“Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?” (Job 12.9-10) NSB
This image of being in God’s hand talks of a proximity or closeness to God and being in God’s hands is the best place to be. To be in God’s hands is to be close to him – close enough to hear him speak in that still, small voice, to know you are on the right path, and to know you are walking in His plans and purposes for your life. A believer only has to walk the Christian walk a short distance to begin realizing this truth. Yet, even though we can trust and know we are walking with the Lord, we also know there are trials ahead, but God’s grace is sufficient to help us arrive at the destination He’s planned for us.
This has certainly been the case with my journey as a single missionary in Trinidad, Bolivia with CVM. It has had its moments of highs (and more than a few lows); however, God’s grace has been sufficient in all. I did not see God’s plans for my life fully when I began this adventure of serving as a long-term fieldstaff member in 2013. Nor did I know exactly what my three years here in Bolivia would entail. I did not know that I would catch Dengue fever twice, Chikungunya virus, and have a Salmonella infection that took a month to cure and I would lose close to 25 pounds. Living and serving in Trinidad has had its difficulties with tropical diseases, contaminated water, and overall harsh, tropical climate. Yet God’s grace has been evident in it all.
There are many ways in which being single has more fully equipped me for my work. If I had had a spouse and children here, they too may have been exposed to the same conditions and diseases as I was. As a single fellow, I’ve had the opportunity to travel quite extensively here in Bolivia and twice to Peru representing VetRed (CVM’s Latin American Affiliate). Travel is hard with a family and a spouse longs to be with his or her family. My being single has allowed God to launch VetRed into places where it had not previously been. I have learned not to walk in fear of being single; because of my stage in life, God has been able to use me in many ways and I am thankful!
If you are single and feel called to serve God as a missionary, walk in boldness knowing God desires great things in and through your life and your singleness could be a very important key in the success of fulfilling God’s will. It could be ministering to a lost people group in Africa or vet students in a university in the far reaches of Bolivia; wherever He calls you, He will guide you.
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” (Luke 9.23-24) NSB
I have drawn and continue to draw great comfort from knowing God’s word. The promises of God give the believer so much strength and the ability to keep fighting the good fight of the Christian faith and walk. I frequently go back to the words of Jesus where he said the reward would be great for those who leave everything to follow and serve Him – no matter the cost. It takes a lot of courage and faith to leave all behind, not knowing whether your dreams will ever come true – maybe its owning your own veterinary clinic, becoming board certified, or getting married. I remember vividly when I called my mom from Bolivia to tell her I was dating my now fiancée and a proposal would likely come within a year. She was so excited, and explained why; she had thought that since I was beginning life as a single missionary I had given up on the idea or plan for marriage. I was speechless because that certainly wasn’t the case!
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) ESV
This is one of my favorite promises from the Bible. To delight yourself in the Lord goes back to being close to Him, knowing Him, and walking in His plans and purposes for your life. For many years, one of my strongest desires has been to find a God-fearing wife to begin the journey of marriage with and to start a family. My desire to have kids is deep and strong. God certainly knew about this – even though I have reminded Him often throughout the years! But God knew what was best for my life and He opened the door in its due season. I am excited to be heading back to the States to marry the love of my life this fall. God knew who my bride-to-be was and knew she would need to finish vet school and I would need to finish up my first term as a long-term fieldstaff with CVM. He knew all of the details ahead of time, but He also knew the desires of my heart. Just as He is intimately familiar with each of the desires of my heart, He intimately knows the desires of your heart as well. Don’t lose faith; keep holding onto the promises of God even if He is calling you into a new season of your life in a different order than you had planned.
“I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of Truth…you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14.16 & 17b)
God promises that we will never be alone as we abide in Him and as we walk where He has called us. He provided the Holy Spirit to be with us and to aid us in our daily walk to become more like Christ. We have a help-mate who is with us at all times. In talking to my single missionary friends, one of the biggest concerns (especially for someone serving in a place alone or without a team) is the lack of companionship and fellowship with individuals who share the same worldview, cultural mindset, and even the same hobbies and food. In my three years in Bolivia I certainly have experienced my moments where I was ready to pack my bags and head north to the United States. But running from God’s call is not the solution to finding peace and being close to God. Jesus states that is was necessary for Him to return to Heaven and be with the Father, but he would not leave us alone here on this earth. He would send the Holy Spirit – our Counselor, Friend, and Advocate to help us walk out the plans and purposes of God. The Holy Spirit is never more than a whisper away – closer than any brother or friend.
So, it is possible and can be fruitful to be a single missionary! As I end this season of being single I know I am more prepared and equipped to be the man God has called me to be – first as a believer, and second as a husband to my beautiful bride. I have learned so much more about myself, about others and relating to them, and about God during this season of being single, but I would not trade any of these experiences to have already been married and possibly missed out on the last three years of the life I have experienced. It may have been like a roller coaster, but the ride has been worth it. God’s grace has been sufficient in all and will continue to be – no matter what the next seasons hold!
This article was featured in our Autumn Journal. Sign up for the journal!