The Single Missionary, What the Church Should Know

November 09, 2017

single missions

I came home after a long day in the IDP camps, tired and sweaty with barely enough energy to make myself a sad bowl of pasta (for one) before I curled under the covers. I was journaling when I looked up and saw the largest spider I’d ever seen crawling across the ceiling. I unsuccessfully tried to kill it with a broom, then worried for hours about where this alien antichrist arachnid could be when I finally breathed an exasperated prayer, “God, if you could please just send my husband.”

Then the tears fell.

I’m not typically a woman who’s afraid of killing spiders on her own. I’m strong and mostly fearless, but the loneliness of life overseas as a single woman was overwhelming me.

When I was younger, I was determined no one would keep me from my calling.

When I left for Africa, I wasn’t sure I would ever get married. But I knew if I pursued God with my whole heart He would fulfill His promises to me. I was independent, strong-willed, and let’s face it…a lot idealistic. But I needed some of that brash naïveté to be crazy enough to strike out on my own overseas.

One of my biggest fears has always been I won’t fulfill my purpose.

I didn’t want to be a woman who’d never lived her dreams or fell into her man’s dreams and slowly became flimsy, like a cut out of a paper doll, a thin representation of her former self.

As I spoke across the country about my ministry in Uganda I’d often hear women say, “I was going to go to Thailand to work in sex-trafficking but I met my husband and we had kids and you know...”

They didn’t regret their kids obviously, but there was a wistfulness in their voice that frightened me.

It seemed women were always having to choose between having a husband or living their dreams.

Equally so, many young women used to come up to me and say, “I could never do what you do because I don’t have a husband,” or

I want to get married, so I can’t move to a remote village where there aren’t any single guys.

I wanted to call bulls*#$!

I wanted to shake their shoulders and say, “Yes you can! Don’t limit yourself!’

You can break the rules. 

Except in our culture we haven’t taught them they can.

Don’t let the enemy make you believe the lie that you can’t be used or you can’t pursue your call unless you’re married.

Or that you can’t run off to a war zone because you need to stick close to the “dating pool.”

I moved full-time to a remote region of northern Uganda as a single woman, at the age of 26, with my own nonprofit and no husband. (Not too many single bachelors there) But statistics say:

“Singleness is the fourth most common reason appointees don’t make it to the mission field or take a long time getting there.” (Pioneers International Report) 

This makes me incredibly sad. This means we’re sending the wrong message to our singles. We’re quietly withdrawing our support unless they’re married in ministry.

Still, I’m proud to say that:

1/3 of missionaries are single and 80% are single missionary women (AIM)

You go girls! (Cue Beyoncé)

That means you’re carrying much of the global worker force, ladies. Well done! We really need you!

Yet being single in missions presents it’s own unique challenges including safety issues, sufferingloneliness, sexism, misconception by others, cultural oppression in patriarchal societies, temptations for sexual partners, being emotionally manipulated into cross cultural marriages, torn between family back home, higher levels of burnout, and grieving the diminishing possibility of marriage.

People might assume “life might be easier” for singles, but living overseas that proves less true.

In a recent survey I conducted amongst nearly 60 single women, many common threads emerged of how being a single woman missionary is especially difficult:

  • You’re on your own; expectations are all on you
  • Loneliness/Isolation: No one to confide in at the end of the day
  • Not having the an equal level of voice when decisions are made
  • Needing to have more justification for time off
  • Being viewed as “younger or not “quite an adult” if you aren’t married
  • Sending orgs expect you to live with other single women
  • No one who is there “just for you” not the ministry
  • Some men are intimidated by the strength of your personality
  • Guilt when you say no to things because you don’t have a “good excuse” like family
  • Being treated like “a girl” instead of a woman
  • Being perceived as immodest or immoral
  • Being told “you can’t” do things
  • Being asked 1,000 times “Why aren’t you married?”
  • Not feeling free to spend any money on yourself (we need to get our hair done, people:)
  • Having a lower salary than a married couple but expected to do just as much work
  • Not being free to do things on your own because of safety or culture
  • Feeling like an outsider amongst married couples on teams
  • Other married women seeing you as “a threat” to their husbands
  • Ministering to the opposite sex seen as romantic interest
  • Host culture expects you to marry a national
  • Unwanted advances/sexual harassment
  • No shared responsibility: having to handle all the finances, housework, ministry on own
  • Being viewed as “just the babysitter”
  • No one to watch your suitcase when you travel (that’s real)
  • Dating is a real challenge, especially to find someone who will support your calling
  • Expectations people have you should “settle down”; not recognizing your chosen path
  • No place for adult single working women (small groups are centered around “moms”)
  • Burnout or compassion fatigue symptoms are considered a “hormonal thing”
  • Not being put in positions of leadership because you might get “too emotional”
  • Fears/grief around never getting married because you serve overseas
  • Not wanting to open up your heart again after you’ve invested it in someone and they leave the field a year later

Whew! That’s a daunting list!

I remember there were plenty of meetings with church leaders or government officials where I felt demeaned simply for being female. 

In most foreign cultures outside America, women are not treated with the same respect as a man.

Then there are the feelings of being unsafe when you’re on the back of a boda driving off in an uncertain direction at night wondering if you’re going to make it without being attacked, breathing a silent prayer of relief every time you do.

Not even the fake wedding bands seem to ward off a ridiculous amount of proposals.

“Once I had a man tell me that ‘he would be willing to move with me to America so we could marry so that I could produce.’ I told him ‘I’m not a chicken. No thank you.'” – Kelly

It’s not easy. I get it.

But here are a few things we wished our churches/supporters knew: (“the Church” applies to missions teams that come over, our sending orgs, as well as individual donors)

We’re doing the best we can

“I am a real person, not just ‘a missionary.’ I’m not superhuman. I work, play, go to church, and have hobbies. I’m just trying to do God’s work like you.” – Alyssa

I know we might seem like Wonder Woman, like we can do it all and have it all, but deep down we often face our own fears of inadequacy and questions of whether or not we’re failing. We’re not superheroes and we want to be treated with honor, but also normality. Don’t put us on a pedestal. But don’t insist we be martyrs either. Sometimes we fear no one knows how we’re really doing and that feels dangerous.

We are far more critical of ourselves than you could ever be. We’re often torn between our family’s needs back home and our desire to serve this country.

We’re afraid to tell you how we are because we’re afraid you’ll pull us off the field and this is our dream to be here.

So listen to us. Trust us when we say we can and we can’t. Help us build a team of other volunteers/missionaries who can stand alongside us. Encourage us to use some of the money you give us for R&R, holiday trips, and refilling so we don’t burn out. And have patience for our internet that constantly goes out meaning we might forget about your email.

We need you to respect our calling

“People say, ‘Oh, that’s so cute you are a missionary because you are not married. Just think when you finally get married you can stop living overseas and serve your family and don’t have too save the world anymore'” – Tina

We are leaders who are capable and our vocation is central to our life. Many women reported that single women are treated much differently than single men. Single men seem to be able to do more of what they want. For single women in missions, we feel our callings are often diminished as fanciful or less valuable until we are married, or that our hands are tied due to “unsafe” conditions.

For us this isn’t a trip. It’s our life now, a life we sacrificed for. Our purpose is fulfilling and worth it to us.

Sarah said, “People treat you like you have all the time in the world and don’t deserve any time to rest because you are the young, single person. They assume that you are the built-in servant, babysitter, cook, housekeeper, host, etc”

“I wish they could understand I do this out of obedience. I think so many people think that missionaries are just thrill seekers traveling the world because they want to (maybe some are) but this isn’t an adrenaline rush… this is God’s calling. People keep waiting for this ‘trip’ I’m on to be over. But this is about reaching people for Jesus who won’t know His love unless I go.” – Rachael

We need you to reach out

Even if we haven’t responded. Sometimes we’re overwhelmed by life here, the Skype calls slip through the cracks, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want you to reach out. It’s better if we have an established person/mentor with a relationship of trust versus a random stranger who wants us to open up about our entire life and ministry. Build intimacy with us first, then dare to ask us the tough questions and dare us to feel the fear or hurt that lies inside.

“In the 15 years I’ve been here my commissioning church has only contacted me twice before my reaching out. I have 500 supporters to stay in contact with and they have 1. A little more effort would be appreciated.” – Debra

Many said, letters and personal notes (emails) skype phone calls, short texts, whatsapp messages, prayers, prophetic words, even small care packages are a huge encouragement. Just to know someone is thinking about you. Many single missionaries noted it would be nice to not just be asked what the local pastors or orphans need, but what do you need us to bring over?

Ask about us as a real, multifaceted person, with loves, strengths, and hobbies. Don’t just ask about the ministry or when we’re getting married (sheesh!)

“I think the best thing would be for them to experience where I am for themselves, they’d have to be here to understand the full picture of my life.” – Emily

Ask if it would be helpful to come visit us on a short term trip and see what it’s like to live here in this culture and experience my daily life for yourself so you can respond with more empathy.

There’s nothing wrong with us

“People feeling sorry for you because you are alone. They say, ‘What a blessing that you are here pouring out the best years of your life for these people, but aren’t you worried that you won’t get married?'”

When I was a single, I was fulfilled in my life. I was pouring into girls and children who every day filled my life with love. Yes, it was lonely at times, but that didn’t mean I was out looking for a man to make my life complete.

I mean it’s hilarious and annoying how many times I got asked in Uganda, “Why don’t you have a husband?” and “When are you going to make babies?” As if there was something wrong with me!

In many host cultures, a single or childless woman is considered  more of a “girl” than a woman. You can be seen as “worthless,” or there is shame attached to being single. There’s a feeling of being a second class citizen.

We are single but we are still content in our purpose.

“Know that if we desire to be married, it isn’t bitterness to grieve and wrestle with that. Know we can serve in unique ways because of the freedom and richness of this season, but grieving is healthy and should be something we expect not stuff down.” -Lanae

Lastly, what stood out as truly beautiful was that these women still have hope.

“The love of God is for now. You have to live one day at a time. I’m hopeful for what is to come but aware that I’m perfectly equipped and capable right now.” -Rachael

They are deeply passionate about their callings. They knew the risks to their other dreams of marriage/children and they counted that cost willingly. They trust God to bring a man into their life at the right time, or they trust Him for a new season, even when that trust is challenged by outside circumstance. They’re amazing.

 “God is not limited by location or occupation.” -Emily

What came out of this survey for me is how incredibly proud I am of each one of you single, missionary BADASS women who has been undaunted in facing these challenges. So THANK YOU! You’re amazing, courageous, and capable and I pray we can find the ways to truly honor and care for you. I am more resolved now than ever to do so.


**This is part of a series I’ll be doing on “Singleness in Missions”– Stay tuned! My hope with these pieces is to give voice to this generation of warriors on the front lines and all you’re facing. So please, email me or comment below any thoughts relevant to this topic you’d like me to write on!

***If you’re a sending org or church who has sent out single missionaries make sure you check in with them about their unique needs and challenges. Ask them how you can serve them better. And make sure you are connecting them to regular counseling and coaching for ongoing support.

Connect Deeper

If you resonated with this article, please subscribe to my blog. You will get a free copy of my eBook A Self-Care Plan for Global Workers and it will change your life.

If you’re a single missionary, know you’re not alone! There are so many others feeling how you feel. Please comment below and share your experiences.

(Guys, I know you’re not represented in this piece, but I’d love to hear your thoughts- Where have all the good, single men in missions gone?)


Additional Resources:

What Missionaries Wished Their Churches Knew
The Need for a New Missions Paradigm
Not Yet Married
Singleness: Hope for the Heart
The Misinterpreted Gospel of Singleness
Called Together (Disclaimer: apparently a dating/friendship website for missionaries wanting to meet other missionaries–full disclosure I’ve never used it so it could be totally weird!)

Related Posts

  • Anna

    I am a female, married missionary with no children and no plans to have children. The Lord just hasn’t given my husband and I the desire for kids, even after 10 years of marriage. I do realize this is much less common than single missionaries or married with kids, but the challenges and response to our situation is very similar to that of singles. People don’t treat us like adults sometimes, they assume we’re doing the missionary thing until we come home, have kids and be “real adults,” there are no groups or bible studies for women not centered around moms and even in our prefield training much of the breakout sessions for married couples were centered around kids. I have always had a hard time feeling like I fit in at churches in the U.S. and now as a missionary as well simply because the Lord has not called me to be a mom (and people are sometimes too open with their thoughts and opinions on this). I said all this to say, there are always challenges associated with whatever stage of life we’re in. I can’t imagine the challenges parents face or singles face, BUT God is bigger than those challenges when we focus on Him and I keep doing what I’m called to do regardless of what others think. I am thankful that people are starting to dialogue and be open and honest about their unique challenges on the mission field.

    • Hi Anna, thank you so much for sharing. I hear you, I’ve been married 8 years, and I still don’t have children and you kind of feel like an outsider of a “club.” It’s challenging. Thanks for sharing openly and honestly about your feelings.

  • Dancergirlmelody

    I’m a single, female missionary in Berlin in my second year and so many of these things resonate! Thank you so much for this post. I look forward to reading the rest of this series!

    • Hi Dancergirlmelody- I’m so glad it resonated with you. I was so inspired by the responses of all the women who shared their stories and experiences with me. We need more women like you! :)

  • Allison

    Love this! I especially appreciated this line: “Ask about us as a real, multifaceted person, with loves, strengths, and hobbies. Don’t just ask about the ministry or when we’re getting married.” I’ve spent time overseas and got those kind of questions all the time. I’m now back in the States, and recently a single missionary who’s visiting said, “The odds [for marriage] are better when we’re where the Lord wants us to be.” So comforting as I pray about future plans and continue on as a single woman in a place where the odds are supposed to be in my favor.

    • Hi Allison, it’s so true. It’s hard for people to remember we’re real people with real problems outside of the ministry. I’ve always believed that when we’re pursuing Jesus firs the rest of stuff will fall into place. Thanks for sharing honestly and for your service

  • Jeanie Griggs

    This is me to a T. I tell you, I could not have wrote this better myself. I go through all of this all the time. God is good and I am so glad someone is addressing this. Bless you dear sister.

    • Thanks so much for commenting! It’s good to know you are not alone :)

  • Marlute van Dam

    Thank you Sarita, this post was very helpful. I, as a
    single lady in the mission field, recognize a lot of what you wrote
    here. Especially the question: why aren’t you married? But instead of
    1000 times, I think I have heard this question about a million times,
    about 3 times a day at least. Even though I think it’s a more conscious
    decision to get married than to be single, nobody ever asks somebody why
    they are married…
    And it’s true that people expect me to
    leave the mission field as soon as I get married. I have had a
    boyfriend, but he thought that it was insulting that I thought that he
    could help me in my mission, or that we can work together, so that
    didn’t last. Women are expected to give up their work and go wherever
    their husband wants to go, not vice-versa. Men often are offended when
    they find out that I’m more intelligent than they are, even if they have
    talents that I don’t have.
    I think my colleagues don’t
    realize that I don’t have anybody to defend me, if I’m tired or
    overworked, I have to stand up for myself, there is nobody who will do
    that for me.

    But I also like to be single. I’m able to
    live with a Roma family (I work with Roma people in Romania) in a way
    that I couldn’t do if I had my own family. Now I’m almost adopted by the
    Roma family I’m living with and everybody considers me to be their

    Thank you.

    • Yes Marlute, that is so true. Again and again women said they wish they had someone to stand up for them and that was a longing they missed in not having a husband. At the same time this lack often gave them the opportunity to have a voice for themselves. So thank you for sharing and what you’re doing for the Roma people. We need you out there!

  • RighteousGrace

    Thank you for writing this, and your transparency. Lots of food for thought. My sister has been single and overseas for quite some time, and I’ve also spent time as a single male overseas, I would like to talk more some time about this as there are some valuable things to raise.

    • Hi, yes, we are definitely lacking the male perspective and I would love to hear more about the challenges you’ve faced or what you’ve noticed. And as you can see, we have a lack of single men overseas- would love to hear your thoughts on why you think that is :)

      • Matthew Henneke

        I too served overseas for two years as a single male and I faced many of the same thoughts both from American and East Asian cultural perspective regarding marriage, wasting life, being selfish, and more. I greatly appreciate your thoughts and time spent in writing a piece that truly flushes out the life of a single person abroad. Sadly, most mission groups discourage or simply deny people from being missionaries.

        • Matthew, I’m glad you could relate to the article as a man. Do you have any thoughts on why women outnumber men so much on the mission field, when it comes to singles?

  • Lauren Purser

    Thank you for this post! I am a single woman who is making preparations for the long-term mission field. I’ve faced internal and external doubt/opposition/fears. However, I know God is bigger than all of those things-He will fulfill His promises to His children.

    • Hi Lauren, yes that’s so true! You have to pursue those dreams and know God’s going to take care of the rest. God sent my husband to find me on the mission field- I definitely believe in miracles. :) If you need help prepping for the field I have some good resources here:

    • Beth

      No better place to be, Lauren, than where God wants you to be. It want necessarily be an easy path, but it may be. Regardless, God walks the path with you. Blessings.

  • Michal

    As a single male missionary, I want to give the highest respect to all single female missionaries. I could have never understood the difficulties you face until I myself moved overseas. The dependency on others for such simple things as grocery shopping because of safety concerns is a burden I cannot imagine carrying. And yet it’s so real and you carry it every day. Please, forgive us, men from the West, for ever looking down on you or thinking you’re just a naive adventure seeker. You, single ladies, are incredible. And any missionary, married or single, who has experienced the conditions in which you live has nothing but respect and admiration for you.

    I applaud you for finding a long-term victory over loneliness. I know what it feels like to find out 2 months after you arrive in your host country that your old friends from the West are able to relate to less than 10% of what you’re experiencing. That period when your old friends don’t understand anymore what you’re going through yet you haven’t learned enough of the language to make new deep friendships with the locals is hard. Sometimes very hard. And it’s not your fault because you’re a woman. It’s just the cost of a dreamer’s life. Thank you for persevering through this season.

    I applaud you for not getting bitter being asked a million times why you’re not married. This is a real training in forgiveness. Especially if the next thing after someone finds out your age and that your single is that their attitude towards you suddenly changes and now you’re considered a little more than an attention-seeking babysitter. And what on earth makes you think you could ever dream of preaching or ministering to people??? Please forgive us, men, for this attitude. I’m very sorry for every time you see walls put up by this doctrine. The truth is, we absolutely need what you carry, we need you to teach, to be free to prophecy, to love with all the fierceness in you, we need the fullness of your passion and your emotions. We desperately need female leaders who won’t bow before such a hurtful doctrine.

    I applaud you for not giving up after you experience the full extent of those two dreaded words: safety concern. I know many of you would love to go for a walk alone in the woods or through the countryside. I feel you. We, guys, experience it, too. It’s just not possible being white in a country with so many guns (pretty much any developing country). How I wish sometimes I could go for a walk away from people but it’s too dangerous. I know the feeling when your house feels like a prison once work/ministry is over. And I’m not even talking about places where even driving a car on your own as a woman is too dangerous. Yet you still choose to live there. You’re so brave I have no words…

    And I have an incredible respect for you for learning how to navigate your emotions. It’s so easy to slip into the mode of always having to be strong, always trying to be strong for someone else who’s going through a difficult time… It’s so easy to face so much trauma and then just stuff it all in because there is yet one more person who needs help… And because you’re a woman, there is also the pressure on you that you have to be strong to get as much done as a man would, to make yourself useful and prove you can do it, too… To not let your emotions look like a liability… I don’t know how you do it, how you make it through! I guess that’s why Father gave you tears… So that you could cry, pour out all the pain, frustration, exhaustion, and loneliness and then once you’re empty, let Him fill you with His strength again… I believe it’s your tears that make you strong and that enable you to stay strong. I hope you can see how precious your tears are. They are your strength and in no way a weakness or liability.

    And I just wanted to say as a man: We, men, are proud of you, single female missionaries. We really are. And your Father in Heaven is also very proud of you. You’re an endless inspiration to us and I’m very sorry that so few of us see the glory in the missionary calling that you see, and so many of us follow it with you. I consider you the best, most loving, most patient, kindest, strongest, bravest, and all-round most captivating women out there! And every man that gets to stand at your side one day is very, very blessed because he has found a true treasure.

  • Celine Cheong

    Wow!! Well written and lots of things based up the accurate data!! Thank u so much for writing like this and I once considered myself as a missionary and felt very similar emotions and can relate to you pretty well~

  • Belinda Kuhn

    Thanks for encouraging understanding and for the immense support this gives to single women missionaries.
    I’ve been on the mission field since 1982 and can certainly identify with each and every challenge. Early in missions and wondering about marriage almost daily an older missionary woman said to me, “Follow hard after God and do not shrink back from His open doors of opportunity no matter where they lead you to. Finding a mate was always God’s job, not yours, so if you fully obey Him He will direct your paths.”
    Though I still occasionally wondered or even tried to make something happen, I had made my decision – to trust and obey God, the Chief Lover of my soul. No regrets! Not always easy to face the questioning and to be passed over and second-guessed in leadership positions, but I have no regrets for following hard after God.
    Interestingly, at the wonderful age of 60 God directed my path to the perfect man for me who is totally supportive of my mission. He was worth the wait and I am so thankful.
    I was single and satisfied for all those years and tried my best to become the whole woman of God He designed me to be. Bringing that into marriage was the best gift ever for my husband. Marriage is not the prize for being a good Christian girl, God is! And, with God in the center of our marriage, we are following hard after God together and for His glory.

    Something I might add to the list of how your church can support you: find or make opportunities to celebrate single women. Birthdays, milestones, achievements, special missions, etc. are perfect to throw a party and celebrate these heroic women. Married women have wedding showers, anniversaries, baby showers, children’s birthdays, husband’s birthdays – you name it… plenty of occasions to celebrate. Have a make-up and jewelry party for the single ladies or send special packages to let them know you care and that you honor their service.

    Including singles in holidays is great, but they can hostess your family, too…. Sometimes I felt that we “poor singles” had to be looked after by “wonderful families”… you get my drift with the attitude there, right? I made a point of inviting families over for a picnic or a meal or a Christmas coffee time or…. If it was a larger family that wouldn’t fit into my small quarters I may team up with another single lady and find a bigger spot. We are creative!

    And, by the way, it doesn’t always help the way you intend by sharing my story of getting married at 60 – “so there’s still hope for you, too!” with your single missionary women friends. I never planned to “wait” so long because I wasn’t the one controlling the wait… I trusted and obeyed. That’s all. Yes, I always wanted to get married but I surrendered that to God’s hands and even if I had never gotten married I would still be trusting and obeying, just like now.

  • Sarah Schepens

    Thank you for this!! and giving us a voice. I have been overseas single for over 7 years in the Middle East and Europe and now coming into my mid-30’s its become a harder struggle. Especially the lack of dating options;/ Having more education, experience, and knowledge than my male or married counterparts, but just never being taken seriously. The Lord is constantly reminding me I have a voice at the table and we NEED to give singles more places at the table. As you said in your post, we are the majority of workers! I have experienced every single one of those bullet points. Thanks for writing them all down and giving us power in shared experience.

    • You are so welcome Sarah! We need women like you on the field, and we need to do a better job of supporting you. I’m so glad you feel this post gave you a voice. Please share it with your other single friends–let’s start a movement! :)

  • Rachel Amber Rogers

    this is an incredible article – thank you for sharing – as i then shared it via Facebook in an attempt to help other people realistically understand me and life as a single, missionary woman – but i was hoping that you could help me understand the “being emotionally manipulated into cross cultural marriages” comment. i’m not sure in what context and by whom you’re referring to – unless it was purely sharing from personal experience? thanks.

    • Hi Rachel, that’s wonderful, I’m glad you shared it. Sure, in the context where I was living in Uganda, often nationals would pursue a white woman because they thought she was rich or had money. Sometimes these women were lonely, or not used to being pursued so emphatically by a man, so they ended up getting married, only to discover this person wasn’t truly interested in who they were. Sometimes those cultural differences meant that man was unfaithful. Obviously this is not the case for all cross cultural marriages, but it did bear noting as it does happen to single women quite frequently where their loneliness made them more vulnerable to advances by men who didn’t have their best interests at heart. Does that make sense?

      • Candice Lassey

        I can 100% back this up… I’ve been on the receiving end of such attention by men here, several times. Part of the issue I’ve faced is that men rarely accept “no” for an answer, it seems like it just makes them more eager to pursue. At home we’d classify it as sexual harassment (the constant comments, the unwarranted late night messages and phone calls… me wondering how they even got my number etc). I’ve been told several times that it’s the man’s duty to ask and the woman’s duty to say yes and that I should feel honoured by their attention, yet more often than not I feel really uncomfortable!
        There was a time when I almost gave in – when I first came to Uganda and I was a bit more naive. It was a combination of loneliness & not being used to the constant compliments and attention. Thankfully a friend came to visit and helped me realise that I was making decisions out of vulnerability and not out of sound reasoning. In hindsight, Bullet dodged!

        • So true, thanks for sharing your experience Candice. :)

          • bumis smichele

            Lest anyone think this is purely a Uganda thing… It happens in Asia too! Just throwing that in there. 😉

  • Candice Lassey

    Sarina! Who are you and why haven’t we met 😂 I feel like you just wrote my heart out.
    I’m also a single missionary living in Uganda and way too much of this resounded with me – the fake wedding rings, the late night boda concerns, the lack of uninitiated communication from home, all of that!
    I’m blessed now to be working with an organisation that treats me like a woman but I’ve spent time in others feeling like a girl simply because I was female, unmarried and liked to laugh (apparently married women don’t laugh haha).
    I think the hardest thing in my preparation to come here was people constantly asking me if I had a man here or if I was planning to get married here – as though a single female couldn’t actually move to Uganda simply because that was where God called her. I used to joke with people that if I had a dollar for every time people asked me if I was getting married then I’d never have to fundraise!
    Jokes aside, I’m so grateful for this article, thanks for writing it!!

    • You are so welcome Candice, I’m so glad it resonated! And thanks for your service to Uganda. I miss it so! It’s so true that it’s an insult to feel like people don’t think single women can change the world. Thanks for sharing! :)

  • bumis smichele

    I relate to so much of this. Just want to throw in some benefits that come with age. I’m 48 and still single and still on the field. The ‘proposals’ and even some of the leering and other harassment lessens with age. People tend to give up pressuring you to marry or asking so many questions about it (not totally, but it’s less than it was 20 years ago for sure)! And slowly, I seem to have gained ‘adult’ status despite being single. I’m not sure what age that they decided it was possible for me to be mature without a husband, but thankfully, it’s finally happened. :) (I realize many singles reading this will be horrified at the thought of reaching this age without being married, and I believe if you long to be married, there’s a very good chance you will be before 48 . I have actually embraced being single).

  • Elizabeth Nice

    Oh my goodness!! I am so ashamed of my church. I am not a single Missionary, but I am a member of a church here in the UK that sends out Missionaries. My daughter is also a Missionary in Angola – married with 3 beautiful daughters – she of course is British, but her husband and the rest of the team she’s serving with are all Americans, so she has her own specific issues with isolation from her cultural norms. I visited her & her family last month for an amazingly wonderful trip – partly to meet her 3rd baby, my 5th Grandchild, but also to go out into the Bush with the team on a short mission.Not bad for a 69 yr old!!! What an experience!!! It has been life changing for me, like nothing I have ever experienced before. Now I am back in the UK looking to God with renewed inspiration for how I can continue to support my daughter & her team, how I can get my church even more involved. They do send financial support to various Mission organisations and possibly some individuals send encouragement – but your article has made me painfully aware that what is done is woefully little. I am due to give a presentation at my church, with the aim of raising up a group to go on a short term mission trip to Angola next year. With your permission, I shall also use some of what you have said in that presentation.
    As a bit of personal encouragement for you, and all single missionary women – I was single when I became a Christian and longed for a husband and children, but God called me to surrender that longing entirely to Him and taught me first to look to Him for my personal fulfilment and self worth. For several years I just got on with life and my career, building my relationship with God and coming to rely more and more on Him, rather than look to another, frail human to meet my needs. Once I got that down, with quite a struggle I might say, then he brought my husband into my life and gave me two beautiful children.I was very blessed to have two older ladies in particular in my church, both now gone to glory, who took me under their wings and mentored me, with love and grace.
    Thank you so much for your honesty in this article – and for the amazing, wonderful work you are doing as a true disciple of God – ” But thanks be to God who always leads [you] in triumphal procession in Christ and through [you] spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For [you] are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are lost.” 2 Cor 2:14-15. When my daughter read this out to her 4 yr old, Faith asked, about the aroma, ‘Is it pink?’ pink being her favourite colour!!! We laughed, but I had a lovely picture of the beauty of Christ’s aroma, as a deep fulsome rosy colour, spreading out through the earth as people like you faithfully answer God’s call to a higher level of sacrifice than most of us are called to.

  • Beth

    As I read this article I strongly identified with so much of it. I wish this could have been talked about when I came home after 5.5 years of NGO and church planting work in an War torn Islamic country. I was suffering burnout and PTSD. I was 33 when I went & 39 when I came home to recover from being under fire in a war zone. Single and content in my singleness; firmly sure that God wanted the best for my life, that as I was single this WAS His best for me at that time. There were many things as a single that I could do, that my married female friends could not.

    This was now 20 years ago, and I have been happily married for 13+ years, no kids. But there is a lingering pain from my short years of overseas ministery, and parts of this article made me quite teary right now …. someone understands what I went through! It’s very validating.

    Member care when i came back home was very very limited, & PTSD was not understood or recognised in Christian counselling circles & so treatment was inadequate .. & as a single woman, who do you talk to?!
    Thank you for your article & your ministry. Being a single woman missionary or in ministry anywhere, but especially in another country is a tough calling but in many ways rewarding. If this is a call on our lives, we suffer for Christ, but the Body needs to support & minister & bring healing.