DALLAS – Hundreds of millions of widows worldwide face discrimination, oppression and lack access to essential resources. However, Gospel for Asia (GFA) (www.gfa.org) will honor the 40 million widows in South Asia on International Widows’ Day — June 23 — by providing many with free meals, medical check-ups and even income-producing animals.

International Widows’ Day was first established by the Loomba Foundation in 2005 and saw its first officially recognized global observance in 2011. The observance is a way to bring attention to the poverty and injustice millions of women across the globe face when their husbands die. According to the Loomba, there are 245 million widows worldwide, and more than 100 million of them are ensnared by poverty.

In South Asia alone, many widows are blamed for the deaths of their husbands, no matter the cause of his death. As a result many are abandoned by their families, rejected by their friends and often derided by those in their communities.

“For millions of widows in South Asia, life is incredibly difficult,” said Dr. K. P. Yohannan, founder and international director of GFA. “Many are forced into begging or prostitution in order to survive. And those widows with children have to struggle that much harder just to make it through to another day.”

On International Widows’ Day, GFA is providing hope from the desperation many widows experience. Basic necessities like food and clean water provide much-needed and vital sustenance. Free medical check-ups allow the access to health care many never receive. Goats and pigs provide essential income possibilities to those who have been forced to live off the streets and beg. Sewing machines and tailoring classes not only teach a trade, but also create income-producing opportunities.

In addition to the practical resources GFA provides to widows throughout the year, the organization also demonstrates the love of Jesus to them through fellowship groups, literacy classes and opportunities for them to share their burdens with someone who loves them.

“Veil of Tears,” a recently released award-winning documentary (www.veiloftearsmovie.com), captures the individual stories of widows throughout South Asia — their daily struggles, their anguish and their despair. More importantly, however, “Veil of Tears” shows how many of these women are finding hope, restoration and healing as a result of changing attitudes and practical training opportunities.

“Veil of Tears” is available as a free Movie Night Kit for churches and small groups (www.veiloftearsmovie.com/churches) and is also available at retail stores across the country.

“Widows are some of the most vulnerable people in the world,” Yohannan said. “As Christians, we read about God’s love for widows and the vulnerable throughout Scripture. What better way to demonstrate that love than by stepping into their lives and giving them hope – hope for tomorrow, hope for their children and hope that their lives will get better.”

Additional information about GFA and its work in South Asia is available at www.gfa.org.