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Serving Solo

Moving to Asia Minor after challenging college years left those closest to me quite apprehensive. I was a brand-new believer, heading to a land that has a reputation of chewing people up and spitting them out, especially single women.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

There were moments before I left for the land of the Seven Churches where I had doubts, but they were fleeting. As a new believer, my prayer life was more of an open walkie talkie. I did research about the move. As I talked to people about moving, I had a peace that surpassed all worldly understanding, while it seemed insane to others.

Being single on the mission field had challenges. Looking back, it is so clear how it also presented unique opportunities.

Time

One of the greatest gifts of being single on the mission field was time. Americans are obsessed with being busy. The busiest even. Living in a country where time is more fluid, this idea of being busy falls short; opening new ways to feel fulfilled with your time.

It is so easy to be in the moment, overwhelmed with things that you can fill your time with. But I soon realized that it also opened up new opportunities.

Language Learning

Having extra time allowed me to spend the hours needed to learn a second language. I started learning Farsi during my senior year at University of Georgia. When I moved overseas, I could read and write, but had difficulty keeping up in conversations. With guidance from my team leader, I was connected to a kind, fun Persian woman who was also an amazing cook! Though it took me over two hours to get to her apartment in the sprawling city, as a single woman I had the time to spend on language and cultural acquisition.

Because Farsi was not the language of the country I was living in, I started taking other language courses too. It was a unique and beneficial situation to be able to devote hours a day to two languages, an opportunity that my colleagues with families could not as readily afford.

Loneliness

Most people serving outside of their own culture can experience loneliness. Not being understood or valued takes a toll. This was especially true for me as a single woman. Though it was my own fault for not plugging into the local culture, I found myself feeling lonely even around other American missionaries. A group of people my own age lived nearby and served with a variety of other organizations. Then I started to see most of the people around me pairing off, meeting significant others—which is awesome for them and I was genuinely happy for them. Yet, it left me with the thought, “What is wrong with me?” When people around you start getting engaged and married, and you are alone, it can be a difficult feeling to struggle with. This feeling was exacerbated being in another country.

Because I was a 10-month-old believer when I left for the field, coupled with the fact that I was serving solo, there was understandable concern about me walking away from the faith. But God(my favorite words to look for in Scripture), had much greater other plans. Looking back, going and living in a country where less than half of 1% are believers turned out to be a fertile ground to build my relationship with God.

Relationship with God

The Land of the Seven Churches is a dark country. There is a spiritual darkness that is palpable: hearing the call to prayer, shortness and anger in interactions, people taking advantage of foreigners, and the blatant condescending actions toward believers.

But God, met me and grew me in this dark place. Not only did I have ample time to myself as a single woman, I had extended hours alone in transit. The minimum travel time for me was around 45 minutes, often including buses, metro, underwater metro, metro bus, shared taxis and so much walking. I took advantage of this extended travel time. Farsi vocab flash cards and Bible verse flashcards held a permanent residence in my backpack. When I was feeling bold, I even had a few Bible verse flash cards in Farsi, but that was not the most successful endeavor.

My prayer life was getting stronger by the day. Spiritual warfare was constant. I would often feel quite overwhelmed going out in this colossal city. I learned to talk to God openly and constantly about my situation. I would get lost and a bit frightened but learned to turn to our omnipotent God instead of soaking in the fear.

One day I was extra frustrated with the local culture, and listened to the advice of an older, much wise believer. I was reminded of Ephesians 4:31–32, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Feeling quite humbled, I made a point to start praying for the salvation of someone I was riding public transportation with. It was a daily habit that got me off of my high horse, enabling to lift someone up for salvation to the throne of God.

Serving as a single woman on the mission field, I faced unique challenges. Through the mountain tops and valley experiences, God drew me closer to Himself. He softened my heart. Led me to surrender daily. I am forever grateful for the opportunity He gave me to serve in this way. I rest in the ultimate truth that He constantly guides in His good and perfect will. 

Alli Hazrati currently serves with MTW's West Coast Hub. 

Alli Hazrati, Reflection Dec 15, 2020
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Pray for our single missionaries serving internationally in the midst of their unique struggles. 

Pray for missionaries to remain faithful in the mundane and not get caught up in striving to perform for the praise of others. 

Pray for missionaries who are doing valuable work yet have trouble raising support because their work or field is deemed less exciting or less important than other mission work by some in the church. 

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Pray for missionaries who are experiencing homesickness on the field.

Please pray for God’s protection over new missionaries and our MTW family as we engage in God’s kingdom work.

Pray for current missionaries, future missionaries, sending churches, and donors to be willing to ask the question, "How could God use me?"

Pray for missionaries on the field who struggle with loneliness.

Pray for people at various ages and stages who are discerning God's call to missions. 

Pray that a church-planting movement ignite in the Dominican Republic. Over the years, God has given us the opportunity to teach and train both Dominican and Haitian church leaders and we have finally launched a team in the DR.

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