up so little in return. There are plenty of single women on the mission field. You don’t have to decide between marriage and missions like women sometimes do. You can fulfill the great commission abroad and also fulfill a single woman who’s already there, praying for a husband.
You’ve been given the God-given mandate to lead women and to lead in ministry, so start leading already!
Stay strong! Don’t settle for a man that won’t be a missionary. Don’t wait for a husband to go on the field. Above all, pray and seek the Lord. Pray that God would pour his Holy Spirit on men in calling them to mission work. Pray that he’d awaken in them a burning passion for the Gospel.
Why are so many more women on the field? Why aren’t men becoming missionaries? What is at the root of this problem and how can we solve it?