“My Table of Friends Has Expanded”
Valentine’s Day Dinner for Widows of Ministers
On February 14, 2019, four widows of ministers representing three denominations were hosted for a Valentine’s Day dinner at Bonefish Grill in Franklin, Tennessee. The purpose of the event was to honor and provide social connection for an often-overlooked population of heroes of the faith. Fearing that widows of ministers might feel very alone on Valentine’s evening, Shepherd’s Fold Ministries contacted dozens of churches in the Middle Tennessee area inviting people to nominate names of widows of ministers. An invitation was sent to every nominated widow, and four were able to attend. Brent, Susan, and Matthew Van Hook represented Shepherd's Fold Ministries that evening.
“This is the first time I’ve been with any other widows of ministers since my husband died,” said one lady. “Otherwise I’d have just been home alone tonight.”
"Honored" is how one lady described her feeling from the night. Another lady wrote, “[The dinner] was such an unexpected but delightful surprise! Isn't that how our Lord often blesses us?! To be able to make connection with other widows who have walked where I've walked was absolutely wonderful! My table of friends has expanded which brings me great joy!”
To expand a “table of friends” was meaningful to every lady. The conversation ranged from expressed grief at the loss of a husband, joyful memories of spiritual victories during and after ministry assignments, gratitude of God’s ongoing provisions, and more. It seemed that with each expressed feeling, the other widows at the table nodded in agreement and sensed that their own experiences were not unique. It’s as if each lady realized that they were not alone and that it is an uplifting to make new friends with people who share similar stories.
By the end of the dinner the ladies exchanged phone numbers and started a group text. They didn’t want to leave! One lady went to her car and brought back a poem that she had written to help her in her experiences and gave a copy of the poem to each person. Shepherd’s Fold provided each lady with a Valentine’s Day card, a box of chocolates, and a gift card to a grocery store.
Perhaps most inspiring is the desire of the widows to help others. Not only were they grateful to receive this care, but they wanted to help others too. One lady wrote to Shepherd’s Fold, “If I can ever do anything to help this ministry in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me. I'd love to be included in blessing other ministers and their wives.” Another wrote, "Whatever I can do to servie I will do my best."
Indeed the widows of ministers are spiritual heroes.