It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year to Care for Widows and Widowers

Sam Rainer

December 3, 2017


On Wednesday December 13th our church will send several small teams to visit with widows and widowers, especially those who are homebound and cannot gather regularly with our church. We call the effort “Christmas Chats.” The idea is simple: Bring them a gift and sit in their homes and talk.

Frankly, not as many people will show up to do this ministry as on other Wednesdays. I get it—going to an older person’s home feels strange, particularly if you don’t know them. For those that do come, it will be one of the most rewarding evenings of the year.

Ministering to widows and widowers is not hard because it’s challenging work. Widow ministry is difficult because it takes time. Ironically, many homebound people have hours of availability each day even as they don’t have much time left. It’s a double irony. Those who could minister to them often don’t believe they have the time in the day even though they have years, if not decades, of time in front of them. The widows have lots of hours but few days, while others have lots of days but few hours in the day.

I’m thankful for our deacons, who care for our widows throughout the year. I’m thankful our Life Groups consistently reach out to people who can’t get out much. I’m thankful our preschool moms often take their children to visit with widows, widowers, and the homebound. We can certainly do more, but we have several people in our church who are deliberate to make this time for them. I’m learning from them.

Is there a clearer verse in the Bible than James 1:27? “Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Everyone knows this verse, while few actually do this verse. The clearest Scriptural mandates are often the most neglected.

Use this Christmas season to begin something new—be deliberate with your time. Intentionally give it to people who are most in need. Each year gives us 700,000 more widows and 100,000 more widowers. The average time of remaining a widow or widower is almost 15 years. Most of them lose their support base when their spouse passes.

A year ago, during our Christmas Chats outreach, I sat in a home with a widow for an hour. My children played on the floor while we talked about the history of our church, about the past of our community, and about raising children. We laughed at her jokes. She brought joy into my life. My children made a new friend. I gleaned so much.

All I had to do was make the time.


3 comments on “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year to Care for Widows and Widowers”

  1. Mary Montgomery says:

    Dear Mr. Rainer,

    I am so grateful for this ‘widow ministry’, it is clearly an area of outreach which is overlooked. As a widow myself and having met another widow this evening, I can confer that they very much would like to make a contribution in the lives as others. When my husband passed away suddenly I did lose my support base and had to make many changes in my life.. I was only a widow for about six short years but the Lord allowed me to do a tremendous amount of ministry (facilitate a grief support group in my home, mentor and counsel younger women, work in a church office, participate in church events, travel overseas as a missionary, develop professional skills and form valuable ties in my local community.) Please remember that when you lose a spouse or loved one, your life is not over. In many ways it is just beginning. The Lord can speak into your life in many ways including the desire to be holy and chaste. Your life can be a bridge for the next generation, a legacy to leave them with however much time you have. Love yourself and let others love you in return., the bond you make is everlasting !

    1. Sam Rainer says:

      Wow, thank you for the comment! What a beautiful testimony. Thank you.

  2. Roberta Jones says:

    I’ve learned many valuable lessons, while visiting homebound friends and widows. Thanks for the reminder. I’m 75 now. So, I hope to prepare my spirit to bless others . . . if I’m suddenly homebound or a widow. I’m grateful God gives us places to serve, in any situation.

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