Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope

Joni Eareckson Tada

Do No Harm

January 23, 2019

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada sharing something worth repeating.

Not long ago I offered up some thoughts about suffering that must’ve really struck a chord with you listeners. Of course, you already know I am battling cancer – it’s a little more aggressive than the last cancer I had eight years ago, and so my treatment has been just as aggressive. But that’s okay. I thank God for great radiologists and oncologists! Most of all I thank God for his wisdom and grace.

And that is what has troubled some people. I have received a couple of emails from Christians – and they are really great people, great friends – but they have hinted that God is putting me through too much, you know: quadriplegia, chronic pain, my previous cancer and now this new one? I don’t know, maybe you think the same. I guess if I let my own thoughts wander, I might even say the same. Rather than doing me good, it could appear as though God were out to harm me. And I can’t blame these Christian friends for feeling that way; it’s natural. And that’s the trouble. Christians really should know that to entertain such feelings shows that we not only have a low view of God, but they don’t understand what the Bible says about suffering.

Now some would say, “Joni, there are countless references telling us that God does no harm to his children, only good. There’s Jeremiah 32, verse 41 where God himself says, “I will find joy in doing good for them.” Then there’s Psalm 84, verse 11, “The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” And perhaps the most famous one (and perhaps you know it) is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.” These are great verses, and there are countless others just like them in the Bible. So why would God allow so much chronic pain, my quadriplegia, cancer, and now this new cancer? Well, simply this: God is less interested in my physical well-being, and much more interested in strengthening my soul. Sure, painful hardships are the dark, driving rain of God’s sovereignty, and yes, those painful things hurt and harm the body. But the sunshine of His sovereignty is the good that’s being done in my soul – oh my goodness—the depth of faith, the scarred and seasoned wisdom, the unshakable peace, settled-ness of soul, unwavering devotion to Christ, and the building up of the ironclad trust that comes from walking through that valley of the shadow of death. And the really good stuff that comes out of suffering is that it supports your testimony and convinces skeptics and unbelievers that God is really worth trusting. He is that wonderful, because when they see your smile through the toughest of pain, it shames them and shows them that God’s grace really, really is able to sustain.

So, those Bible verses I mentioned, like when God says the plans I have for you are for good and not to harm you? Friend, God is talking about doing good for your soul. Sure, they may be harm that comes to your body, but never your soul. And if you tend to disagree, thinking that suffering only makes you complain, worry, and become bitter, then, friend, you are not appropriating the grace God that He makes available. You don’t have to complain, you do not have to be bitter. You can trust and hold fast to His grace. You can trust Him and learn how to be courageous. You can make your soul brave, and that is the ‘good’ that God is talking about in those precious Bible verses. And there is certainly no harm in that.

Featured Offer

Finding Strength in Weakness
In Isaiah God tells us that he created us to make him famous, but how do suffering and weakness fit in? Throughout Scripture God deliberately uses the most unlikely characters to complete his work so that when the mission is accomplished all the glory goes to him. Hard times drive us to our knees, and through desperation we are reminded of God’s faithfulness and his strength is revealed. If we never face fear, how can we know courage? If we never had to weep, we would never know the beauty of having a friend wipe away our tears. God took a teenage girl’s poor decision and turned it into a 50-year mission of love and justice in his name and for his glory.

Archives

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with an update on my health. I know you have heard that I am back in the boxing ring again with cancer; in there going at round 2 after my original battle 8 years ago. This cancer was a big surprise and we discovered it by accident when my doctor ordered a PET scan before I attempted any new pain therapies. He said, “Just to be sure, just to be safe let’s do it.” And then added, “But I’m certain we won’t find anything.” Well, we did. Thankfully, the tumor on my chest wall was removed quickly and after I healed, I began undergoing radiation. That’s something I did not do with my previous cancer because of my fragile lungs. But technology has vastly improved in the last 8 years, and so I’m confident that my lungs are going to be safe. After all, I’ve got to have enough breathe to talk to you, right? And do my work at Joni and Friends, don’t you agree? And so, thank you for praying for me as I continue on through radiation therapy. For now, all I can say is, this cancer has made me so grateful to be alive, to have strength and stamina; it has drawn my husband Ken and me even closer together; it’s made my friendships and connections with my family seem so much more precious. Honestly, believe it or not at night I lie in bed and have to fight back tears as I count all my blessings. It was Eugene Peterson once described the apostle Paul as a “scarred veteran; a man who visited the extremes.” Well, I wouldn’t put myself in the same class as Paul, but I do know something about scars and about visiting the extremes – the extremes of pain, the rigors of cancer therapy, the difficulties of aging with quadriplegia. But that’s okay. As First Peter Chapter 2 verse 21 says, “to this you were called because Christ Jesus suffered for us, leaving you an example that us and example that we should follow in His steps.” There’s one more thing Eugene Peterson adds. He says, “Paul knows that what God has done within him is far more important and lasting than anything that could be done to him.” Wow! I say “amen” to that. This entire battle, this whole journey is all about bringing glory to God. And I know I’m glorifying God because he is changing me in all of this. I’m just not the same Joni as I was before this new cancer. I know it, I can feel, I sense I am becoming a little more like Jesus, and I love that! It was Harry Reader who wrote, “Circumstances do not dictate your character, they reveal it and become the opportunity to refine it.” Yep, this cancer does not dictate who I am; it’s an opportunity though to refine who I am. And it’s always invigorating when we can demonstrate our loyalty to the Lord Jesus through a really tough trial. I mean, we can actually do something to delight, to please the Lord, because it gives Him great joy to see that we love holding tightly onto Him through any trial. When we do that, it’s another way of glorifying God. And that’s been Ken’s focus and mine too, through this whole ordeal. So, today as the Holy Spirit nudges you, would you please pray for me and pray for my husband too as he helps me undergo radiation therapy the rest of this month and perhaps next? And as you do, my prayer for you is that your circumstances won’t dictate your character; but that every circumstance will reveal what you are made of and become the glorious opportunity to refine all that you are. That’s the purpose behind my cancer and that is the purpose behind all the challenges you face, as well.
January 22, 2019
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and it’s something I will never forget. I was at one of our Joni and Friends’ Family Retreats last year, and I was sitting across the lunch table from Susan, a single mother with two kids with disabilities. This woman looked so tired and she looked sad – which to me was odd, because it was the first day of the retreat. Susan wasn’t even sure how she came to be at Family Retreat. It wasn’t the sort of thing that she would normally do, bring her disabled kids to a Family Retreat, especially with a week off from work. Things were hard back home and I could tell this woman was full of lots of resentment and some questions, as well. The next morning at breakfast, Susan seemed a little more relaxed, more with-it. She had this somewhat surprised look on her face as she glanced around the dining hall. Usually, she would be anxious, she told me, not knowing where her kids were or who they were with. But at the retreat, she found herself just beginning to let go a little. Susan really liked the volunteer we had assigned to her two children. And now, over eggs and bacon, she was flabbergasted – even a little grateful – that she could take a few deep breaths and just talk to someone. Like me. The next day we found ourselves talking more. There was something different about her countenance and I could tell that she really enjoyed the morning devotional time and the worship. That afternoon we sat at lunch together again and she told me in a soft voice and with wide eyes, “never, never have I experienced anything like this. I’m a new person!” I found out later why she said that. She really was new. She had opened her heart to Christ in the woman-to-woman session earlier that day. From then on out, there was no more resentment and even her weary countenance seemed to be lifted as she began networking more closely with the other mothers. Susan is just one single parent. She’s just one of many parents who are raising not only one child, but two children with disabilities. It’s a hard haul for women like her, and it’s why I’m so hoping that many more “Susans” will be coming to Christ at this summer’s Joni and Friends’ Family Retreats—we’ve got four new retreats we’re holding and that totals over 50 this season. So we’re able to accommodate many more special-needs families, many more kids with disabilities and their parents; parents like Susan. And it’s a good thing. Single moms like her really need to know that Jesus Christ cares and that His people care, too. Our Savior says in Matthew 11, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Sometimes He’ll not only give rest, but He’ll give fun and fellowship, new friends, and a chance to know Him better at a Family Retreat. This summer’s retreats are already filling up fast, in fact we’ve already closed one or two retreats, so if you know a family who has a disabled child or an adult, if you know a couple who have a disability, then you only have a short time to let them know about this year’s retreats. You can learn more details at joniandfriends.org, and if there are financial needs, we have scholarship funds available. Let’s make certain that families like Susan’s hear and experience the love of Christ no matter what the disability! Again, get all the details today at joniandfriends.org. If you are in the world of “snail mail” (that’s okay, many of us are) you can always write us at Joni and Friends, P.O. Box 3333, Agoura Hills, California, 91376. Oh, and by the way, if you have a prayer request, let me know on our radio page and our Joni and Friends staff will lift up your need before the Lord. God bless you today, and thanks for listening to Joni and Friends.
January 21, 2019
Everybody is saying how fast life is flying by! I’m Joni Eareckson Tada. You know, there’s something about this fast-paced culture of ours… this culture of MSNBC, CNBC, everything is so quick and snappy, the events, the current events which are causing us to live life on fast forward. There’s something about this mindset that can absolutely kill one of the most important principles of meaningful living as a Christian. It is the principle – I should say – the art of keeping in step with the spirit, living life one day at a time… sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof… don’t worry about tomorrow… take life one day at a time. Our national leaders are telling us to do that and the Bible keeps telling us to do that. Let me explain. When I was back in that hospital so many years ago, everything, life just seemed… impossible. When doctors told me I’d remain a quadriplegic for the rest of my life, I looked at them blankly. It just didn’t compute. I mean, this was a whole new definition for normal I had to come up with. I think the terrifying reality of “hands that wouldn’t work” and “legs that wouldn’t walk” just bounced off my brain. After many months, reality begin to sink in and I think that’s when depression hit. The future seemed unthinkable. Do you identify with that? Well, I used to wonder, “Am I gonna end up in a nursing home? Will I ever be able to hold down a job? How will I survive not ever being able pick up things or run or drive a car?!” These are tough questions and they are real questions. But the skill of dealing with a life-altering situation is honestly to take that life one day at a time in bite-sized, swallowable chunks. Now think about it: in this fast-paced culture of ours, we really indeed are living with life-altering situations everyday. All you have to do is watch the evening news, right? The principle of taking one day at a time – well, everything goes against that, doesn’t it? And I think this is why I’m so grateful that I was forced to slow down and start keeping in step (that is wheeling alongside) the Spirit. I began to find solutions when I did – I went back to college, began slowly painting, I learned to drive a van with a joystick clamped to my arm, I began to manage my own health care, I made decisions and took responsibility for finding people to help me get up, I went to work… But most of all, I began taking God at His Word. I just couldn’t live paralyzed… and I don’t think you can either. We can’t be afraid of the future – especially when God tells us not to rush ahead, not to fall behind, but to wake up every morning to His new mercies, great is His faithfulness, trust that He won’t abandon you, that He will give you the smile that you lack, the energy that you need, the hope that you can’t muster. The horizon, which sometimes seems dark especially now-a-days, it always clears and brightens when you pray “God, help me today. Help me to make it through today” and then you move into that challenge by faith and you watch His grace help you to take one day at a time. So friend, push the pause button today if you are facing that life-altering challenge, the changes that seem so overwhelming… learn to take life, learn to handle the problems one day at a time. It’s the way Jesus Christ wants you to live. I invite you to visit me today at our website at joniandfriends.org. Until next time, this is Joni and Friends.
January 18, 2019
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and I just bet you know Nick Vujicic. Like, who does not know Nick, right? The leader of “Life Without Limbs”, he is the International Evangelist who has become so well-known for his passion in giving the gospel. Millions of people have heard Nick Vujicic speak and I am sure as many have responded to his invitation to come to Christ as Lord and Savior. Nick is known well because he was born without arms or legs. He has a small foot – and boy does he do a lot with that foot. And the fact that he lives without limbs gives him such authority when he speaks about the trustworthiness of Jesus Christ; how despite any limitation the Lord is always worthy of our confidence and obedience. In short, God brings such satisfaction, such joy, that it overrides the inconvenience of not even having arms or legs. God raised up Nick Vujicic to be a prophet to the younger generation; to millennials and kids born into the digital age. I say all this because this morning at 9 AM Pacific time (that’s 12 noon East Coast time) Nick and I will be on Facebook Live together. We have come together because this is Sanctity of Life week and both he and I are strong advocates of the sacredness of life. Nick may not have arms or legs, he may have to be carried up steep steps, but he is a beautiful image-bearer of God. Nick knows that he is made in the image of God. He is made as a moral human being who can choose between right and wrong. He is made to love, made to care and be compassionate. He is made to think and create and work and delight in every good thing that comes down from the father. In other words, Nick Vujicic is made to reflect God and giving glory. Oh, will Nick be doing exactly that this morning when we go live together on Facebook. We will be covering pretty interesting topics as well as celebrating the 40th anniversary of Joni and Friends. Nick may be sharing a few surprises as well. So we hope you will post your comments as we open our hearts. Also, on today’s Facebook Live, I will be inviting my good friend, Katherine Wolf to say a few words. If you are on the East coast and it’s not 12 noon yet; or if you are on the West coast and it’s almost 9 AM, visit my Facebook page and watch our live presentation. If right now you are hearing my voice after the fact, if it’s late in the day and our Facebook Live event has already transpired, that’s okay. You can still watch it on my Facebook page. We’ll have it up all day and when you watch it post our comments because I would love to hear your thoughts on sanctity of life. Also I would love to hear what you have to say about our 40th anniversary. That’s right. This month begins a year-long celebration of our four decades of ministry. Joni and Friends has been reaching people with disabilities for Christ all around the globe for 40 years and that’s a lot of people reached for Jesus. So, go on Facebook; watch my discussion with Nick and post a big “thumbs up” or “like it” or maybe “love it”, and best of all please share it with your way of celebrating Sanctity of Life this week. See you on Facebook Live, or get on line and watch the fun video of our discussion and then please share it will all your friends. By the way, I would love to hear what you are praying about or a favorite Bible verse that you are memorizing. Tell me about it. Just go to my radio page today at joniradio.org, or you can always write me at Joni and Friends, P.O. Box 3333, Agoura Hills, California 91376. If the Lord has answered some prayer of yours today, guess what, stop right after we are done here and tell Him “Thanks”.
January 17, 2019
I’m Joni and how about singing this contemporary worship song with me… When Satan tempts me to despair And tells me of the guilt within Upward I look and see Him there Who made an end to all my sin Because the sinless Savior died My sinful soul is counted free For God, the just, is satisfied To look on Him and pardon me To look on Him and pardon me Now I realize that wasn’t the first verse, but this particular verse, the second one, is my favorite; I always have a tough time getting through it – maybe you resonate when I say there are days when Satan really tempts me to despair… and I start looking inward… but I have learned that when that happens (I sing this beautiful song to help get my focus back on Jesus)… when Satan tempts me to despair, I turn immediately to the Word of God. Period! God’s Word is the only thing that clears my thoughts, lightens my load, brightens my heart… because God’s Word gets me focused on the Savior and all that He did on the cross… as well as all that He is doing even now as He intercedes for me… and for you. So, friend, if you’re looking inward today, maybe a little too focused on your problems or guilt, you and I need to do the same thing – we need to look on Him. Look to Jesus because today He is interceding for you. I know, you’ve got lots of other friends, lots of folks at church who are praying for you through this challenging time you are going through (maybe an illness, a divorce, a sickness in your family, a recent bad medical report, foreclosure, bankruptcy…), but you’ve probably got a lot of people praying for you, but you need to remember Jesus is praying for you. He’s your most important intercessor; He hasn’t forgotten you; He is right now taking your need, every detail before the throne of God. And when Satan tempts you to despair you need to remember the role that Jesus Christ plays right now in interceding for you. And that’s why today I invite you to come and see me today at joniandfriendsradio.org – fire up your computer and log onto our radio page because I have a special gift I want to send you today to get your focus on Jesus — to get your focus on His Word. It’s a little 14-page booklet I’ve been offering this week called “How to Study the Bible.” Because there are important things you need to know about Jesus and His work on your behalf right now. There are promises He’s made. There are insights to strengthen you against every temptation Satan throws at you. There are assurances in God’s Word that will lift you up out of despair. But it means studying – not skatin’ on the surface of or playin’ around with the Bible, not just perusing it to kinda look for a little buzz, something that tickles your ear – no, you have to study the Word of God. Be a workman approved by Him who knows how to handle the Word of God. So right now I want you to click on joniandfriendsradio.org for your free and personal copy of “How to Study the Bible” — I highly recommend it. And don’t forget: keep singing and keep focused on the Savior, because when Satan tempts you to diaper and tells you about your guilt within look up and see Jesus there. He made an end to your sin. Music: Charitie Lees Bancroft and Vikki Cook, c 1997 PDI Worship
January 16, 2019
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and welcome to the new year! And what does God say about it? Well, He says I’m going to do a brand new thing. See, I’ve already begun. That’s from Isaiah Chapter 43, verse 19 and a good verse it is for me personally and for the ministry of Joni and Friends. Because this year, 2019, Joni and Friends has reached an amazing milestone: we are celebrating 40 years of Christ-centered outreach to the people with disabilities and their families all around the world. As we begin 2019, I see it as the start of a new era; God is going to do a brand new thing because Joni and Friends is not just about my work; it’s about the heart-felt service of all the “friends” connected to Joni and Friends and that’s YOU whether you tune in daily to Joni and Friends here on this station, or you volunteer at our Family Retreats, or you have served with us on a Wheels for the World team, or used our curriculum on your special needs Sunday school – whatever. However you are involved, this 40th anniversary is about you too. Because when it comes to this ministry, we all have an important part to play for we all have a place in the global movement to reach the poor and the injured and the lame and the blind. It’s a movement that is surging across new countries that we are now reaching into through Joni and Friends. If you appreciate, if you pray for or support, or if you serve with Joni and Friends, then you have embraced the Luke 14 call of Jesus. Our Savoir wants every one of us to compel the poor and the crippled and the blind and the lame to enter His Father’s house. And I have something else new and fun to announce. Something that goes with our anniversary and with this new year of outreach because as we enter this era of expanding global outreach with you, Joni and Friends is marking it with a brand new ministry logo. A logo that represents our mission and the people we serve. The logo includes an innovative icon that highlights the different things we do; like friends supporting one another, upholding Bibles encircled by a wheel of the world. Our video tags even focus on a cross within the icon. I would love for you to see this icon that from now on will go with the name of Joni and Friends and you can see it right now at joniradio.org. Speaking of other new things, we have also rewritten the text of Joni and Friends. We are minimizing that big, blue sweeping “J” in my name and from now on it will be simple, more refined and more contemporary because now the words “Joni and Friends” are in lower case as one word, because we serve as one together with you, the friends who make up the Christ-centered backbone of our ministry. I never, ever want this ministry to be focused on me, but on Jesus and the precious hurting people we are reaching together with you. We serve as one together with Jesus. So, if you would like to see this new text that we will be using on our newsletters and correspondence, again just go to my radio page at joniradio.org. Hey, it’s a fresh look for our ministry as we head into the future lifting up Christ and His gospel. I’m so grateful to God and to you for bringing us to this milestone 40th anniversary, wow! Together as friends let’s carry the torch of the gospel into the decades to come because it’s all about the future and filling God’s house with the world’s oft neglected friends around the world with disabilities. Again, take a look at that icon in our new text at joniradio.org. And by the way, if you have a prayer request, let me know on our radio page and our Joni and Friends staff will lift up your need before the Lord. God bless you today, and thanks for listening to Joni and Friends. © Joni and Friends
January 15, 2019
Welcome to “Joni and Friends” where I’ve got some important things to tell you today about how to study the Bible! Many years ago when I got out of the hospital, I was a little shaky spiritually, had a lot of questions. My faith was weak, but I knew that if I was going to survive, I had to start studying – not just reading, not just the parts that were inspiring or devotional like flippin’ the pages of the Bible to look for a buzz – no, I had to start digging and studying the Word of God. And so… Back then I got involved in a Precept Bible study in my neighborhood. You know about Precept and Kay Arthur’s stuff, right, because I wanted to get serious. I had read in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Do your best [hear that? I wanted to do my best] to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who rightly handles the word of truth.” Coming out of the hospital I didn’t want to feel ashamed about God’s sovereignty anymore – I didn’t want to feel bad about Him allowing my accident to happen, if He could have prevented it. In short, I didn’t want to be ashamed of God for letting my spinal cord injury occur. I wanted to correctly understand and handle the Word of Truth so that I could better understand God’s control over things, His sovereignty over injuries and illnesses. Now I had heard that there are all different ways to study the Bible, but the best way – and now, even years later, I believe it still is the best way – the best way to dig into God’s Word is through “inductive” Bible study. That’s where you find out for yourself what the Bible says – you read and re-read a passage using basic principles (in other words, there are certain questions you ask when you read… reading things in context… looking into the background of the passage… praying about the whole message… comparing this passage with others; things like that). Anyway, you read for that kind of meaning and understanding – not just going to a passage and jumping to conclusions, but praying for the Spirit to guide you – and then you apply what you’ve learned. I mean “apply” it… just don’t think you know it because you’ve memorized it or written it on a 3×5 card, but actually do it… apply it! And that’s what I did in those early years. I did an inductive Bible study on First Thessalonians, Chapter 5, and, friend, it made such a big difference – especially when I applied it. In fact, I am still “in all things giving thanks” and that’s what I learned in that Bible study and it’s made a huge difference in my life in this wheelchair! And, oh, friend, as we start this New Year together, I want you to experience the same. To really learn how to study the Word of God… ask the right questions… learn how to read things in context… learn how to compare one passage to another, because the Holy Spirit wants to speak to you. He wants you to grow in 2019! So right now, if you’re able, or if you’re not near your computer, do it later this evening… right now I want you to visit me at joniandfriends.org and get your personal copy of this wonderful 14-page foldout that details exactly how to do an inductive Bible study. This foldout is amazing! For as concise as it is, it has a ton of good stuff in it that will help you get started right away. So don’t forget, before I run out of supplies, please visit me today at joniandfriends.org, click on the picture of the little booklet, become the Christian described in 2 Timothy 3:16, and be “… the man of God [who is] adequate, equipped for every good work.” Every good work through inductive Bible study in 2019!
January 14, 2019
Welcome to the last and best day of our “Heart for the Disabled” week. Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and all this week I’ve been telling stories about families with special needs (big needs) so that you could write notes of encouragement and Valentine cards. And, boy, are you responding — so many of you have already sent in your cards and letters. But I’ve got one more family to tell you about. John and Tracy are parents to a couple of teenage boys who are on the autism spectrum. Their oldest son, 16-year-old Aiden, is pretty high functioning, but he often struggles to fit in with kids around him in high school and that’s not easy when you have autism. And Aiden so longs to be part of the gang in school. Often, though, he’s left out of the action. Miles, who is 12 years old, is not as high functioning as his older brother. He is unable to communicate verbally with people around him, and he’s often frustrated by his inability to connect with the family and with what few friends he has at school. Both kids do their best in and out of the home, and that really pleases John and Tracy, their dad and mom. Life at home is not easy for these parents, what with disability routines, medical bills and challenges at school, and just, well… trying to live a normal life. This little family had a wonderful time at Family Retreat, the year before, back in 2017. But in early 2018 when they planned to register for last summer’s Family Retreat, they were stopped in their tracks. At the beginning of last year, Tracy learned that she had breast cancer. They had to cancel their Family Retreat application in the wake of this terrible news and, a short time later, Tracy had to have a double mastectomy. This brave woman faced it with courage, though – she had served in the military and understood what it was like to stand strong in a battle. Still though, Tracy is continuing to go through chemotherapy as her husband, John, carries on the heavy job of keeping up the house and caring for their two disabled sons, Aiden and Miles, who have autism. And sometimes, John and Tracy wonder how much more they can take. Well, I want you to remind them that the grace of our Lord Jesus really is sufficient. Yes, even for these new challenges in the family. So take a moment to jot a note or a card to John and Tracy, as well as Aiden and Miles. Let them know you are praying for them. Include a favorite scripture or, as I shared earlier this week, tuck in a copy of an inspirational poem or the words to a hymn that you love. I know they’d be blessed to hear that you are cheering them on. And if you really want to be creative, tuck in your envelope a small gift card to Starbucks or whatever. I know Ken and I will be doing that for this family, but the important thing is your words and your prayers, and the references from God’s Word that you include. Make sure you get your card to John and Tracy, and their sons Aiden and Miles. Then mail it in care of Joni and Friends, P.O. Box 3333, Agoura Hills, California 91376. If you don’t have a pencil to write down the address or if you have missed any details, please visit joniradio.org for all the info. Thanks for caring, friend! I’m so grateful for your help this week – God bless you for having a heart for the disabled and a heart for John, Tracy, Aiden and Miles. If you need any details get the whole scoop at joniradio.org. Thanks for having a heart for the disabled. God bless you today, and thanks for listening to Joni and Friends.
January 11, 2019
I’m Joni Eareckson Tada; welcome to “Heart for the Disabled” week. That’s right. All this week I’ve been mentioning the stories of families with special needs — moms and dads and disabled kids and their siblings, all of them bone-tired, weary people who really, really need the encouragement of Christ. And you are helping me give that encouragement as you’ve written notes, Valentine’s cards, and letters to the people I’ve mentioned each day. For those of you who haven’t yet written, I’ve got a family who really needs an uplifting word. Kelly and Rebecca Robinson came to Family Retreat for the first time last summer. And they came with a car full of oxygen tanks. You see, when their own children grew up, and Kelly and Rebecca became empty-nesters, they adopted two children from an orphanage in China. Claire and Colton both of these have significant disabilities. Claire is 14 years old and has a heart and liver disease, pulmonary hypertension, and needs to be on oxygen 100% of the time. Claire also has some cognitive problems. But she is a happy little girl and she loves to smile. Colton, who is 11 years old, is blind in one eye, has an orthopedic impairment, and a heart defect. Well. Well, I tell you, when this little family came to retreat, Kelly and Rebecca already looked worn out. Claire is fragile, her medical condition was wearing on them – someone has to sleep with her at all times. At Family Retreat, 14-year-old Claire had one prayer – she wanted to make a friend (she doesn’t have friends back home; she’s always in and out of the hospital). But at Family Retreat she was not disappointed. This little teenager made many friends, especially a few girls her own age. And Colton? This guy was the hit at the talent show. His has a great voice. Claire even put together a little band with her new girlfriends and they sang all about Jesus being the light of the world. Not long after retreat, however, Claire had to go into the hospital again. It was a surgery with lots of risks, but it had to be done. She could hardly breathe. Well, a few months ago, Claire was taken into surgery one more time. She did not make it; she went home to be with Jesus. And at Claire’s funeral Colton was brave and sang the song that he did at the Family Retreat talent show. As you can imagine, Kelly and Rebecca are still reeling. This family would very much appreciate a couple of uplifting words in a note or a letter. I know that God can use your words, your favorite scriptures, maybe a favorite hymn or poem. I don’t need to tell you, just let the Holy Spirit tell you what to write. The important thing is, just write and when you do pray for Kelly, Rebecca, and little Colton. I know this special-needs family would appreciate hearing that there are brothers and sisters in Christ who are remembering to lift them up before Jesus Christ. So, please send this family true Christian encouragement. And then mail it off to Joni and Friends, P.O. Box 3333, Agoura Hills, California 91376. If you’ve missed any details, go to my radio page at joniradio.org for the full story where we’re even posted a photo on our Facebook page. Thanks for coming alongside, praying for, writing a letter or note to bless this family who have gone through so much loss, so much expense, and have expended so much care and compassion. God bless you for caring for little Colton and of course for Kelly and Rebecca during this year’s Heart for the Disabled campaign! And if you need any details, get the whole scoop at joniradio.org. Thanks for having a heart for the disabled.
January 10, 2019
It’s “Heart for the Disabled” week here at Joni and Friends! That’s right, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and this week I am asking you to help me give real Christian encouragement to disabled people who have attended our Family Retreats because it’s mid-winter, the skies are gray, and these precious friends are in need of a lift; what with all the disability routines day after day. So I’m asking you (as I’ve been doing all week) to pick up a pen and jot a Valentine’s card or a note, send a poem, include scriptures, just a brief letter to someone who is very near and dear to my heart. Let me share her story. I met Jeri Payne (her name is spelled J-E-R-I) many years ago at one of our earliest Family Retreats way back in the 1990s. She came with her four sons, one of whom, Zach, had a really strange neuromuscular disease; although he could sort of half-walk, his arms were limp and he breathed through a ventilator. But Zach was the cutest kid at camp, wanting to try every activity, even bouncing on the trampoline with his ventilator. Jeri’s husband did not attend Family Retreat that year, nor the next, or the next. But Jeri won the hearts of us all, tending to her four energetic boys, including little Zach with all his disabilities. Years passed and Zach suffered some complications which eventually took his little life. The family grieved the loss of this special little guy, but the years continued and Jeri and the family healed. Then, her other son, Sammy, passed away in 2004. In the midst of that shock, Jeri was hit with an undiagnosed neuromuscular disease that landed her in a wheelchair. Now, she was the one struggling with the serious disability. It was rough and shortly thereafter, her husband of 31 years left her. But Jeri’s friends at Family Retreat were her support. And she really needed it. Because when she moved to Oregon with another son, she was hardly settled in when (get this) he died of cardiac arrest. And now? Well, Jeri is still in her wheelchair and she’s still living up in Oregon with her only remaining son who is her primary caregiver. My Family Retreat friends in Oregon recently sent me a picture of dear Jeri in her wheelchair, smiling, persevering, and looking as hopeful as ever, all because this woman knows (really knows) Jesus Christ. Yet still, she’s human. She’s lost so much: her three sons, her health, her marriage, and she needs your prayers and support. Friend listening, I want you to know that Jeri got her spiritual grounding at Family Retreat. Yes, it was back in the 1990s, but she still reflects on those wonderful years. She was able to bring her boys, including Zach, to Retreat. But right now, living with her one remaining son, Jeri needs to be reminded of uplifting passages from God’s word, so please pray for her because she is still waiting for Medicaid to kick in. Reminder of the love of Jesus Christ, and if you want to go the extra mile, tuck in a gift certificate to Taco Bell or something like that. She needs to hear from listeners like you. So be sure to jot your note today. Just inscribe it to Jeri (J-E-R-I) then send it to Joni and Friends, P.O. Box 3333, Agoura Hills, California 91376, and we’ll make certain to package it up with all the other notes to Jeri and her caregiving son so it’ll arrive in time for Valentine’s Day. And if you need any details, get the whole scoop at joniradio.org. And thanks for having a heart for the disabled.
January 9, 2019
See More Episodes
Listen to Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope on
Amazon Echo
Learn How
Learn How

Featured Offer

Finding Strength in Weakness
In Isaiah God tells us that he created us to make him famous, but how do suffering and weakness fit in? Throughout Scripture God deliberately uses the most unlikely characters to complete his work so that when the mission is accomplished all the glory goes to him. Hard times drive us to our knees, and through desperation we are reminded of God’s faithfulness and his strength is revealed. If we never face fear, how can we know courage? If we never had to weep, we would never know the beauty of having a friend wipe away our tears. God took a teenage girl’s poor decision and turned it into a 50-year mission of love and justice in his name and for his glory.

About Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope

Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope is a broadcast ministry of Joni and Friends committed to bringing the Gospel and practical help to people impacted by disability around the world. Joni and Friends has been advancing disability ministry for over 40 years. Their mission to glorify God, communicate the Gospel and mobilize the global church to evangelize, disciple and serve people living with disability answers the call found in Luke 14 to “bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame… so that my house will be full.”

About Joni Eareckson Tada

Paralyzed as the result of a diving accident at age 17, Joni Eareckson Tada envisions a world where every person with a disability finds hope, dignity, and their place in the body of Christ. As the Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, she is known worldwide as an author, speaker, disability rights advocate and radio personality. Her 10,000 radio programs are broadcast across the country and around the world, inspiring listeners to realize that there is hope in every hardship.
Joni Eareckson Tada is an esteemed Christian stateswoman and respected global leader in disability advocacy. Although a 1967 diving accident left her a quadriplegic, she emerged from rehabilitation with a determination to help others with similar disabilities. Mrs. Tada serves as CEO of Joni and Friends, a Christian organization which provides programs and services for thousands of special-needs families around the world. President Reagan appointed Mrs. Tada to the National Council on Disability, then reappointed by President George H.W. Bush. During her tenure, the ADA was passed and signed into law. Mrs. Tada served as advisor to Condoleezza Rice on the Disability Advisory Committee to the U.S. State Department. She served as Senior Associate for Disability Concerns for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. The Colson Center on Christian Worldview awarded Joni Tada its prestigious William Wilberforce Award, and she was also inducted into
Indiana Wesleyan University’s Society of World Changers. 
Joni Eareckson Tada has been awarded several honorary degrees, including Doctor of Humanities from Gordon College and Doctor of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary. She is an effective communicator, sharing her inspirational message in books, through artwork, radio, and other media. Joni Tada served as General Editor of the Beyond Suffering Bible, a special edition published by Tyndale for people affected by disability. Joni and her husband Ken were married in 1982 and reside in Calabasas, California.

Contact Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope with Joni Eareckson Tada

Mailing Address
Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope
PO Box 3333
Agoura Hills, CA 91376-3333

Telephone
818-707-5664