Task 117

by MW Cook

A guest post from Ruth.

   “My people do not understand!” laments God at the opening of the book of Isaiah. Oxen know their masters and donkeys know their master’s beds, but the people of God simply do not understand. Throughout the first chapter of the book God calls his people evildoers, whores, dishonest and murderers. But why?
   A glance at history and you’d be tempted to think the people of Israel were doing okay. God himself admits that they were faithful in the different rituals that had been laid down to him. They observed the sabbath and all the other special days and gave the offerings they were commanded to give. They were quite religious. So what was the problem? What was so bad that God was prompted to command them to stop being faithful to the religious code he’d given them (Is. 1:13)?

      Learn to do good;
   seek justice,
      correct oppression;
   bring justice to the fatherless,
      plead the widow’s cause
         Is. 1:17

   Here is the matter’s heart. All the slick religious duties in the world could not compare to the glorious simplicity of love and justice.
   The word plead is a neat one in Hebrew. Usually it’s used as argue, contend or quarrel. I’m no Hebrew scholar (more’s the pity), but it seems that you could legitimately translate that last bit as ‘Fight for the widow.’

   In the West, most of the offerings brought into the church are used on projects that directly benefit the people giving the money. It’s usually on something that has to do with the church building or on whoever is doing the preaching. I wonder, though, if this is the way it was meant to be. A quick look through the New Testament will show that most money donated to the church went immediately and directly to the poor and the helpless. This urge to help the helpless was so great that the early church often considered it fraud to spent it on anything else (see this great article for more info on how the early church spent its money).
   So if the example of the early church and the words of Christ and the Apostles are telling us to spend Jesus’ money on the poor, why are we spending it all on preachers and real estate?

   I’m from Pakistan. My mother is a widow. I suppose I have a bit of a bias view of things. But I’ll tell you something about widows in Pakistan. There is hardly anyone in my country who is of lower social standing than a widow, especially in my people-group. The widow is ignored, forgotten and tossed aside. Most of the ones I know have one outfit and spend their days working themselves into the grave, bent over in hot fields. They are mistreated. They are abused. And no one fights for them.

   I’m going to fight for them. I regret I didn’t see the need before my mother became a widow. But I see it now and I’m donning my gloves and entering the battle. If no one else will plead the widow’s cause, I will.
   Will you fight, too?

   We’ve set aside a special bank account.  Anything that goes in there is Jesus’ money.  I can only use it for things I think Jesus would use it on.  For now, that’s widows.  The vision may broaden as time goes on, but it’s a widow’s purse for now.  Some of you have expressed interest in helping the widows of Pakistan.  If you want to, you can put your own funds into this widows purse.
   How will this money be used to help widows?  First, it will be used to get the necessities of life, like food and clothes.  Second, it will attempt to fund basic education for the young children that most widows in Pakistan seem to have.  I’m not a charity and I don’t know a thing about tax receipts.  And I don’t intend to, either.  This is just me giving what is surplus to those who have never had a surplus.  If you have surplus, you’re free to send a cheque my way and I promise to put it to work for widows and orphans.
   I’m going to Pakistan at the end of April. After seeing my family, my main goal is to see out the worst-off widows in my area and see, more specifically, how I can fight for them. I hope to return with great stories that I’ll be sharing at the Facebook Group, 117.

   You can help. You can pray. You can join the Facebook group that I’ve made. You can send money directly to needy widows through me. You can come with me to Pakistan, sit with widows and encourage them. There is so much that can be done. If only we, as God’s people, would understand.

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