God is setting India’s widows free from the weight of prejudice.
To lose a spouse is a hard blow to the heart; but in India, the social ramifications can make it even harsher.
One young Indian woman explains how widows are treated: “She is stigmatised as a woman who has failed to safeguard her husband’s life. Traditional beliefs hold that her husband is God and when he dies, she is expected to be grief-stricken, everlastingly, for the rest of her life.”
Widows are viewed by India’s society as those who have lost what gives them value, not a view that God takes as the “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows...” —Psalms 68:5a ESV
God’s Heart for Widows
One of Christ’s last acts while he was dying on the cross was to make sure his widowed mother would be provided for. “’Woman, behold your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” —John 19:26b-27a ESV
World Challenge's desire to follow God’s heart for widows connected them with a widows support ministry in India. Their name, unfortunately, can’t be shared due to intense persecution by both Hindu religious groups and the government.
This organization not only provides for widows’ physical needs—new clothes, food, and medical care—but also works with family members and the community to change the traditional view of widows.
With the gospel, ministers and volunteers are combating Buddhist teachings which say that people’s present suffering is a result of bad dharma (usually called karma in the Western world) from a past life.
Mission workers want to show, instead, how God lavishes love on his children.
A Widow Living in Joy
Ishanvi (whose name has been changed for safety reasons) is nearly 90 years old and has spent more than half of her life as a widow. Her small tribal village is very traditional, but slowly it’s starting to change.
Widows in India are required to wear funeral white to show eternal mourning. When Ishanvi came to know God’s love, however, she felt that she was lifted up. She has begun wearing colorful green and purple saris instead.
A few years ago, one of her three sons was taken by cancer. Her widowed daughter-in-law came to live with her, and Ishanvi led her to the Lord.
These days she is excited every time ministry workers visit her. She finds joy in God’s protective hand over her life.
Those Still Not Reached
While Ishanvi has been renewed by Christ’s love, she is still a minority among India’s unacknowledged women. “India has about 46 million widows, the largest widow population in the world. But despite their huge number, they remain one of the most stigmatised, neglected and marginalised groups.”
World Challenge wants to continue empowering this organization to reach more widows like Ishanvi. Consider supporting widows ministries in India by making a secure online donation to our widows fund.