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Widows and Orphans in Asia

by Michael Ireland

WILLS POINT, TEXAS (ANS) — According to the United Nations, there are up to 150 million children who are roaming the streets, at risk of trafficking, forced labor and gang involvement. Many are left orphaned to widowed mothers.

When Minosha was only 25 years old and pregnant with their first child, her husband vanished.

Violence had ravaged her nation for decades, leaving behind a swath of destruction and grief, and now her own family bore its mark.

Devastated, Minosha searched everywhere for her husband and prayed to her traditional god faithfully. After a few years, she lost hope of ever seeing him again. Grief consumed her; she could hardly eat, and days of weeping left her weak.

Five years later, it was confirmed: Her husband was dead.

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A widow and her two children in Asia

According to Gospel For Asia (GFA), in many places, if a mother, sister or neighbor lost her husband suddenly, she would likely receive notes of condolence, flowers and gifts of hot meals or offers for watching young children. But instead of receiving help, Minosha gained the responsibility of financially providing for her parents and brother, who lacked a viable source of income.

No longer waiting for her husband’s return, Minosha decided to go abroad to find work so she could give education to the son he never met. Her heart might be broken, but her boy still depended on her for survival.

The Grief of 46 Million Widows

The plight of many widows in Asia like Minosha is hard to grasp; their lives are so unlike how many would wish to be treated as a widow—or how God wishes them to be treated.

Some widows find great support from their loved ones and friends, but in many places, that is not the cultural norm. For many of Asia’s 46 million widows, the loss of her husband may mean she also loses her standing in society. She may even be declared cursed by the gods and shunned, as though she did some great sin that caused her husband to die. She might even be forbidden to attend her husband’s funeral or be forced to watch from a distance, so great is the ostracism. Her adult children might cast her—their widowed mother—from the family home, and society would not raise an eyebrow.

In addition to the emotional wounds of widowhood, women who are isolated can be easy prey for those with malicious intent. Even women whose husbands are alive but have abandoned the family are often treated as widows and face many of the same hardships. Poverty traps them in desperation and can force them to make decisions they don’t want to make, such as entering prostitution or sending their children to work as child laborers.

This is the life for many women in Asia whom society labels “widow,” and Minosha now bore that title.

The children of widows—or of women whose husbands have abandoned them—endure many hardships alongside their mothers. Leaving school early or never even setting foot in a school are just some of the impacts of fatherlessness.

After all her hard work to ensure her son would have a bright future, he now had to stop his education to care for her. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Her husband wasn’t supposed to die so young. Her teenage son wasn’t supposed to be her provider. As the years rolled on, she hoped one day there would be something more to life than tears.

As she talked with the GFA-supported pastor and his wife, Minosha received a small leaflet. Desperate to find an answer for her problems, she eagerly talked with her new guests.

“Pastor Basar and his wife, Naomi, explained to me about the Lord Jesus and His life-changing power,” Minosha recounts. “As I was living very close to the church, which I daily see when I walk to buy things, I wanted to attend the Sunday service.”

Minosha found acceptance and love from her local GFA-supported congregation, like this one. After reading God’s Word and hearing about His great love for her, Minosha received deep joy into her life.

“I really experienced a great peace and joy in my heart,” Minosha testifies. “I got a new hope for living my life, even though many sad things happened to us.”

The relationship with her Savior lifted her out of despair; He gave her hope for eternity and comfort for this life.

Today, Minosha praises God for His goodness displayed in her life, saying, “I thank God for the blessings given to me and my son and for the peace in our hearts. I earlier had only tears in my eyes because of the problems I was facing alone. But now I am so full of joy and hope and have a reason to live.”

Caption: Minosha and this woman both lost their husbands unexpectedly. Widows in Asia are often left alone in their grief and shunned by society.

The author of this story, Michael Ireland, is a self-supported media missionary with ANS. Click here to support him as a missionary journalist. 

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