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Inheriting a widow

It’s a new year.  I’m in the midst of sweeping out the musty corners of the closets in my spirit. There is mold and dust that accumulates in my life when I keep doing the same thing over and over again. And the new year gives me the chance to move the furniture of my soul around and start …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

It’s a new year.  I’m in the midst of sweeping out the musty corners of the closets in my spirit. There is mold and dust that accumulates in my life when I keep doing the same thing over and over again. And the new year gives me the chance to move the furniture of my soul around and start afresh. A few principles I have chosen to live by:
  • Give more.
  • Hope more.
  • Pray more.
  • Dream more.
I’m going to hunt for those people and places in earth that look sad and unloved.  I’m going to start with the widows and orphans. I’m going to focus on the poor in spirit.  And I’m going to inject vision into young people who have been sold the lie that it was about them and their needs and are looking for something more to live for.
Victoria Skyvalidas is one such young woman. She’s with our team in Kenya. She encountered a reality that shocked her out of whatever self-focused places she’d been living in and gave her a sense of purpose.  I love this – we are not rocked back on our heels by all the bad news in the world.  The recession and the violence in Israel don’t cause us to wring our hands. We’ve been given good news to bear and hope to freely distribute.  Here’s the story Victoria shared today:

Elizabeth married young and was widowed within the decade. She was left with five children and the AIDS virus.

with that disease – and in poverty – makes her and her family even more
vulnerable to pneumonia, malaria, tuberculoses and other infections. 

For almost eight years now, she has fought to maintain her health and her purity, desperate to provide for her family. 

Unfortunately, in a region of the world that is being devastated by the AIDS virus, becoming a widow is not uncommon. And
just as in Biblical and Roman times, unless a relative comes to her
aid, a widow’s future in Kenya is bleak. Thankfully, these women are
starting to band together in fellowship if not in cooperation with each
other, but there is otherwise very little hope for them.  

widows in the Lake Victoria region catch minnows to dry and sell as
bait. Others gather firewood to sell. A lucky few are crafty with their
hands and make baskets or jewelry to sell. But – more often than not,
unfortunately – most widows supplement their income by selling their bodies. 

I was in tears as Elizabeth shared her story with me. I sat beside her on the couch to hug her and pray. She clung to me and wailed to the Lord. I didn’t understand the words, but the tone was unmistakable! I
prayed for God’s tender mercies to fall upon her, for healing in the
name of Jesus, and for continued provision and blessings. 

Elizabeth was finally “inherited” by her late husband’s brother. Even though this is not an ideal situation – especially for believers – polygamy is common and a legitimate means of protection/provision.
 Belonging technically to a man means she is less at risk of being
propositioned by other men. And that helps to reduce the spread of

this man also has another wife and six children with her. And that’s a
lot of mouths to feed and school fees to pay. 

Pray for PEACE in their homes.

*     *     *     *    *

Lorna is 29 years old. She was widowed three years ago. Now she lives alone with her 10 year old daughter.

late husband’s brother tried to inherit her – at the mother-in-law’s
insistence. But he was also still young and newly married (to a
different wife), so when Lorna asked to be released from that arrangement, he agreed.

Lorna and her daughter are both HIV negative – Hallelujah!

And she tests herself often to prove to her in-laws and potential suitors that she is clean. Lorna has many potential suitors
because she is strong, smart, and very beautiful. She insists that they
get tested too before they have any relations together, and since they
always refuse, she has managed to maintain her purity. In this way,
Lorna is setting a good example for her daughter and other widows in the community. 

used to have a lucrative cloth-selling business. However, she recently
spent a lot of her savings on the construction of her home and on
taking care of a sick sister, and now she doesn’t have enough capital
to start-up again. Meanwhile, she catches minnows to dry and sell as
bait. Often, it is not enough to put food on the table, there is always a lot of love in their home.

*     *     *     *    *  

are seen as property in this culture, so without a husband, the future
looks bleak. Widows resign themselves to being inherited. Fortunately,
SEEK and local churches are reaching out to these women, encouraging
them to continue to depend completely on the Lord. 

offers us the nations as our inheritance (in Psalm 2:8), and we’re out
on this mission trip claiming land and people for the Kingdom. So, I hereby claim these widows as part of my inheritance! God, father them, love them, redeem them, and enlarge your Kingdom through them!

Comments (3)

  • St. Mark of the Cross

    I hear so many of us asking the Lord to make us like him… Here is an opportunity for all of us to continue with the leaving our “comfort” zone, with its goodies such as: soda pop, chips, candy bars, recreation, etc.. and give to these widows. James said it confirms our religion as true and pure from Father God in heaven. God help me to give a soda up for a widow. I figure a soda a day equals $1.39 for each soda times 30 days = $41.70. Lord, help me to do it to the least of these….whether it is directly or to the ministry helping them.

  • Hi Seth.

    I gave some additional thought to your question about living radically in a comfortable world and it seems to be the name actually defines the problem. So many of us have been saturated with our wants and Christian points of comparison that we have forgotten the hard verses of the Bible. Beware when everyone thinks highly of you. If you want His glory you have to share in His suffering. Unless a morsel of wheat falls into the ground and dies there cannot be life. Humble yourself before the Lord. Give what you have away. You know scripture well enough to know the ethic in the New Testament.

    I have been guilty in the past of running “over to the unlovely” and then running back to tell people about the need and in some cases pretending to be making a difference. It’s the back and forth in ones heart that is too much “Laodicean”. It’s taking one part of the crucifixion without the whole.

    I for one want to find a home and community where the people are anchored to the painful place of ministry.

    If we are called to take up a cross every day one would think that’s not just poetic language.

    Appreciate you.

  • Thanks for this reminder of why I like to sponsor children of widows. It protects them financially and I pray for Our Lord to protect them physically. Why is it in some cultures that a man won’t protect a woman unless they are getting something out of the relationship? Christians need to be bold and teach them that polygamy is not what is best. For one it spreads HIV when not everyone is infected. I tell my girls I sponsor don’t marry anyone who won’t agree to only be married to them and no other women. Put it in their marriage vows. There is a charity that enables me to learn about the family situations of the children I sponsor and correspond with them, send financial gifts and this particular charity helps with medicine for sponsored children and their family members that are HIV positive to fight HIV through their HIV fund.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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