5 Ways Singles Can Help Couples on the Mission Field

A couple weeks back I wrote a blog about how mission agencies, couples and ministry partners can help singles on the field. I had a good discussion with my sister about that blog and because of that I thought more about singles also having their own responsibility (which I will get to in a bit). I highlighted singles in my blog because I am one and I have seen some things that are lacking in the community where I live, but after thinking about the topic some more I came to the rather obvious conclusion, that every individual person on the mission field needs help. While there is no single solution to help every group of people I thought I would list some ideas as to how a single on the mission field might help the couples that are with them on the field.

I was thinking about this some and I realized that I have no idea what a couples needs are, really. I will do my best, though, to provide some ideas that have been shared with me and that I have observed on my own. I will now present you with 5 ways that singles can help couples (with or without kids) on the mission field.

  1. Invite them, as a couple or as an individual to join you. It’s no secret that singles, typically have more time to do things they want to do, whether it is a day trip to a city, dinner out or playing games with friends. That doesn’t mean, though, that couples wouldn’t have time to join them. They might not….but they might.
  2. Love on their kids. Couples with kids are missing family and friends just like singles miss their family and friends. Their kids not having grandma, grandpa, aunt or uncle there can be even harder than us adults not having our family. So bring a smile to the parents and kids faces by becoming their family. This may include babysitting, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. I’m Uncle Jacob to a few kids around here and I love it!
  3. Listen. Even though we might not fully understand the issues of a married couple or parent, we can still listen and be there for them when they are having a bad day. So put your feelings aside, for a bit, about wanting to be married and how you would gladly trade your troubles for their marriage troubles, and just listen. Be there for your friend, it’s that simple.
  4. Be flexible. A single’s schedule is typically more open, so sometimes you might need to be flexible in order to spend time with your married friends. This might mean that your plans will change suddenly or not be set until just before it happens (this is hard for me since I like my plans to be set well in advance). But really, that’s ok. Be flexible and don’t take it personal if they can’t hang out with you as often as you would like.
  5. Invite them to your home or bring dinner to them. It is way more common, in my experience, for singles to be invited over for dinner and not the opposite. To some degree it makes sense, I mean it’s cheaper to feed one than two (or more) but if you can cook, then why not host some people and give them a bit of a break. You might need to offer to bring dinner over if they have young kids who need to go to bed early, so again, be flexible.

I say this is for missionaries on the field, but honestly most of these can be applied, in general, no matter where you are and what you are doing. Every couple and every single is different, so what works for some might not work for others, but if you want to be a blessing to someone in your life, find out what they want/need and help provide that if you can. Everyone could use something, we just need to find out what that is and be willing to help them where they are.

6 Ways to Help Singles on the Mission field

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.