[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Amanda Batten. Above is a picture she provided of those widows she met in Kenya. Here, she shares some of the lessons they taught her.]
“Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” – Isaiah 1:17
Life can change in an instant and can alter us in many ways. The weather can change in the blink of an eye, but I’ve come to learn that God never changes. It wasn’t until I went on a mission trip to Kenya in 2013 that I learned just how unconditional God’s love truly is.
When I arrived in a little town called Kisumu with a team of missionaries, the first thing we did was visit the Healing and Salvation church. There we met a group of widows who were having a meeting on table banking. Widows are chiefly entrepreneurs, as the job market is scarce in Kenya, especially since many have not been able to access proper education. These widows learn to be creative as they struggle to feed their families daily, and praise God when He provides for them. The widows greeted us with song and dance, handclapping, hugs, and cheek to cheek kisses. I never felt so loved in my entire life. They certainly know how to worship!
I felt God prodding me, “These are the women I sent you here for.” I learned after the trip that it wasn’t so much me helping these women, they were teaching me something.
We each got up to speak to greet the widows with a translator, and told them what our mission was in visiting their country. I let them know that I was there for them, that I would defend their cause, and I wanted to hear their stories. Twenty-eight women walked far distances to find me, and told me their stories, which resulted in a book called Case Of The Widow. Their testimonies stirred my spirit and made me realize how blessed I really was, and how amazing God is.
Widows are the heart and strength of not only Kenya, but Africa. They are the face of many families; and God commands us to defend their cause. Certainly there are widows everywhere, but the culture of a widow in Africa is much different. It is only by God’s grace that these widows have overcome. To be a widow in African culture is considered to be a curse, and most are ostracized from society, and even their own families. We know that Jesus broke all curses when He died on the cross.
I learned many things from the widows, but the biggest thing I learned, was that no matter what we face in this world, we have a God that is unchanged and is always there for us.
Through Him we can have a peace that goes beyond all understanding. The widows are so selfless, and give of all they have, especially for the orphans. They are truly representative of the widow who gave all she had, with very little to her name. (Mark 12:44)
During many of my interviews with the widows, I asked each of them to give me their favorite scripture. Most of them gave me John 14. I call this “the widow’s scripture.” Psalm 91 was also a big hit amongst the widows, as a source of comfort.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” – John 14:1-4
From God’s word we know that Jesus hasn’t left us, He simply went to prepare a better place for us. In the face of poverty these widows have certainly overcome through the grace of God. They have overcome polygamy, rape, abandonment, HIV, the stigma from becoming a widow, and finding new life and purpose in Christ.
These women have overcome some of the cruelest predicaments, and they praise God through it all; I was humbled in their presence. They know that what we face on this earth is nothing compared to what Jesus has prepared for us in eternity.
When a child is left with a babysitter sometimes they will sit and cry, usually out of fear or because they are made to adapt to something that’s unknown, and unfamiliar. They are out of that comfortable place, with no choice but to long and mourn for the parent to return.
Jesus died on the cross and went to prepare a place for us, and left the Holy Spirit as our – babysitter so to speak. The Holy Spirit is our peace; like a blanket of protection; a gift given to us to keep us, until Jesus returns to take us home. God said he will never leave us nor forsake us. I believe that is why the widows are so comforted by this scripture, because it basically says, “this isn’t the end all, I’m here, I will never leave you, and I’ve gone to prepare a better place for you. Whatever you are going through is temporary, but what I have given you is eternal.”
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” – John 14:18
I am a personal support worker, and aspiring writer living in Ontario. I was born and raised on the east coast. My hope is to inspire people to God through my writing. Feel free to check out my blog at http://www.heavenlydevotions.com. God Bless!