Plead for the Widows

They still hope when they die, that their son probably will come and light their pyre.  A son who breaks your legs, a son who hits you so hard that your skull breaks, a son who is willing to put cow dung in your mouth – and yet you want the same son to come and light your pyre. We need to break that mind-set also, somewhere – Winnie Singh, social activist

I was searching the Internet to see what I could find out about the quality of life for widows in India and was shocked.  After losing their husbands, they are faced with a life of begging and destitution.  Some of them are thrown out by family members.  One widow was beaten by the sons she had raised when she asked them for money.  In-laws refuse to help some widows while others can’t go back home because their parents are too poor to take them back.

Widows face discrimination and are dehumanized.  They are called “it” and in some instances, they are referred to as “randi” which means prostitute in Punjabi.  Some of them marry their brothers-in-law because being man’s property protects them from being raped.

A widow is blamed for her husband’s death.  “You are widowed because you did something wrong in your previous life: that is the view in this predominantly Hindu culture,” explains Dr. Leelavathi Manasseh of the Bible Society. “So, whether a widow is from a rich or poor background, she faces blame, mistreatment and rejection by her family. Many are kicked out of their homes and left to fend for themselves and their children, leaving them in a desperate situation.”  It’s worse when a woman loses her husband to AIDS and she tests positive for HIV.  She is met with even more rejection and ridicule.

In Northern India, there is a place called, “Widow City.”  It is the holy city of Vrindavan.  Widows go there because they believe that if you die there, you would be freed from the cycle of birth and death and obtain moksha (emancipation). It is a place where these women can get away from a life of isolation and the society where they have no place or value.  They are there because they were cast out families who don’t want to pay for them or by in-laws who don’t want them to inherit money or property.  They are ostracised by their villages.  They have lost their income.  They are at the bottom rungs of society and are prevented from remarrying.  In Vrindavan, they pray at the temples and beg. Other widows go there, as pilgrims, intending to dedicate their remaining years to serving the deities Krishna and Radha.

Life for a widow is hard.  When their husbands were alive, they were protected but once they were gone, these poor women felt like orphans because they had no one to take care of them or help them.  They were all alone.  Perhaps this is why in the Bible, orphans and widows were always paired together because they were defenceless, society’s vulnerable.  God wants us to plead for the widows.  Defend their rights to a future filled with hope and dignity.  God made it clear that He is “Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans” (Malachi 3:5).

While society sees widows as a curse, God sees broken, abused, mistreated and unloved women whom He wants to enter into a loving relationship with.  Their families don’t want them, but God wants them to be a part of His family.

Like so many widows, Netramani was cast out and left to fend for herself.  “I was completely alone. … No one would give me work so I had to beg. … I had nothing to eat, nothing to wear. I was completely senseless and didn’t know anything. . .”

Watch Netramani’s heart-wrenching story and imagine either you or someone you know lying there, sick and helpless and no one stops to help.

…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’ – Matthew 25:35-40.  

June 23 is International Widows’ Day, a day when we step into the lives of widows and imagine the desperate places where they find themselves.  Some commit suicide rather than face the shame.  Others turn to prostitution.  Mothers resort to rummaging through the trash in order to feed themselves and their children.  These women don’t deserve to be like this.  You can change this. Through your donations you will make it possible for local pastors to help widows in need, buy them sewing machines, farm animals, or much-needed supplies like winter blankets, water filters and other essentials.  And with your generous gift, these women will have the opportunity to learn about Jesus and His love and compassion for them. To find out more about how you can help, visit http://www.gfa.org/women/widows/

As Christians, we need to demonstrate the love of Christ who reached out to those who were hurting, oppressed and ostracised.  He loved the unloved and valued those whom society deemed worthless. Together let us plead for the widows.  Let us take up their cause.   They have the right to keep their homes, their income and their dignity.  Let us contend with those who mistreat them.  Let us speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.  When we do good to others, we honour God.

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widowsIs God in His holy habitation – Psalm 68:5.

Sources:  Gospel for AsiaTime.com; Women Under Seige; The Laws of Manu; BBC.com; Cross Map; India: Widow City; BBC News

A Mother’s Hope

Children are our future.  It is our responsibility–no, it should be our mission to provide them with the tools that will enable them to have the future that God meant for them to have.  It is every mother’s hope to see her child rise above adversity, poverty and all the social ills that would oppress and impede progress.  Every mother has a right to believe that her child can have the life that she wants for him or her.  Nothing is impossible, especially when God is involved.  Mothers, keep the faith.  Teach your children to dream big and to reach for the stars. 

It’s every mother’s hope for her child to have a bright future.  It was Hannah’s hope that if God were to bless her with a son, he would serve the Lord all of his life.  What a wonderful prophet Samuel turned out to be!

While I was carrying my son, I tried to imagine what he would look like.  I dreamed that he would have huge dark eyes in a sweet face.  I was right.  I will never forget the day in the hospital when he looked up at me with those big beautiful eyes.   My heart melted, of course.  I wanted him to have the best that life could offer.   I wanted to keep him safe and care for him as best as I could with God’s help.  I am blessed to have a husband who is a terrific father and role model for our son.

My son is seven years old now and nothing has changed.  My hopes for his future are still the same.  My husband and I want him to have the best education we can afford so that he can grow up and be whatever he wants to be.  We encourage him to work hard.  I tell him that there are children in other parts of the world who cannot go to school because their parents cannot afford to send them or in some families only one child is able to go to school and it’s usually the boy.  I tell him that he has so much to be thankful for.  He lives in a house and has his own room while there are children who live in poverty.

Growing up, to me, my mother was very strict, more so than my father.  I remember once I wrote a very steamy story that somehow ended up in her possession and I knew I was in big trouble.  I was going to get a spanking from my father so I had to think quickly.  I wrote another story and when the opportunity came, I switched it with the other one.  You can imagine her surprise when she gave my father the letter and didn’t get the reaction she expected.  When she read it, she saw that it was a different one.  I don’t know what happened after that but the only thing that mattered to me at the time was that I didn’t get a spanking.  Over the years, my mother and I became very close.   I was very happy when I became a mother and watched as she held her only grandchild in her arms for the first time.  It wasn’t until I was older that she said, “You have your own life to live.”  Perhaps one day I may say that to my son although a part of me doesn’t want him to grow up.  No matter how old he is, he will always be my baby.  I take great comfort in the fact that God has great plans for his life.

It’s not easy being a mother.  It’s especially hard for the mothers in Asia who are struggling to provide for their families.  Imagine your children growing up illiterate, uneducated?  Education is the key to alleviating poverty, illiteracy and saving children from social evils like child labor and prostitution.  Children are God’s gifts and should be valued.  They are not worthless as some would have them think.  They are precious and deserve the best.

Although greater involvement by fathers – in all countries and cultures – is one of the most fundamental priorities for improving the care and upbringing of children, it is in practice the mothers who are the principal providers of care. And the first thing to be said is that however much a mother may love her children, it is all but impossible for her to provide high-quality child care if she herself is poor and oppressed, illiterate and uninformed, anaemic and unhealthy, has five or six other children, lives in a slum or shanty, has neither clean water nor safe sanitation, and if she is without the necessary support either from health services, or from her society, or from the father of her children.

The situation for mothers in South Asia sounds very dismal but true to His nature, God has found a way to reach out to them and their children.  Gospel for Asia has a wonderful program which can change the despair of the mothers in Asia to hope.  It can change the lives of children.  Bridge of Hope has helped more than 72,000 children so far and as a result thousands of families have found faith in Christ.  We can help a mother in Asia to have a Happy Mother’s day by sponsoring her child.  She can see her child get an education, receive a regular medical check-up, wear clean clothes and eat a daily meal.

Nothing pleases me more than to watch my son head into school each morning with his father, carrying a lunch bag and wearing his nice, clean and ironed uniform.  I know that he is going to school to learn so that one day, he will have a career and a future.  One day, he will be taking his kids to school too.  How grateful do you think a mother in Asia would be to see her child walking to school because someone decided to step in and make her hope a reality?

I encourage you to sponsor a Bridge of Hope child in honor of his or her mother.  Make this a Mother’s Day a very special one for a woman in Asia.  Give her the gift of hope–the hope of seeing her child have a great future.

Hope is the pillar that holds up the world. Hope is the dream of a waking man – Pliny the Elder

Hope is the anchor of our souls. I know of no one who is not in need of hope – young or old, strong or weak, rich or poor – James E. Faust

Sources:  Gospel for Asia – MothersHope Quotes; Unicef

Jesus on the Cross

Slide1

And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar,  among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. – Matthew 27:55, 56

Imagine standing there watching your Lord, who had done nothing worthy of the cruel death He was sentenced to suffer, as hang on the cross.  I can’t begin to imagine how those women felt but I know that whenever I watch a scene of the crucifixion, it feels me with pain and sorrow.  I cry.  I know that Jesus suffered on that cross for me and the world.  He willingly laid down His precious life so that we could have eternal life.  He did it so that we won’t have to experience God’s wrath or be eternally separated from Him. He did it because He was obedient to the Father even unto death.  He did it because He loves us.

How amazing it is that God loves us so much that He didn’t think twice about sending His Son to die for our sins.  It must have been hard for Him to see His beloved Son being whipped and struck, spat on and mocked but the prophet Isaiah stated: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.  When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.   He shall see the labor of His soul,and be satisfied.  By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:10, 11).  There was a purpose for this horrific death.  It was God’s only way to save us.  We are that precious in His sight.  Our salvation came at a great cost to Him and His Son, yet it cost us nothing.

As one of those women standing there, helplessly watching their beloved Lord hanging between two criminals, with the sins of the world upon His shoulders, bleeding and in excruciating pain, unable to tend to His needs, what would go through your mind?  Luke tells us how some of the crowd reacted when He died.  And the whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned. Yet, all of His acquaintances, and these women stood at a distance, watching these things (Luke 23:48, 49).  Would you stand at a distance too and watch these event unfold?  Are you still watching from afar or are you going to stand at the foot of the cross and glorify God as the centurion did? (verse 47).

Today and every opportunity you have, take time to reflect on the work Jesus did on the cross that makes it possible for you to boldly approach the throne of grace.  What He did for you over two thousand years ago makes it possible for you to have a loving and saving relationship with God.  On that day, those women, when they watched Jesus on the cross, through tear filled eyes, they were seeing the salvation of God.  At the time, they were too sorrowful to rejoice but today, we can see past the sorrow and the tears and humbly declare, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him” (1 Thessalonians 5:0, 10).

Ugandan Christian Teenager Beaten and Disowned

Imagine being badly beaten and disowned because you give your life to Jesus Christ. Jesus predicted that this kind of thing would happen.  “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. “For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three.  Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” In the case of Saidha, it was father against daughter.  When her adoptive father learned that she and her sister had converted to Christianity, she was beaten.

In some countries in the world, there is no such thing as religious liberty.  People are persecuted or killed for their faith.  Please pray for the brave souls who, like the apostle Paul, “also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8).  Pray for teenagers like Saidha who are disowned by their families that they continue in their faith, trusting in the loving care of the Lord.

UGANDA: Christian Teenager Beaten and Disowned

Source: VOM USA

Saidha

A teenager was recently beaten by her adoptive father when he discovered that Saidha and her sister had converted to Christianity. The girls, who live in the primarily Muslim village of Bwite, accepted Christ after hearing the Gospel message at an evangelistic meeting. When their adoptive father, Ali Sooka Abudalah, learned about their new faith, he beat Saidha with a club. Ali, the son of the local imam, had adopted Saidha and her sister after their biological father died several years ago.

Saidha’s face was left badly swollen after the heartless beating, requiring that she spend about a week in a medical clinic while being treated for her injuries. Ali then determined that since Saidha had decided to leave Islam, she could no longer be raised as one of his children. He took her to a church in the village and notified local authorities that he intended to leave her in the custody of a church leader. In an official document, Ali turned over custody of the girl to the pastor, adding that he does not “want to know or hear any matter concerning her because she confessed Christ as her personal Saviour.” The letter was signed on December 13th, 2014, by Ali, 12 witnesses and several other local officials.

A VOM worker visited Saidha a few weeks ago, after travelling several hours to reach her. Thankfully, the teen is presently being well cared for in the home of evangelist Muwanguzi Hassan, another convert from Islam to Christianity. Muwanguzi and his wife care for 17 other children who were also disowned by their families for the same reason. The couple is one of just four Christian families residing within their Muslim village.

Thank the Lord for the steadfast faith of Saidha! May the love and support of this new Christian family sustain and encourage the young believer as she rebuilds her life. In particular, may God grant complete healing from the physical assault she encountered, as well as recovery from the emotional wounds of being abandoned by her adoptive father. Pray that Saidha’s sister will also continue to grow in the Christian faith, and that God will keep both of these precious girls safe in His loving care. Additionally, may He move powerfully in this Muslim village so that many more will learn the truth of the Gospel.

To post a prayer of support for this courageous young sister in Christ, visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall (The Voice of the Martyrs Canada)

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith (1 John 5:4).

Christian Women Killed By Family Members

I received this persecution and prayer alert from The Voice of the Martyrs Canada.  Every time I read about Christians being persecuted or killed for their faith, I am filled with sadness.  And it reminds me of Jesus’ words, “Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Luke 12:53).  In these cases two young women were killed by their brothers and one by her father because of their Christian faith.

MIDDLE EAST: Christian Women Killed by Family Members

Source: VOM USA


This Christian woman from the Middle East
continues to pray despite the risks.

Three Christian women were killed by their Muslim family members in separate incidents on April 30th and May 1st.

A 38-year-old woman was shot to death by her two brothers shortly after they learned that she had been talking with a missionary over Skype (an online instant messaging program) and that she had a Bible. In a second incident, a man stabbed his 22-year-old sister to death when he caught her with a Christian CD. The Christian woman had previously talked with her brother about Jesus. The brother left her body in front of a hospital before seeking treatment for his own hand wound. In the third incident, a man beat his daughter to death by hitting her on the head with a stone. He turned himself over to police and confessed to the killing, knowing that he would likely not face serious punishment. He reportedly told police that his daughter had continued to attend church despite his warnings.

Please pray for those impacted by the loss of these dear sisters in Christ. May God surround those who are mourning with His love and peace. Pray, too, that He will use the legacy of these women in a powerful way, inspiring many others to learn more about Him. Ask especially that the family members who so tragically ended these lives will repent, turn to Jesus and, in time, become bold disciples of our Lord.

To post a prayer of love and support for those mourning the loss of these women, please visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.

Bringing Children to Jesus

Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it – Luke 18:16, 17.

We should never hinder anyone from coming to Christ, least of all our loved ones. The Bible says that God loved the world so much that He gave His beloved Son so that those who believe in Him will have everlasting life.

Mothers brought their babies and children to Jesus so that He could bless them. When the disciples tried to prevent them, Jesus wasn’t pleased. In fact, Mark 10:14 says that He was greatly displeased.

Jesus loves children. Just as He was happy to receive those little children in the region of Judea He is happy to receive our children today. Children love Jesus. My four year old son told me that he loves Jesus and he likes to sing songs and watch animated movies. When he was a toddler we dedicated him to the Lord. At bedtime we bought read Bible stories and he prays before and after.

As a child I grew up to a Catholic mother and an Anglican father. We went to my mother’s church every Sunday and my father’s only on special occasions such as Easter and Christmas. I don’t remember my mother or father reading Bible stories to me as a child. I didn’t get to really know the Lord until I was an adult. I want do things differently with my son. I want to him to grow up having a loving and lasting relationship with His Savior.

It’s never too early to teach them and you want when they are older that they hold onto what they have learned from you and carry it with them all the days of their lives. You want to follow these words of advice, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

As a mother who loves the Lord, lead your child to Christ. Read to him or her. Watch movies together. My husband and I watch Nest Family animated stories from the Bible. We learn from these simple but beautiful stories every time we watch them. Talk to your child about Jesus and what He means to you. Find ways to bring Christ to your child.

…when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and
I am persuaded is in you also – 2 Timothy 1:5

 

images-of-jesus-christ-115

I Will Lift My Eyes

This evening I listened to a beautiful song of praise by Karen Davis.  I used to play this song every Friday evening because it put me in the mood for worship.  Watch the video.

It sometimes brings tears to my eyes when I sing this song.  Jesus is worthy of our praise and adoration for who He is and all that He has done.  He left the glory of Heaven and came here to earth in flesh to live among fallen mankind.  He didn’t come to be served but to serve.  He came to give His life as a ransom for many.  He came to teach, heal and lift people’s hopes and change their lives for the better.

He broke down so many barriers.  He treated women with respect.  He had women followers and some of them funded His ministry.  He spoke to a Samaritan woman and didn’t condemn her for being married five times and living common law with the sixth man in her life.  In fact, He offered her a life of change and hope.  He spoke kindly to the woman who had the issue of blood after she touched His robe and was healed.  He called her “Daughter” and sent her away with the knowledge that her faith had made her well.  She had spent so much of her money and none of the doctors was able to help her.

Jesus was gracious to the woman caught in adultery.  He exposed the hypocrisy of her accusers and they went away in shame.  Jesus didn’t condemn the woman.  He sent her away in peace and told her to stop sinning.  He welcomed the woman of questionable character who entered a pharisee’s home to anoint his head and feet with expensive oil.  He forgive her sins even as those present condemned and scorned her.  He healed a woman who was bent over for many years on the Sabbath.  He brought joy to the parents of the sick twelve year old girl when he brought her back to life and the widow who was one minute crying because she was on her way to bury her son and the next rejoicing because he was raised to life.

Even as He hung on the cross, He asked His Father to forgive those who wanted Him dead and placed His mother in John’s care.  Jesus was always putting the needs of others before His own.  And this is why it is not surprising that He was willing to lay down His life for His friends and offer Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.  He was the King of kings and the Son of God but He didn’t come to this earth in glory.  He was born to a young virgin in a manger of all places.  He was wrapped in swaddling cloth.  He was humble at birth and throughout His life.  He worked as a carpenter until it was time for Him to begin His ministry.  He didn’t have a place of His own.  He was always on the go, preaching and ministering to many.  He chose ordinary men to become His disciples.  He didn’t stop loving Peter because he betrayed Him.  He didn’t stop loving the other disciples because they deserted Him.  He appeared to them so that they could see that He had risen as He said He would.

He appeared first to Mary Magdalene out of whom He had cast seven demons.  What a life she must have had before she met Jesus.  The other day as I read the Bible I realized that Jesus affects people in three distinct ways after He changes their lives:

1.  They tell others – e.g. the Samaritan woman

2.  They follow Him – Mary Magdalene

3.  They serve Him – Peter’s mother-in-law (soon after Jesus got rid of her fever)

What about you?  What effect does Jesus have on you?  Have you told others about Him?  Are you one of His followers?  Do you serve Him?

This weekend, reflect on Jesus and what He did for you.  Think about the great sacrifice He made for you so that you would not perish but have everlasting life with Him.  Share His story with someone.  I personally will lift my eyes to the Lord on high and praise Him.  I will thank Him for loving me so much that He endured the indignity of the cross.