All the Single Ladies Series
This is the last in our series on being single in missions. If you missed the other two blog posts, you can read them here:
All the Single Ladies | Empowering a Younger Generation
Your Value in Missions Is Not Dependent on Your Relationship Status
In this last blog post, Harmony counters the myth that being single in missions means being alone.
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By Harmony Niphakis
Just a Kid Dreaming of Singleness
Auntie Helen and Auntie Ruth ran the Bangkok mission home together. I loved staying at the mission home. “Home” was certainly an appropriate word since it felt so comfortable, and the people who worked there felt like family.
When we left Thailand for good when I was 8, I could still remember the faces of these two sweet ladies, and I missed them. They were the kind of women who wouldn’t shoo away kids. They had work to do, but that didn’t stop them from greeting us, listening to our latest adventure, even showing us some of the special treasures they had brought from Canada or collected on their journeys in Thailand.
This kind of love and attention affirmed that I belonged to a bigger family in OMF and that I was safe and free to be a child; that is, I could be myself and play.
There was another message communicated to me, and I didn’t realize its significance until I was much older. You see, although there were many married couples on the field, I had a lot of significant interactions with single women who were assigned to serve in ministry in pairs.
I think this allowed me to grow up with a clearer mindset that being single does not mean being alone.
I distinctly remember thinking of Auntie Helen and Auntie Ruth one day and wondering, “When will I get MY best friend?” Though I dreamed of what it would be like to be an adult who got married, like Mommy and Daddy, I also dreamed of being single and just living with my best friend forever–just like Auntie Ruth and Auntie Helen. After all, the single missionaries I encountered were women I admired. They were fun, kind and intelligent. They loved Jesus, and they loved me too. So why wouldn’t I want to be just like them?
A few years ago, I had the unexpected pleasure of seeing Auntie Ruth and Auntie Helen for the first time in 20 years as we were both attending an OMF reunion in Thailand. Today Auntie Ruth and Auntie Helen are both retired in Canada and still doing ministry together. I receive their prayer letters throughout the year and they receive mine, encouraging me in my own ministry.
Continuing the Model
There are many married couples as well as single men who have had an impact on my life as well. But, the significant presence of strong, loving, and capable single women in my life has given me the context I need to live without so much concern for my relationship status. In my world as a young missionary kid, relationship status had no correlation with meaning of life, with ministry effectiveness, or even with happiness. What did matter was friendship, family (which was defined by community and not by blood), serving God by serving others, and loving Jesus.
I am so incredibly grateful for the role models that God placed in my life from birth! Kids still need these role models in their lives. They need both women AND men modeling singleness. They need to see that the focus in our lives is not on marriage–it’s on glorifying Jesus!
That is the most worthy, joy-filled, and eternally satisfying pursuit.
Harmony Niphakis spent her early years as an OMF Missionary Kid in Thailand. She committed her life to God at a young age and now serves as a TCK Advocate with OMF (U.S.) where she finds great joy in equipping and caring for missionary kids of all ages. In her spare time, Harmony enjoys being out in nature, gardening, going out for coffee, and spending time with her family.
Harmony, this is a touching article. You did a great job describing your young life…in a way that helps readers “picture it in our minds”. You are a blessing to TCKs (third culture kids) and through your writing…to all of us. May our God continue to bless you richly.