April 22, 2022

WILLS POINT, TX – Gospel for Asia (GFA World and affiliates like Gospel for Asia Canada) founded by KP Yohannan, issued this final part of the GFA Special Report update on the desperate plight of widows in both affluent and developing nations.

Photo collage of desperate widows
Widows like these from across South Asia need assistance to alleviate their difficult circumstances.

Persistent Superstitions

Many might think such marginalization only happened in centuries past, but these recent stories illustrate that ancient cultural customs, superstitions and prejudices persist. According to the Global Fund for Widows, not only do many nations prevent widows from inheriting her rightful assets when her husband dies, some allow women to become part of his estate.

A widow with her son and his family
This widow is living with her son, and his family in West Bengal India. Her husband was killed by a tiger while working. Some widows even witness those attacks and experience post-traumatic stress disorder while grieving.

Such realities emphasize the need for International Widows Day, 15 years after the Loomba Foundation established the first observance to draw attention to widows’ experiences and galvanize more public support.

They are “stigmatized, shunned and shamed” the UN says. “And many of these abuses go unnoticed, even normalized. International Widows Day is an opportunity for action towards achieving full rights and recognition for widows.”

Then there are the problems caused by war and other conflicts. To examine this, the UNHCR—the UN Refugee Agency—dispatched a reporter to Mosul, Iraq, near the end of the government’s three-year-long, on-and-off battle to overcome militant extremists.

The agency examined the impact of fighting, which continued long after the battle ended. Among the victims were Asmaa Mahmood, captured along with her husband and their two young daughters. Two weeks after their capture and separation, Asmaa learned her husband had been killed. As would be expected, she suffered from shock, psychological trauma and grief.

Policy reforms that can help address disadvantages to widows, the World Bank says, are regarding property ownership, inheritance rights, registration of customary marriages and widows’ pensions.

More than 900,000 fled after the final military operation began to retake the city in late 2016. At one camp operated by the UNHCR and its partners, female-headed households made up more than a quarter of the total: 1,250 out of 4,463 families.

Widows like 25-year-old Asmaa faced desperate straits. She hadn’t even told her children of their father’s death after arriving at the refugee camp, evading the truth by telling her girls he had been working and would soon return.

“I am so exhausted worrying about the future of my children,” she said. “Now I have no one to rely on. All I want is to provide a good living for my two daughters. I don’t worry about myself. I just don’t want my daughters to feel any different from other girls who have a father.”

GFA Sisters of compassion serve these desperate widows in slum
These widows living in the slums of Mumbai gather together for support, prayer and practical assistance from the local pastors and Sisters of Compassion serving with Gospel for Asia (GFA World).

Given such earth-shaking situations, the 2019 release of a widow-linked television series may seem like a trifling thing. Yet, despite the six-hour series being primarily an adventure tale, the airing of The Widow on Amazon Prime shows a symbolic consciousness of the situation.

Co-produced by Amazon and Britain’s ITV, the eight episodes drew a critical review in the influential The Atlantic magazine. Yet reviewer Sophie Gilbert noted star Kate Beckinsale gave the main character a “confidence in her action scenes that’s intermittently thrilling.” In real life, widows’ courage is indeed something to behold. While a TV mini-series highlights their plight before viewers, widows require real substantive action by governments, NGOs and individuals like you and me to help them survive financially and emotionally, even as they suffer through their grief.

Quiet Help

While International Widows Day places a spotlight on the problems facing widows, much of the work being done to alleviate their suffering and deprivation occurs in quiet ways.

GFA had 32 teams working across South Asia where 22 percent of widows worldwide live

In 2018, Gospel for Asia (GFA) had 32 teams working across South Asia, where 22 percent of the global population of widows lives, to address widows’ specific needs.

In Asian cultures, many widows are seen as a curse and may be shunned by society, including close relatives.

The following facts show a sampling of what desperate widows face in this part of the world:

Widows are often forcibly evicted from their homes and extended families by the husband’s family after his death.

Widows are often erroneously accused of having caused the deaths of their husbands.

Since widows’ education level is typically much lower, 19 million of them live in extreme poverty, earning less than $2 a day.

Remarriage by widows in this part of the world is low, so street begging or prostitution often becomes a way of life for younger widows.

Many widows are left to care for their children with little help from relatives.

And sometimes children are forcibly removed from their moms.

When not removed, children from low-income families often have to enter the labor force to support their widowed mothers and other siblings.

Consider these practical examples of the impact of widowhood on real people in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and other parts of South Asia—home to 57.8 million widows. There’s Riya, who at 57 became shrouded by the shame of widowhood when her husband died from an unknown illness. Overwhelmed by sorrow and guilt, for three years she struggled to leave her bed.

Then there is Prema, the mother of two young children who suddenly found herself widowed and without a source of income.

And Amey, who struggled to overcome nearly insurmountable odds when riots touched her small village and those responsible tried to extort a fortune from her husband, a dry-fish vendor. When he refused, they killed him in his home. That left Amey with four children to raise by herself, forcing her to sell their belongings in a desperate struggle for survival. When she ran out of money and revived her husband’s business, her success sparked jealousy from other merchants, who harassed her and even tried to kill her.

Amey and family
I had to go through lots of problems after my husband passed away,” Amey (above) recalled. “To protect my children, I had to sell my belongings … Our economic situation went from bad to worse … I was mentally drained …”

In each case, help from Gospel for Asia (GFA) workers brought light and hope and shared how much God loved and cared for them. Thanks to a Gospel for Asia (GFA) initiative teaching women to develop skills and become self-supporting, Prema learned how to sew and received a sewing machine to help her generate income. After a neighbor invited Amey to attend church, she and her daughters found the inspiration and support to start a new spice business.

I have no words to thank my Lord Jesus for the miracles that He has done in my life,” Amey says. “I am so thankful He has saved me and also protected me in order to be the strength for my daughters. Now we are living with God’s grace, and our lives have been blessed immensely.”

Besides income-generating gifts, Gospel for Asia (GFA) supplies widows with clothing and other essentials, comfort, encouragement and the vital link of prayer support. Gospel for Asia (GFA) also maintains a website, www.mygfa.org, that equips those who want to conduct grassroots fundraising campaigns. Those funds help the poor, including widows, and equip missionaries in the most difficult areas of Asia—where millions have yet to experience His love.

Dr. K.P. Yohannan comforting widow

“The Bible says that true religion is to care for orphans and widows in their distress,” Dr. Yohannan says. “The challenge facing the Church around the world today is to not just read the Bible, but follow its teachings.”

These teachings apply the same today as they did thousands of years ago.

If you would like to do something now to help widows around the world, please consider one, or more, of the following ideas:

Social

Raise awareness of the plight of widows by sharing this article with your friends and family via social media, email or a link on your blog.

Interview

Interview a GFA World representative on this topic for your podcast or radio show. To facilitate that idea, email pressrelations@gfa.org.

Donate to GFA to help widows in Asia

Make a donation to help widows in Asia through a gift to GFA World.

Widow

Identify a widow that you know personally and invite her to lunch or dinner, with the goal to understand her and her needs better. Act on what you learn to make a difference for that one person.


Give to Help Widows

If this special report has touched your heart and you would like to do something today about the plight of widows around the world, please share this article with your friends and consider making a generous gift to GFA World to help widows in South Asia and other locations.


About Gospel for Asia

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) is a leading faith-based mission agency, helping national workers bring vital assistance and spiritual hope to millions across Asia, especially to those who have yet to hear about the love of God. In GFA’s latest yearly report, this included more than 70,000 sponsored children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,800 clean water wells drilled, over 12,000 water filters installed, income-generating Christmas gifts for more than 260,000 needy families, and spiritual teaching available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. For all the latest news, visit our Press Room at https://press.gfa.org/news.


Learn more by reading these Special Reports from Gospel for Asia:


This Special Report originally appeared on gfa.org.

Click here, to read more blogs on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

Learn more about Gospel for Asia: Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn | SourceWatch | Integrity | Lawsuit Update | 5 Distinctives | 6 Remarkable Facts | 10 Milestones | Media Room | Mosquito & Vector-borne Diseases | Endorsements | 40th Anniversary | Lawsuit Response |

Notable News about Gospel for Asia: FoxNews, ChristianPost, NYPost, MissionsBox

April 20, 2022

WILLS POINT, TX – Gospel for Asia (GFA World and affiliates like Gospel for Asia Canada) founded by KP Yohannan, issued this Special Report update on the desperate plight of widows in both affluent and developing nations.

GFA World, founded by KP Yohannan, issued this Special Report on the desperate plight of widows in both affluent and developing nations.

After two decades of fighting to eliminate the U.S. military’s “widow’s tax,” Cathy Milford finally succeeded, but she won’t benefit from that change for another three years. That’s how long it will take until she receives full survivor benefits instead of only partial. Though the U.S. Congress passed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, the bill only phases out the tax by 2023.

Cathy Milford
Cathy Milford successfully fought to eliminate the U.S. military’s “widow’s tax”. Photo by Doug Jones, Medium

“This is just an awful thing to do,” Milford said at a Capitol Hill rally in May 2019, recalling her 25 years of pushing for repeal; her late husband, Harry, suffered a fatal aneurysm soon after retiring from the U.S. Coast Guard. “Every time I talk about this, I have to dig my husband up and bury him all over again.”

The dispute revolved around awards given to survivors of veterans who die of service-related causes (the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation program, or DIC) and a separate, life insurance-type program known as the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). While individuals who qualified for either have received full payouts, those getting income from both saw SBP funds reduced by one dollar for every DIC dollar since 1972. The difference of up to $1,000 a month affects 67,000 surviving spouses.

“This problem goes back decades, but this year we finally solved it once and for all,” said Maine senator Susan Collins after the bill’s passage in December 2019.

That securing additional benefits for military survivors took such a protracted fight symbolizes the plight of widows worldwide. Whether husband-less females in Nigeria who have been branded “witches,” women in Asia blamed for their husbands’ deaths and other calamities, or those in South Africa who can lose inheritance rights when in-laws object, the world’s 258 million widows often face an uphill battle.

Widow at cemetery
Women who lose a spouse can face difficult and complicated problems even in affluent societies, as the U.S. military widows’ battle illustrates.

Nearly one in 10 lives in extreme poverty, says the United Nations (UN). While widows have specific needs, their voices are often missing from policies affecting them.

“In some Asian cultures, when a woman’s husband dies, she is often stripped of her dignity, her worth and her human rights,” says K.P. Yohannan, founder of Gospel for Asia (GFA). “Many of these widows are deprived of their home, their property and their possessions—leaving them destitute. Lacking the ability to earn a living, and with no access to savings or credit, millions of widows all across Asia fight every day for their survival, all the while shunned and shamed.”

As the military widows’ battle illustrates, women can face problems even in affluent societies. Another example of the slighting of American widows surfaced in a 2018 report. The Social Security’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reviewed cases of dual eligibility, where a widow can receive her benefit or a deceased spouse’s. The OIG found that 82 percent of the time the Social Security Administration failed to follow its own procedures for spelling out maximum benefit options.

According to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Loomba Foundation’s most recent World Widows Report:

The United States ranks third in the world for the most widowed women with more than 14 million.

Forty-nine percent earn less than $25,000 a year, meaning “widowhood is often a ticket to poverty.”

In practical numbers:

More than 740,000 widows are unable to provide food, shelter and basic necessities for themselves.

Secondary losses often crush widows, who subsequently may lose homes, jobs, insurance or credit.

In giving 100 stress points for losing a spouse, the Holmes and Rahe Social Readjustment Scale ranks loss of a spouse at No. 1. Other losses can push a widow’s stress level near 300 points, meaning an 80 percent chance of serious illness.

Sisters of Compassion pray for a desperate widow
Three Sisters of Compassion from Gospel for Asia (GFA World) were photographed for this disheartened widow who had recently lost her husband to a tiger attack — a common occurrence in the Sundarbans of West Bengal, India.

Worldwide Problem

Problems for widows exist worldwide. According to the World Bank, it is especially bad in much of Africa, where marriage is the sole basis for women’s access to social and economic rights, which often vanish after widowhood or divorce. Policy reforms that can help address disadvantages to widows, the World Bank says, are regarding property ownership, inheritance rights, registration of customary marriages and widows’ pensions.

Asli Demirguc-Kunt
Widows: Invisible & Excluded – Asli Demirguc-Kunt Photo by Worldbank.org

“In the face of divorce or widowhood, women often struggle with serious economic hardship,” said Asli Demirguc-Kunt, director of research at the World Bank.

For example, women frequently inherit nothing when a marriage ends. They can be shut out of labor markets, own fewer productive assets and bear more responsibility for caring for children or the elderly.

“Just as widows are often hidden from view in their own communities, the absence of data limits broader public awareness of the issue,” said the story “Invisible and Excluded.” “Quantifying the prevalence of widowhood and divorce requires information on both current widows and divorcees as well as the marital history of currently married women, and this is only available in 20 countries.”

Nearly one in 10 lives in extreme poverty, says the United Nations. While widows have specific needs, their voices are often missing from policies affecting them.

Such disregard can cut deeply, which one 49-year-old Nigerian discovered after her husband committed suicide in 2014. Four months after his death, Christiana came across his bones after searching through forests for three days. Afterward, his relatives summoned her and questioned her intensely, seeking evidence her husband did not die because of her witchcraft.

“They said that I killed my husband,” she told freelance reporter Orji Sunday, “and declared me a witch.” Sunday went on to chronicle how numerous Nigerian widows face similar challenges rooted in cultural practices. Many traditions force women to take an oath to prove her innocence when her husband dies.

“Others confine the widow in place for [a] specific mourning period and others shave her hair, yet others insist that the widow drink the water with which her late husband was washed. Some are given to the brother of the deceased,” Sunday wrote. “Legislation protecting widows is lacking in many states in the country, and in regions where the laws exist implementation is far from convincing.”

Widows with child
The earthquakes in Nepal left this woman as a widow with young kids. Like many others in her nation, she doesn’t know how to start her life again.

Similar stories appear well beyond Africa. In Nepal, a middle-aged woman was blamed for her husband’s death in 2014. Five years later, people in her village accused her of causing the death of a buffalo and beat and tortured her.

“This is a representative example of how a widow is mistreated and traumatized in the country, how widows are looked down upon and treated as inauspicious,” wrote Prakriti Sapkota in a 2019 report. “Widows are among the most vulnerable categories of people in the country. The social stigma attached to them deprive them of their basic human rights and freedom of speech. They are [the] prey of physical and sexual assaults and harassments, accused of various sexual misdeeds and are socially marginalized.”


Give to Help Widows

If this special report has touched your heart and you would like to do something today about the plight of widows around the world, please share this article with your friends and consider making a generous gift to GFA World to help widows in South Asia and other locations.


About Gospel for Asia

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) is a leading faith-based mission agency, helping national workers bring vital assistance and spiritual hope to millions across Asia, especially to those who have yet to hear about the love of God. In GFA’s latest yearly report, this included more than 70,000 sponsored children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,800 clean water wells drilled, over 12,000 water filters installed, income-generating Christmas gifts for more than 260,000 needy families, and spiritual teaching available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. For all the latest news, visit our Press Room at https://press.gfa.org/news.


Learn more about the Sisters of Compassion – those who are specially trained woman missionary with a deep burden for showing Christ’s love by physically serving the needy, underprivileged and poor.

Learn more about Gospel for Asia’s programs to address the desperate desperate plight of widows by helping women through Vocational Training, Sewing Machines and Literacy Training.

Learn more by reading these Special Reports from Gospel for Asia:


This Special Report originally appeared on gfa.org.

Click here, to read more blogs on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

Learn more about Gospel for Asia: Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn | SourceWatch | Integrity | Lawsuit Update | 5 Distinctives | 6 Remarkable Facts | 10 Milestones | Media Room | Mosquito & Vector-borne Diseases | Endorsements | 40th Anniversary | Lawsuit Response |

Notable News about Gospel for Asia: FoxNews, ChristianPost, NYPost, MissionsBox

January 7, 2022

WILLS POINT, TX – GFA World (Gospel for Asia) founded by K.P. Yohannan, which inspired numerous charities like GFA World Canada, to assist the poor and deprived worldwide, issued this 2nd part of a Special Report update on the extraordinary pressures and hardships of widows intensified by the COVID 19 Pandemic.

Continuing Problems in Developing Nations

Smiling widow despite isolation and suffering.
Despite her smile, as a widow in Assam, Sukra was not only despised and reviled by her community, but also her own brothers shunned her.

“Although most African and Asian farmers are women, only 15 percent of the world’s farmland is owned by women.” states Landesa, a land rights charity.10 A research report in the spring of 2020 from the World Bank showed that in 40 percent of countries, women face persistent barriers to land ownership, including unequal inheritance rights and authority over assets during marriage—a situation worsened by the pandemic, and one that especially affects widows.

The World Bank’s Victoria Stanley said among the new obstacles widows now face the following:

  • If their male relatives succumb to the pandemic, the standing of already highly dependent women can weaken because of limited legal protections, lack of documentation, and restrictive social norms. They are also at risk of their husband’s relatives trying to grab their land.
  • Pandemics can reduce economic assets like wages and savings, making housing, land and other property even more important. Yet, when conflicts arise over them, women may lack the resources or support to enforce their rights.

Stanley believes, in the short term, it is critical to implement broad protective measures that ensure no one will lose their home during the pandemic; for inheritances, it’s important during the crisis that countries not allow female heirs to sign over their property. Over the long term, she said, reforming inheritance laws and marital property regimes will be key to improving the implementation and enforcement of women’s rights to housing, land and property.

Victoria Stanley
Ms. Stanley, Senior Land Administration Specialist at the World Bank: “the pandemic is placing [widows] in a precarious situation.” Photo by Victoria Stanley, Twitter
“It’s time we break down the barriers to women’s access to land around the world, and make sure to protect women’s rights while the pandemic places them in a precarious situation,” Stanley said.11

Such legal steps are advocated by two members of the law school faculty at the University of Ilorin in Nigeria. Fatimah AbdulRasq and Ayinla Lukman say it is hard to gauge COVID-19’s legal impact on widows, and there is no assurance of established parameters to guarantee relief packages aimed at widows and other needy citizens are implemented.12

“Despite the relief packages and palliatives provided by government, private individuals and organizations to the populace, much ought to be done to specifically target the welfare of widows and ensure that their plight is positively addressed,” the professors said in an article for the Institute for African Women in Law.13

Jeeva, already a widow, lost her family home and all that she owned when the tsunami wave hit her village in Tamil Nadu. She had nowhere to go or anyway to survive with her two children. It was during this time that Gospel for Asia (GFA) workers discovered her plight and began to immediately help her with relief supplies. Eventually, as they determined Jeeva was a widow with no other means to recover her loss, it was decided Gospel for Asia (GFA) would provide her with a house that her family could live in. Jeeva was deeply touched by God’s love demonstrated through their actions.

Providing Direct Aid

In addition to the United Nations’ observance of International Widows Day, a variety of charities, non-profits, and non-governmental organizations work year-round to shine a spotlight on the plight of widows and relieve their suffering. The Global Fund for Widows calls it an “epidemic,” with widows subject to such problems as food insecurity, poor health, poor education, human trafficking, extremist groups, a lack of shelter, and no access to justice.14

Stand in the Gap Widows Team
Staffers Melissa Phenicie and Glenda Love are speaking up for widows in Tulsa, OK by voicing their common needs to church leadership and offering the tested and proven Stand in the Gap for Widows program to churches for free.

Photo by Stand in the Gap Ministries

Some organizations come from a faith-based perspective, like Stand in the Gap Ministries, which advocates that more churches establish ministries to widows and offer practical help, like hosting regular widows-only social gatherings, offering education in home maintenance, and facilitating small groups.

Then there is the practical assistance offered in the field by NGOs like Gospel for Asia (GFA World). While long active in widows’ assistance, the organization instituted specific relief measures soon after lockdowns began in the first quarter of 2020.

In March and April, Gospel for Asia (GFA) workers in one region of Asia visited three different villages to distribute more than 400 food kits consisting of three kilograms of mixed vegetables, four kilograms of rice and one liter of oil to widows.

“I am a poor widow,” said one recipient named Sabella, 37. “Due to the lockdown, my survival became so hard. Like me, there are many in our village who are starving. Pastor Lesharo with the compassionate heart distributed raw food kits to many people in our village. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank the church for providing the food supplies.”

In mid-April, Gospel for Asia (GFA) workers in another area gave essential items to 50 widows and other individuals. After receiving permission from local authorities, the pastors organized a program to provide for those struggling amidst the lockdown with a package that included 11 pounds of rice, two pounds of lentils, six pounds of potatoes and a bar of soap.

“During this untimely crisis, [the church] in my village stood beside us to help the poor families by providing them with food items,” said a member of the village council. “I feel proud of them. I want to thank [them] for their great help.”15

Such gifts reflect the aid given throughout the years via GFA World’s widows ministry, which provides women in desperate situations with tangible necessities. K.P. Yohannan, founder of Gospel for Asia (GFA World), said this kind of aid has long been needed because in some Asian cultures a widow can be stripped of her dignity, worth and human rights. When coronavirus struck, the need grew, he said.

Woman toiling in labor to provide for her family.
Serving as farm laborers in various parts of South Asia, women working in cultivation and farming earn less than $2 for one days’ work. Becoming widowed can jeopardize even that modest income.

“These women are typically daily wage laborers, the very group hit hardest by the government shutdowns instituted to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus,” reported GFA World. “Already struggling to feed their families, they were suddenly unable to work. Widows often are victims of poverty, ostracism and humiliation, and they can be vulnerable to abuse. Many receive little help from relatives as they care for their children.”16

However, by helping lift their burdens by providing income-generating gifts (like sewing machines) and vocational training, clothing, basic essentials, and the comfort, encouragement and assurance of God’s love, generous donors can help these widows hear promises like that found in Isaiah 41:9–10: “I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Many widows are waiting for those who will join their hands with God’s. Their suffering, grief and pain can be alleviated, in part, through practical expressions of God’s loving kindness.

Through GFA, your donation can help widows in practical, tangible ways.


Give to Help Widows »

If this special report has touched your heart and you would like to do something today about the plight of widows around the world, please share this article with your friends and consider making a generous gift to GFA World to help widows in South Asia and other locations.


Read the rest of this Gospel for Asia – Transforming Communities (GFA World) Special Report: Coronavirus Intensifies Hardships for Widows  Part 1


About GFA World

GFA World (Gospel for Asia) is a leading faith-based global mission agency, helping national workers bring vital assistance and spiritual hope to millions across the world, especially in Asia and Africa, and sharing the love of God. In GFA World’s latest yearly report, this included thousands of community development projects that benefit downtrodden families and their children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,800 clean water wells drilled, over 12,000 water filters installed, income-generating Christmas gifts for more than 260,000 needy families, and teaching providing hope and encouragement available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. GFA World has launched programs in Africa, starting with compassion projects in Rwanda. For all the latest news, visit our Press Room at https://press.gfa.org/news.


Read more blogs on GFA World, WidowsWorld Missions and the Coronavirus Pandemic on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

GFA’s Statement About Coronavirus

Learn more by reading this Special Report from Gospel for Asia: Widows Face Uphill Battle After Losing Spouses — The plight of widows, whether in affluent or developing nations, can be a desperate struggle


Learn more about Gospel for Asia: Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn | SourceWatch | Integrity | Lawsuit Update | 5 Distinctives | 6 Remarkable Facts | 10 Milestones | Media Room | Widows & Coronavirus | Endorsements | 40th Anniversary | Lawsuit Response | International Offices | Missionary and Child Sponsorship | Transforming Communities through God’s Love

Notable News about Gospel for Asia: FoxNews, ChristianPost, NYPost, MissionsBox

Read what 25 Christian Leaders are affirming about GFA World.

This Special Report originally appeared on gfa.org.

October 24, 2021

WILLS POINT, TX – GFA World (Gospel for Asia) founded by K.P. Yohannan, which inspired numerous charities like GFA World Canada, to assist the poor and deprived worldwide, issued this 1st part of a Special Report update on the extraordinary pressures and hardships of widows intensified by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Widows due to the Coronavirus Pandemic endure extraordinary hardships
Gospel for Asia (GFA) Sisters of Compassion visit Asian widows regularly to talk, help and provide hope and prayer.
Widow receiving relief package amid Coronavirus Pandemic
While visiting a famished, poor widow living among huts in this slum area in Telangana, Gospel for Asia (GFA) provided a food packet consisting of mixed vegetables, rice and oil to sustain her, and ten others, during the pandemic. She said: “From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for providing these food supplies.”

As I conveyed in a previous Special Report, the plight of widows, whether in affluent or developing nations, can be a desperate struggle. In this update, I share how the coronavirus has compounded their hardships even further.

For women worldwide who have lost husbands during the COVID-19 pandemic, grief and pain are an overwhelming experience. But for many of these women, their sorrow has been multiplied to an unbearable level due to isolation, expulsion from family, loss of property rights, and other extraordinary pressures that are often overlooked.

In America, while pandemic fears started to ease as vaccine distribution ramped up in the spring of 2021, for widows who lost spouses during the past two years, the pain is only beginning. Many young widows forged support bonds through Facebook, Zoom or other electronic means even as lockdowns and social distancing practices prevented them from gathering in person. A recent NBC News investigation discovered the following:

Among the newly grieving spouses is Pamela Addison of Waldwick, New Jersey. She became a widow in April 2020 at age 36 after her husband was exposed to the virus while conducting swallow evaluations on speech pathology patients.

“All my friends had their husbands, they were healthy,” Addison told a reporter from NBC News. “I knew only me. I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, nobody else is going to understand what I’m going through—and that was a whole other part of my grief.”1

Graphic representation of different kinds of women widows.
The Modern Widows Club provides various services for widows, including one that helps locate support groups in person or online for ongoing empathy. Photo by Modern Widows Club

After receiving inspiration from a sympathy card, Addison launched the Facebook support group Young Widows and Widowers of Covid-19. In its first two months, it surpassed 80 members from the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

Another member, Kristina Scorpo, 33, of Paterson, New Jersey, commented: “We didn’t plan to be widowed at 36 or 33. We didn’t plan to raise our kids without our partners that we saw our lives with and we saw a future with. It was like [people in the group] knew exactly what the other was going to say, because we had been through all the same things, and it’s a really great thing that life brought us together.”2

Some who have lost spouses find common identity in their ethnic background, like those who are part of Black Women Widows Empowered. It was launched by Sabra Robinson of Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2015 after she lost her husband to cancer in 2012. Last year, the more than 700 members included at least 20 who had lost spouses to COVID-19.

“I feel for all these ladies, black or white,” Robinson said. “There’s so many COVID widows now, and they don’t have to be COVID widows.”3

Widow from Nepal toiling in labor
Nepal: Having lost her husband, Esther’s life is difficult, although she’s grateful to still have her land. She sows corn manually by hand to grow a life-sustaining crop for her family during the rainfed conditions from April to August.

Yet there is strength in their affinity, says member Erika Taylor-Ruffin of Apple Valley, California, who credits the group with “saving her life.”

“When you’re an African American widow, it’s like you still have to be strong,” Taylor-Ruffin said. “We can’t show weakness. This group allows us to be vulnerable and to show our pain without being judged. [There] is something about being around women who understand your pain.”4

While the grief and sorrow of COVID-19 widows is profound in developed countries like the United States, in developing countries of the world, the painful losses widows experience are amplified to an entirely different level.

“COVID-19 is a widow-maker,” Karol Boudreaux, chief program officer at the land rights charity Landesa, said in a webinar organized by the Land Portal online platform. “[The virus] exacerbates an already unequal situation for men and women.”

Boudreaux referred to a Tanzanian widow who was unable to stop the illegal sale of her property in another city due to limited land rights and COVID-19 travel restrictions as an example of this inequity.

It’s been a decade since the United Nations organized International Widows Day, which is observed annually on June 23. The UN says there are 258 million widows worldwide, with a ratio of nearly 1 in 10 living in extreme poverty.

258 million widows worldwide, with a ratio of nearly 1 in 10, are living in extreme poverty.On last year’s International Widows Day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said when countries build back from COVID-19, they must also work to dismantle laws that discriminate against women. He said the isolation and economic hardships brought on by the pandemic can further compromise widows’ ability to support themselves and their families and cut them off from social connections during their greatest time of grief.

“The death of a partner at any time can leave many women without rights to inheritance of property,” Guterres said. “In times of a pandemic, these losses are often multiplied for widows and accompanied by stigma and discrimination.”5

The UN also says that the actual number of widows is likely to grow much higher and expand further as the coronavirus and its related impact on health continues: “The pandemic has just worsened the situation during the past several months with a devastating human loss, and one that is likely leaving tens of thousands of women newly widowed at just the time they are cut off from their usual socio-economic and family supports.”6

This family of a widow is planting an entire field completely by hand.
Uttar Pradesh, India: When a husband is lost to COVID-19, for example, the remaining widow will often need to mobilize her remaining family to survive. This family, fortunate to have land, is planting an entire field completely by hand.

Widows Rights Routinely Violated During Pandemic


An article reported from Johannesburg, South Africa, on the same Tanzanian story referenced by Karol Boudreaux—written by Kim Harrisberg for the Thomson Reuters Foundation—said that women often only earn legal or socially recognized rights to land and property through a husband or father. These rights are regularly violated during times of disaster, whether that be a war, the HIV/AIDS crisis or the coronavirus.

She quoted Patricia Chaves, head of the women’s rights charity Espaco Feminista, as saying that in Brazil when a man dies, women are approached at the funeral about selling their land.

Widows supported by Widow's Might program of Kenya Hope
Kenya: Because polygamy is practiced widely, when a husband dies from COVID-19, he often leaves behind several wives with multiple children. These vulnerable women are frequently preyed upon. The Widow’s Might program of Kenya Hope supports these women by providing them with food assistance each month, giving them five goats in the first year to start their own self sustaining herd, and by training them with marketable skills, all in God’s love. Photo by Kenya Hope, Widow’s Might Program

Chaves said that poor women have been particularly vulnerable during the pandemic because they are forced to put themselves at risk to feed their families while isolating in poor housing conditions.

In Kenya, there are reports that widows were forced out of their homes by their in-laws during quarantine because they were seen as an extra burden and not really part of the family, said Victoria Stanley, a World Bank land specialist.

“Widows depend on their (deceased) husbands for their property rights. There may be pressure from families to return properties or they may be forced into marriages with other family members. This could be devastating if we aren’t paying attention,” said Stanley, who called for a moratorium on evictions to protect women’s rights during the pandemic.7

Of course, when it comes to suffering, widows have experienced this long before last year’s lockdowns.

A widow begs on a busy road
Afghanistan: A widow begs for food on a busy road in Kabul; the two loaves of bread she has are the entire dinner for her family of eight. According to Sharia teachings, widows only get an eighth of the inheritance from their spouse’s death if the husband has children (if not, then one quarter). The rest is distributed amongst other family members. Photo by Lacuna Magazine, Widowhood in Afghanistan

One example is in Afghanistan, home to “the hill of widows.” The term refers to women who eke out independence in a society that shuns them and condemns them as immoral. The first residents settled on a stony slope outside Kabul in the 1990s, hoping to escape the stigma attached to women who have lost their spouse.

The war-torn nation was home to approximately 2.5 million widows in 2017. Often uneducated and shuttered away at home, the women have few options when their husband dies. According to a report by a French news agency, “At best, they receive $150 a year from the government if their husband was killed in fighting. They survive by doing household chores, a little sewing, or by sending their children to beg in the bazaar.

“Women are perceived as being owned by their father before becoming their husband’s property. Widows are often rejected as immoral or regarded as burdens: they suffer violence, expulsion, ostracism and sometimes forced remarriage, often with a brother-in-law, as reported by the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in a rare study published in 2014.”8
Widow from Nigeria
Nigeria: Deborah’s husband was shot and killed in raids by Muslim extremists. After her husband’s death, her in-laws wanted her to leave her home so they could profit from it. They consistently abused her and pressured her to leave. Soon, she gave in, left her home and rented a house. She was hopeless, alone, and filled with grief. And ready to give up on life, until she received help to survive from an Open Doors trauma center. Photo by Open Doors USA

Similar difficulties face widows in Nigeria. In one state in the geopolitical region of South East Nigeria, legislators enacted laws in 2001 prohibiting widows from being compelled to do such things as shave their heads, be locked in the room with their husband’s corpse, or be compelled to remarry a relative of her late husband’s. Yet nearly two decades later, some of these practices were being kept alive through sociocultural norms, said an early 2020 report by a group of health researchers.

“There are often frictions between cultural practices and state policies/laws, as well as human rights, which obstruct policy implementation,” they wrote. “The lack of resources in low-resource regions adds to the difficulty in enforcing laws and policies, especially in rural areas, giving room for abhorrent cultural practices to thrive. These conditions prolong and intensify the traumatic experiences of widows.”9


Give to Help Widows »

If this special report has touched your heart and you would like to do something today about the plight of widows around the world, please share this article with your friends and consider making a generous gift to GFA World to help widows in South Asia and other locations.


Read the rest of this Gospel for Asia – Transforming Communities (GFA World) Special Report: Coronavirus Intensifies Hardships for Widows  Part 2


About GFA World

GFA World (Gospel for Asia) is a leading faith-based global mission agency, helping national workers bring vital assistance and spiritual hope to millions across the world, especially in Asia and Africa, and sharing the love of God. In GFA World’s latest yearly report, this included thousands of community development projects that benefit downtrodden families and their children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,800 clean water wells drilled, over 12,000 water filters installed, income-generating Christmas gifts for more than 260,000 needy families, and teaching providing hope and encouragement available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. GFA World has launched programs in Africa, starting with compassion projects in Rwanda. For all the latest news, visit our Press Room at https://press.gfa.org/news.


Read more blogs on GFA World, WidowsWorld Missions and the Coronavirus Pandemic on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

GFA’s Statement About Coronavirus

Learn more by reading this Special Report from Gospel for Asia: Widows Face Uphill Battle After Losing Spouses — The plight of widows, whether in affluent or developing nations, can be a desperate struggle


Learn more about Gospel for Asia: Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn | SourceWatch | Integrity | Lawsuit Update | 5 Distinctives | 6 Remarkable Facts | 10 Milestones | Media Room | Widows & Coronavirus | Endorsements | 40th Anniversary | Lawsuit Response | International Offices | Missionary and Child Sponsorship | Transforming Communities through God’s Love

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Read what 25 Christian Leaders are affirming about GFA World.

This Special Report originally appeared on gfa.org.

November 9, 2020

WILLS POINT, TX – Gospel for Asia (GFA World and affiliates like Gospel for Asia Canada, founded by KP Yohannan), one of the world’s biggest poverty-alleviating organizations spotlights the huge “uphill battle” facing many of the world’s 258 million widows in a just-released report.

Treatment of widows is often startlingly unfair and cruel, catapulting them into a crisis of survival, says the new global report by Texas-based Gospel for Asia (GFA World).

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) spotlights the huge “uphill battle” facing many of the world’s 258 million widows in a just-released report.
‘SHUNNED AND SHAMED’: Treatment of widows is often startlingly unfair and cruel, catapulting them into a crisis of survival, says a new global report by Texas-based mission agency Gospel for Asia (GFA World). Titled Widows Often Face Uphill Battle, the report examines the different struggles faced by widows in the U.S., Africa, and Asia.

Titled Widows Often Face Uphill Battle, it examines the different struggles faced by widows in the U.S., Africa, and Asia.

Those struggles include battles over widows’ benefits in America, being stripped of homes and possessions in Africa, and the practice of shunning and shaming in Asia.

“In some Asian cultures, when a woman’s husband dies, she’s often stripped of her dignity, her worth, and her human rights,” said Dr. K.P. Yohannan, founder of Gospel for Asia (GFA World). “Many widows are deprived of their home, their property, and their possessions, leaving them destitute.”

In parts of Asia, many young widows face sexual harassment and abuse, often turning to begging or prostitution to survive.

Widows in some cultures are viewed with suspicion and disgust — sometimes even branded as witches or blamed for their husband’s death and shut out of community life.

‘Excluded and Invisible’

“Cultural shame and prejudice often render widows excluded and invisible,” said KP Yohannan, whose faith-based organization supports 40 local Sisters of Compassion teams helping widows across Asia. GFA World’s support includes vocational training for widows and giving them opportunity to take part in income-generating activities, such as sewing.

These GFA World teams of visiting women provide emotional and spiritual support, praying with widows in their homes and showing them they’re not alone.

Asia, the world’s biggest continent, has an estimated 57 million widows — roughly equivalent to the populations of California and Florida combined. “On the surface, this seems like an overwhelming uphill battle,” said KP Yohannan, “but every time a widow receives help and encouragement, we rejoice.”

Supporting the grassroots efforts of local churches in cities and rural villages, GFA World aims to “show the love of God” to outcast widows who’ve known only rejection.

“The Apostle James told us in his epistle that true religion is to care for orphans and widows in their distress,” KP Yohannan said. “The challenge facing the church around the world today is to not just read the Bible, but to do what is written in it.”


Give to Help Widows

If this special report has touched your heart and you would like to do something today about the plight of widows around the world, please share this article with your friends and consider making a generous gift to GFA World to help widows in South Asia and other locations.


About Gospel for Asia

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) is a leading faith-based mission agency, helping national workers bring vital assistance and spiritual hope to millions across Asia, especially to those who have yet to hear about the love of God. In GFA’s latest yearly report, this included more than 70,000 sponsored children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,800 clean water wells drilled, over 12,000 water filters installed, income-generating Christmas gifts for more than 260,000 needy families, and spiritual teaching available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. For all the latest news, visit our Press Room at https://press.gfa.org/news.


Learn more about the Sisters of Compassion – those who are specially trained woman missionary with a deep burden for showing Christ’s love by physically serving the needy, underprivileged and poor.

Learn more about Gospel for Asia’s programs to address the desperate desperate plight of widows by helping women through Vocational Training, Sewing Machines and Literacy Training.

Learn more by reading these Special Reports from Gospel for Asia:


This Special Report originally appeared on gfa.org.

Click here, to read more blogs on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

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October 25, 2018

Wills Point, Texas – Gospel for Asia (GFA) Special Report – Discussing widow’s plight worldwide as they face tragedy, discrimination, as well as the efforts and opportunities extended to them to give them hope.

Hope to Overcome the Challenges of Widowhood

International Women's Day (March 8) falls on the same day as GFA founder Dr. KP Yohannan's birthday - Gospel for Asia
International Women’s Day (March 8) falls on the same day as GFA founder Dr. KP Yohannan’s birthday, so it’s no wonder that he’s passionate about uplifting the lives of women around the world.

“For millions of widows in Asia, life is incredibly difficult,” says Dr. KP Yohannan, founder and director of GFA. “Many are forced into begging or prostitution to survive. There are 46 million widows on the streets and in slums. There are stories of thousands of widows committing suicide because they have no hope.”

Another widow whose story was featured in “Veil of Tears” faced rejection from her husband’s family after he died. Her nephews refused to give her food, forcing her to beg from passing strangers. Once, when she got sick and suffered from diarrhea for two days, no one would even approach her. Members of a GFA-supported Women’s Fellowship took her to the hospital for treatment, provided her food and found her a home. Most of all, they became a family.

Grassroots Aid

Such caring action demonstrates one way to address widows’ situation: at the grassroots level. This is what GFA does through initiatives such as sewing classes, providing sewing machines and training in skills like candle-making and basket-weaving. Much of this outreach is conducted by Sisters of Compassion (women who are specially trained to care for marginalized groups), leaders of Women’s Fellowship groups and pastors’ wives. As women, they are more readily received into women’s homes in the segregated society.

Grassroots Aid - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Sisters of Compassion are specially trained to minister to marginalized groups like widows, leprosy patients, and street children.

GFA-supported pastors and workers often help organize events to assist and encourage widows, too. For example, on or soon after last year’s International Widows Day, GFA-supported workers in many different regions distributed numerous sewing machines, goats, piglets, hygiene supplies, mosquito nets and other goods to help improve widows’ lives. They also offered encouragement and reminded them, “In the sight of God our Father, pure and blameless religion is helping the orphans and widows in their need” (see James 1:27).

That stirred reactions like one from Madhuri, a 35-year-old who is the only bread-earner for her children:

“I go house to house in search of work. The piglet I received from you, I will rear nicely and hope it will [provide] a great income for my family. I am very thankful to you.”

Damini, a widow with five children, said:

“I am very happy to get a piglet from the church. I never expected this type of help from the church, but I am lucky to receive the piglet.”

“In the sight of God our Father, pure and blameless religion is helping the orphans and widows in their need.” —James 1:27

In another area, a GFA-supported Women’s Fellowship gave sewing machines to 30 women.

“After my husband died, I was alone doing work in the tea garden and supporting my children,” said Upada, one of the recipients. “I am finding it so difficult to manage our family, but today I am so happy that the church has given me this gift. I believe that this sewing machine will greatly help our family.”

Another widow, Kanan, said, “After my husband’s death, there was no one to help me. I have three children and they are very small. The eldest child is going to school. I was finding life so difficult, but God took care of us and met our needs. … Through this sewing machine, I will try my best to earn money and support my children’s schooling and our family.”

When a church in another district gave 50 widows each a goat, it brought waves of gratitude. Lajita, a widow who received a goat, told of her husband dying four years earlier because of asthma:

“I have three children who are going to school. I worked as a daily laborer in others’ fields. Now, I will rear this goat at home, and she will produce milk. I hope my family’s condition will become better through this goat.”

Income-producing gifts like those found in GFA's Christmas Gift Catalog - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Income-producing gifts like those found in GFA’s Christmas Gift Catalog are game changers for widows in need.

Baijanti added, “My husband passed away some eight years ago. I stay with my children. We have no income-generating source, and this goat is going to be a great help for my living.”

An event in Nepal for International Women’s Day in 2017 prompted similar reactions. Thirteen churches organized a women’s conference, during which they provided pressure cookers to 60 widows.

A guest speaker, who had been a widow since age 15, distributed the gifts and encouraged participants:

“Being a widow, it is hard to be alone and at home in the society. Today, many widows are abused by the family and the society. Therefore, I came forward to raise my voice and help them.”

Widow’s Challenges in America

Even in the United States, widows don’t get a pass on life’s challenges. After Artis Henderson’s husband, Miles, died in November 2006 when his Apache helicopter crashed in Iraq, she spent the first year overwhelmed by grief. Without experiencing this kind of sudden tragedy, it’s hard for someone to know how difficult it is to cope when “everything in the world shifts,” she told CNN.

Artis Henderson and her late husband, Miles - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Artis Henderson and her late husband, Miles
(Photo credit Artis Henderson via CNN.com)

“I always remember so clearly, this woman—another widow who was a little further, maybe six months ahead of me in the process—saying to me, ‘You will be disappointed to find out what happens after the first year,'” Henderson said. “And I remember saying, ‘Well, what happens?’ And she said, ‘There’s another year.'”

Other widows report similar grief. At age 59, Ginny McKinney was out shopping with her husband, Dan, for a travel trailer for early retirement when he suddenly dropped dead from a heart attack at age 62.

“I took off for three months, driving a circle around Colorado,” McKinney told the New York Times. “I went to places in the wilderness and on the top of mountains, where I could stand outside and scream at the sky, and scream at God for taking my man. And scream at him for leaving me.”

If the grief isn’t enough, what elderly widows may discover later can also inflict pain. In early 2018, an audit report from the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) inspector general’s office found the agency had underpaid nearly $132 million to more than 9,200 widows and widowers age 70 or older.

The issue stemmed from a budget bill in 2015, when Congress curtailed a strategy where one spouse could suspend a monthly benefit to allow the other spouse’s benefits to increase as long as the second delayed drawing theirs. However, it still allows a widow to claim survivor benefits and delay applying for her own. The SSA failed to inform widows and widowers to consider this option. The inspector general identified 13,555 people who were entitled to claim such benefits; a random sample showed that 82 percent could have drawn a higher monthly benefit if they claimed survivor benefits and held off drawing their own retirement.

“I went to places in the wilderness and on the top of mountains, where I could stand outside and scream at the sky, and scream at God for taking my man. And scream at him for leaving me.”

However, the situation for widows in other parts of the world remains even more dire. For example, in a 2015 story, the India Times reported the majority of Indian widows are deprived of their inheritance rights, especially if they are childless or have only daughters. This happens despite a 1969 law that made women eligible to inherit equally with men.

Among other problems, widows in Asia may face:

  • Prohibition of remarriage
  • Being forced to follow certain mourning rites
  • Becoming victims of violence, much of it stemming from common accusations that they caused their husband’s death
  • Economic hardships

Sharing Hope

Given this situation, Yohannan also believes the ultimate answer will be found from more women, regardless of where they live, learning who they are in Christ and what God thinks about them as individuals. Widows like Gulika have found hope when they learned that God treasures them.

Sharing Hope - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
“We must do everything we can to alleviate suffering and do whatever it takes to help people who are forsaken in their own communities.” —Dr. K. P. Yohannan

However, Yohannan emphasizes the importance for Christ followers to provide practical assistance for widows and their children.

“God judged Israel because they did not care for the poor and suffering,” Yohannan says. “The Body of Christ is responsible to care for them. We must do everything we can to alleviate suffering and do whatever it takes to help people who are forsaken in their own communities.”

Obeying God’s command to take care of widows, GFA supports workers dedicated to ministering to widows all across Asia.

In 2017, GFA helped provided free health care training to 289,033 women, taught 50,624 illiterate women how to read and write, provided vocational training to 10,965 women desperately in need of a job, and gave out 8,763 sewing machines to vocational graduates, many of whom are widows struggling to survive. So, while widows worldwide face tragedy and discrimination, some are finding hope and a future through help from organizations like Gospel for Asia.

Gospel for Asia: Widows Worldwide Face Tragedy, Discrimination (Part 3) - KP Yohannan

To conclude on a positive note, here is a letter written by Dr. KP Yohannan to friends and donors of GFA about one widow’s journey from despair to joy:

When Kaavya’s husband died as a result of his alcohol addiction, she had to work hard as a daily wage laborer to feed her six children and look after her household. No one helped her because she lived in a society where people believed it is the wife’s fault if her husband dies before she does—regardless of the circumstances. In essence, she and her children were abandoned.

Kaavya and her children lived in a small, old hut, and life was a constant struggle for survival…

Read the rest of the letter from KP Yohannan


Widows Worldwide Face Tragedy, Discrimination: Part 1 | Part 2

This article originally appeared on gfa.org

To read more on Patheos on widow’s plight worldwide, go here.

Go here to know more about Gospel for Asia: GFA.org | GFA Reports | GFA.net | MyGFA.org | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

October 24, 2018

Wills Point, Texas – Gospel for Asia (GFA) Special Report – Discussing the plight of widows worldwide – raising awareness of the problems of widowhood as they face tragedy, discrimination, and suffering.

A Day for the Plight of Widows Raises Awareness

In response to stories like these, the Loomba Foundation organized the first International Widows Day in 2005 to raise awareness of the problems of widowhood. The foundation selected June 23 for the observance because on that day in 1954 the mother of the organization’s founder, Lord Loomba, became a widow.

By the sixth year, 10 nations held observances. In December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly formally adopted June 23 as International Widows Day, calling on member states, the UN system and other organizations to give special attention to the situation of widows and their children. [1]

A Day for the Plight of Widows Raises Awareness - KP Yohannan - Gospel for AsiaConsidering the average widow has three children and six other family members, the wider impact affects more than a billion people, about one-seventh of the world’s population.

A series of reports tied to the day give further evidence of the difficulties facing widows:

In 2001, the UN had issued a report in which it said there is no group affected more by the “sin of omission” than widows:

“They are painfully absent from the statistics of many developing countries, and they are rarely mentioned in the multitude of reports on women’s poverty, development, health or human rights published in the last 25 years.” [2]

The UN says widows in many countries often confront denial of inheritance, land rights and other forms of abuse; widows can be evicted from their homes and abused or even killed, sometimes by family members.

“In many countries, a woman’s social status is inextricably linked to her husband’s, so that when her husband dies, a woman no longer has a place in society,” stated the organization’s 2018 report on International Widows Day.

“To regain social status, widows are expected to marry one of their husband’s male relatives, sometimes unwillingly. For many, the loss of a husband is only the first trauma in a long-term ordeal.

“In many countries, widowhood is stigmatized and seen as a source of shame. Widows are thought to be cursed in some cultures and are even associated with witchcraft. Such misconceptions can lead to widows being ostracized, abused and worse.” [3]

Widows Worldwide Face Tragedy, Discrimination (Part 2) - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Netramani’s entire family rejected her after her husband died, leaving her to find menial work to support herself. When she got too weak to work, she had no option but to beg on the streets.

A report released by the Loomba Foundation warned that the mistreatment of widows and women who have lost their partners produces systemic problems for societies. Unless governing powers actively safeguard the well-being of these women and their children, extreme beliefs and behaviors persist. In some nations, people commonly believe that widows caused their husbands’ deaths because of their own misdeeds in a previous life. Some cultures practice “cleansing,” where a widow is forced to have sexual intercourse with a man after her husband’s death to release her husband’s spirit.

The report explains the disturbing impact of such beliefs and practices:

“Most of the most puzzling influences affecting the plight of widows are not examined by the societies that practice them, and without questioning them they remain secret, or in other cases where they are acknowledged they exist, through their normalcy, no one acknowledges the practices cause harm, therefore the practices exist in a kind of private realm nonetheless.

“Perhaps the most far reaching impact of widows’ insecurity is the impact this has on women and families to choose to focus most of their resources on the male members of the family. This means that boys get more health care and education than girls. Boys get this focus because women’s rights are not acknowledged in many societies so that women depend on men for economic and legal security.” [4]

Watch the story of Netramani in this excerpt from Gospel for Asia’s documentary “Veil of Tears”, a film that reveals the desperate plight of women in Asia.

The Hidden Plight of Widows

If widows were gathered into one geographic location, they would make up the fourth-largest nation on earth. Yet, according to the Loomba Foundation, many people remain unfamiliar with reports about the situation facing widows, even though much of the research and analysis is not new. That’s because the evidence hasn’t moved beyond obscure books, academic journals and findings by international organizations. In addition to individual cases of extreme abuse, the Foundation argues, the structural causes of deprivation are “disturbing,” because these wider impacts affect society as a whole.

“Deprivation faced by widows therefore extends its destructive influence deep into the rest of society, and can be seen at work across large parts of the world,” the organization stated in its 2015 Global Widows Report. “Widows’ deprivation is therefore not simply about identifying one more category of people to be added to the poverty policy list. This latter point will obviously be of interest to governments, given that they rarely act because there is a moral need to do so—action happens because it helps achieve some other already prioritized objective.” [5]

Many governments could lessen pressure on widows by removing limits on women’s economic condition. Not only do widows often face the loss of land, income and poverty, but as females, many of them lack basic rights.

A 2016 report from the World Bank Group showed that 90 percent of 173 nations have at least one law limiting women’s economic participation, including constraints on their ability to inherit or own land. [6]

In response to that statistic, UN Women wrote in a 2017 statement, “Repealing these discriminatory laws is not only ethical, it is a mandate of the [UN’s] Sustainable Development Goals; the first target of Goal 5 is to ‘end all forms of discrimination against women and girls everywhere.'”

The Hidden Plight of Widows - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
When Lalita’s husband died, she was left with four children and no income. She didn’t know where to turn or how to earn a living, and for three years she struggled to survive. After receiving a sewing machine from a Gospel for Asia-supported gift distribution, she now supports herself through a tailoring business.

UN Women points out the need to “undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and other natural resources, in accordance with national laws. Action on these could impact the lives of millions of widows who are currently dependent on their husbands for their livelihoods.” [7]

The Loomba Foundation says that in significant portions of many developing nations, prevailing social norms and lack of a social safety net mean remarriage is in effect mandatory because single women’s existence is not accepted. This means many widowed women remain “hidden” and not recorded in official statistics.

Still, research has uncovered how serious conditions can become, especially in conflict-torn areas. In Rwanda, at least 13 percent of females are widows, with half of all husbands slaughtered during the genocide of the 1990s. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, sustained warfare left some areas with a widowhood rate as high as 40 percent. In Afghanistan, the United Nations Fund for Women has reported as many as 2 million war widows, well above 20 percent of the corresponding female population. [8]

Plight of Widows - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Research shows that discrimination against women and widows negatively affects the entire society.

“However, the countries with the highest percentage of widows among their female maritage populations are in Europe, where Ukraine leads with a rate of 19.2 percent,” the report says. “The Czech Republic has a rate of 13.6 percent, similar to post-genocide Rwanda, France has 12.2 percent. … Without further research on the living conditions of widows in under-studied countries, the widows’ issue will remain hidden in what are currently heavily aggregated poverty statistics.”

Fighting Tradition

The problem can’t be laid solely at government’s doorstep. Strong cultural traditions, customs and superstitions make turning back problems a long-term challenge. That is one reason why UN Women established the Fund for Gender Equality, a global grant-making body dedicated to economic and political empowerment for women. The fund provides both technical and financial support to innovative initiatives.

Since 2009, the fund has given grants totaling $64 million to 120 programs in 80 countries; in 2015 it awarded $7.3 million in grants to two dozen programs that are scheduled to be implemented by this year in six regions of the world. They will reach an estimated 325,000 beneficiaries—45 percent from low-income countries. Thus far, the agency says it has helped 23,000 women increase their incomes and another 3,000 gain leadership positions. [9]

Despite such initiatives, neither government nor non-governmental organizations can easily overcome cultural habits. In 1961, India passed a law against requiring a woman’s family from presenting her husband with a huge financial gift, known as a dowry. Yet, more than 50 years later, dowries are responsible for 80 percent of the outstanding bank loans in the South Asian country. As just one example, “Veil of Tears,” a documentary by GFA, interviewed one woman whose father was still making payments on a dowry loan years after her marriage.

This woman's father spent years paying off her dowry after she got married - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
This woman’s father spent years paying off her dowry after she got married.

Because so many of these women lack an education or job training, some are often forced to work in low-skilled, backbreaking labor jobs paying the equivalent to US$1.50 a day. With 80 percent of India’s 1.2 billion people living in villages and rural areas, it is extremely difficult to overcome the superstitions and traditions that keep women in subservient conditions.


Widows Worldwide Face Tragedy, Discrimination: Part 1 | Part 3

This article originally appeared on gfa.org

To read more on Patheos on the plight of widows worldwide, go here.

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October 23, 2018

Wills Point, Texas – Gospel for Asia (GFA) Special Report – Discussing the plight of widows worldwide as they face tragedy, discrimination, and suffering.

Gospel for Asia: Widows Worldwide Face Tragedy, Discrimination (Part 1) - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia

Accounts of the humiliations, insults and indignations suffered by widows worldwide would make anyone cringe.

Gulika, a widow in Asia, experienced helplessness after the people in her village turned their backs on her after her husband’s death.

A woman in Nigeria was harassed by her brother-in-law asking for documents of her house before her husband’s body even left for the funeral home—and then insisted she had to leave.

Another Nigerian woman’s husband lay in a hospital bed when her sister-in-law demanded a huge amount of money from their bank account. When the wife refused, her in-law swore she would regret it.

“Three days after, my husband died, his family descended on me, took his cars away and emptied the house.”

In connection with last year’s International Widows Day, CNN spotlighted the cases of seven widows, ranging from a woman in Nepal to a widow in India to the spouse of a U.S. serviceman killed 12 years ago in Iraq. Their stories varied, but they faced the same plight: difficulties with grief and loneliness, forms of ostracism, financial struggles and hopelessness.

Santu Kamari Maharjan of Nepal struggled greatly because she was a widow - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Santu Kamari Maharjan of Nepal struggled greatly because she was a widow, until Women for Human Rights helped her and 14 other women start an agriculture business. (photo credit Womankind Worldwide via CNN.com)

The widow in Nepal, Santu Kamari Maharjan, then 55, had lost her husband to kidney failure years before. With young children to support, she had to work in people’s fields to clothe and feed them. (She had to sell her own field to pay for her husband’s medical treatment.) Her sisters-in-law would taunt her. As difficult as that was, then a serious earthquake in 2015 left her with no income—until the nonprofit Women for Human Rights helped her and 14 other women to build a bamboo shelter to start an agriculture business.

Grace Njeri Mwichigi, whose husband died in tribal violence in Kenya in 2007. (photo credit Matt Maxwell via CNN.com)
Grace Njeri Mwichigi, whose husband died in tribal violence in Kenya in 2007. (photo credit Matt Maxwell via CNN.com)

Grace Njeri Mwichigi became a widow after her husband was killed during tribal clashes in Kenya in 2007. The following months brought stress, confusion and fear, with much of the neglect and humiliation coming from family members. Purita Carlos of the Philippines lost her husband to lung cancer, which meant her fourth-grade son had to stop attending school while they stayed in Manila so she could learn how to earn a living.

“Being a widow is not easy, It is very sad, and the pain of missing your husband is always there. I don’t want to go through the same experience again. That is why I would not ever remarry. It is enough that I have my son.” 
– Purita Carlos in an interview with CNN [1]

In other media coverage, headlines alone give an indication of the situation facing so many widows:

Afghan widows ‘would rather die’ [2]

Agonies of widows hit by
harsh Nigerian traditions [3]

Stories of survival: Widows of
India’s farmer suicides [4]

USA: Social Security underpays
thousands of widows and widowers [4]

Kenya: Where becoming a widow is
the worst thing that can happen to you [6]

Widows Are at the Bottom of the Pile

Of the estimated 285 million widows in the developing world, more than 115 million live in abject poverty. [7] Eighty six million have suffered physical abuse, according to Cherie Blair, president of the UK-based Loomba Foundation, established in 1997 to empower widows and educate their children. In addition, 1.5 million children whose mothers have been widowed will die before they turn 5 years old. Considering the average widow has three children and six other family members, the wider impact affects more than a billion people, about one-seventh of the world’s population.

As president of the Loomba Foundation, Cherie Blair is on a mission to empower widows and educate their children. (Photo credit foreignoffice on Flickr)
As president of the Loomba Foundation, Cherie Blair is on a mission to empower widows and educate their children. (Photo credit foreignoffice on Flickr)

“Their plight is one of the most important, yet under-reported, human-rights issues facing the world today,” says Blair. “Much has been made, and rightly so, of gender inequality, but widows have truly been at the bottom of the pile—visible and invisible—for too long. For many women, becoming a widow does not just mean the heartache of losing a husband, but often losing everything else as well.[8]

Gospel for Asia reported on one widow named Gulika and her plight. [9] While Gulika didn’t live an extravagant lifestyle, her husband, Manan, earned an adequate income working as a tailor. That all changed the day Manan hurried across some railroad tracks, unaware of the train just around the bend.

The sorrow of losing her husband was compounded by the reaction of others in her village in Asia. Believing Gulika was cursed, many feared that even passing by her on the street could bring them bad luck. Not surprisingly, Gulika fell into emotional despair. Still, she had to uphold her duties as a daughter-in-law, including retrieving water for the family. The nearest source was an old well a third of a mile walk from home.

Like this woman, Gulika walked long distances to gather water for her in-laws - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Like this woman, Gulika walked long distances to gather water for her in-laws.

Collecting water was a grueling chore, and not just because of the lengthy walk. Women and girls feared going out alone because of the potential danger of men taking advantage of their vulnerability. Some days, Gulika faced harassment from her neighbors, and she didn’t always come home with enough water.

Gulika’s story has a happy ending: A Gospel for Asia-supported pastor arranged for a new water well to be drilled in front of her home.

Widows Do Not Often See Relief from Their Suffering

Too often, however, widows don’t see relief from their suffering. So many women in various parts of the world have lost their husbands that the term “island of widows” has been applied to locations in Nicaragua, Sri Lanka and India.

Some of these women’s husbands have died from unknown chronic kidney disease (CKDu). First diagnosed among sugarcane workers in Chichigalapa, Nicaragua, it more recently spread to a coastal town in Andhra Pradesh, India. In a village of less than 3,000 people, at least 126 women have become widows by CKDu ailments, which have stricken farmers, coconut grove workers and fishermen. [10]

There are other concentrations of widows linked to a variety of causes. The city of Vrindavan in northern India, known as a holy city because of its numerous temples, has been labeled “the city of widows.” That’s because an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 widows live in the area, almost one-fourth or one-third of the city’s population of 63,000. [11]

tiger widow - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
A “tiger widow” with her three children; a man works in a forest where tiger attacks happen often.

The Sunderbans, a cluster of islands stretching from India to Bangladesh, contain several villages that are home to “Tiger Widows,” women whose spouses have been killed by tigers.

“They think we are evil,” said one woman who lost her husband to a wild animal. “People blame us for the death of our husbands.” [12]


Widows Worldwide Face Tragedy, Discrimination: Part 2 | Part 3

This article originally appeared on gfa.org

To read more on Patheos on the plight of widows worldwide, go here.

Go here to know more about Gospel for Asia: Facebook | Youtube | Twitter | GFA Reports | My GFA

July 7, 2018

Wills Point, Texas – GFA (Gospel for Asia) – Discussing where violence against women occurs worldwide, including violence against widows.

Widows in Meru, Kenya, Africa who have lost their husbands - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Widows in Meru, Kenya, Africa who have lost their husbands and have only themselves as a group to look after each other.

If a woman happens to escape the abuse so common in marriage, what happens to her once she is no longer married and becomes a widow? Does the violence against widows end?

Violence Against Widows

“Gulika’s life drastically changed the day her husband died. … Bearing the title ‘widow’ was a heavy weight to carry. The sharp, condemning words of the villagers stung Gulika’s already broken heart. Because of this, the pain of losing her husband increased all the more. It seemed that every time she stepped out of her home she wasn’t safe from their harsh criticism.

“The villagers believed Gulika was cursed. They were even afraid that if she passed them on the street, she would bring them bad luck. This shame and rejection, on top of the reality of her husband’s death, grew unbearable. Soon Gulika fell into deep emotional despair.”

Condemnation. Shame. Rejection.

a widow has lost all “color” from her life once her husband has died - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Wearing a white sari symbolizes that a widow has lost all “color” from her life once her husband has died.

Gulika, like so many other widows in South Asia, incurred the blame for her husband’s death—even though he had died crossing railroad tracks as an oncoming train headed his way. But that didn’t matter. The cause of a husband’s death, no matter how arbitrary or natural, is blamed on the wife.

People believe the husband’s death came about because the wife is a curse, a bad omen. They may strip her of her jewelry, shave off her hair, and force her to wear a white-colored sari, signifying she no longer has any “color” and must spend the rest of her days on earth in mourning. Often, she’s cast out of the home, left with no property and no way to fend for herself. She no longer has any family unless she has dependent children. In order to survive, she may need to beg or turn her body over to prostitution.

There are more than 57 million widows in Asia—and it transcends ages and social statuses. A person can become a widow as young as 7 years old (depending on if they were forced into a child marriage) or can come from a wealthy, high-class family. But once a girl or a woman bears the name “widow,” who they were before no longer matters. They’re obligated to live out the rest of their lives forgotten, shamed and without any hope.

The cause of a husband’s death, no matter how arbitrary or natural, is blamed on the wife.

In an article published by National Geographic, journalist Cynthia Gorney was able to get an insider’s view on the plight of widows. In one interview, she noted the “fury” a social worker named Laxmi Gautam had when talking about the condition of widows:

“We asked whether Gautam had ever imagined what she would change if she were given the power to protect women from these kinds of indignities. As it turned out, she had. ‘I would remove the word ‘widow’ from the dictionary,’ she said. ‘As soon as a woman’s husband is gone, she gets this name. This word. And when it attaches, her life’s troubles start.’”

There are more than 57 million widows in Asia - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
There are more than 57 million widows in Asia

When Will the Violence Against Widows End?

From one stage of life to the next, it would seem the women of Asia hardly get any reprieve from abuse and discrimination. Violence against women is “from the womb to the tomb,” as the old saying goes.

But in the midst of such gloom, Gospel for Asia—and other governmental and non-governmental organizations working on behalf of women’s rights in Asia—is seeing a new dawn rising for hundreds of thousands of women.

As women experience the love of fellow human beings who are willing to serve and minister to them, their understanding of their worth and value in society is elevated. Gospel for Asia-supported workers, including men, treat each girl and woman they meet with respect. They speak words of life into the hearts of women who’ve silently suffered violence, letting them know they matter, they are important, they are valuable, they are loved—even if the rest of society doesn’t believe so.

Remember Aamaal, the woman who tied a noose and was planning on hanging herself to escape her husband’s abuse? She didn’t jump. She didn’t kill herself. Instead, a relative offered her hope in the name of Jesus and led her to a compassionate GFA-supported pastor. Because of that, her life changed—and her husband experienced renewal too! He no longer drinks. He no longer beats his wife, and Aamaal is no longer living the life of an abused woman.

Geeta and her two young children rebuilt their lives - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Geeta and her two young children rebuilt their lives after their abusive father left, through the support of their local church.

When Geeta’s abusive husband left her, she went from fear to despair—not relief. She faced pressure to sell her body as a prostitute, and she eventually started working as one. But one of her friends, a believer, knew there was a better way to live. She shared loving counsel with Geeta, something she had been searching for.

The hunger and poverty Geeta and her children faced remained a problem, however, until Geeta’s children were enrolled in a Gospel for Asia-supported Bridge of Hope center. The local church has also came alongside the family, helping them find a safer place to live and provided help and encouragement.

As GFA-supported workers lead their congregations to truly value women, whole portions of society are showing women respect they’ve never experienced before. Believers can be heard thanking God for their newborn baby girls. They educate their daughters to give them a future of their own. They refuse to receive dowry as a testimony to the love of Christ. And when their sisters in Christ become widows, they embrace and support them rather than reject them.

Gospel for Asia-supported Initiatives Helping to End Violence Against Widows, Women

Through various GFA-supported initiatives, girls and women have opportunities to reach heights they were once barred from reaching because of their gender.

Literacy Training - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Literacy Training is key for helping women and widows get back on their feet.

Literacy Training

provides adult women with the opportunity to learn how to read and write—skills they never had the chance to learn, most likely because in the minds of many parents, a girl’s education is not worth investing in.

Health care seminars - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Health care seminars give women and widows practical training in personal hygiene.

Health Care Seminars

teach women how to properly take care of their pregnancies, their babies, their homes and families, which empowers them inside the home.

Gospel for Asia's bridge of Hope program - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Gospel for Asia’s Bridge of Hope program helps widows with children keep them in school.

Gospel for Asia’s Bridge of Hope Program

is a child sponsorship program that helps keep young girls off the streets and provides them with an education—while teaching every student how boys and girls are created equal in God’s sight.

Vocational training and Income-generating gifts - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Vocational training and Income-generating gifts like sewing machines give widows practical skills to earn a living.

Income-generating Gifts

give impoverished women the ability to take care of themselves and their families if their husbands are struggling to provide, unemployed, or incapacitated due to alcohol or other addictions. Vocational training makes it possible for women to learn skills that will help them find good jobs—or even start their own business!

At the heart of many of these initiatives are GFA-supported women missionaries and Sisters of Compassion, specialized women missionaries. They stand beside and advocate for the rights of abused and neglected women. They show others how to love and care for the people around them, regardless of their gender. Through them—and the guidance and teaching of male pastors and missionaries who see each woman as precious, valuable and made in the image of Almighty God—violence against women is ending. Women are enjoying new life safe from hands that once sought to abuse them.

Sisters of Compassion - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Sisters of Compassion help widows in need of support, encouragement or medical attention.

As for Geeta, she has a solid group of people who have stood with her through her hardships. We, too, can come alongside women like Geeta. Through our prayers and support of national workers, we take part in helping end the violence against women in Asia.

When we come alongside GFA-supported workers, we empower them to empower others. We have seen the fruit of these efforts over and over again, and by God’s grace, we will see more and more women set free—physically, emotionally and mentally—from the abuse and neglect they’ve known their entire lives.


For more on Patheos about violence against widows, their plight and need, go here.

This article originally appeared on gfa.org.

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Click here, to read more blogs on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

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November 25, 2017

Gospel for Asia (GFA) News, Wills Point, Texas

Imagine. You’re a woman in Asia with no rights.

You’ve just been married to a man who wants to use you to get rich. You really don’t have the money he’s looking for, yet you’re family’s required to provide a “wedding gift” — a dowry. Your father takes out a loan to pay the groom and his family, yet it’s still not enough. The husband’s family demands even more while your family is left impoverished with nothing more to give. Now your fate is to be burned in a blazing fire because what your family had to offer him didn’t make the cut.

Sound unbelievable? Bride burnings and dowry deaths still occur in Asia, even today.

Imagine. You wake up one day to find your husband went to work one morning then suddenly went missing. Days pass and you find out he was mauled by a fierce tiger, or lost his life in a work-related accident. You’re a widow now. But instead of getting support from your family during your grief, everybody who loved you before now abandons you and no longer cares for you, because they believe you have bad Kharma, which makes you responsible for your husband’s death. Is there any hope for you now?

Sound incredible? Millions of widows in India suffer alone and abandoned due to this social stigma.

Is there any hope for the women of Asia who find themselves living out these scenarios?

Veil of Tears Movie Features Plight of Women & Widows - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
After the movie was finished, people wanted to know how they could help the suffering women in Asia.

Movie Night at Local Church Raises Awareness

On Nov. 10, a few Gospel for Asia (GFA) staff and members of a local church came together to watch GFA’s documentary film, “Veil of Tears.” One couple who came to view the film was so shocked at the treatment of women in Asia that they covered their mouths throughout the movie as they considered what could be done to help these precious women that God loves so much.

Mary, a member of the local church, was overwhelmed by the reality that many women in Asia face.

“It’s overwhelming. You wonder how you can help,” Mary explained. “I’m just one person.”

Pastor David Cartwright, senior pastor of the local church, was gripped by compassion seeing the way some women are treated.

“My heart breaks when I see how deep evil and sin go in our world,” Pastor Cartwright said. “It’s hard to believe groups of people are so unloved and despised and treated like they are. It is beyond anything we see in our culture.”

Sisters of Compassion - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Sisters of Compassion takes care of the lowest of the low and listen to their stories.

Gospel for Asia-supported Workers Bring Hope to Suffering Women

Near the end of “Veil of Tears,” the mood of the movie turns from the abuse and violence against women in Asia to hope as Gospel for Asia-supported women missionaries and Sisters of Compassion—women who are specifically trained to minister to the least of the least—enter the scene.

These national workers are changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of women in Asia simply by ministering to and loving them. They also offer programs that help improve a woman’s quality of life. One of those programs is literacy classes, which will keep a woman from signing bad contracts or being cheated at the marketplace.

“I’m really impressed with the literacy of the children and the women, because I think that changes lives,” Mary explained. “I think that’s one thing that no matter what country you’re in or who you are, literacy changes lives.”

The film also shows the ministry Sisters of Compassion have on an island that is home to millions of widows who have been overlooked and abandoned by their family and friends.

“When I stand before my God,” one Sister of Compassion explained, “He’ll say to me, ‘You’ve done a good job, and because of you, these widow mothers are in heaven also.’”

One Person Can Make a Difference for Women in Asia

After the film ended, a Gospel for Asia staff member stood before those who were in attendance and pointed out that we may not be able to do everything, but all of us can do something.

“If God cares about our personal struggles,” she said, “certainly He cares much more about the bigger things.”

Then everyone gathered in groups to pray for women missionaries and those women who are suffering. Mary was impacted by the call to prayer.

“It’s going to make me think and pray differently, and hope I don’t get callous,” Mary said.

The question I’m going to leave with you is a question I asked before: Is there hope? Through people’s prayers and support of the women missionaries and Sisters of Compassion, many women who have no hope will finally find it.

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For more blogs by Gospel for Asia on Patheos, go here.

For more details on the powerful documentary movie, Veil of Tears, go here.

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