By Shawn Hendricks
The Baptist Paper
My dad passed away from brain cancer 17 years ago. I can still hear the vibrato in his voice while I’m singing hymns during Sunday morning worship.
Mom still talks about him often and lives in the same ranch-style home in Missouri where they spent most of their 40-plus years of marriage together raising four kids. Dad’s bright yellow 1950 Chevy pickup truck that church friends helped restore after he died sits in her garage underneath a blue tarp.
Outpouring of support
Mom might have moved away years ago to be closer to her kids, but the strong friendships and outpouring of support from the community, especially from friends at Troy First Baptist Church, were too strong for her to walk away. It was through Mom’s experience and the church’s caring outreach that I truly began to see the importance of widow ministry.
Though my older sister moved back home to help Mom, who is soon-to-be 80 years old, I’ve seen the church pick up the ball multiple times when her kids couldn’t be there.
A couple years ago, Mom had a sink pipe burst in her kitchen while she was away one weekend. Steaming hot water shot into the kitchen for two days straight and flooded the basement, damaging much of the upstairs and downstairs. With all of her family scattered around the country and beyond, several church friends helped her navigate repairs and make some on-the-spot decisions.
It was a blessing to know they were there — and her house looks better than ever. This is just one of many examples of how they’ve been there for Mom.
I’ve also found widow ministry to be effective at my church, First Baptist Church Hendersonville, Tennessee. Each deacon is given a list of several widows to check in on regularly.
When tornadoes broke out in December across the Mid-South, we checked on our widows to make sure they still had power and were doing OK. While some have family around, that isn’t the case for all of them.
After COVID-19 hit, many of those who have family in town were still impacted by loneliness and isolation.
In many cases, family weren’t stopping by for visits to help avoid spreading the virus to loved ones. Since many of them were staying in more, I found that some of my phone calls to my widows began lasting a little longer.
Most of the conversations are light and fun.
But I’ve also had the opportunity to pray with them and be there when they needed some help or just wanted to vent.
One of my widows lost her brother to suicide during the pandemic. Another lost her husband around Christmas a year ago and is finding this year’s holiday season especially difficult.
I helped one get into her house after a knee surgery. Earlier this month, I showed up to a cellphone store to lend a little moral support for another while she was changing over her phone plan. Not sure I was much help, but she seemed to appreciate the company.
For the most part, I’ve found simply being available — or at least letting them know someone is available to help — can make a difference. I know I’m thankful someone has been there for my mom.
There are many ways to engage in widow ministry, but here are five simple ways to help make a difference in a widow’s life:
- Call. A simple phone call means more than you may think. It lets them know you care and gives you a better opportunity to know how you can help.
- Show up. COVID-19 hasn’t made this easy, but if they need something, be there.
This might mean doing something helpful before they ask. It can be difficult for people to ask for help. No one wants to feel like a burden.
- Send a card. Add them to your Christmas card list. Sending them cards on any occasion is an easy way to let someone know you’re thinking about them.
- Seek them out at church. Having those face-to-face conversations as often as possible — and occasional home visits or taking the Lord’s Supper to those who are homebound — help build trust and can allow them to meet your family.
- Listen. The key is to put yourself in positions where you can learn more about them and hear their stories.
You’ll be surprised how much wisdom you can pick up in a simple conversation.
Read more comments, letters to the editor, blog excerpts and social media posts below.
Questions and answers to consider
What is the greatest need of all human beings?
All sorts of answers have been given, but the one recorded in Jeremiah 9:23–24 surely rests on the top rung of the ladder: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise man gloat in his wisdom, or the mighty man in his might, or the rich man in his riches. Let them boast in this alone: that they truly know Me and understand that I am the Lord who is just and righteous, whose love is unfailing, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord have spoken.’”
In the words of A.W. Pink, “The foundation of all true knowledge of God must be a clear mental apprehension of His perfections as revealed in Holy Scripture.
“An unknown God can neither be trusted, served, nor worshipped. [However] something more than a theoretical knowledge of God is needed by us. God is only truly known in the soul as we yield ourselves to Him, submit to His authority and regulate all the details of our lives by His holy precepts and commandments.”
How can the Church go about carrying on the business of motivation?
- Enthusiasm — a must if the goal given by God is to be realized.
- Repetition — hearing God’s repeated calls to implement the vision He gives each local congregation.
- Illustration — showing people what to do and how to do it, and keeping before the congregation examples of those who are doing what God wants done.
Morris Murray Jr.
“Nowhere in Scripture does Jesus stress numbers, like we do — but you do find Him stressing servanthood, like we don’t.”
Pastor Mac Brunson
Valleydale Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama
God tends to work IN us before He works THROUGH us. But whenever God does a work in us, it is never just for us. It is always to be a blessing to others.
Blackaby International Ministries
“The Lord never said there wouldn’t be storms. He just said He would be with you through them.”
Ron Crow, director of Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief speaking on the tornadoes that devastated homes and lives across several states Dec. 10–11.
There is nothing like spending three days on the trail with one’s fellow pastors. We hike with one another, share with one another, learn from one another and encourage one another.
Pastor Marty Shadoan
FBC Rockwood (Tennessee)
“We can’t ignore our brokenness and fragility. Things like sadness, shame, guilt — these emotions, if we ignore them, we ignore them to our peril.”
Ben Mandrell, president of Lifeway Christian Resources, discusses new podcast “The Glass House.”
When I think about Jesus, I think of Jesus as the Master Teacher, the ultimate creative guy. I can just see Jesus with, “Hey guys, here’s a mustard seed. Let me talk to you about this.” Or look at that sparrow. Or look at that fish. Or look at this net. Or look at that mountain. Jesus is taking elements [from] all around Him and is using them to expand the story of the gospel and that’s what we’re called to do.
Michael Adler, worship pastor
Shades Mountain Baptist Church
LIFT worship conference
Drive-thru prayer is an easy way to reach out to the community surrounding you, letting people know your church is a place where they will find people to listen, love and pray for them.
Prayer ministry coordinator
Johnson Ferry Baptist Church
Loving God with your mind is an expression of Christian worship and service. It’s one way of using your gifts, in response to God and acknowledgement of Him as their Source, to honor God and better humankind.
Loving God with your mind is just as important as loving Him with your heart, soul and strength. Our faculty model this, but you can do it too. You love God with your mind when you use your intellectual gifts, sharpen your thinking through study and reflection and pursue truth as a lifelong pursuit.
President Jeff Iorg
From the Twitterverse
As a pastor, no one in my church cares about my personal opinions, viral tweets, hot takes, social commentary, or much else. They care that I clearly, accurately, and faithfully teach them the Word of God.
Everything else will burn; God’s Word is forever.
Everybody wants a crown — without having a cross.
Verbally dunking on those with whom you disagree may score points on social media and draw cheers from those already on your “team,” but it will likely not convince many people to abandon their views for yours. Arrogance isn’t persuasive.
Loving difficult people is helped by keeping this truth in mind: You are also a difficult person to love.
Resist the urge to have a strong opinion on every single issue. Resist the urge to be mad, offended and triggered. Our souls were not designed by God to be constantly … connected to so many things. Simplify. Minimize. Prioritize.
We’re aware of our losses, but spiritual health depends on being thank-filled for the provisions God gives us even in difficult times.
God involves us because He loves us. It’s as simple as that.
Ask someone how their day’s going. Ask how you can pray for a friend. Send an encouraging text. Drop a note in the mail. Treat someone to coffee or a meal. It’s the simple things that make the biggest difference. @whosyour1_
Beware the servant who has to be seen in order to serve.
One of the devil’s greatest tricks is convincing people that karma is better than grace