Promoting The Spiritual Growth And Ministries Of Widows
Based on the example of Anna the Prophetess (Luke 2) and the clearly mandated instruction for the widow to cry out night and day to the Lord through prayer (I Timothy 5:5), Widows Harvest Ministries has come to the recognize the invaluable prayer resource that God has made available to His church through widows. A resource, sadly, though, that is largely unrecognized and consequently greatly underutilized.
If, after feeding and insuring the ongoing care of the minority Greek widows, as recorded in Acts 6, the outcome was for God’s word to spread and the increase in the numbers of disciples being made in Jerusalem, imagine the outcomes that will occur if this were being done on a local, national or even an international scale. It has certainly been the long held belief of this Ministry that the outcomes will be beyond anything that has been witnessed in modern times through the spreading of God’s word.
Just as we have today, Jesus makes known to his disciples at the end of his ministry that the Jewish leaders had also forgotten who the widows are. In Mark 12:38-40, Jesus points out to his disciples while he is with them in the temple:
38.) “As he taught, Jesus said, "Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, 39.) and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40.) They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely." (NIV)
In verse 40, seemingly out of nowhere, Jesus includes in what he is basing his assessment of the condition of the teachers of the law that their guilt also includes the “devouring of widow’s houses.” Since Jesus is God he is revealing to us the standards by which God bases his assessment of their condition, whereas man, in sharp contrast, bases his assessment on outward appearances. In verse 13:1, as Jesus is leaving the temple with his disciples, one of them turns to him and remarks, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!" Jesus quickly replies in verse 13:2 “"Do you see all these great buildings? Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."
Why is it, though, that the plight of the widow is included in Jesus assessment of the condition of the Jewish religious leaders that will ultimately be the cause of “not one stone of the Temple will being left on another,” which is exactly what happened 40 years later? And could the same be said for the church, and her leaders today? That our assessment of the condition of the church is being made based on outward appearances, just as it was by Jesus’ to his disciple in Mark 13:1.
It is the belief of Widows Harvest that the answer is yes and the basis for it can be found in Mark 12:40 for the significance of who the widows are and the ways that we should regard them, both for their plight as well as for their faith and their calling to pray.
After Jesus points out to his disciples that the guilt of the interpreters of the law includes “devouring the widow’s houses,” he then points out the widow at the altar giving all that she has, as if to say, “and this is an example of who these widows are.” They are the ones among you with the greatest faith and dependence on God. Unlike, those who are giving out of their financial surpluses, they are giving all of the monetary means that they have.
Scripture tells us that where our treasure is so will our hearts also be. Jesus is, likewise, pointing this very fact out to his disciples when he contrasts the great faith of the widow, who holds nothing back in her life by placing all of her trust in God, with those who, based on their practice of giving our of the surplus of their own personal treasuries, are giving out of the surplus of every other area of their lives, as well.
The money trail will always give us away, whether it is a personal money trail or a church’s own corporate money trail. Just because an individual is a believer does not mean that he has a deeply dependent trust in God any more than a believing congregation does, and this is just as easy to determine this today, as it was when Jesus pointed this out to his disciples, both for the corporate condition of the church in Israel as well as many of the individuals in the church. The reality is that it is very difficult for congregations not to mirror their own leadership for the ways that they are institutionally driven.
Our widow’s prayer ministry, that is, the prayers coming from those widows with a deep and abiding faith in God, is critical to the health and purity of the church in the age that we are living in, just as it was in the days that Jesus came to sacrifice his life. It is the strongly held belief of this ministry that one of the greatest indicators, if not the greatest indicator, for being able to determine the condition of the present day church, is whether widows and the fatherless are being cared for in scripturally prescribed ways.
Since Widows Harvest does not believe that this is occurring either locally, nationally or internationally on any significant church levels, especially with regard to widows, it has been our deeply held conviction that in order to reverse, what has truly become a dire condition for the church, it first begins with prayer. The prayer of the very widows who are being caused to suffer as a result of the theft of the very resources God has intended to be used by his people to comfort them in their distress. This realization, though, will most certainly never be realized in the absence of their prayers. How paradoxical that the ones who are being made to suffer the most are the very ones who, through their own love of God, have the capacity to forgive and exercise, through prayer and thanksgiving, prayer for those most responsible for their ongoing suffering.
Our widows in Chattanooga meet weekly for prayer and have been doing so for over 20 years. The widows, who are a part of Widows Harvest Africa, meet daily for prayer 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Will you join all of our widows in their prayers for the Church to be the “Pure and Undefiled Bride” that God desires her to be?
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