Minus 15c! A hard winter! No heating in the home! A larder with more spaces than food! An impossible plight for any man or woman, but these are the realities for a 72 year old widow in Targu Mures [Romania] who has had a heart attack and is trying to cope with and care for an alcoholic son.
Pastor Vasile Paul goes on to tell of a homeless lady living in a church basement, an 85 year old widow who burst into tears when a Christmas bag of food arrives, and a lady paralysed for 20 years who depends upon the care of her niece since the death of her husband last year. All of them received help and support through the Widows' Fund.
In every country of SGA’s ministry stories and situations like this are sadly, too common. Daniel Kryston writes from Poland to tell of help given to Wanda a 70 year old widow with arthritis and diabetes who used her gift to buy necessary medicine. Another widow, Danusia, spent her money on food and medicine, while Beata used hers to buy coal for heating and gas for cooking. He goes on to say:
We cannot thank you enough. Since poverty is still quite a problem in parts of our country the social work continues to be an important tool in bringing the Gospel to people. Very often we feed people first and then share the Gospel with them.
Pastor Onisim Mladin writes from Arad in Romania:
We would like to share with you the impact of this [Widows' Project] ministry on the family of a particular widow, sister Faur Elisabeta. She receives help on a monthly basis. She lives with her son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons. Her monthly pension is less than the equivalent of £30 a month and her medication bill costs at least 40% of this amount.
Oni goes on to tell how this practical care of the church has opened up the family to the Gospel and provided invaluable opportunities to witness about Christ and His gift of salvation. He writes about SGA’s help:
We value this partnership greatly…, we have been able to meet very concrete needs. Your gift has encouraged our church to develop a greater love for people and a greater level of compassion, and lastly but not in the least part, your gift has encouraged and built up the testimony of the Gospel in our community.
These accounts emphasize that the Widows' Fund addresses the necessities of life, not the extras or the luxuries! How grieved we would be if we had to spend a Christmas gift to buy medicine or keep a fire lit in the home! But beyond the physical and material needs, another need is being addressed - the spiritual welfare of these precious people. For those who are believers, such provision is a testimony to God’s love and care for them. For unbelievers it is a practical expression of the love of Christ, and often a platform from which faithful servants of Christ can share the Gospel with them.
Our brothers in Eastern Europe and Central Asia find it so hard to adequately express their appreciation of this ongoing ministry. One leader in Kazakhstan just wept when the gift of money for the widows was passed on to him. All are deeply moved by this practical Christian care. Daniel Kryston closes a letter to SGA like this:
On behalf of these women I would like to say ‘Thank you’ from the bottom of our and their hearts. May God bless you as you have been a blessing to many of us over here.