Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope

Joni Eareckson Tada

Wheels in Cuba

March 1, 2019
00:00 4:00

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and welcome to Joni and Friends.

Where we sure do love “Wheels for the World”. It’s our program where we take refurbished wheelchairs and Bibles to very needy disabled children around the world who crawl in the dirt and cannot go to school for lack of a wheelchair. Our trained physical therapy volunteers do such a great job. They hand-fit each wheelchair to whatever disabled child or adult. These disabled people hear the good news, they receive a Bible in their own language, and their family is connected with a caring church who provides follow-up. It’s a great outreach and my husband Ken and I love participating on “Wheels” trips.

I remember when Ken and I landed in Havana, Cuba on one of our “Wheels for the World” trips. My power wheelchair really threw the airport officials into a tizzy, and I they escorted me to an airport doctor's office. Uh, they looked at my chair and I think they thought I was "sick" and I needed supervision before boarding our connecting flight to Santiago de Cuba. This really irked me because I knew it was going to delay our team as well as our chartered flight. I shook my head, thinking, God, why now? Why this? Well, I was taken to a small office where I met two female doctors and a disabled woman who was also waiting (no one spoke English in this little room). And looking around, I realized, Lord, I think I see what you’re doing here; this is a unique opportunity, a chance to evangelistic-ly think outside the box. I got a feeling you want me to do an "outreach" right here with my high school Spanish.

So, I began to sing out loud in Spanish (Joni singing in Spanish). It was the only Christian song I knew. And oh my goodness, did that get people's attention. I then asked in halting Spanish, (Joni speaking in Spanish). The two doctors stared at one another. One asked in Spanish, "We see you are an American. Why, why are you in our country?" And again I explained in my high school Spanish that we were bringing (Joni speaking in Spanish) wheelchairs and Bibles as gifts to the disabled people of Cuba. I went on to describe the mandate of our Savior to go into all the world and share the good news. "What is this good news?" she asked in a softer voice.

And at that, her fellow doctor brightened, ran up back to her cubicle, and returned holding a battered, bent-paged Bible she had gotten from a Josh McDowell outreach like decades earlier. And before I knew it, this doctor began explaining the gospel in sixty-mile-an-hour Spanish to her coworker. It was clear that this Christian doctor had just been waiting, and she’d been praying for an opportunity to open up and share Christ with her friend, and suddenly it all happened with me and my song. This Christian doctor then found the courage to share her faith in Jesus! And I sat there and watched in amazement as the Christian doctor pointed to various passages in Romans and then back at the Gospels. Her fellow doctor, the unbeliever, was fascinated and she looked up and kept smiling at me… actually, both of them smiled at me. And I could tell there had been a real breakthrough.

Who knows what you might get started once you take that first step of faith and share a word about your Savior! The challenge is to think outside the box, right? and go beyond the program, and reach the people God places in your path right then. So, would you please pray right now for our “Wheels for the World” team today as they head to the Dominican Republic with wheelchairs and Bibles, all to the end of leading Spanish-speaking people to Christ. Just like those two doctors in Cuba. Hey friend, at Joni and Friends we’d like to pray for you so share with us your thoughts and your prayer needs at

By: Joni Eareckson Tada

© Joni and Friends

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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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