This is the question I found myself asking last Friday night as I gathered with over twenty other seminary students to hear from our local missionaries-in-residence. The night was organized by our Student Missions Fellowship as a time for those interested in foreign missions to dialogue with men and women who are here for a short furlough from the mission field. The night was a blessing to me and all those who came. To my joy, the room was almost filled with the next generation of career missionaries. To my disappointment, they were almost all women.
In fact, doing a quick count as the meeting started, I recorded in my phone the unfortunate numbers; there were 6 men and 14 women in the room that night. Sadly, that number is actually better than the percentages that I hear thrown around for various missions organizations. The numbers are never released officially, but I hear everything from two thirds (66%) to three fourths (75%) of the International Missions Board’s two to three year Journeyman program is female. From personal experience, in the large Muslim country where I lived as a Journeyman for two years, there were never more than four single men serving with the IMB in the country at once (in four different cities) and easily twenty to thirty single women in the country. Again, just going off of personal experience and the testimony of others, it seems that the harder, more dangerous, and more “closed” the country, the greater the disparity between men and women.
How is it that one of the largest seminaries in the country struggles to find men willing to commit their lives to taking the Gospel in to people who have never heard? Why does one of the largest missions agencies in the country struggle to find men willing and qualified to take the Gospel to the nations? These are big questions with big, complex answers that I would only be venturing guesses at. I don’t claim to have the answers on these things. I am just left with the question I started with.
Where are the men?