Q&A: Singleness in missions
By Tianna Haas | International
Representative image via Unsplash.
SIM values all stages of life, and singleness is no exception. SIM member Nancy works with singles in missions on the global level. We asked her to share about the unique needs and experiences of this group.
How many singles does SIM have?
Nancy: Currently, SIM has 4,000 workers around the world. Among these, there are about 700 who are single. That translates to roughly 20 per cent of our people. That’s not a number to ignore.
How are single SIM workers supported (emotionally, spiritually, etc.) on the field?
N: One way that mission workers are supported is that we don't put people in places by themselves. There is at least another person or a team that will come alongside you.
Two years ago, SIM created the People Development & Care team to support our global workers physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. And SIM believes in lifelong learning. We want to see people in SIM to be growing in their relationship with God, growing in their relationship with one another, growing in resilience and growing in ministry skills and effectiveness.
What are the main challenges in ministry work for singles?
N: Generally, in missions or ministry, there are misunderstandings and assumptions of what singles want. At the same time, there are misunderstandings and assumptions from singles about married people. So, it can go both ways.
I think true communication, good communication, is necessary. For us to feel safe enough with one another, we have to take off our metaphorical masks and be more real with one another. Just having vulnerable conversations.
There’s a really good book that’s been written called Sacred Siblings, and it address the miscommunication that we have and helpful ways for moving forward. One author is single, and one is married.
In what ways have you seen God move in the lives of single SIM workers?
N: I have seen and heard the stories of God using single workers to build relational bridges to people that married people may not be able to.
We have single workers able to go out into remote communities with the love of Christ and intent on teaching God's truths. We have single workers using their passion or hobby to reach communities where Christ is least known.
How do singles navigate different cultures?
N: In cultures where family is a high value, it can be difficult. Even in our culture in North America and Western cultures, family is the value.
So, I think it’s a challenge when we’re ministering to a community where family is the focus and they look at single people differently. But we want to bring them this beautiful gift – the gospel. We mainly try to find creative ways to work in that situation and know that God has brought these singles to share about Jesus.
How could a person who is single and considering missions work prepare for ministry?
N: The good news is they don't need to do it on their own. SIM has skilled and experienced people to provide orientation, training and learning opportunities that will prepare them for ministry.
And remember, we believe in lifelong learning, so there are people always looking at the needs of our people, and then looking for or developing the right training. Also, SIM partners with the person's local church to care and support the person together.
Are you considering cross-cultural ministry? Whether you’re single or married, we are ready to help you follow God’s calling to share the good news about new life in Christ throughout the world. Contact us today to find out how you can join our SIM family.
• Singles in missions to rely on Jesus, invest in their ministry, and equip the church.
• Married and single Christians to work toward understanding and supporting each other better.
• Those isolated during the pandemic to find community, whether that be over digital platforms or in safely distanced settings.