There’s a blog on facebook called The Pastor’s Widow, obviously written by a pastor’s widow. In this blog she shares from her personal journal as she travels the road back to wholeness after losing the love of her life. In one of her blogs, I was impressed with her honesty when she stated that she was simply sharing from her private journal to family and friends and had no intent to write a blog even after her daughter suggested that she do so. When she hedged about what she would write, her grief therapist asked what she would need to hear if she were reading a blog. Her answer startled me. She stated that she probably wouldn’t read her own blog. Why? “Because I would rather follow someone who is on the other side of the valley of grief than someone trudging through the trenches with me,” she stated.
But that wasn’t the end of it. Through circumstances and the nudges of the Holy Spirit, she began to realize that she had a story to tell in the middle of her grief. In her own words she stated that, “I didn’t recognize that my brokenness could help someone else find wholeness. I didn’t realize that hurting in community can lead everyone to healing.”
Reading her blog in its entirety made me think of this ministry, Friends Needing Friends. Its founder, Dotti Ackerman, began this ministry shortly after the loss of her first husband, Allen Israel, to connect with others in her position. She was lonely, reeling from deep loss, fearful of rearing a teen-age son to maturity on her own, and feeling isolated from anyone who truly understood her feelings. Her pastor suggested that she start a ministry to other widows. And that’s exactly what she did. She lay aside any fears or apprehensions and secured a back room at a local diner in New Jersey, put some fliers out inviting widows to dinner and an evening with other widows with special music and a guest speaker. Together they would work for healing and restoration through being ministered to each month from God’s Word and developing a forward-looking attitude toward life, even in the throes of grief. I remember when Dotti’s second husband, Bill, died of cancer. Dotti missed only one Friends Needing Friends meeting and then was right back, encouraging and ministering to others.
What if Dotti had waited until her life was back on keel, and those first pangs of searing grief were totally healed after Al’s death to do ministry to other widows? Most likely Friends Needing Friends would never have been born and the many hundreds of women that have been helped to a personal relationship with Jesus and/or comradery and encouragement in the middle of their grief would never have taken place.
And now, after 35 years, she has felt that it is time that she take a much deserved retirement. She, more than anyone I know has demonstrated that grief and suffering are not the end point of one’s life. Just as Joseph in the Old Testament, God made her fruitful in the land of the suffering. Out of her greatest sorrows, God has brought her great joy as she did His bidding, always looking for opportunities to serve others.
Thank you, Dotti, for your thirty-five years of tireless service to the many women, world-wide, who have been encouraged and helped to recognize God’s great love and compassion for the widow through this ministry.
God will continue to use you to be an encourager, a giver, a helper in any capacity you’re able as you live out your life to bring honor and glory to Jesus. I love you, friend.
Ladies, doing for others seems to be the “magic” cure for a grieving soul. Most likely because it helps to take one’s mind from an inward look and gives an outward look as well as an onward look. In other words, you don’t dwell on your own grief, but look to alleviate someone else’s and as you do so you will find a purpose for continuing. As you ask Jesus to be a part of your healing, you will find that He never left you and is giving you a purposeful life here as well as an eternal home after this life is over.
|Bible message by Shari Hervold|
I also want to wish a most joyous 35th Anniversary Greeting to Friends Needing Friends! You have ministered to countless widows in your 35 years. Only eternity will show the total fruit of this God-directed ministry. I am grateful to have been a small part of it for 34 years.
Kerusomen owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Dotti Ackerman and the ladies of Friends Needing Friends Widow Ministry in Florida and New Jersey. It was Dotti and her team who first championed KGM's widows in India 12 years ago. Since then, FNF has partnered faithfully to expand that ministry year after year after year. They've provided emergency food, medicine, skills training, income producing goats and chickens and Bible Story Scarves to at-risk India widows. But most of all they've sent their love and their prayers to these precious women every single day.
Happy 35th Anniversary Friends Needing Friends! Your amazing ministry to widows here, in India, and all around the globe through your wonderful FNF Blog, has touched the lives of countless widows for God's glory for decades. We are greatly honored to serve with you and play a small part in your ministry. We love each and every one of you dearly and can never, ever thank you enough.
God bless you. Tom Caprio and the KGM Board.
I don't own any rights to this song. It's for entertainment and worship song only.