Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope

Joni Eareckson Tada

Heart for the Disabled – Jeri Payne

January 9, 2019
00:00 25:00

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 And thanks for having a heart for the disabled.

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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.

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