5 Benefits of Single-Parenting in Missions
Being a single parent, no matter the reasons, can be both rewarding and challenging. In my experience in missions so far, there are not many single parents serving in missions. I am a single mum of two girls under the age of ten. I started my missions journey whilst separated from my husband. In 2014 I decided to take a leap of faith and travel to the other side of the country to do a Discipleship Training School (DTS) with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Perth.
During my time on DTS, I discovered a deeper understanding of God and who I was. I discovered God’s desire for relationship. This experience provided opportunities to reconnect with my husband. We were able to seek forgiveness, as well as forgive each other for the grievances of our relationship. After completing my outreach phase of the DTS we returned to Perth to get ready to graduate. During lecture phase, I had heard God’s voice to return to YWAM Perth to join staff for at least two years. Two days after we had returned, I received the news that my husband had passed away after having an epileptic seizure in the middle of the night.
“The only thing that was getting me out of bed each day, was my children and the knowledge that God had provided a way for a hope and a future.”
We returned home to plan and attend the funeral for a month before returning to YWAM. Some people questioned if it was wise for us to move back to Perth. Many believed we should wait until we had worked through our grief. The truth is, the only thing that was getting me out of bed each day, was my children and the knowledge that God had provided a way for a hope and a future.
I have been on staff with YWAM Perth now for almost two and a half years. Whilst there have been challenges, there have also been incredible joys and blessings in a community of other believers. Here are five of the benefits I’ve experienced raising children in missions as a single parent.
1. You always have support
When you are surrounded by 300-500 people on a daily basis it is pretty hard to be proud and stubborn (not that I don’t try from time to time), and not accept some type of support. From the first day to the present day, I have had people who have walked alongside me in practical, emotional and in spiritual capacities. From experience, the more humbly I walk the less isolated I am.
2. You are never really alone
I had the privilege of sharing a house with other singles for a time. Whilst this was at first a daunting idea, it has definitely been an incredible blessing. Remember the previous point – support. It was our housemates that created such a safe environment for my children and myself to grieve. Our housemates became family, to laugh, cry and pray together with. Living with others has meant that when I have felt at my lowest and my darkest, I was confident in this one truth – I was NOT alone. When I was weak God has provided the grace of others who can be strong.
3. Children have the opportunity to experience God and other cultures in a unique way
One of the greatest joys as a parent has been to see my children grow spiritually. When we first joined missions, my children knew a little bit about God. To be honest I had never walked so personally with Him as I do now, so they also had not experienced God personally. I remember, the first time I heard my youngest at the age of four, pray for the first time, a real heartfelt prayer. It brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. My children in the past two and a half years have grown in their relationship with God and in their heart for the nations in ways that I could never have imagined outside the context of missions. It is not hard to believe. After all, they are daily surrounded by 300-500 people who are passionately seeking and serving God. It would be hard not to be influenced!
Another great joy is the daily experience that my children have with other cultures and countries. My youngest daughter has friends from several Asian nations, as well as America, Canada, Germany and Africa. They have had friends in India, Nepal and the Philippines as we have travelled also. Other cultures have so many unique and beautiful gifts to offer as they interact with each other. From the way they serve others, to the way they worship Jesus. I am so thankful for this particular point.
“Whilst there have been challenges, there have also been incredible joys and blessings in a community of other believers.”
4. There is accountability
There have been times that I have made decisions for my family, that may not have always been in the best interest for them. My biggest crime would be my work to play ratio. I enjoy work and I find a lot of value and worth in being able to work. This often at times has been at the expense of my girls. In a season where they have needed me the most, I must admit I escaped by using my value for work as an excuse. Thankfully I have had amazing leaders who value family and have walked me through and held me accountable to the fact that my worth can only come from my creator. They have lovingly called me out when I have used work as an escape and when they sense the need for me to spend time with family.
There has also been support and accountability in growing as a parent who reflects the heart of God, an area that God spoke strongly to me right from the beginning of my DTS and continues to speak to me every day. I again could not be any more grateful for the grace of God to call us to missions as a family, even as a single parent. This leads me to the fifth benefit.
“The greatest benefit to raising children in missions is learning to relate to God as our Father and training our children to do the same.”
5. You learn how to relate to God as Father and teach your children to do the same
The greatest benefit of raising children in missions is learning to relate to God as our Father and training our children to do the same. I firmly believe that whether you are in missions or not, if you are a single parent teaching your children to relate to God as the perfect parent, He will grant you greater levels of grace and victory.
Whether it is in prayer or in moments of discipline, going to God as our Father is incredibly important. After all, it’s just me if I don’t. God is much wiser, more loving and understanding than we will ever be able to be. I need to come to Him and ask for help in all circumstances. In teaching my children to do the same, it will foster a healthy relationship with God for them. They do not fear God in a way that makes them unable to approach God, instead they ‘revere’ God in a way that invites and ushers them into His presence, even when they are being disciplined.
So what are you waiting for?
These are just five of many benefits that we have had in a missions context. I am not saying these things cannot be experienced outside of missions. However, it’s possible that there’s an accelerated process due to the daily exposure of the lifestyle we live. If you are a single parent and have concluded that you could never join a cross-cultural missions team, you should reconsider. There is room at the table for you and your family. All that is required is faith as small as a mustard seed. Whether it is short-term or long-term missions, serving God as a family is a challenge worth walking out.