Question about Singles/Families for missionaries:

"What are women allowed to do on the mission field?"

"Almost anything."

Answer from David Smith, director of mobilization with WEC International. David has been a missionary twenty-five years, first as a field worker in West Africa and now at WEC USA headquarters.

The short answer is that there are many opportunities for women. They comprise about two-thirds of the missionary force. In some agencies their roles are limited. In others there is virtually no limit.

In some ministries, women cannot plant churches or pastor churches or become part of leadership. In others they can do virtually anything.

In WEC the answer is you can do almost anything. In a few cases we have not let a woman go into a situation that seemed especially dangerous. Difficult is not an issue, but danger can be. We have women doing almost every kind of ministry in WEC, and we have some women in leadership positions.

Most women in WEC don't want to be leaders. Most men don't either. A good leader has to give up much of his or her personal ministry in order to lead, and most of our people love to serve on the frontlines.

"Women’s roles vary by agency and country."

Answer from Jack Voelkel, missionary-in-residence with the Urbana Student Mission Convention; originally published on the Urbana website. Previously Jack served thirty years with Latin America Mission in Peru and Columbia. Find other answers and articles from Jack and others on the Urbana blog.

In her book Guardians of the Great Commission, Ruth Tucker reminds us, "The role of women in the modern missionary movement has been phenomenal. No other public ministry in the church has so captured the interest and commitment of women in the past 200 years."

Tucker notes that by the early decades of the twentieth century, "women outnumbered men on the mission field by a ratio of more than two to one."

Just as in other walks of life, there are many instances where women have received neither the freedom to do what they would like to do nor the due recognition of what they have accomplished. However, there are exceptions, and Tucker's book will inspire you with what women have accomplished in the context of cross-cultural missions.

There are two important variables that you need to take into account. Mission agencies have their own "personalities" and offer a differing range of opportunities for women. The context of service would also be an important factor. For example, in Muslim cultures, local customs (which vary) will greatly influence the freedom of women's public activities and the way they dress.

Editor's Note: Readers might also be interested in the book Frontline Women: Negotiating Crosscultural Issues in Ministry, by Marguerite G. Kraft.

"Whatever God calls them to do."

Answer from Dale Pugh, international coordinator of World International Mission, who served long-term in Mexico. Dale is author of How to Survive on the Mission Field.

In our agency, World Indigenous Missions, women are allowed to do whatever they are called to do. The history of missions is full of wonderful examples of women being successful in mission work. From Lottie Moon to Gladys Aylward, ladies have been used mightily in God's work. We do believe that in some cultures and places there are safety issues to look at and cultural situations that need to be dealt with carefully, but we can and do allow women to fulfill their call.

"Come as you are."

Answer from Lori, serving in Asia.

This question must be more specific to get a helpful answer for you. I don't think single women and married women have the same opportunities anywhere in the world!! We each have our part to play. And of course, in various parts of the world ALL women's opportunities are a bit limited. We have been on the field in Asia for five years and I have seen single women impact this society tremendously, as well as having the privilege of doing a bit of helping as a married woman!

If God is calling you to the field and you are single, don't wait for a husband. Come "just as you are" and God will give you all the opportunities you can handle.

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