Full Project – WIDOWHOOD AND ITS CHALLENGES IN CHRISTIANITY

Full Project – WIDOWHOOD AND ITS CHALLENGES IN CHRISTIANITY

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Abstract

This study is set out to investigate widowhood and its challenges in Christianity. The primary objective of this study was to investigate the agony and pains of widowhood in Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC) church Kuje, Nigeria. The data was gathered through the use of questionnaires and oral interviews. A sample of 200 participants was purposively selected from the members of the church. The study adopted the qualitative research method. Thus, the analysis was made using descriptive method. The findings shows that; majority of widows in the church were living in constant grieve of loneliness and that the promised of being married to God often proof abortive when they really need to feel the warm presence of human around them. The study suggest that the church by-laws should address the challenges of widows as a special vulnerable group. By raising awareness about the plight of widows and the fact that most of these women at very young ages are becoming widows with many children to cater for with no chances for a business place in the market.

                                         CHAPTER ONE

                                        INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

Widows and widowers are the more affected group of people when it comes to the sin of omission especially in Nigeria. They are often forgotten even by their closest relatives immediately after the burial of their spouse (The World’s Women 2000). Most Christian’s denominations does not have an existing structure or budget plan that covers the welfare of the widows floating the church. This has constantly been a wound in the hearts of this widows when departing the church premises to the cold shell of their homes to fight loneliness.

The question running through the minds of many widows and widowers is, if they will ever feel alive again after the death of their beloved companions? But surviving spouses from around the world bear witness that there is life after the death of a loved one and that a loving Father in Heaven will help provide the way to move forward.

The term “widowhood” is the state of or period of being a widow (Agunwa, 2011). Widowhood is the disruption of marriage due to the death of the spouse, this is a stage of great emotional pain and stress. A widow is a woman whose spouse has died while a widower is a man whose spouse has died. Widowhood is also associated with the expression of anger, which is even more intense than the anger experienced by a divorcee (Nwosu, 2007). In the views of Thomas and Shechan (1988), intense grief and anger are more common among women in widowhood because of denial following the loss of a close spouse through death. Widowhood, it is also reasoned, is the greatest source of psychosocial deprivation for children of female-headed families (Ambert 1986). There is a growing evidence in many parts of Nigeria, that most widows whose husbands die live in extreme poverty, because their in-laws who are supposed to cushion the effect of the loss, often deprive them of their husband’s properties and subject them to a lot of dehumanizing treatments (Yvonne and Browning, 2002).

The Christian society is dual in nature covering both the spiritual and the physical gathering of the saints. This dual nature of the church has been emphasized in the Bible. As a spiritual gathering it is mainly concerned with salvation in the end-time sense while its physical nature addresses itself to the here and now redemptive work of God as espoused in Luke 4:18. The concern of this study focuses on the later. Alela (2007) and Obwoge (2011) have not only demonstrated that social concern is part of the mission of the church but also that the church is strategically positioned to fulfill this noble mandate. They both report of dilapidating socio-economic situation of women.

The greatest challenge widows and widowers face after the death of a spouse is the challenge of moving on with their temporal lives. Some find it hard to make important decisions alone or to assume responsibilities formerly shouldered by a spouse. In addition, the financial situation of a widow or widower may be dire, especially if the spouse accrued medical bills as the result of a long illness, or if the widow or widower is left with no means to support the family.

Widows remain amongst the most vulnerable members of society. It is estimated that the numbers of widows around the world to be in the region of 245 Million, of which 115 Million live in poverty. The well-being of a woman continues to be tied to her marital status whether she is single, divorced or widowed. The Christian widows are not left out of the above scenario. The faced the same and even more challenges than widows outside the church, as church members are good at monitoring their steps than catering for their welfare.

People chose to maltreat widows instead of helping to ease their problems so that they live a better life (Agunwa, 2011). Widows rather than being sympathized with and assisted are subjected to near in-human treatment in certain traditional ritual rites and practices such as solitary confinement, defacement, dis-inheritance and a relatively long mourning period. The most obvious effects are deepening poverty, acute stress and depression, loss of identity and self-esteem. The widowhood condition exposes women to psychological and physical abuse as well as a whole range of health related problems including HIV/AIDs (Asward, 1967; Agunwa, 2011). A widow, from the perspective of her plight, is a person who by certain circumstances is in distress. Thus, she is one who finds herself in the middle of the ocean of life, struggling to survive.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Since widowhood has been long been discovered to aid manifestation of depression of post-traumatic stress. The church is supposed to be a home that shelters these group of people from sufferings but most times the reverse is the case. Widows rather than being sympathized with and assisted are subjected to near in-human treatment in certain traditional ritual rites and practices such as solitary confinement, defacement, dis-inheritance and a relatively long mourning period. The most obvious effects are deepening poverty, acute stress and depression, loss of identity and self-esteem. Widows in Nigeria, face varying degrees of difficulties and untold hardships even though they tend to suffer in silence, in most cases. The challenges ranges from obnoxious legislation which subdue women under male dominance to cultural practices and dis-inheritance which aggravate the poverty and social dis-empowerment of the widows. A widow remains an appendage of her husband’s family. Her loss is unenviable, especially if she is young and childless, for she has no one of her own to turn to and her life is spent almost as an unpaid servant within the family. Typically, the widow faces a lot of problems after the death of her husband (Wiebe, 1987). Widows are not well treated by the Nigerian society compared to widowers (Olusakin, 1998). This led to the study on widowhood and its challenges in Christianity.

1.3 Aims/ Objectives of the Study

The primary aim of this study is to examine widowhood and its challenges in Christianity; the sub-objectives are:

  1. To investigate the agony and pains of widowhood in ERCC church Kuje.
  2. To examine the experiences of widows in ERCC church Kuje.
  3. To examine the views of widows in ERCC church Kuje towards biblical practices which they are subjected to at the death of their spouse.
  4. To suggest ways of eliminating all harmful and dehumanizing widowhood practices in Kuje area council, Federal Capital Territory in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions were suggested by the researcher to guide the study:

  1. Are there physical scenario of agony and pains of widowhood experience in ERCC church Kuje?
  2. Does the negative experience of widows in Kuje supersedes the positive experiences?
  3. Has the biblical practice of widowhood with reference to the New Testament been observed in ERCC church Kuje?
  4. Are there possible solutions to the challenges of widowhood in ERCC church Kuje?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

The following hypotheses were formulated to be tested at 0.05 level of significance.

H0: there are no physical scenario of agony and pains of widowhood experience in ERCC church Kuje.

H1: there are physical scenario of agony and pains of widowhood experience in ERCC church Kuje.

H0: the negative experiences of widows in Kuje supersedes the positive experiences

H1: the positive experiences of widows in Kuje supersedes the negative experiences.

1.6 Significance of the Study

The study on widowhood and its challenges in Christianity will significantly be of great benefit to Ministers has they oversees the activities in God’s vineyard. The findings would be useful to the government, scholars, policy makers and Church leaders in matters related to widowhood. Hopefully, introduce sound evangelical thinking and tools that could positively influence the extent of widowhood practice in the research area. Give society and the churches an opportunity to examine and refine their theological and practical standpoints on the plight of widows. Provide information and access to a range of evangelically sound and well researched recovery programmes on the plight of widows, which are potentially valuable tools in the ministry of the church. Encourage believers to become involved in a ministry that plays a vital role in helping widows overcome their situation.

1.7 Scope and Limitation of the Study

This study will cover the attention of ERCC church Kuje with special focus on widowhood and its challenges in Christianity in the Federal Capital Territory.

Limitations of study

Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Members Reluctance: In most cases the widow members of the church often feels reluctance over providing required information required by the researcher. This result in finding information where the structured questionnaires could not point out.

Researcher’s Commitment: The researcher, being of full time student spent most of her time on other academic activities such as test, class work, assignment, examination etc which takes average focus from this study.

Inadequate Materials: Scarcity of material is also a major hindrance. The researcher finds it difficult to lay hands on several required material which could contribute immensely to the success of this research work.

1.8 Definition of Terms

Widow: A widow is a woman whose spouse has died, or a woman who has lost her spouse by death and has not married again.

Widower: widower is a man whose spouse has died, or a man who has lost his spouse by death and has not married again.

Widowhood: is the disruption of marriage due to the death of the spouse, is a source of great emotional pain and stress. Widows (females whose spouse has died) and widowers (males whose spouse has died) may grieve and mourn their loss for years. The treatment of widows and widowers around the world varies.

ERCC: this is an acronym for Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ

Widow’s perspectives: this is widow’s point of views on living alone and having to do everything alone.

Church leaders: Church leaders include the following set of leaders in church: Senior Pastors, Worship Leaders, Youth Leaders, Outreach Leaders, and Children’s Ministry Leaders, Small Group Leaders.

Christians: Christianity is a religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament.

Single parent: A single parent is a person who lives with a child or children and who does not have a spouse or live-in partner. Reasons for becoming a single parent include divorce, break-up, abandonment, death of the other parent, childbirth by a single woman or single-person adoption.

 

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