Widowhood as a vocation in northern Nigeria

Widows play an undervalued but vital role in the spread of Christianity in northern Nigeria, writes Sung Bauta in the International Bulletin of Mission Research (Vol. 45, No. 4). Northern Nigeria is predominantly Muslim, but there are Christian enclaves. Women constitute the largest segment of church members in Nigeria and widows are a significant proportion of these women and have been considered unheralded missionaries in the region. Bauta conducted research among a group of 20 widows for a three-month period and found that they intentionally rejected remarriage to devote themselves to active Christian mission. They unanimously saw widowhood as a calling, with many saying that they had felt called to the mission field even before they were married but that such a ministry was often reserved for men. Most of the women saw prayer for Nigeria as their special calling, being active in the Evangelical Church Winning All, the largest church in northern Nigeria, and its women’s fellowships, which are based heavily on prayer activity. These widows also viewed raising their children to be Christian leaders as a special calling, Bauta writes. Some of the widows have pressed for opportunities to learn theology. Bauta concludes that the main contribution to these widows’ sense of vocation may be in their diligent running of households after their husbands were killed in ethnoreligious conflicts in northern Nigeria.

(International Bulletin of Mission Research, https://journals.sagepub.com/home/ibm)