Monday, June 4, 2012

Sustainability Programs for Widows

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

Preparing manioc to generate income for the widows and their ministry
In many cultures throughout the world, widows are abandoned and not taken care of – that is why James calls us to “look after widows in their distress”.  Once the husband dies, the widow is often cast aside, their property is taken from them by male family members, and they are left alone with no income and no one to care for them.  Often times they are forced through humiliating grieving rituals by elders in their communities and in some cultures, have to prove they are innocent in their husband’s death by going through more humiliating rituals.  Sometimes they are forced to marry their husband’s brother, or in extreme cases are required to throw their own bodies on their husband’s funeral pyre.  Many societies see them as disposable, just as many orphans and street children are. This is a horrible reality throughout our world and it has been throughout history.  This is why the Bible speaks to this issue so clearly.  God clearly calls us to defend the cause of widows. Our ministry partners at Bon Samaritan are doing just this – all the time.
Bon Samaritan’s purpose is to serve the widows and elderly in Gabon. Bon Samaritan has initiated training in several churches throughout Gabon for widows.  The programs teach the women how to make products that they can sell at markets and through the ministry, and continually shares the love of Jesus Christ with them, and advocate for them. We recently wrote a profile about Pastor Silvain Choumbi who heads up this ministry and the amazing work that he is doing to serve Christ in his country by looking after the widows and elderly who are often ignored in their society.
Pastor Choumbi recently approached us about matching funds with what he has raised locally in the congregations where he serves.  He has raised over 50% of the funds needed to open 4 kiosks at 4 different churches in Gabon that will serve as a store front for the widows in this ministry to sell their goods and earn an income to care for themselves. We asked Pastor Choumbi how this would serve in fulfilling his mission and objectives for the ministry.  Here are his direct answers:
  • This project is going to help care for widows by providing a job for 4 widows per kiosk.
  • In addition to the 4 widows being employed, it will provide a platform for a minimum of 9 other widows to sell their agricultural goods to generate income.
  • This project will generate income that is going to help to finance other projects and provide a source of revenue for the ongoing care of widows at the local church.
Preparing smoked fish to sell at market

“Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek Justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widows” Isaiah 1:17

At E4, we are so blessed to come alongside ministries like Bon Samaritan and help them achieve their God given vision and goals. We serve in humility as we see how God is using people throughout the world who commit everything to serve God in their lives. We are matching the funds that they have raised so that they can move forward in this endeavor immediately.
This type of funding request from Bon Samaritan fits so perfectly with our model of defending the cause of the poor and needy.  We always look to do this through serving with indigenous ministry leaders who are making a significant impact in Kingdom work through their service.  We are serving with leaders whose commitment is first and foremost, in everything they do, to serve Christ and teach others about the love of Jesus through holistic ministry. We always ask that our ministry partners do all that they can to raise funds from their own churches and spheres of influence, and then as the work fits with our model of ministry, we are thrilled to give funds to these ministries to help move them forward in the work they are doing.
Photos courtesy of Joy Jarvis, trip participant from FAC who was in Gabon last month with E4 and our ministry partners.

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