I’ve been on the mission field for almost two years now, I am single and a male, so essentially I’m a unicorn of the mission’s world. We are rare, but so are singles in general. I recently read a blog entry that spoke mostly to the numbers between couples, male singles and female singles. I’ve also been reading a book, Single Mission, and processing through that as an individual and as a way to help eDOT with other singles in the future.
To be honest, being single in the mission field can, quite frankly, suck. Living cross-culturally can be quite difficult in and of itself, but when you have a built-in support system from the get-go, then it can be relieved to some degree. When you don’t have that built-in support system you might be going home by yourself. It’s tough, but that’s not the point of this blog.
In the blog, I mentioned earlier, Justin says that couples outnumber singles 8:2. Then single females outnumber single males 7:3. These numbers come out of 25,319 people and not every agency or area has that same proportion, but in general, these are the numbers the mission field has and it is something that should be taken into account by missionaries on the field, mission agencies and the ministry partners who get and keep missionaries on the field.
This might become a series of posts as I process through the book more, but for now I want to give those three groups some ideas for how to support their single missionary friends.
For the Missions Agencies:
- Require or highly suggest the single gets and meets regularly with a mentor. This can be invaluable, but may be difficult in certain situations. No matter what though, this can at minimum, be done through Skype.
- Educate leaders within the mission field and how to handle singles, but also how to give them time and help to accomplish things that couples have two people to do. For example, grocery shopping, running errands, banking and other things that is put solely on the single.
For Ministry Partners:
- Send a letter/card/note, a physical one, reminding them that they have support from home. Sending it at a random time is great, adding in a little treat (if not too expensive) is appreciated as well.
- Give singles a safe place to share struggles, even if it is about their mission, co-workers, their new country or whatever. This can be very hard for singles who might not be comfortable sharing struggles with co-workers and so have no one to turn to. Be open and let them know it is alright.
For the married missionaries:
- Invite the single over for dinner or just to hang out. Every day they go home, maybe to roommates, but maybe not. Don’t just give them an open invitation, invite them to specific things. Even if they can’t come they, most likely, will appreciate the invitation.
- Make sure they have someplace to be for major holidays and people to hang out with on their birthdays too.
There are definitely other things that you can do to help singles on the mission field. The best way to find out what the single missionary that you know would like is to ask them. I would love to know of some creative ways people have helped you as a single, or ways you have helped a single. Please share your thoughts below.