What About the Widow? - a story & invitation by Mark Wollenberg (IJM Canada)

Andy Wood, Oct 10, 2017, 3:56 PM
Andy Wood Prairies and North Pastor
It has been a year and a half since my mom became a widow. With the death of my father my mom became one of those people that the scriptures tell us get unique attention by our good Father. Psalm 146:9 says he sustains the widow; Psalm 68:5 says he is a defender of the widow. In Isaiah1:17 he tells his people to "plead the case of the widow".
I have certainly seen God sustain my mother through her grief and adjusting to living alone after almost 62 years of marriage. My brother and I have also put things in place so that people who prey on vulnerable elderly people like my mom can't use fraud or pressure to steal from her. So I know that care for the widow is something that I personally need to do because my mom is a widow now and quite honestly she needs me.

But this other piece of pleading the case of the widow is not something that I personally have to deal with in my mom's situation. There are lots of things in place to make sure she is protected and cared for. Yet in my work with International Justice Mission (IJM) I have discovered that there are widows today who are in desperate need to have advocates plead their case. Often it is because someone is using violence to intimidate and threaten them and their children simply so they can steal the land or the few belongings they have. If you don't have land to grow food you and your children are completely destitute and vulnerable to other forms of exploitation.

National Geographic recently did a cover story and video about the plight of widows in the world. They primarily told the story of widows in Uganda who had their land stolen from them. Here is the link to the video of that story in National Geographic: This Widow's Relatives Stole Everything. Now She's Fighting Back.

What amazed me when I watched this video was the unchallenged violence that was used to intimidate these women who are trying to provide for their children. This is brutal stuff. I have heard stories of women whose houses were set on fire (with them and their kids inside) so they would either leave their land or die in the fire.

But in the video you also meet an amazing lawyer who is working in Uganda to literally plead the case of these widows in the public justice system and fight to get their land back to these widows and their children. Nina Asiimwe is showing these widows in Uganda how people who follow Jesus and do justice will be an advocate for them when oppressors see an opportunity to take advantage of them.
Nina is going to be one of the 4 speakers (along with Eugene Cho, Idelette McVicker, and Mark Clark) at the Jesus + Justice Conference that IJM Canada is hosting in Langley BC October 27 (7-9:30 pm) and October 28 (9 – 12:30pm) at Southridge Fellowship. Here is the link to the conference: https://www.ijm.ca/jesusandjustice

I am also so glad to have David Ruis leading worship at the conference. David is going to help those who are attending to see that worship and prayer is an appropriate response to what we will hear in the teaching. I am so glad to have him lead in this way because he has with authenticity lead not only the Vineyard but the global church into the sacred space of worship and justice.

I want to invite all of our Vineyard tribe who can make it to join me at this conference. There is something stirring across many major evangelical denominations in Canada where I am seeing an awakening to the call of Jesus to pay attention to the important maters – justice, mercy, faithfulness – as Jesus said in Matt. 23:23. I am so thankful that our Vineyard tribe has embraced acting justly at the earliest stages of our movement.

If you want to chat further about the conference I am going to be at Metanoia West in a couple of weeks and would be glad to connect then.

All the best,
Mark Wollenberg