“caring for orphans AND widows in their distress”
Much attention is being given to the orphan crisis in the world and rightfully so, with 147 million orphans worldwide. I’m excited that our family is participating in several fundraising projects for orphan causes currently. But let’s not neglect the second part of the admonition in James 1:27, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans AND WIDOWS in their distress” (NLT).
In my community we recently found out about a widow that has been without refrigeration or hot water for 7 months. There are widows whose yards are overgrown because they can’t afford lawn care and have no nearby family. Our church is helping a widow who’s still displaced from her home due to hurricane damage with no flood insurance or government help to make repairs. And it’s a global crisis, just like with orphans. A church in Zimbabwe that we’ve partnered with hosts a regular widows meetings with over 400 in attendance that lack the ability to care for themselves. The stories of grief, loss, and suffering from these meetings are shocking and heartbreaking.
God’s heart in James 1:27 is that we take care of those who can’t take care of themselves. In every community there are opportunities. Here’s some ways to get started:
- Open your eyes to those around you that may be home bound, unable to care for themselves, or whose properties are showing signs of neglect. Don’t do like some in my community, who recently called the Parish reporting code violations at area shut ins homes, leading them to extra unneeded stress as they faced fines until getting it cleaned up.
- Ask your church secretary for a list of homebound, shut-ins, widows & challenge your small group or Sunday School class to get involved in some way.
- Contact the local Council on Aging and ask about needs of widows and disadvantaged elderly. Partnership with our local COA has opened doors for different kinds of light construction projects for the men in our churches, connecting the elderly with community resources they did not know existed, and they have assisted with purchases of needed appliances for widows like the one mentioned above.
- Go by the local nursing home and ask if there are any residents with no family locally. Their walls will be bare and simple things to help them maintain physical and emotional health are not available. Love them.
- I heard of one church that does a widow’s banquet around Valentine’s Day, serving a meal for widows in the community and making a list of how the church can help around their properties.
- Cook a hot meal. If you’re cooking a big pot of something. Make sure you have enough for the elderly widow or couple in your neighborhood.
- Partner with those in your small group or church to spend a few days per year helping the elderly with yard work, food needs, etc.
There’s no earthly glamor in widow ministry. Their needs persist. They don’t have much to contribute to you or your church. But if we want to be God-like and we want our churches to fight God’s battles in our community, we will be about this important work.
“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation” Psalm 68:5 ESV.
What are other ways to minister to widows? What other groups “in distress” can we serve as ambassadors for Christ?
If you’re in West St. Tammany Parish and looking for opportunities or have one to suggest. Please let me know.