Eking Out an Existence
Gunda’s husband had passed away, and both her son and her daughter had married and started their own families. In Gunda’s culture, a daughter typically moves in with her husband’s family, and a son continues to live with and care for his parents, even after marriage. But Gunda’s son chose, for whatever reason, to live separately from her. Gunda had to face life alone.
To survive, Gunda worked in a soybean warehouse but earned such a meagre income that she could hardly feed herself one meal a day. Her neighbours wondered how she could subsist in such a situation.
For Gunda, surviving wasn’t difficult just because she had lost her partner and breadwinner; it was difficult because she was a widow. Widows in many developing countries face hardships stemming from prejudice and superstition—and those hardships are only heightened for women who didn’t get the chance to receive an education as girls.
“In the face of divorce or widowhood, women must often struggle with serious economic hardship,” explains the World Bank. “A sudden drop in economic support is compounded by a host of legal, social, and economic disadvantages.” 1
Somehow, with the little money Gunda earned at the warehouse, she paid to join a tailoring class and learned to sew. She began saving to buy a sewing machine, but as much as she tried, she couldn’t save enough. Would she ever earn sufficient money to buy a machine and get out of her job in the soybean industry? She had little hope.
An Invitation and a Dream Come True
Then, a few days before Christmas one year, Gunda was invited to attend an event hosted by the local GFA church. Special guests, including local politicians, sat on the stage. The local GFA pastor, Kaius, opened the program in prayer and welcomed the 300 people in attendance.
One of the special guests, a former state politician, shared, “Jesus Christ taught us about showing love by blessing and serving the poor, the sick and the distressed. I have seen the Christian missionaries always in the forefront helping the needy. The followers of Christ first started the educational centres and hospitals and contributed much to society. I thank Pastor Kaius, who is following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and his teachings. I am glad that I am part of this program today.”
Was it true that God would use His Church to help those in need? Gunda knew Jesus, but did His care extend to providing a practical solution to her poverty?
Then the program organizers began calling people one by one on stage to receive gifts—tricycles for people in need of mobility assistance, saris for impoverished women, a bicycle for a child to ride to school, and so on … When it was Gunda’s turn to approach the stage, she received the gift she had so long wanted: a sewing machine!
Could it be possible? Astonishment and joy surged through Gunda as she grasped the machine she had longed for. She felt as though a dream had come true.
“Now, with the help of this sewing machine, I can earn an extra income to overcome my financial struggles,” she said. “I thank God and the church for this gift, which [will] help me become self-reliant.”
The gift Gunda received is just one of thousands of income-generating gifts distributed by GFA World through local churches and pastors since 2006. 2 These gifts empower disadvantaged people, including widows, single mothers, people with disabilities and impoverished labourers, to start businesses and break cycles of poverty.
Gunda’s new machine reminded her she had hope—God was with her, and He was helping her.
The words of Deuteronomy 31:6 came to her mind: “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be afraid … for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
Breaking Poverty, Showing Christ’s Love
Gunda got to work building a tailoring business. From her own home, she could stitch bags, blouses, petticoats, trousers and shirts. Providing disadvantaged women like Gunda with a realistic means to earn income can alter the course of their lives—and send a positive ripple effect through their community as well.
“Women’s economic empowerment is crucial,” explains Cherotich Kenei, reporting for the nonprofit Fair Planet. “When women are economically empowered, everyone from the family, community, country, and continent feels the positive effect. Moreover, the more economically empowered a woman is, the more she is brave enough to advocate against oppression.” 3
Gradually, as Gunda’s business grew, she began earning enough money to put regular food on the table, pay her medical bills and save some money. She was even able to stop working in the soybean industry.
“Because of this sewing machine, I am able to earn money from my home and lead a safe and secured life without depending on my son or daughter,” Gunda says.
A simple gift, given by God’s people, helped provide Gunda with the stability that had eluded her for so long. It also strengthened her faith, reminding her that God is with her. Now, when she uses her sewing machine, she has a tangible reminder that she is not alone.
So many widows live destitute lives, as Gunda once did, facing barriers to earning income and lacking basic necessities. UN Women estimates that “nearly one in ten widows worldwide lives in extreme poverty.” With approximately 258 million widows in the world today, that means more than 25 million widows likely live in poverty. 4
Income-generating tools given in Christ’s name can set these women’s lives on a new path, offering them and their families financial stability and new opportunities.
You can be part of showing these 25 million women the love of Christ by helping them provide for themselves and their families.