• “A Christian woman’s true freedom lies on the other side of a very small gate—humble obedience—but that gate leads out into a largeness of life undreamed of by the liberators of the world, to a place where the God-given differentiation between the sexes is not obfuscated but celebrated, where our inequalities are seen as essential to the image of God, for it is in male and female, in male as male and female as female, not as two identical and interchangeable halves, that the image is manifested.” – Elisabeth Elliot

Missionary’s Wives

Lettie Cowman (1870-1960)
Rosalind Goforth (1864-1942)
Ann Judson (1789-1826)
Isobel Kuhn (1901-1957)
Priscilla Studd (?-1929)
Maria Taylor (1837 ~ 1870)
Sabina Wurmbrand (1913-2000)
Gisela Yohannan (?-Present)

“It is most important that married missionaries should be double missionaries, not half or a quarter or eighth-part missionaries. Unless you intend your wife to be a true missionary, not merely a wife, homemaker, and friend, do not join us.” – Hudson Taylor

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10 Responses to Missionary's Wives

  • Joy says:

    This quote by Hudson Taylor should be spoken against. This attitude affected missionary families and culture for the worse. The wife and mother should first be allowed to care for her home, and then have the outside responsibilities of church ministries. A great detriment has been done in many ways because of this attitude. The East did not need another example of leaving off normal life to live a spiritual life. The East, and all, need to see that the Christian life is a normal day-t0-day surrender to Christ and death to self. To neglect home, children, and needs of a husband for "ministry" is to not understand what ministry truly is. Many children left off Christianity because they felt neglect and attributed it to God. There will be time later for the missionary wife and mother to do more outside ministry work when her family is grown, but the early years that are lauded as so precious and impressionable in our own country are just as precious and impressionable for the child of missionary parents. From a Missionary Wife and Mother

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Joy I think you are misunderstanding his meaning. I believe he's going against a teaching that there isn't ministry for women outside of motherhood. A wife is just as much a missionary as her husband. Her primary care is toward the children, but to do mission work is right there next to that calling. I believe a mother can care for little ones and do mission work at the same time. Thanks for you comment. God bless you

      • Joy says:

        I've read many books about Hudson Taylor and his associates, including the 2 volumes by his daughter in law about he and his wives and ministry, and what he said is exactly what he meant, not what we would like it to mean. The children, as often was in the culture of their day and social class, were kept by nannies and were visited by parents, not raised by their parents and babysat while Mama led a Bible study now and then. Mr. Taylor meant that the wife would be just as active in outside ministry work as the husband was. He is still a wonderful, wonderful man who's life and words should teach us a million ways to know and serve God and others, esp through missions, but I believe he was wrong in this practice. I agree with you that the mother's primary care is toward her family, but that is not what was lived out in many of those missionary homes. The women were to be out regularly, and often daily, leading Bible studies with women, doing health work, etc. They made this happen by insisting that children were sent to boarding schools at the age of six. I believe a missionary wife can care for her home, family, and may have a little extra time for ministry work. It is VERY hard to handle even a small, regular, formal ministry outside of your home duties in a third-world country with young children. There are so many duties to just keep the house going smoothly, that extra help is needed, but turning the care of children over to nursemaids was not the right decision to allow the mother time to minister to others. I believe the regular, "missionary" work the mother with young children is going to be doing is by her example, her well-cared for and obedient children, her well-kept home, her words of witness as she has opportunity in her day to day life (at little shops, with neighbors, while out walking to places, etc), giving out tracts as she is out, etc. I've lived this! You might like reading "Have We Know Rights?," a book (free download online) by a single CIM missionary Mabel Williamson which is wonderful, except for her chapter (8) on family life which teaches exactly what H.Taylor taught--that the family was second to the ministry work, and sending young children away for boarding school was fine because God would take care of them so their parents would be able to "serve Him." Bad, bad, bad theology. The missionary home did need to be protected because their children needed that home upbringing and the careful nurturing of their parents. Please read that, there is even a quote at the beginning of the chapter of official CIM/OMF policy on married women in the opening of the chapter. I'm not trying to prove a point, but rather highlight an untruth so that missionary mothers do not flounder under the weight of man's ideals of their calling, nor under guilt when they cannot meet these demands. The example of a loving, Christian mother and wife among a lost world is one of the most needed examples, and if the mother is busy in this occupation of "ministry" she is never going to be able to fulfill well her first calling as wife and mother.

        • Shrikant says:

          Oh my. Thank you for this really High Quality Conversation. I loved to see how deeply you had thought, felt, empathized into the Calling of Christ, and what truly and wholesomely represents Him. Thank you Jesus for people like this, who are not superficial, or bound by formulae, but can leave the riches of their understanding for future generations to learn from. But maybe there are some areas, where it is not really safe to have the children on the missionary field. And there's no way but to trust God that they be raised by dorm-parents with a missionary gifting, who would help raise them, and equip them with God's Help.

  • E says:

    Thank you, Joy. Your response was very helpful and encouraging to me.

  • july says:

    lo q dices es la verdad, y te agradezco por ser tan valiente. nuestro primer ministerio es nuestra familia.

  • Michelle L says:

    The point being made is that you are more than those things mentioned. You must be side by side of the work of the mission. You cannot be separated from Christ's work. If you want to tend only to your children and household chores than do it at home, not on the mission field. It's not a work of your choice (to be a missionary) but an appointment from God himself. Yet if you willingly lay down your life to the work of Christ then you will be both mom and missionary and more.

    • Cmm says:

      The success rate of this philosophy, children serving the Lord after age 18, proves this is not Biblical mothering. Look at the percentages! This is a sad message to send to young women and definitely is not a Titus 2 true teaching! Truth, we are to be keepers of the home and family! God does have a difference between gender identity, responsibilities, and service to Him!

  • Vernon Peterson says:

    I am a missionary kid and I can agree with Joy 100%. However, when I became a missionary I wanted a wife who would be a wife and a mother. It turned out, sadly, that she did not share my burden for missions equally. I ended up off the mission field and abandoned by my wife.

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[Doers—Not Hearers Only] Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. — James 1:21 (NKJV)

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