This month’s Serve is a conversation between Travis Gravley (Administrator for Church Relations and Enlistment) and Dr. Joy Anglea. A former medical missionary to Micronesia, Dr. Anglea serves as BMM’s Medical Director.
Travis: Why is it, do you think, that single missionaries have played such a vital (even heroic) role in the history of missions?
Joy: While single missionaries have no greater value than married missionaries, names like Amy Carmichael, David Brainerd, Mary Slessor, Henry Martyn, and Gladys Aylward have made an indelible mark on missions history. They simply surrendered their all to follow God’s leading in their lives, remaining totally dependent on God. They served in spite of what some might consider personal obstacles or fears and had the flexibility to reach regions that lacked health care or education for families. Perhaps they were motivated by the Apostle Paul’s example.
Travis: How would you encourage those singles out there who are considering missions but feel reticent because of the need to raise support?
Joy: There is a long track record of other singles who have effectively raised missionary support with God’s help. Very few singles feel personally adequate for this task, but why would God call someone to do something that’s impossible? He doesn’t set us up for failure. His call comes with a promise, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20). Also, one major benefit of raising support is making new friends who will encourage and pray for you as their part of fulfilling the Great Commission. Your own world will broaden as you share the burden the Lord has laid on your heart and the needs of people on your field of service.
Travis: If you had only one piece of advice you could give to a single who is afraid of the support-raising process, what would it be?
Joy: Give your fears to God! We all have fears, but it’s what we choose to do with them that makes the difference between retreat and advance. Single missionaries who have raised their support admit that they grew stronger through the experience, gaining confidence and building their trust in the Lord.
Travis: For those who are involved in missions, what would you say are the key discouragements to guard against and how?
Joy: Loneliness is considered the most common problem for single missionaries. Maintaining a vibrant, consistent, rock-solid devotional life before and after arrival to the field provides the greatest strength. Investing yourself in the lives of others (e.g., nationals, other missionary families), creating special ways to celebrate on special occasions, and even hobbies can help.
Not taking adequate time to rest or comparing your “success” with other missionaries can also lead to discouragement. Again, remaining close to the Lord and transparently seeking His guidance on seemingly mundane matters like your schedule and thought life are vitally important.
Travis:Thank you for your example of faithfully following our Lord. Any last thoughts?
Joy: The psalmist says that God opens His hand and satisfies our desires (Psalm 145:16). If He calls you into missions, don’t let fear—or anything—stop you. He will truly meet your needs and satisfy your desires. After all, Christ really does understand singleness!
BMM values the contribution singles make in building Christ’s church worldwide. We would love to partner with singles and their sending churches as they consider this step of faith toward missions. Contact us today if we can answer your questions or help you take the next step — email@example.com.
Dr. Joy Anglea is a former medical missionary to Micronesia. She serves as BMM’s Medical Director and leads medical missions trips around the world. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.