Jan 24, 2017 | Patrick Erskine
“If you are a young man reading this, you have an opportunity to defy the statistics and make a lasting impact on this world in ways you could have never imagined. God can use you to do extraordinary things, and God can help you overcome the obstacles that prevent you from taking a step of faith that could change someone’s life forever.” – Patrick Erskine
Are Men Afraid Of Missions?
Where are all the single men? Evidence would seem to suggest they are not on the mission field. It has been reported that two-thirds of active missionaries are married couples and of the remaining one third the majority are single women.
Only 20% of the single missionaries are men. If my math is correct (it wouldn’t surprise me if it isn’t), 20% of ⅓ is 6%. Which means 6% of active missionaries from North America on the field are single men! Africa Inland Mission (AIM) reported in 2013 that out of ten single missionaries they send to the field only two are men.
Anecdotally speaking, this doesn’t seem very far off. In our own ministry we see women outnumbering men on almost all of our mission trips.
Why Are Men Underrepresented?
So why are men so underrepresented on the mission field? Are we too lazy? Would we rather just play video games, watch sports, and eat Cheetos? Are we just scared of leading? I might consider these reasons sexist if I weren’t guilty of all of them myself.
Yes, I am lazy. I would rather play video games. The Raptors are finally doing well this year (well if we don’t count these last three games), so I’d love to watch the games and eat Cheetos (the crunchy ones, not the gross poofy kind). And as much as it pains me to admit, I do get scared of leading.
But these things aren’t what ultimately prevent men from going on mission trips.
In fact, I talked to some guys about it and got their thoughts on why men don’t go on mission trips, and even ultimately into careers as missionaries. There were definitely some common themes as to why men avoid summer missions.
Reason One: “I have a summer job…
… and they really need me, and God is doing great things there.”
Maybe you work at a summer camp, and really love it there. Or, perhaps, you have a job that you’ve been working at over the last few summers, that you’re hoping to go back to. You’ve built great relationships, you’ve seen God do some cool things, and you can’t wait to go back. Celebrate those things, because they’re worth celebrating!
But I must warn you: don’t so quickly dismiss other opportunities to build God’s kingdom. My challenge to you is to try something different while you have the chance. Going on a mission trip is an excellent opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and expand your vision for what God is doing in the world.
Plus, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Often, people think they can either go on a mission trip or they can get a summer job. But it’s actually a very realistic goal to do both! There are mission trip opportunities with P2C-Students during Reading Week in February, and all P2C-Student mission trips wrap up by June 15th. That leaves you two and a half months to invest in a job.
“Often, people think they can either go on a mission trip or they can get a summer job. But it’s actually a very realistic goal to do both!”
Reason Two: “I’m not good enough…
… and I sometimes struggle with porn and I need to deal with all my sin issues before going on a mission trip.”
This could be applied to someone wrestling with any kind of habitual sin, but let’s use pornography as an example because of how sadly widespread this particular sin issue is.
Habitual use of porn is one of the biggest obstacles preventing men from participating in mission trips. A missions agency has been quoted by desiringgod.org saying “80% of their applicants voluntarily indicate a struggle with pornography, resulting in staff shortages on the field.”
Let me add to the conversation with this bold claim: Most men who have participated in missions have also struggled with purity in the area of pornography.
I don’t say this to normalize the problem. Porn addiction and sexual sin are serious issues and must be addressed and fought against.
But the important question isn’t whether or not someone struggles in this way, but whether or not they are repentant and desire to live each day free from this sin. If you have struggled with pornography consumption in the recent past but desire to go on a mission trip, ask yourself the following questions.
- Am I repentant and sorrowful toward my sin?
- Do I want to change, and am I on a trajectory of growth and victory in this area of my life?
- Am I willing to take steps to address the issue, by being vulnerable with someone else and inviting them into my journey toward purity?
If you’ve answered yes to these three questions, your current struggle should not prevent you from applying to go on a mission trip. Each of us are sinners and by God’s grace we seek to live in the Spirit each day. If you are on a journey toward growth, healing, and victory in this area, then this need not be a barrier.
“If you are on a journey toward growth, healing, and victory in this area, then this need not be a barrier.”
Reason Three: “Someone else will do it.”
Admittedly, this was my excuse.
I figured if I didn’t go, God would just use someone else. There were plenty of other people who are better evangelists than me who could probably do a better job. The problem with this statement is that too many people think that way, and that’s why we lack men on the mission field.
At the time of this writing, we have ten women who have been accepted to go on our Desert Rain mission trip, and only two men. In this case, my reasoning of “someone else will do it” simply isn’t true. In this particular case, for security and cultural reasons, we need more men to participate on these trips, otherwise we have to turn willing women away. The labourers are already so few, but they will be even fewer if men don’t step up.
If God has placed the idea in your heart to go on a mission trip, it’s because he’s calling you to do it. Not someone else. And if God is placing it on your heart, you can bet he has plans to work through you, too.
“The labourers are already so few, but they will be even fewer if men don’t step up.”
Reason Four: “I’m not especially qualified or gifted…
Besides, what difference would it make if I go or not?”
It would make a huge difference for you to go!
As a male student, you already have two advantages you’re probably not aware of that make you especially qualified to go on missions.
The first advantage is that you are male. (You’d better keep reading for context. And I’d better not hear back that you used this quote in any other context!)
The reality is that most of the places to which we send our mission trips are to cultures where men and women are not, unfortunately, treated equally. As a man in these cultures, you have a distinct influence, and an audience. Your testimony carries particular weight just because of the fact that you will be given particular value, honour, respect, and deference as a man. We need not argue the correctness of this particular reality, rather we need to humbly allow God to use us to bring Jesus into places where others may not have the same access.
This is such a wonderful opportunity to use your privilege for the sake of the gospel, and it’s something that shouldn’t be squandered.
Reason Five: “I can’t raise the financial support…
The trip sounds awesome but raising that much money sounds impossible.”
This was one of my biggest obstacles when deciding whether or not to go on a mission trip, so I understand the fear. I didn’t want to raise money to go on a trip, because I didn’t think I could do it.
I eventually came to the conclusion that if I was supposed to go, then God would provide the means for me to go. I’m so glad I took that leap of faith, because I was able to see God work miraculously to bring in all the funding I needed.
Let me be the first to tell you (before someone else surely will) that I am not especially skilled in the art of fundraising. There is nothing special about me that made it easier to raise the money I needed. All I did was follow these three steps.
- I trusted God to provide all I needed.
- I did what my support coach told me to do.
- I prayed. A lot.
In the end, God brought in what I needed, and I grew a ton in the process. Giving your finances up to God and seeing him work is one of the most freeing and exciting experiences I’ve ever had.
So if you’re worried about your ability to raise the support, don’t be. Your ability is irrelevant. It’s God’s ability to provide that we need to rely on.
“Giving your finances up to God and seeing him work is one of the most freeing and exciting experiences I’ve ever had.”
So, Are Men Afraid Of Missions?
So are men afraid of missions, or are we just easily defeated by obstacles? It’s sobering to think about how few single men are on the mission field, particularly when we see the potential of how God can uniquely use young single men to fulfil the Great Commission.
Consider this poignant quote from Mike Delorenzo with AIM on the subject.
“Yes, it may be harder for [men]. Harder to cut through the lies and the apathy. Harder to raise money in a self-reliant society. Harder to enter into relationally-driven cross-cultural situations. Harder to find your ministry in your vocation. But the gospel needs men.
The Christian life is a battle, so much so that the Bible calls us to put on armour. And the mission field is a battlefield, where a man’s strengths and passions are called upon to be spent for the greatest cause creation has ever known: the cause of Christ and His redemptive work to save this world—and I mean really save this world.
It takes courage—courage to step out of your slumber and into the fray.
It takes humility—to be willing to fail or at least be deemed a failure by your peers.
And it takes strength—more than you know, but not more than God will give you.”
Wow. This is inspiring and motivating.
I want to ask you to do something right now. Will you pause and pray?
Will you seek the Lord of the Harvest, and ask him to raise up labourers for his harvest field? Will you ask him to call the young men of Canada to go, give, and pray so that others might engage with his life-changing message? Will you ask in all sincerity, and a willing heart: Lord, where do you want me to go?
To All The Women Reading This
If you are a young woman reading this and praying for God to raise up willing men to actively participate in missions, send this article to a friend and encourage them to consider going on a mission trip this year.
Okay Men, Are You Ready?
If you are a young man reading this, you have an opportunity to defy the statistics and make a lasting impact on this world in ways you could have never imagined. God can use you to do extraordinary things, and God can help you overcome the obstacles that prevent you from taking a step of faith that could change someone’s life forever.
If you have any questions, need some advice, or prayer please just ask. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out the FAQ section of our website to find out more about how mission trips work.
You can apply for a mission trip via our Mission Trip page. The summer mission trip application deadline is January 31. You can apply for an international internship (STINT) via our Internships page. The internship application deadline is March 1.