This contribution comes from a friend who prefers to remain anonymous.
I have visited and lived in many places around the world, some safe and others not so safe.
It’s fair to say that this war-torn country is not a tourist destination, and when you mention that you live here in conversation, no matter what setting you are in, people tend to look at you very strangely. Words tumble into people’s minds, and out of their mouths: “it’s not safe,” “it’s a war zone,” “why on earth would you want to go there alone, especially when you are a woman?”
I used to try to defend my decision to move to a “hard place.” But once I arrived, I stopped. Now, I just smile, because I know that when God calls you to go somewhere or do something, you need to just trust Him. He is not expecting you to have no fear, or even to do it alone as a single person. God has always got a plan, whether or not we can see it or understand it.
I do not feel alone here. The team is supportive and has become like family. We share the highs and lows together, knowing we are all here for the same basic reason, to share the love of Jesus.
Being single in a Muslim context has its challenges, but I have found it to be a positive experience. My native-born colleagues and neighbors don’t always understand why I am here on my own, but they respect it. And they ask questions about it–questions that open the door to further discussions about the fact I’m not alone. God opens and closes doors to all of us and the key is to listen to what he wants me to say or do and not just follow the crowds. We were born to be different, and being single here is definitely different.
Just before arriving here, God placed a verse on my heart that helps me not to rely on my own strength but on His. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
I am not here on my own or in my own strength. God is my strength and He guides me through every day. I won’t say that being a single woman in this country is easy, but I feel that, since I found my identity in who I am, I am able to live here and do the work I have been called to do.