Hard to believe it is already 2024. In the New Year, there is always the temptation to make some sort of resolution that you will probably not keep. The infamous one is, “I’m going to work out every day this year, watch what I eat, and lose these last 30-40 pounds.” Gym memberships have some hilarious statistics to prove how sad our resolutions can be. Approximately 80% of people who sign up for a new gym membership in the month of January will quit within five months! Now, if that doesn’t show you how wimpy our resolutions can be, I don’t know what will.
In light of that, I wish to make a resolution in the most public manner possible so as to ensure that we follow through on it. As we begin the new year, I wanted to share something with you that has been heavy on my heart. It was heavy on Paul’s heart as well.
Listen to his words in 1 Timothy 5:3,
“3 Honor widows who are truly widows.”
And God, in Psalm 68:5,
“5 Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.”
God loves widows. He takes their care very seriously. As I look out at our blessed family here at Rozetta, I have found that we have an exorbitant number of widows. A church typically expects to have a couple of widows per 100 attendees. Our church is blessed to have approximately a dozen! Wow. As we look at this situation in our church, the question must be asked: what are we doing to support our widows?
Not every widow needs financial help or some sort of physical support, but every widow does require an extra layer of community, love, and connection to other believers. As I sit across the table or the desk from widows in our congregation, it aches my heart to see the tears that cannot be fixed. To see the raw emotion that cannot be tamed. One must simply weep with those who mourn and allow them to feel comfortable and confident that they are safe to do so here. Widows are typically one of the most under-ministered categories of people in the church. Here are some statistics that should help us put that to a stop immediately.
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 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. Churches must stand in the gap (Widow’s Hope).
Widows have a 30% higher risk of death in the first six months after the passing of their husbands. They genuinely die of a broken heart (University of Glasgow).
The poverty rate among widows is three to four times higher than among elderly married women. Financial needs among widows are often significant (Social Security Administration).
Here at Rozetta, we are determined to set a different tone in 2024. So, we will start some new initiatives to support our dear widows.
As a yearly gathering, We will have a Widow’s Evening (or brunch?). This will be a special gathering for the church to celebrate and support the widows of our church. A fancy meal, the church serving our widows, a devotional to be given to encourage our special women of the church.
We will have a monthly Pastor’s brunch (or lunch?). This will be a regular gathering where Pastor Dan will be able to catch up with the widows, listen to prayer requests of each, and help the widows be involved in some kind of ministry that month.
We will be planning on attempting to establish some sort of weekly gathering for the widows, whether it is a Bible study, a tea time, or a group chat of some kind; we will have to see!
I can honestly say that I am excited for us to encourage, equip, and enable our widows to have community, to use their gifts to serve the church, and to know and feel like this body of believers loves them. My prayer is that we would begin to transform as a church to reflect James 1:27.
“27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
Pray for our church as we begin to undertake this most important ministry. Also, consider if God may be leading you to help serve and support the widows of this congregation. One of the church's best and most pure work is in serving these women whom Christ loves so dearly. May God bless your week as you seek His kingdom first!
Grace and Peace,