Protecting the invisible on International Widows’ Day

India (MNN) — Today is International Widows’ Day, a reminder of the unnoticed, neglected, overlooked, cursed, ostracized, abused, and invisible. It’s a day when believers can remember God’s calling to care for the orphans and the widows of the world, and it’s a day to pick up sponsorship for one of the 20 widows under the care of India Partners.

In India, the death of a husband is only the beginning of a widow’s sorrows. “It’s not the norm that widows remarry because their husbands have died, so it’s kind of like, ‘There’s a curse on them! Why else did their husband die?’” said Donna Glass of India Partners.

Meet Elizabeth (Photo Courtesy India Partners)

That curse means women like Elizabeth, whose husband died in an accident more than 25 years ago, are ostracized and mocked. Elizabeth is forced to work a low-paying job as a sweeper to provide for food for her two children. She herself doesn’t often get to eat.

And the superstition surrounding some widows reaches even more extreme heights. “In Indian cultures, if a wife doesn’t conceive, it’s her fault and she’s cursed,” said Glass. “That makes the shunning even worse.”

Being shunned makes these women stand out all the more, and Glass said it’s easy to spot widows in the villages. “There’s obviously great poverty within many of the villages but there’s just this sense of almost hopelessness and despair that you can see on the widows’ faces,” Glass said.

They’re also the ones pleading most adamantly for prayer.

“I think the greatest gift that I’ve ever been able to provide is prayer,” said Glass. “It’s so important to bring back awareness to others about sponsoring widows and what their plight is in India.”

That’s where believers can step in. Glass encourages believers to pray for the forgotten widows of the world, and if you feel called, to sponsor a widow through organizations like India Partners. “When a widow finds out that someone halfway around the world cares enough to provide for her help and her financial need it just lifts her heart,” Glass said.

“We are called by God to look after the child and the orphan and the widow, and so we are fulfilling God’s call to us when we do sponsor a widow.”

The widow you sponsor won’t be the only one touched by your donations. Glass said sponsors can keep constant contact with the woman they support via mail and letters, and some of the stories you’ll receive can be powerful and life-changing.

(Photo courtesy of India Partners)

“Our prayer for the widows is that they would be at peace, that they would know they are loved and cared for,” said Glass. If you want to provide stability and hope to a widow in India, you don’t have to wait. For $35 a month or $420 a year you can send care to one of the 20 women India Partners sponsors.

Even if you don’t give, you can pray and you can share the plight of the invisible. “People can advocate for the widows by sharing the stories, the need for widow sponsorship,” said Glass. “They can raise awareness, and help other people become aware of this problem.”

Psalm 68:5 — Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.