In the last week or so, I’ve been in lots of communication with Labstone’s wife…a dear friend of mine…by the name of Sarah. It’s hard for me to grasp what she is going through…losing a husband–having 3 small children left at home to care for…and as IF that wasn’t hard enough…the culture in Zambia makes it even harder.
The plight of the widow in Zambia…
After a woman loses her husband in Zambia–several things usually happen. Most of these have happened to our sweet Sarah this week. A friend. You watch your loved one pass while little medical care is done…and then the cousins, aunts, uncles of your husband from near and far show up at your door step. You are expected to feed them, care for them…all the while your heart needs to be alone or just care for the needs of your precious children.
Just days after your loss–you attend the funeral…pennies are scraped to pay for the ceremony–and everything else you have…goes to buying more food to feed the 15 unexpected guests in your home. You return to your home after the funeral–and you must cook…for all of them. Your heart aches to just sit and be with your children…but there is too much work to be done in care-taking for the family of your husband–many of them whom you haven’t even met in the 10 years of marriage to your husband. Where are the children? Are they okay? A mommy’s heart aches…
Days after the funeral–you go to court. Every family must do this–and the judge names a family member on the husband’s side the “estate owner” of what little you have left. This gives the 15 guests in your home permission to finally leave…with ALL of the things you and your husband slowly and sweetly acquired together through your years. The sofa…you painstakingly saved for so your children would have a place to sit. The deep freezer–YES a true luxury in this culture–but it meant your children would be able to have milk, meat and a source of protein as they grow. You sit there and watch as they walk out with each thing…knowing it is safer for you and your children to just sit there and watch.
As you sit, your precious 3 year old who doesn’t understand pulls your skirt, “Mama, mama! Where goes our sofa? Go get momma!”
Too many tears have been shed this last week…it’s better to just pull him close and let this go.
Hours pass–and you think all is well…but more cousins you have never met until this weekend come in. They tell you after a week’s stay they are going to be on their way. But not until they pack up the dishes, forks, table and chairs. Your heart feels as if it might climb up out of your body–and you gulp and hold back the tears. You have no option or choice. Then they come back in…walk to your bedroom–and take your bed. Your marriage bed. The one place you felt was sacred…the place that even still had that sacred smell…where you could close your eyes and pretend he was still right there…
And you stand there…with your children–and to save their hearts from more hurt–you simply say, “Let’s go…let’s go outside and play.”
If you fight back–you risk being ridiculed and beaten…and you know this would be too much for your children to hear and see. And you also know–after you are ridiculed and beaten…they will take it any way. So there you sit…just 1 week after losing the love of your life…with your 3 children…all alone.
And this is the reality of every widow in Zambia.
This is why the Bible commands us as believers in James 1:27 to “look after orphans and widows in their distress”…because He sees their distress…and He calls us to VISIT THEM…TO CARE FOR THEM…TO LOVE THEM…
I told sweet Sarah yesterday what *I* would have done if *I* were there…which made her LAUGH–and she told me that my idea would have never worked:). I’m sure she’s right. She did all she knew she could do–she watched, she took it all in and she loved and protected her children.
Because she is my friend–I want to scream. But that really won’t help. We could just send her money–but we also have to be very careful how we care for her and how we best take care of her and equip her to care for her children…for the long term. We are committed to loving her and guiding her as she picks up what little she has left…and starts all over again. If you would like to be a part of helping Sarah’s family for the long term–you can by going to www.wiphan.org and going to “donate”, choose “one time donation” – and put “Chanda Fund” in the subject line. Any donations made will go toward long-term care of her children and our doing all we can to make sure their family is okay.
What’s hard for me…is there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Sarah’s in Zambia. And that is why I think it is VITAL for any orphan organization to also reach out to widows in distress. Over and over and over in scripture–the Word puts BOTH of them together…because they usually come together. Single orphans are children who have lost one parent–and double orphans have lost both. Single orphans are also at risk as the only parent must leave their child some times days and weeks at a time to find work–but by coming alongside the WIDOW in distress…we serve the orphans in ways we can’t even imagine.
Sarah came to me with an idea of starting a restaurant. WHAT IF–she employs only widows at her restaurant giving them jobs to better care for the children in their care? Consistent work in the same village–and they could be home at night to protect their children? Often, I think we mull over how to serve orphans–and long for MORE people to be on the ground to help them. WHAT IF–God already placed lots of people on the ground to serve them and they are called widows…only they need to be cared for just as much??? WHAT IF–by taking care of 1 widow…you instead are really taking care of 3 orphans…or 4 or 5??? Wiphan and Tuli One homes are working together to employ a widow to care for 4-5 orphans…giving the widow a job and the orphans a caregiver who feeds them, bathes them, loves them and tucks them in at night.
Psalm 68:5 “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.”
Deuteronomy 27:19 “‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
Mark 12:40 “Who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
Malachi 3:5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.”
Matthew 25:40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
Isaiah 54:4-5 “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.”
Proverbs 15:25 “The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.”
James 1:27 “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”
Psalms 68:5-6 “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families.”
Dueteronomy 24:19, “When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all you do.”
Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”
A couple of prayer requests for Wiphan as we seek to serve orphans and widows: Please pray for a family who lost their baby today to HIV and for the mother that her medications will work so she can continue to care for her remaining 3 children. Please pray for funds to be raised for the kitchen at Mapalo Center so the children can have food cooked even in the rainy season. Please pray for the leader of our schools, Donald, as he serves with much on his plate for both schools. Please pray for Kristin, our first intern, as she serves daily–deals with death weekly–takes the role as interim principle for Labstone and tries to help the new data entry program be established (giving jobs to many older orphans and widows in the compound!) Please pray the Lord would be OVER the ministry and His presence would be at Wiphan. Please pray for the protection of the orphans and widows in our program–and for wisdom of our team here in the USA as we continue to press on together in serving this community across the world.
If you would ever like to know more about how you can serve alongside us–we would love to share.
P.S. You must see my FAVORITE picture of Parker from this weekend. I just loooooove this picture. THIS is just who my boy is…ALL BOY…and I love catching him in the moment of his tadpole hunt:). He’s just in the moment here–and I love this kid so much my heart could just explode with joy and love for him. He has the most amazing spirit, the most tender heart and it is just an honor to get to be his mommy!