Reaching Out to Widows

Philippines and India

Don't miss a heartwarming experience of outreach to widows in India at the end of this story.

Reaching Out to Widows

When three leaders of the Adventist Church of the Southern-Asia Pacific Division die about the same time, their widows began reaching out to other widows in Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

Philippines | SSD WM | Virginia Baloyo | July 24, 2023

Helen Gulfan, Elma Asoy, and Aurora Yabut have been widowed too soon by their pastor husbands, all leaders* of Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD). Losing their beloved husbands has caused them anguish and loneliness. With the support of their families and church community, and by the grace of God, these tennis buddies were able to overcome. In fact, they were able to rise and flourish, inspiring them to start “The Heart Encouragers,” a community widows support group.

The ministry started during the pandemic in the form of food assistance, prayers, and moral support especially for widows in the community of Silang, Cavite in the Philippines. After pandemic restrictions were lowered, the ladies expanded their acts of love and kindness by holding a regular meeting every 3rd Sunday of the month at the Tubuan church. Words spread quickly to more Adventist widows in nearby churches, like Josie Godinez, who personally assists those in her small group to these Sunday fellowship meetings.

To enhance their well-being the “Encouragers” learn the NEWSTART principles, with each presentation conducted by experts. For instance, the topic on Nutrition was presented by a nutritionist/dietician; the topic on the benefits of Sunshine, SSD Health Director Dr. Lhalaine Alfanoso led the discussion.

Retired SSD WM director Helen Gulfan who spearheads the group activities says, “We have simple objectives: to be happy, to be healthy, and to be holy.” Every meeting they chant their group’s motto, Healthy Lifestyle, Longer Life! Godly Lifestyle, Eternal Life! “We give a quiz every meeting and award prizes for those that get perfect score. How they all enjoy this, too!” Mrs. Gulfan continues.

Two sisters, both widowed, have been blessed by these regular meetings. They support themselves by working hard in the farm. How did they cope with the death of their husbands? “It is by God's help, by trusting in God even with our needs.” Even community leaders lauded this program that gives their widows comfort and joy!

Mrs. Gulfan believes this ministry to the widows is also a rich field for reaching out to people for God's kingdom. “They are precious souls to save!” The Heart Encouragers meetings have an average attendance of 25 widows and widowers. The ministry is also supported by the Women’s Ministries group in Tubuan Church.

*SSD presidents Pastors Albert Gulfan and Pastor Leonardo Asoy, and Youth Ministries director Jobbie Yabut. Pastor Gulfan's wife Helen previously served as Women's Ministries director for the division.

Photo credit: SSD WM
By Virginia Baloyo, director of Women’s Ministries for Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD)

Published in Mosaic newsletter, 2023 Q3

Reaching Out to Widows

In a small community in Pune, India where all the husbands have died due to COVID, women receive a surprise visit that brings a blessing from God.

India | SUD WM | Pramila Masih | July 25, 2023

I had gone into a community at Pune, where all the husbands had died due to Covid. I noticed two elderly women sitting in front of their house. They looked very sad and worried. I said, “I have come to pray for you.” They smiled at me and invited their neighbors who were also widows to join us.

I presented a small talk for the widows. Then I gave a little financial surprise help to them.

Those two old widows who were sitting in front of their house invited me inside and opened all the containers on their kitchen shelf which were empty and said, “We had nothing to eat today. God sent you here to take care of our physical need.” I was really touched to see their condition. I said, “God is the provider. He loves and cares for you.”

Photo credit: Pramila Masih
By Pramila Masih, director of Women's Ministries for Southern Asia Division (SUD)

Published in Mosaic newsletter, 2023 Q3