Women Missionaries -
Who are They?

Women missionaries can be defined in various ways. You're probably interested in my definition before you read the rest of this page.

The most fundamental answer to the question is any female who enjoys a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and obeys His command to "go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone", is a woman missionary.

When I was a child we sang a couple of choruses I still remember that used this definition. The words to one were:

Be a missionary every day,
Tell the world that Jesus is the way,
Be it in the town or country or the busy avenue,
Africa or Asia, the task is up to you,
So, be a missionary every day,
Tell the world that Jesus is the way,
The Lord is soon returning,
There is no time to lose,
So be a missionary, God's own Emissary,
Be a missionary today.
The second said:
I can be a little missionary,
If the gospel story to the lost I carry,
I can work for Jesus in the homeland,
Lord here am I send me.
Both songs share important Biblical truths about who a Christian missionary is, and what they should be doing. However, the major topic discussed on this page will be that of foreign women missionaries. Women who actually have gone to "Africa or Asia", or in my case, Puerto Rico.

Women Missionaries
Classifications

In my experience, and from the reading I've done, it appears there are three major categories of women missionaries who serve in foreign countries around the world. They are:

  • Single women missionaries- These ladies go "alone" to other countries to spread the Good News that Jesus loves every individual and has provided a way of escape from Hell and eternal destruction.

    I put alone in quotes because although they are alone humanly, the Lord never leaves them alone.

    Some famous women in this category have been Amy Carmichael and Mary Slessor.

    Single women missionaries I've known and worked with have included Barbara Lake, Iris Grau, and Joan Whiteheart.

    Although you may well have heard of the first two, you aren't likely to have heard of the individuals I've known, and personally worked with.

    Yet I assure you, as of this writing, there are hundreds, and probably thousands, of single women missionaries just like them serving the Lord around the world.
  • A missionary wife -This is a missionary lady who has gone with her husband, a missionary as well, to serve in other countries. Many of these ladies have died on the mission field long before their husbands, while others have outlived their husbands and continued in the foreign country as single women missionaries after their husband's death.

    The example that comes to my mind immediately is Elizabeth Elliot, who stayed in Ecuador with the wives of the other men who were martyred with her husband. They were able to reach the Auca Indians, now known as the Wuarani,who had killed their husbands, with the gospel within a few years of their husbands' deaths.

    Missionary wives I've known while serving in Puerto Rico have included Ann Cortes, Joy Sprunger, Dali Garcia, and Ann Buchanan. Of course these aren't the only missionary wives I've known, but they are the ones I've known and worked with the most.

    Although missionary wives serve in a multitude of capacities in the mission work with their husbands, their first responsibility is to their husbands as wives, and to their children as mothers.

    Consequently, they are sometimes limited in their abilities to accomplish other things, by the needs of their families.
  • Short term women missionaries This category of missionary is really a modern phenomenon, since until recently transportation wasn't available to make this type of missionary commitment possible.

    Usually short term women missionaries have specialized skills that can be used on a part time basis. Examples might be doctors, nurses, or teachers who could go to the mission field for a few weeks to a few months to meet a pressing need, or fill in for someone who needs to come home to visit supporting churches, or to take care of medical needs.

    This is my current role when my husband and I go on our short term trips, but he is the one who does the electrical work, while I am somewhat limited in my ability to be involved in ministry, by the short duration of our trips. However, I'm always able to pass out many gospel pamphlets while I'm there.

    The Lord only knows how much or how little is being accomplished through these efforts, but we all know the Holy Spirit is able to use His Word to reach hearts, so I know it is an effort worth making.

    Additionally, I'm able to get a lot of work done on this website, so I'm sure we are communicating with our prayer supporters.

Women Missionaries
Ministries

The ministries accomplished by women on the mission field are probably almost as varied as the women themselves.

Amy Carmichael started homes for girls and women she saved from Hindu slavery and prostitution.

Another single woman missionary I've met named Ann Livingston is a medical doctor and runs a clinic in Haiti.

Dali Garcia, in addition to being a wife and mother, runs the Awana program in their church, and oversees all the ladies ministries in the church. She is the wife of Pastor Garcia, the man we work with on our short term trips to Mayaguez.

What did I do as a single missionary?

The answer to that question is a quite involved, so I hope you have a few minutes. In Levittown, I taught first through fifth grade in the Christian school. I also organized a Junior church program for the children, and trained twelve to fifteen ladies in the church to work with it.

In Fajardo, I taught in their Christian school, on the fifth and sixth grade level, and worked in the church with visitation, soul winning, and extensively with discipleship training of new believers.

I tried to pick up the slack and do what the pastor's (missionary's) wife didn't have time to do, since she was raising five children.

It has been over twenty years now since I've been working as a single missionary, so I'm probably forgetting as many responsibilities as those I'm remembering, but these still stand out in my mind.

Women Missionaries
How to Pray for Them

Pray that they will:

  1. make time to grow in their relationship with the Lord. It is easy to get so busy serving the Lord that you never have any time to spend with the Lord in friendship, fellowship, and worship.

  2. depend on the Lord for strength and wisdom in service rather than trying to serve Him in their own strength.

  3. avoid the "grass is always greener" syndrome. If you wonder what I mean, it is where you are always wishing you had what the Lord has given to someone else. If you are a single missionary, you wish you were married...If you are a married missionary you wish you were single, so you'd have more time for ministry.This is just one example, but when we fall into this syndrome, it hinders our ability to serve, because we are doubting God's goodness, and His sovereign will in our lives. If you think this would never happen to missionaries, I can assure you, you're mistaken. They may not be willing to share, but many do struggle with this problem.

  4. have balance in their lives and ministry. It is easy to get so caught up in the work that you begin to work non-stop. This problem undoubtedly contributed to the health difficulties that necessitated my leaving the field for medical reasons after ten years there.

  5. find a relationship with the Lord that will provide their mental, emotional, and social needs, so they can be constantly giving in their relationships with others, without becoming needy themselves.

  6. not be frustrated by the necessity of daily living. When I first went to the field I was greatly frustrated by having to cook, clean, mow the lawn, and take care of the other responsibilities of life. As a missionary, I wanted to spend all my time reaching people with the gospel and helping them grow.I needed to learn I could glorify God "whether I was eating, drinking, or whatever I was doing", as long as I dedicated my life and its activities to Him.

  7. have safety as they travel back and forth to the field they serve on, and as they live and work, (alone if they're single) in a foreign country.

Women Missionaries
Conclusions

It is a privilege to serve the Lord in mission work. The message of Christ provides liberty and dignity to every human being, male or female.

Perhaps that is why women make up such a large percentage of the missionary workforce. However, it is only by God's grace and power that women can minister effectively, in foreign countries.

Therefore, every woman missionary needs prayer support. As a missionary I always used to say, that if I had enough prayer support, the finances would take care of themselves, and I always found it to be true.

The more prayer support a missionary has, the more effective her ministry will be. So we can all have a vital part in the ministry of women missionaries, as we pray for them regularly.

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