The suffering of millions of widows

Friday, June 21, 2013
Russ Jones, Charlie Butts (

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 themselves.

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 honor.

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