I have served as a single missionary in the Philippines since 1989. Over the years, I have endured short periods of isolation. Political unrest has compelled me to stay behind locked doors a few times. Powerful typhoons have forced me to close all hatches and wait out the storm for up to three days. One volcanic eruption lasted five days. I went outside only between the bigger blasts to sweep the ash off my roof. A few illnesses have also required me to stay at home. The worst one kept me isolated for five days; my neighbors thought I had died.

This current period of isolation is unique. It is already the longest. Nearly everyone else in the world is under a similar lockdown. Most of us can still venture out to buy essentials. Best of all, we have high-tech tools. During most of my previous periods of isolation, I did not even have a telephone.

Here are a few lessons I am relearning:

1. Follow the Golden Rule

Jesus taught us to do to others as we wish they would do to us (Luke 6:31). We singles in isolation alone might expect others to reach out to us. If they do, we should rejoice. But it is wrong to wait for them to make the first move. We should do to them what we would like to be done to us. Realize, too, that their situation might be far more challenging than ours. Some of them now work from home. With schools closed, their children are rattling around in the same space. Reach out to such families. Perhaps you could engage in virtual baby-sitting by reading a book to their children or helping them with a school assignment. Whatever you do, find ways to serve them.

2. Make your needs known

Some of us singles know how to tough it out on our own. Still, we all have needs, some of which are harder to meet during a lockdown. Plus, our response to lockdown can change as time goes on. The first month of this lockdown, I was bored. Over the next two weeks, however, that boredom turned to fatigue. My needs changed significantly. Our bosses might assume that, since we have not contacted them, we are doing fine. We should make our needs known in appropriate ways to the right people. Allow—no, invite—others to help us carry our burdens.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

3. Get your documents in order

This is a good time to ensure that our legal documents are in order. I have done all the paperwork to appoint representatives who will have access to my medical reports should I get sick. I have also added co-signatories to most of my bank accounts and other accounts.

4. Be creative

Be creative. Arrange virtual social activities. Younger singles may already have virtual communities with whom they play, relax, and socialize. If you don’t, then form one. For example, schedule a virtual conversation over a virtual meal with two good friends who are also in isolation alone. Schedule a virtual prayer time with a friend.

Andy Smith
OMF International Coordinator for Evangelization

Andy Smith has served as the International Coordinator for Evangelization for the past few years. Prior to this role, he spent 16 years planting churches, providing field leadership and training other church planters in the Philippines. He began facilitating training events throughout East Asia before coming on as the International Coordinator for Evangelization.

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Clear Manila skyline during COVID-19