A new mini-series is answering the biblical command to “look after the poor and widowed” by both renovating widows’ homes and helping restore their hearts and emotions amid grief.
The show is hosted by Ken Fletcher and actress Shannen Fields, who became a widow herself during filming when her husband of 29 years passed away from ALS after a short diagnosis. The show is based on the call in James 1:27 to “look after orphans and widows in their distress.”
In an interview with The Christian Post, Fields, who has starred in films such as “Facing the Giants” and “My Brother’s Keeper,” shared how the show has impacted her own life while uplifting the other widows it features.
She described the women on the show as “Widow Warriors,” women who refuse to quit despite painful circumstances.
“We are all on different journeys, but one thing that is common is we are better together. We understand each other and what we are walking through,” she said.
“Melanie, my sister, is one of the widows in the series. She lost her husband suddenly one year and four months before I lost my husband. Neither one of us would have ever dreamed this would be our life, but here we are walking this out together. Each widow told me that the ‘Rebuild and Restore’ team coming into their home helped them move forward and heal a little bit more. You will love each story, and you might want to have some tissues on hand.”
In addition to home renovation volunteers, “Rebuild and Restore” features professionals who help the widows as they heal amid grief.
The mini-series features the nonprofit Widow Strong Ministry, which supports area and online widow empowerment events, grief support groups, widow-support service projects and widowed leadership training.
For Fields, ministering to widows is personal. During the filming of the show’s pilot episode, her husband, Jimmy, started having trouble breathing, and his shoulders began feeling weak.
“He was a football coach, very strong and fit,” she said. “We thought he might need shoulder surgery.”
During the filming of the second show, Jimmy Fields was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Those with the disease gradually lose their ability to move their limbs, eat, speak and breathe without assistance. After an 11-month battle, he passed away.
“My connection with each one of these women goes way deeper than I ever expected,” Fields said. “None of us ever want the title of ‘widow,’ but what I have found with me and all the widows in my life is that our connection with one another is very strong. I completely see life differently now than I did when I first started the show. We all lost our best friend.”
Fields said her heart breaks for anyone that has a loved one with a terminal illness.
“The days can seem so dark. I’ve been there,” the actress stated. “What our family had to choose to do is first be there for one another no matter how hard things got.”
“We prayed together every day. We had to trust God like never before,” she added. “We cried, laughed, read the Bible together and told some funny stories. We made sure we lived for that day instead of thinking of the next.”
Fields said her family is “strong” in their faith. Her husband had a saying: “live this day in view of that day.”
“What that means is we live each day as if it could be your last, whether that’s Jesus coming or Him sending you home,” she detailed.
Fields embraced the concept of “healing forward” through grief, meaning taking it “one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time,” yet continuing to move forward with life.
“It doesn’t mean we don’t suffer the stages of grief and it doesn’t mean we don’t struggle. What we do is little by little. As we walk out each day, and as we learn to navigate a new life without our spouse, we continue to grow in love, trust God with our every step, and ‘heal forward,’” she said.
There were over 11 million widowed women and over 3 million widowed men in the U.S. in 2020, according to data compiled by Statista. Widows are often left feeling vulnerable, lonely or struggling to adjust to single life.
Fields said that she, too, is “still adjusting” but wants to share what she’s learned in her grieving process.
“First, everyone is different, and each widow grieves in her own way. It’s one of the toughest journeys to be on. What I do is when I need to take a break and just ‘be.’ I stop and do that,” she said.
“I watch a movie and allow myself that time. Some days I need to be with my adult kids so we can laugh together. This normally is centered around food and football. I have to intentionally make plans to be with others, make plans to have friends and family over for dinner.”
“Being a widow can be lonely, but with each passing day, I honestly give my day over to God and remember that it’s a new day,” she continued. “I ask God to put joy back into my life and help me navigate this new journey. Don’t feel like you always need to be strong. Talk to someone who has experienced the same loss. This helps me so much knowing I’m not alone.”
Through “Rebuild and Restore,” Fields hopes viewers are uplifted and encouraged, especially those who may be going through their own journey of grief and healing.
“When we meet the widows, our goal is to love big and to bring some joy back into their life,” she said. “What I have found is we come to bless them, but our entire team are the ones walking out changed and blessed.”
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: [email protected]