Jen Oshman: What Single Female Missionaries Wish You Knew

My family and I are wrapping up a three-week trip in France, visiting all of our Pioneers in Europe colleagues who serve in this region. It has been a joy to see our co-laborers in their specific ministry contexts.

Many of my teammates on the field are single women. This phenomenon is as old as Christianity—God has called many unmarried women into ministry, indeed far more than single men (80-85 percent of single missionaries are women!). Or maybe it’s just that more women obey the call…but I digress.

I have had the privilege of working alongside many single women over the years in both Asia and Europe. I praise God for these women and I often marvel at their deep faith and fortitude, their ability to independently navigate cultures, sending agencies, churches, teammates, decisions, discerning God’s call and so much more.

I am well aware that my single co-laborers bear unique burdens and also experience unique joys. I count them as heroes and thank God for how he uses them in ways and places that are out of my reach as a married missionary and mom.

During this trip I sat down with a few single female missionaries and texted and emailed a few more and asked them this question: What do you wish others knew about your life and calling? In other words, how can you help those of us in different shoes better understand your journey? In sum, how can we—friends, family, coworkers, teammates, sending churches, sending agencies, supporters—do better? Here are their answers, paraphrased and in no particular order:

  • I really appreciate it when people reach out to me unsolicited. This can be a text, email, phone call or even visit. It’s so encouraging to know that others are thinking of me.
  • When people visit, it’s helpful if they visit as a couple or group or team. It’s awkward to host just one person. If they come with a friend or someone else, then I can enjoy quality time with them, but I don’t have to feel obligated to show them around my town—they can sight-see together and then come back home to hang out with me. It decreases my burden in hosting.
  • It’s huge when people remember my birthday. We singles don’t have Mother’s Day or Father’s Day and often people don’t think of us on Christmas (people tend to send packages to families with missionary kids on Christmas and other holidays). So whenever I get a card or a care package for my birthday or any holiday, it’s a real treat.

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Source: Church Leaders