Guest Contributor

by Pat Brandenstein

You have a purpose if you are still breathing!

On September 30, 1993, I was working as a school nurse in the clinic at DeSoto (Texas) East Junior High School. The phone rang and a man said he was calling from the DeSoto Police Department. My heart immediately stopped. I was thinking of my 16-year-old daughter who had just received her driver’s license.

However, the officer went onto say a woman named Sue Haveman had just come home, found her husband dead on the floor, and requested I come be with her. I barely knew Sue and had to ask the policeman where she lived. Little did I know from that one phone call how the Lord would change my life and give me a new purpose.

I had never thought much about widows. My only association with them was through the church—delivering a casserole dish and making the statement “I will be praying for you.” I would maybe pray a couple of weeks but then I would forget them.

I was married with two teens in high school and preparing for the empty nest syndrome. My husband and I had decided he would go to Kansas for his next assignment and I would remain in Texas with the children while they finished high school.

I had more time than the typical wife. Dick only came home every second weekend and I was attempting to give some independence to the children since they would be leaving soon. This gave me the flexibility to be with Sue and get to know her as a person and a recent widow. It seemed that the Lord dropped me into her life.

I remained in close contact with Sue—listening, attempting to supply support and encouragement, and praying. During this time the Lord also revealed a huge need for a widow’s ministry.

Fast-forward three years. The children graduated from high school, Dick had a new assignment in Tennessee, and it was time for me to move to be with him. Through research I discovered there were few widows’ ministries. While there were books for and about widows, there needed to be a more hands-on approach.

During my first year in Tennessee, I immersed myself in scripture and started placing myself in positions to get to know widows. Through biblical interpretations, I learned that a widow is not an 86-year-old woman with gray hair and a cane. Rather, a widow is any woman who has lost the protection and provision of her husband through death, divorce, desertion, or imprisonment.

The following year, a school nurse position became available. I worked for the next three years until retirement.

During those years I, with the Lord’s help, developed a widow’s ministry that held monthly meetings. Some women attending were recent widows, others were what I call seasoned widows.

Seasoned widows are anywhere from two to six years on their journey as widows. They have much to offer recent widows. Not only do recent widows experience the loss of their husbands, they typically lose a large portion of their friendships as our society is many times a culture of couples.

In future articles, I will explain more about widows and the ministry for them. For now, I want to encourage those of you who, like me, are in the second half of life. The Lord still wants you to serve him with a purpose. Continue reading the scriptures and praying. Keep your eyes, ears, and heart open. God still has a plan and a purpose for you.

While it can be challenging during the COVID pandemic, do not become isolated. Even calling someone to offer encouragement is something God sees and delights in. You still have a purpose in God’s eyes until he calls you home.

In my next article, I will share eye-opening statistics to increase your awareness of widows’ needs and the importance of widows’ ministries. Until then, feel free to visit my web page http://www.wingsofhopewidowsministry.com/.

Pat Brandenstein is co-founder of Wings of Hope Widows Ministry a 501(3)c with Chapters of Widows in Cheatham, Rutherford, and Franklin counties. Wings of Hope assists widows in forming chapters in their communities and churches in developing widowed persons ministries. For more information, contact Brandenstein at 931-636-4359 or brandensteinr@bellsouth.net.