This verse in Scripture cannot be more compelling or clearer:
“Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)
Scholars have produced massive volumes on the biblical mandate to care for orphans and widows. The Bible is not ambiguous on this topic. I am grateful churches around the world have taken some steps to care for the orphans, though much more remains to be done.
But, in North American churches, I see hardly any intentional church wide ministries to widows. Millions are left to suffer and struggle in silence.
Though the biblical mandate to care for widows should be sufficient motive for our churches, consider some of the struggles widows experience. These seven factoids should give you at least a glimpse of the need for ministries to widows in your church.
- The death of a spouse is the number one stressor in a person’s life. Too many survivors are not ready to deal with the issues of widowhood (Holmes and Rohe stress scale).
- Over 800,000 persons are widowed each year. Of that number, 700,000 are women (U. S. Bureau of the Census).
- Widowhood lasts on the average 14 years. That is a significant portion of any person’s life (U. S. Bureau of the Census).
- There are over 14 million widows in the United States today. That is an average of 40 widows for every church in the United States (AARP).
- Upon the death of a spouse, a widow loses 75% of her support base. It is imperative for churches to stand in the gap (Widow’s Hope).
- Widows have a 30% higher risk of death in the first six months after the death of their husbands. They truly die of a broken heart (University of Glasgow).
- The poverty rate among widows is three to four times higher than elderly married women. Financial needs among widows are often great (Social Security Administration).
Please don’t walk away from reading this short post without considering some type of action in your church to care for widows.
It is one of the clearest mandates of Scripture.
It is also one of the most neglected mandates of Scripture.
Let me hear from you.
Posted on February 17, 2016
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
More from Thom
My husband Phil was brutally murdered in front of me on the 4th of January 2023. We were High school sweethearts since matric & together for 38 years happily married & so in Love. Hevwas my 2st, one & Only Forever Love. Hecwas shot at close range. I was held at Gun point taken to the room & interrogated for money, rings. I gave him my wallet. He took me back to my husband’s body & once again cocked the gun, I knelt down & started to Pray for Our Lord Jesuscto Heal my husband as He is the only ones that can Heak him. He’s the Lord of Lord’s, The King of Kings and there is no name Higher than His name. I told Phil how muchbzi Love & Care about him & if there’s anything I have done or Saud wrong to him, to please forgive me. We loved each other more & more every datmy. We were inseparable, spoke at the same time, thought of the same things. We were One. On the 15th of April is our 34 Wedding Anniversary after Praying for him the man left. The adrenalin kicked in and Dennis who also lived on the property locked the frintvdoor & I ran & locked 3 security gates & removing all the keys. I closed our curtains in our cottage. I heard the 2 gun shots and saw my husband slip in his own blood and hit his face on the passage floor. As I came around the corner after locking up the main was pointing the gun thro the 1st security gate I locked & removed the keys. I ran back to our cottage & phoned for help. My husband’s brother in law didn’t reply & I sent a message, Phil has Ben shot, shot shot, shot. I then phoned my close friend Debbiecto contact the whole area to let them know I desperately need help, Phil has Ben shot badly. I then phoned Craig who isms a trained paramedic & he came with his son & another vehicle behind with friends of ours. All remotes of the gates had been removed so the 4x gentleman removed the gate off the slider & came thro & worked on Phil immediately. He had a pulse. Unfortunately lost a great deal of blood. I walked thro so much blood and Praying for him the blood seeped thro his shirt & my hands were full of blood. The MI7 paramedics arrived worried on him & had to tell me that hecwas deceased. I was traumatized and going for sessions to assist me of these visuals. My heart is broken and I haven’t stopped crying for him. He was everything to me. My heart is shattered into a million pieces and my life is not the same. No more Anniversaries together no more laughing together no more date night out, no more holidays & weekends aways, no more birthday celebrations, no more Christmas time with family. He leaves behind a daughter Sherri of 32 whose married Timo Nick, stays in Indonesia – Bali with our gramd daughter India, Isla, then a younger sister Christy whose 25 turns 26 in Julyź
& married to Chad & live ⁴in Scotland (Edinburgh). So my girls have lost their dad, India has lost her Pops & I’ve lot my One & Only Forever True Love. I was Blessed with the Best. My better part has been taken away from me. The trauma & emotional pain is indescribable. The loss of Phil has changed my Life.
I do not know if you will respond to my message due to the date of your information about widows., I have been a widow for 8 years. My mother died 18 years ago and I started going to different churches. In 98% of the churches I sat alone and no one bothered to sit next to me or make any effort to welcome me. I kept going to a new church hoping that people would welcome me and for the most part it never happened. I knew that I would sit alone again, watching married couples and families sit together and talk together. I had read about how churches need to care for orphans and widows but I did not see this happening. I learned that I needed to go to bible study classes without married couples to maybe feel some fellowship with others. I want to adopt a widow in my church for 6 months but she doesn’t seem to come alone. I understand exactly why she won’t come alone, because it is a very uncomfortable feeling. It is so much easier to watch sermons online rather than sit alone, ignored in church. What suggestions can you offer me? God bless.
Oh, how my heart aches for you. My experience as a new widow was the complete opposite of yours. So many people reached out to me in the days following my husband’s passing. Other widows were the most supportive but many married friends as well. And then today another widowed friend told me she feels led to start some kind of ministry for widows and asked me to pray about it. I have no idea where this will take us just that there is a huge need for it. I’m excited to see how the Lord will direct us. Hopefully I can get back to you soon and let you know what we come up with. In the meantime, I’ll be praying for you as well. Blessings to you…
I know how you feel sister, I have sit alone in churches all my life it feels. I am a father of two kids and no women ever stepped up to help me out either with my kids. My kids were young when my ex wife left us for a man she worked with. Divorced men are looked down on also in american churches. I had to go to the Philippines to find a wife, that’s really sad. Woman here get feminzed and don’t want a husband anymore. Yes,I feel bad for your loss! It’s a cruel world! Time to move on!
I’m currently thinking of having widows ministry in my local church and must say that this articles have been so helpful. Thanks.
During my research into ministry ideas for widows I came upon this page and would be very appreciative of any information or guidance that could be given me. Thank you very much.
Hi, Arron. You may want to check out New Commandment Men’s Ministries. They help churches recruit, train, organize and deploy teams of men who permanently adopt their widowed and single parents. https://newcommandment.org/
Hi, Aaron. Check out this article: A Comprehensive Church-Based Widows Ministry at https://newcommandment.org/a-comprehensive-church-based-widows-ministry/.
How does one go about establishing a ministry to widows and what does hat entail? I am ever challenged in this area but it seems I can’t find details of what it’s supposed to look like
Becky, check out this article online: A Comprehensive Church-Based Widows Ministry https://newcommandment.org/a-comprehensive-church-based-widows-ministry/
I am a 45 year old widow and my children are in their early 20’s and I have no help financially. I am unemployed and struggling and think that their needs to be some kind of help for widows in their 30, 40, and 50’s without an income who were housewives raising their children when their spouse’s were alive. Cause society now don’t realize there are widows out there struggling and need help in other ways and don’t have the money to do it without help of others. So please give a widow a chance to start over with a job or financially.
Dear Brother/ Sister in Christ ,
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ ,
It is my privilege to have an email with you. I am Edward Qaser from Lahore , Pakistan. I am serving the Lord Jesus Christ
with Christian based Humanity Organization , to glorify His name and there is good team of people working with us in the
field of Gulf states and Pakistan.Our main focus is to reach to unreached with Love of Christ.
Non- believers need of knowing about the truth and Love of our Lord Jesus Christ especially the poor people are deprived one.
Alpha Omega is a Humanity base organization and working for the development of the human beings its main object is to
mitigate the effects of poverty, disease, illiteracy, disasters, human rights abuse and environmental degradation, on the human
race at grassroots level and against all odds, restore its decorum.
We accomplish this mission by implementing various community based programs ( Projects ) like Empowerment of women ,
Computer Centers, Sewing Centers, Relief in disasters, Provide food to Poor , Orphan Center, Scholarship for Poor and Needy
Students . I want to invite you with great love and encouraging words to come to ( Dubai and Sharjah .. etc ) UAE states or
Pakistan and bring the Good News of Lord Jesus with people of Pakistan & Gulf .
May Lord lay burden on your heart for your Pakistani brethren .
Hope to hear from you as soon as….
God Bless you
Edward Qaser ( Director )
+92-300-843-7639 ( Pakistan )
+971-55-825-2755 ( UAE )
Pakistan :- +92-423-596-5371
Dubai :- +971-043-873-456
I am Widowed and honestly that’s the only one thing stresses me. I have a newly registered Widows Organisation and I think I will really need your advices.
My father was widowed shortly before his 77th birthday, when when our mom died unexpectedly, a death that he might have been able to prevent. My siblings and I now believe he was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s at that time. They retired in New Mexico from southern Wisconsin, far away from two of their four children and eight of their ten grandchildren, and even further away from the rest of their children/grandchildren.
In retirement, my parents were joined at the hip. After our mom died, my dad was initially a near-recluse except for church attendance. He turned down invitations for lunch and dinner from parishioners, neighbors, and friends. To make a long story short, he eventually looked like a homeless man: cracked glasses, filthy clothes, incontinent, wouldn’t wear his hearing aid. People in church avoided him. My dad turned down a lunch invitation with the minister, but agreed to have him visit his home. It was filthy, junk-strewn, spoiled food in the frig, etc.
It took us forever to get his doctor to realize something was wrong with him and even a greater heroic effort on her part to get him to a neurologist, who diagnosed him with Alzheimer’s. More still to do the paperwork to get his driver’s license revoked.
It took us a stealth effort and the assistance of a caring woman from his church to get him ready to fly one-way from El Paso to Chicago so my brother could pick him up and get him settled in assisted living, almost two years after our mom’s death. This woman got him cleaned up, took him to the optometrist, bought him new clothes, picked up prescriptions, packed his bags, drove him to the airport, and made sure that he would be safely escorted to his seat. She had a business doing this, but she did this for us gratis. God bless her.