Overseas missionary work takes years of training and fundraising, but many leave the field after a few years because they can't find a spouse.
A new website launching today hopes to tackle that problem by placing missionaries and Christian expatriates into a network that enables them to find spouses in the field.
The matchmaking site was initially proposed in 2007 by John Patton, chief operations officer for the Center for Mission Mobilization, and David Bilby, executive director of Go Connect (an organization that connects churches with public schools). Although many leaders saw its potential, Patton said that without a fulltime advocate the project wound up on the back burner. Now, CalledTogether.us is gaining momentum with the help of Gerin St. Claire, a 2013 graduate from Covenant Theological Seminary who works as the site's operations director.
St. Claire is getting married this May. Prior to meeting his fiancée, he hesitated to move overseas without a spouse—even after taking five short-term mission trips. "I was afraid that leaving America would sink my hopes, so I waited," he said. "After a while, I realized what I was doing. I decided that tackling this bigger issue was more worthwhile than trying to kill my desire to find a spouse."
According to a Pioneers International report, singleness is the fourth reason appointees don't make it to the mission field or take a long time getting there. And Patton said, "Missionaries leave the field for various reasons, but some of the biggest obstacles are financial support, team dynamics, loneliness and hopelessness for single person's desire to find a mate, getting married to a non-missionary, and leaving ministry ...