Creating Space to Listen to Each Other {Book Club}

Creating Space to Listen to Each Other {Book Club}

Most of us can probably tell a team story.

That time you Googled and Pinterest-ed and experimented together to make the best holiday meal that almost tasted like home.

Or when one of you needed help navigating a medical emergency and the crew came together to watch your kids or translate or make food for your family.

Those moments when you were ready to give up and that team member wouldn’t let you, reminding you of truth and purpose.

Living isolated in 2020 has reminded all of us about the importance of our people, of investing in community. Sometimes we take our teammates for granted, and it is easy to see the hard parts of team until we lose the connection that comes from doing life together.

I’m excited for our Book club read this month because I think learning to do life as a team is not just a once-and-done thing. We are reading Sacred Siblings: Valuing One Another for the Great Commission by Sue Eenigenburg and Suzy Grumelot.

Instead of splitting this book solidly in four sections that are equal in page length, we will read the book the way the authors laid it out. This week make sure you read the intros, because I really loved getting to hear more of Sue and Suzy’s stories. These are ladies I wish I could know IRL, and I’m so grateful they invested the time to write this book. There are so many things I wish I had known while I was serving single on the field with both other singles and with married couples. There are things I wish I could have articulated more clearly, and these ladies give us the tools and language to do that.

I asked the authors to share a little more about themselves with you! Here’s what they said:

Suzy: I have served in urban church planting in the Paris area for the past 32 years. Seeing God transform French hearts and lives, one at a time, had been one of the greatest joys of my life. I was born and raised in the land of the Great Lakes, Michigan. My parents were school teachers and gave me a healthy curiosity about life. I have 7 siblings; 3 brothers and 4 sisters, all now married. Some of them have become Sacred Siblings too…

Sue: I have been involved in cross-cultural ministry for over 30 years. Being married and having four children gave me the opportunity and challenge to invest in ministry within and outside of my home. Watching my children grow in their faith and being a part of teams where married and single people work together for God’s glory in the world delights my soul. When one of my granddaughters recently told me she trusted in Jesus, I was delighted to tell her that we are not only physically related as grandmother and granddaughter, but we are also now sisters in Christ—’sacred siblings.’

One of the things that struck me in this section was the disparity between books written on marriage and books written on singleness. I’d love to know- what are some of your favorite books on either of those topics? Or what other resources have been encouraging as you have thought or talked about relationships in the past?

What’s one of your favorite team/teammate memories? What is an area of being a teammate that you would like to grow in?

Share in the comments. I look forward to our discussion this month!

P.S.- I don’t read a lot on singleness, mostly because it’s rather painful for me. But, here are a few I’ve read in the last couple of years that I actually learned from and appreciated.

7 Myths about Singleness by Sam Allberry

Party of One: Truth, Longing, and the Subtle Art of Singleness by Joy Beth Smith

Remember God by Annie F. Downs

Here’s the schedule for the book:

July 14: Section 1- Chapters 1-11

July 21: Section 2- Chapters 12-15

July 28: Section 3- Chapters 16-17, Appendices

If you don’t have a copy of the book yet, make sure you take advantage of this special gift from William Carey Publishing! Check out the book HERE, and use the discount code VABOOKCLUB50 at purchase for 50% off.

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Join Denise, the Velvet Ashes Executive Director, and Sarah, the Program Coordinator, for our Facebook Live Summer series during the month of July! Each Thursday, we will chat with guests about topics like singleness, marriage on the field, and dealing with medical issues. Be part of the conversation by watching live and commenting with your questions and thoughts! 

Our first Facebook Live topic will be Talking with Your TCKs about Racial Diversity. We’ll go live on the Velvet Ashes Facebook page on Thursday, July 9th, at 9 AM ET. If you can’t join live, make sure you catch the recording later on our page, or hop on for another live as we go through this series. Watch social media and our blog posts for each week’s topic. 


  1. Rachel Kahindi July 7, 2020

    A friend (and former teammate) started an online magazine called Single Matters. She often publishes articles about singleness in the church, which are so important for married people to read, too.

    Mixed Matches by Dr Joel Crohn is an excellent book I read before getting married. If I remember correctly, it’s not from a Christian perspective, but it is the most comprehensive book on intercultural marriage I read.

    This year, I wanted to read a book about marriage in general with my husband, and I had decision paralysis. There were too many to choose from! Our pastor recommended The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller. We’re only on chapter 3, but so far it’s great.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann July 7, 2020

      Those are some great, diverse resources, Rachel! I’ve heard really good things about The Meaning of Marriage as well.
      That’s neat that your friend has the articles about singles in the church. It feels like a topic that isn’t really talked about- at least not in the settings I’ve been in.

  2. Phyllis July 7, 2020

    I’m commenting just to subscribe to the comments. (There’s always that “Or subscribe without commenting” at the bottom of the page, but I have never been able to figure out how to subscribe without commenting.) I didn’t get this book, so I’m not reading along this time, but I want to see what others have to say.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann July 7, 2020

      Phyllis, you are welcome to be part of the conversation even if you haven’t read the book! 🙂

      1. Phyllis July 11, 2020

        And I might just have to get the book. Is there a lot about married/single relationships? We’e never been a part of a team, but we’ve had a wonderful community of missionaries around us. Now the balance of singles and couples is completely swinging, since our family and the singles are the only ones staying on after this summer. 🙁 For our kids’ sake, we’re praying for another family to come, but we haven’t even heard any rumours of that being a reality.

        By the way, Remember God is one of my favourites of what I’ve read in the past year. I didn’t think of it as a book about singleness.

        1. Sarah Hilkemann July 11, 2020

          Hey Phyllis, yes it is full of great thoughts and ideas for marrieds and singles supporting and encouraging each other. We’ll get more into that next week! There are also thoughts on the interaction between men and women on teams, but more so single and married women.

          You are right, Remember God isn’t a book about singleness directly, but the author’s story centered so much around her singleness and God’s kindness (and it resonated with my single heart) that I included it. 🙂

  3. L. Larsen July 7, 2020

    I’m really excited to be reading this book!
    It can be so hard to keep a healthy perspective on both singleness and marriage. During my years serving in missions as a single person I knew I didn’t want to spend time and energy pining for something God hadn’t and might never give me, nor did I want to miss out on the opportunities in front of me waiting for someone to come along. What I ended up doing instead was try to be overly independent, struggling to communicate my wants or needs to people around me. God’s been gently growing me in that—partly through a marriage and partly through close friends who are willing to challenge and dig.
    Similarly, as I was preparing to get married I was frustrated by things people said to me that seemed to over-romanticize marriage and other comments that were just about how hard it is and, “prepare to be sanctified” (like God hadn’t already been sanctifying me since I started following Him?). My favorite thing that I read during that time was The Meaning of Marriage by Keller (seems like it’s a theme in this comment thread!). It was hopeful, but grounded and realistic without being cynical. He also has a chapter on singleness.
    I haven’t read books specifically on singleness, but my favorite example of a single missionary is Lillias Trotter. There’s a great biography about her called A Passion for the Impossible and a beautiful book with some of her artwork and writings called A Blossom in the Desert (both by Miriam Rockness).

      1. Cindy July 9, 2020

        I just want to say that this is a beautiful book. I moved to a desert country a few years ago, and brought a used copy along to enjoy as I was learning to appreciate the desert beauty. I ended up giving it away to a woman who is a painter who began attending our church and Bible study. Now I want to replace my copy and get a few more for future gifts.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann July 8, 2020

      I’m so glad you are here and joining in reading Sacred Siblings! 🙂 Isn’t Lilias Trotter amazing? We read A Passion for the Impossible here in Book Club a few years ago (I had to go look, it was July 2016), and her story always encourages and challenges me. I haven’t gotten the book with her artwork but would love to.
      I was struck by what you said as you shared about your singleness on the field, and the comments made before you got married. I’ve often struggled with how people talk about the sanctification in marriage- I know it is hard. But any time we are in relationship with someone, it forces us to grow in humility, in communicating well, in forgiveness. There is a sanctification in singleness too, a dependence on the Father I keep having to learn about. 🙂 I wish we could get to a place in ministry/life where we see the joys and longings and frustrations of whatever season or relationship status we are in.
      Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

      1. L. Larsen July 8, 2020

        My pleasure! Thanks for making me feel welcome.

  4. Sue Eenigenburg July 8, 2020

    One of the books we mention in ‘Sacred Siblings’ is ‘Redeeming Singleness’ by Barry Danylak. In it he traces and develops a biblical theology of singleness throughout the Old and New Testament. It took me awhile to read it, but it is rich! Many have found it revolutionizes their view on singleness and marriage!

    Regarding a marriage resource, I liked ‘You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity’ by Francis and Lisa Chan

    I loved how our teammates became our kids’ aunts and uncles. Our kids were able to see married and single adults model loving and serving Jesus.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann July 8, 2020

      Sue, thanks so much for jumping on with us! 🙂 Thanks for those recommendations. I hadn’t heard of Redeeming Singleness until you all mentioned it in the book! It’s one I think I need to check out.

  5. Michelle Smith July 9, 2020

    I read the book Singled Out for Him by Nancy Leigh DeMoss several years ago when I was still new to the reality of being single and was very blessed by it. She talks of singleness as a gift (without ignoring its challenges) and lifts up a standard of godly and purpose-filled singleness. Also, Elisabeth Elliot has some beautiful thoughts on singleness, marriage, and widowhood in her book Let Me Be a Woman.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann July 10, 2020

      Michelle, thank you so much for sharing those! I love how the Father can bring a book to us at the right time. I know I’ve read books and thought that if I had picked it up in a different season, I’m not sure it would have impacted me in the same way.

  6. Amanda July 10, 2020

    What an interesting topic for a book! I am already loving it. Our tiny team currently consists of my family (husband and two VERY young kids) and a single 24-year old. He is an amazingly laid back person who has given us so much grace in our chaos, but the pandemic has really challenged me to think how we can best serve him/work with him during this time.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann July 10, 2020

      Amanda, sometimes small teams can have their own unique challenges! I love that you are paying attention to ways to care for your single teammate especially in this season.

  7. Suzy Grumelot July 10, 2020

    When we wrote this book we imagined it could help teams (even tiny ones) to have important conversations. Just asking the question how we can better work together and serve one another in this key moment will invite wonderful dialog. And I believe the Lord will give you new creative ideas for this challenging season we all find ourselves in, and your team living out His purposes will have even greater impact in reaching the lost where you serve.

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