by Debbie Hawker and Tim Herbert, editors
—Reviewed by Anna Bishop, minister (world mission), All Souls, Langham Place, U.K.
I WAS DELIGHTED WHEN Debbie Hawker and Tim Herbert told me that they were working on this book. Although there are many books on singleness (e.g., by Al Hsu and Andrea Trevenna) and even a few on single people in mission (chapters in Marti Smith below), this is the first book to bring together the insights of single men and women in mission from a range of different cultures and also to provide a comprehensive overview of the different issues affecting single people in mission.
The first part of the book brings together personal stories from Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, North America, and Australasia. There were many commonalities in the experiences: many resonating and validating the personal stories I’ve known. But it was interesting to read and to learn from the differences in the accounts of men and women and from the different cultural perspectives—e.g., to walk for a few pages with a single Asian man who was not trusted, a single woman fostering children in Eastern Europe, and a single Zambian woman travelling alone, looking to God for the protection a man might offer.
The second part of the book focuses on sexuality. It offers a positive view of single sexuality as well as a candid, humorous, and sensitive treatment of issues such a sexual desire, masturbation, pornography, and same sex attraction. The third part explores the journeys of different single people through the different dynamics of maturing in singleness, dating during cross-cultural ministry, online dating, moving from singleness into marriage, widowhood, and divorce. It is unlikely that any one of us has experienced all these dynamics and so this chapter will have insights for us all.
The final part looks at the value of single people in mission, their resilience, issues for single people to consider, what not to say to those who are single, and helpful appendices with ideas, resources, and topics for discussion.
The Global Church has been waiting for this book. I hope that it will be a springboard for many more books that bring together the perspectives of Christians from different ethnic, social, and denominational backgrounds. I would recommend it to all those working in cross-cultural mission, the agencies that support them, and the churches that send them. Our church will buy copies for all our overseas mission partners, both married and single, to help us all better understand the dynamics of single people in mission.
Check these titles:
Eenigenburg, Sue, 2010. Expectations and Burnout: Women Surviving the Great Commission. Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library Publishers.
Foyle, Marjory, 2006. Can It Be Me? An Inspiring Insight into an Extraordinary Story. London: CMF.
EMQ, Vol. 51, No. 1 pp. 126-127. Copyright © 2015 Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.