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 and even a few on single people in mission, 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 - 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, 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 resilence, issues for single people to consider and what not to say to them, followed by helpful appendices with ideas, resources and topics for discussion.
The worldwide church has been waiting for this book. 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.