“Depends on how sure you are.”
Though dating was not part of first-century culture, the New Testament is clear that Christians should seek to marry other Christians.
It is vital that spouses agree on their call to missions before they take any step toward service. God’s call of a husband or wife to be a missionary will never negate his call on them to fulfill their duties toward their spouse. A person’s “call” may be irrelevant if their spouse does not share it.
Marriage and missions are both calls in the sense of God directing you to them. Practically, the question may be, which one is stronger?
If a single person feels as a matter of conscience that they must set out for a mission field, dating someone who is not called in that way may be a bad idea. If the end goal of dating is marriage, it is illogical to date someone knowing you will eventually have to break up with that person to go to the mission field. In the end it is a matter of conscience and how strong you feel your calling is. Always leave room for God to change your heart and perspective.
Answer from Eric, who has served in missions for five years in the US and Singapore and currently serves with Joshua Project.
“Why date someone you are not looking at to marry?”
I knew when I was young that I was called to missions. Because of that, I knew that in order to fulfill the calling on my life I must be with someone with the same calling.
Honestly, my question for you is, why date someone you are not looking at to marry? Isn’t this the point of dating? I highly encourage you to know their calling before you even begin an interest in the person. Guard your heart at all cost.
This was hard for me. I did not find my husband until I was 35, but let me tell you, it was way worth the wait. We work together and have the same heart and calling, but different gifts. It is amazing how God worked it all out.
You must find someone with a similar call.
Answer from Rachel, who has served with Son Shines Hope International in Uganda for four years.
“Make the decision in prayer with others.”
If the relationship is to continue, you have to be of one accord. Prayerfully deal with the issue with your partnership team [church, supporters, friends, and mentors]. This is the value of your partnership team. You don’t have to make these decisions on your own!
A dating couple featured in my book I Think God Wants Me to Be a Missionary grapple with this very issue. In the end, Kyle left to follow his calling and Melanie stayed home alone.
Answer from Neal Pirolo of Emmaus Road International, who has served for more than thirty years in more than sixty countries.