Imagine losing your worth when you lose your spouse. For many women in Asia, this is exactly what happens because their value is connected to their husband. When the husband dies, the widow is often blamed for his death. She is forced to carry shame plus the weight of financial burden, especially when she is denied access to any inheritance from her husband. Far too often, widows become forgotten, left to survive at the mercy of family members’ and neighbors’ generosity.
International Widows’ Day was established in 2011 to highlight the struggles many widows face and to garner support for their welfare. Each year, on June 23, many churches in Asia honor these women and provide for their unique needs. Though this past year was more challenging because of COVID-19 regulations, several churches found ways to bless the widows in their communities.
Blessed to Be a Blessing
Gospel for Asia (GFA) pastor Zaccheus, for example, requested donations from the members of his church so they could bless widows in the area with packets of daily essentials. The church members, especially the Women’s Fellowship team, eagerly contributed what they could. As a result, Pastor Zaccheus and his church were able to bless five widows. Each woman received clothes, along with a food packet containing 11 pounds of rice and 6.5 pounds of wheat flour.
“I have no words to say,” said Dervla, one of the widows. “Even our own family considers us as a burden, but only the church of the living God is taking care of us and helping the needy persons.”
Providing the Essentials
In another area, a team of four Sisters of Compassion organized an International Widows’ Day program to share God’s love with the poor and elderly widows in their community. As part of the program, the Sisters visited the homes of five widows and shared James 1:27, explaining God’s heart to “look after orphans and widows in their distress.”
“As the whole world is observing International Widows’ Day, I am glad that we also could think of helping the old widows,” said Enya, one of the Sisters.
During their visits to the women, the Sisters demonstrated Jesus’ care by passing out grocery kits, which included soap, 11 pounds of rice, 2 pounds of beans and half a quart of oil. The women, who live alone and work daily wage jobs to provide for themselves, were overjoyed to receive the packets of essentials.
“The widows were delighted to receive the [kits] during this lockdown,” Enya explained, “as they were already struggling to get daily needed items due to lack of money.”
“I feel so happy and peaceful today and give thanks to God and the church for their love and care towards us,” said Ailey, a recipient. “I am now assured that the Lord is there, and I trust in Him.”
Though widows may feel forgotten and invisible to some, Pastor Zaccheus, the Sisters of Compassion and many others are going out of their way to show widows they are not forgotten in God’s eyes, but they are seen and honored.