Former widow: That’s my new title. I am now married to Jim Turner. Although I really like the sound of “former widow” and it gives me great joy to feel “safe in the harbor of marriage,” I pray I will not forget the lessons I learned as a widow, single woman, or single parent.
God opened my eyes to the plight of widows on my first return trip to Africa, a mere nine months after Pastor Paul’s death. Since then, I’ve found out there are ten times as many widows (women) as there are widowers (men.) African women whose husbands are murdered or die grieve for up to two years; the women often lose custody of their children, are removed from their homes, and sometimes have their possessions taken away to be distributed among family members. African widows, familiar with social status changes and adjustments, knew I was navigating the rough waters of the same rushing river of grief they had endured and were surprised I had made the effort to visit them—it was a ministry of presence mission trip.
The trip to Africa was something I had to do. I was compelled by love to tell my story: God gave me strength to share about my lost love and how my hurt was being exchanged for God’s hope. I shared my own story of Pastor Paul’s untimely passing, listened to the stories of others’ loss, and cried many tears with my African sisters. I reminded them of one of my favorite scriptures, which continues to give me peace: “The righteous perish, and not one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death” (Isaiah 57:1–2).
Want to do more? Me, too. Please read this recent article about “Empowering Widows” from Mission Frontiers.