Widow's Bible Study
After the death of her husband, Mikal Odida lost hope. She knew she would not be able to take care of her three children. “I felt like committing suicide and dying like my late husband. But God came to me before I could take away my life,” she recalls. Mikal says her predicament ended after she joined the widow’s bible study at the Maisha Center. “After I joined the program, I became strong in heart and now I am taking care of my children well,” she says.
In December 2010, Dr. Nancy Shuman-Miller initiated the widow’s bible study when she came from Oklahoma to Maisha on Christmas missions. She wanted to plant the Word of God in the hearts of these women, show them they are loved and restore hope and life to them. The widow’s responded in an overwhelming way, and showed up in large numbers from all the surrounding villages. It was such a success; the women continued meeting at the Maisha Center for bible study even after Dr. Shuman-Miller departed.
Then, in March 2011 Helen Monday joined our spring break mission to Maisha and continued by teaching the bible study, further planting and tending the Word of God in the hearts of the widows. The women have continued to meet to this day. Dr. Nancy Shuman-Miller returned in December 2011 and Helen Monday in March of 2012.
Stories like Mikal’s are most often what you find in this area. Widows who were left by their late husband’s in poverty to take care of the orphans. Theirs is a very hard life that can easily seem overwhelming and hopeless. “We found it was necessary to have this bible study so the widows are fed spiritually,” says Helen.
Some of the widows who have joined the bible study report they’ve stopped being inherited by in-laws, as the Luo culture dictates. They believe this is a result of prayers that their future would be bright. “Since my husband died six years ago, I have not been inherited and this bible study has really changed my life to positive living. Every verse I read gives me strength and I am now comfortably taking care of my six children,” says Jane Onyango Oketch.
Currently, there are over 100 widows attending the meetings every Monday for about one hour. Grace Ochieng, who coordinates the studies, says that the widows who have small businesses attend the bible study first before proceeding to nearby trading centers to attend to their activities. “Even those who are HIV positive come here and are given hope. You can see their lives have changed, they believe they have a life to live,” she says.
Helen says the number in attendance is increasing and the widows are strongly glorifying God and showing greater love to one another. “They are learning about leadership and respect for God and people. Many widows are led to dedicate their lives’ to Jesus by mission participants throughout the year. Missioners also visit the sick in their homes with the Maisha HBC Department and minister to them there”, she says. The bible study helps us disciple them even when we aren’t here. The widows are busy studying the book of Jeremiah currently. As a result of the bible study, they have grown spiritually and through the discussions they have been able to go deeper in their relationship with Jesus.
Maisha mission participants have also distributed many Bibles, both in English and Dholuo, the local language. “We have given them Bibles each so they can even read while at home and during the discussions. They are very grateful for this,” adds Helen. After visiting Maisha this past March and seeing such a need for bibles, Sherry Swicegood officially began championing Bibles for Maisha. Now, you can personally gift a bible to this ever growing community of believers; for more info see http://www.facebook.com/BiblesForMaisha.