Gospel for Asia is working to minister to a vulnerable segment
of Indian society sometimes pushed aside by culture - widows.
Sunday is the third annual International Widows' Day. Gospel for Asia
founder K.P. Yohannan says women represent the most unreached
people group in the world, especially in the developing nations and
the subcontinent - and the largest segment is that of widows. India
alone has 42 million. Yohannan, in an interview from India, talked
with OneNewsNow about the tragedy.
"In many of these cultures, like in Nepal, when the husband dies
the wife can be 16 years old, 18 years old, 20 years old, or a
hundred years old, whatever," he describes. "Often what happens is
that the religion and the culture say this is a curse that came
upon the family because of the wife."
According to the ministry leader, those women often are thrown
out of their community, losing their children and their few
possessions. On Widow's Island just off West Bengal, 75 percent of
the population comprises widows.
"And the suffering, the starvation, lack of clothes and food and
medicine - these people are in such incredible suffering and we
have to respond to it," says Yohannan.
GFA vice president Daniel Punnose further describes the plight
of many widows in India. "A lot of these ladies are kind of forced
to wear either white or gray clothing, which takes all color away
from them and basically drains them from life," he says. "And a lot
of these younger widows actually have to go into prostitution or
begging on the streets just to survive."
The suicide rate among that population is high because they have
virtually no hope. GFA provides them with the true hope of Jesus
Christ, and Yohannan notes that the Bible commands believers to
take care of them. As part of that effort, Gospel for Asia adds
education and training in a trade so those women can support
This year, GFA will be spreading hope and care to widows
throughout India and surrounding countries through its Women's
Fellowships and on campuses of its women's Bible colleges. Special
meals and worship services are planned. In some areas, widows will
receive piglets as a source of income; and in another, saris will
be distributed. According to GFA, giving colorful saris to
widows not only meets a practical need, but also shows love and
American Bible Society is partnering with the National Hispanic
Christian Leadership Conference to increase Bible literacy among