The Story of Three Widows Helping Tens, Hundreds, and Thousands
words by: Ferree Hardy
One of the saddest things about widowhood is when widows (or widowers) assume that their life is finished and that they will never be happy again. But is this true? Are these dear people doomed to an empty future?
Three of my widow friends wondered this also. At first, not one of them could have imagined the new life ahead of her. But God enabled these three not only to live again, but to help tens, hundreds, and thousands of other widows find life after loss too.
What made the change? It had to do with using their “Kingdom Equity.” Have you heard of it? It reminds me of this verse:
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” I Peter 4:10.
How can one person help so many others? Let’s see how Kingdom Equity was the catalyst God used. Maybe you and I have some Kingdom Equity too!
Miriam Neff–Widow Connection
Miriam Neff, founder of Widow Connection, thought her life had ended at age 60 when her husband, Bob, went to heaven in 2006. Miriam had cared for him in their home for three years while he battled Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). The final four months were especially intense as his care required the attention of three people full-time, but she would gladly do it all over again.
In the days after the funeral, she felt desperate for God in a way she’d never experienced before. As she sought God, she learned three things over time: 1. We cannot compare ourselves to others; what God has given us is what we use. 2. God will surprise us; He’ll send us to places no one else has been. 3. We need to take action whether we feel ready or not; God will correct, motivate, uplift, and send the people we need to encourage us.
Those three principles comforted her; they also guided her to take a mission trip to Africa. There, she heard the concept of Kingdom Equity in a unique encounter with a stranger. In her book, Where Do I Go From Here? Bold Living After Unwanted Change, Miriam described the time in Malawi when a stranger came up to her after a presentation she’d made. “Miriam Neff,” he declared, “you are rich in Kingdom Equity.”
Miriam was curious, and in a quiet corner he explained: “…Kingdom Equity is God’s investment in you. Whether positive or negative, events gift you with wisdom, experience, information, and faith. Everything in your life is a part of God building equity (valuable investment) into your life…”
And then, much to her surprise, the man began to list things from Miriam’s background that he saw as God’s gifts to her.
Miriam wrote, “I rapidly took notes, recognizing that I wanted to add to his list. This new perspective cast a different and valuable light on seemingly ordinary qualities and experiences, and even hardships…”
“Kingdom Equity was a precious concept that pieced together what I had often seen as random events in my past. But they were not random. God was investing in me intentionally. He was building Kingdom Equity…”
She reflected on the shift in perspective she had in Malawi. “Under my mosquito net that night with a feeble bedside lamp… I scribbled as long as my tired body would allow. I looked again at my scribbled notes from our conversation. My final entry quoting his words read: ‘You’ve got it, Miriam. Now spend it.’”1
“Kingdom Equity is God’s investment in you. Whether positive or negative, events gift you with wisdom, experience, information, and faith.”
Miriam marveled at her Kingdom Equity: the sewing and farm skills she learned while growing up in rural Indiana, parenting four children (two of them adopted), having three adopted African-American grandchildren, her adventurous “Let’s get at it” spirit, and even her widowhood. As she wrote these things down, she realized that the things the world valued, like her college degrees, her career as a high school counselor, and her husband’s executive position with Moody Radio Network, were not what the widows in Malawi needed. They needed money so they wouldn’t starve. This was her chance to use her Kingdom Equity to help these widows. So Miriam taught them how to sew and earn income with the type of non-electric, treadle sewing machines she had first learned on. They needed the hope of knowing Jesus loved them, so she taught them how to know Him as she had desperately learned.
Today, in addition to taking as many foreign mission trips as possible to help more widows learn to sew, Miriam helps widows through her website, speaking engagements, and on her “New Beginnings” radio spot, which is featured five days a week on 1,200 outlets. She’s also written several books that apply to widowhood.
Miriam’s latest adventure has been to pioneer a financial ministry for women. She and her daughter, Valerie Neff Hogan, recently wrote Wise Women Managing Money; Expert Advice on Debt, Wealth, Budgeting & More. The proceeds from it will increase women’s financial literacy and reach out to even more widows.
To read the full story, purchase a July back issue here.
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To learn more about widowhood, order a copy of Postcards from the Widows’ Path—Gleaning Hope and Purpose from the Book of Ruth. It’s a gentle, biblical guide for widows that has many saying, “This is the best I’ve ever read!” Mail a check for $14.99/copy (paperback, 248 pgs.), along with your address to: Ferree Hardy, 76 Grace Ave., Ticonderoga, NY 12883. Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery.