Book review by Heather Lovell, Birmingham, UK. Heather lives in Christian community and has been a Christian celibate for 28 years.
This book is about what I feel is a missing link in the wider church: the subject of finding God’s calling to the married or single state. It is primarily written for those who feel called to or are already doing missionary work around the world and specifically deals with cross-cultural issues faced by women (although plenty of men have contributed to the book too).
When I received this book completely unexpectedly at Christmas 2013 from my sister, Debbie Hawker, no-one could have been more surprised … I am one of the two single people to whom the book is dedicated (see frontpiece) and I had no idea it was even being compiled!
After a few pages the book had me laughing and crying in equal measure and, though it is a book that can be ‘dipped into’, you will find it very hard to put down!
‘Single Mission’ contains the stories of over 30 men and women who, having been led to do mission work abroad, then seek God regarding their status. It goes on to relate how God led them into celibacy, committed singleness (i.e. “for a time”) or, in some cases, to marriage. The book focuses on how the choices they made as a result of God’s leading affect them in the culture God has already called them into.
The stories includes divorcees, people who have lost loved ones, some who have come out of difficult situations (with or without children) and above all men and women who are willing to take risks for the kingdom of God!
In each case they have found peace and a deeper knowledge of being led by God. Especially meaningful to me was the tale of two widows who lost spouses through sudden death and gradual terminal illness. These brave women were not only able to start again; they found Jesus calling them to a new adventure. However, all the stories in this book are intimate and moving.
In the second part of the book, be prepared to face up to thorny issues where sexuality, gender and pornography addictions (to name but a few!) are tackled head-on but in a manner that is both confidential and helpful.
My favourite part has to be one containing the testimony of Debbie, my married sister – of how God has helped her to be thankful for the most basic things in life such as cleaning teeth (!) as well as the most difficult and scariest to deal with (death of a loved one).
I found the book enlightening and convicting. To quote an old celibate and saint, Julian of Norwich, “the greatest honour we can give Almighty God is to live gladly through the knowledge of His love” and that about sums the book up for me, too.