Have you ever suffered physically, emotionally or spiritually and wondered why? Do you have family members or friends with disabilities and struggle to know what to say or how to act around them? Our Joni and Friends’ Christian Institute on Disability (CID) has created a powerful course of study focusing on the theology of suffering, as well as practical ways to minister to special needs families. We encourage you to come to the International Disability Center in 2012 to take our Beyond Suffering certificate course… or, you may purchase the BYS curriculum complete with a leader’s guide and DVD videos. Start a Bible study in your church with this powerful new resource, or make it a part of your personal Bible study plan. Either way, you’ll be blessed by the soul-stirring insights and “… prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” (1 Peter 3:15).
All of us at Joni and Friends want to thank you for your partnership this year in helping us reach special-needs families around the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Without your prayers and support, we simply wouldn't be able to carry out our mission. We especially thank God for you, and I want to assure you that, on this Thanksgiving, we will be mentioning you before the Lord, thanking Him that He has given us friends like you to make such a difference for Christ in the world. I pray you'll enjoy a restful and refreshing time with family and friends as you celebrate the goodness of God this Thanksgiving!
Last week two 5th grade girls, Ariel and Jessica, from Hillcrest Christian School delivered 500 Gospel bracelets to our Wheels for the World department. Stephen Crooks, director of Wheels for the World, congratulated the students as Steve Bundy, vice president of Joni and Friends, looked on. Ariel and Jessica were inspired to help after Steve spoke at their school chapel last year. The girls organized a 'Gospel bracelet project' for the 4–6th grade classes in order to get more kids involved and more bracelets made. Special note: Ariel and Jessica are both Girl Scouts, and this special project earned them their Bronze Award. Congratulations to these two extraordinary students!
Rejoice with us! We just finished our third Family Retreat in El Salvador at a little resort in Costa del Sol – most of these families have never experienced a real resort, even if it is a small, humble one. They enjoyed a barbecue, carnival, swimming, crafts, and even a spa day for the mothers (unheard of in El Salvador)! The special-needs children and their parents soaked in the love of Christ showered on them by our JAF staff and church partners in-country. During the Family Retreat, we also hosted a special conference for engineers and architects, encouraging them to work with us in making more villages in El Salvador accessible to people with disabilities – we think this is a wonderfully creative way to reach more El Salvadorans with the Gospel of Christ!
The first recipient of the Joni Eareckson Tada Scholarship at Azusa Pacific University (APU) was honored last week at a special ceremony to launch this new educational funding for worthy students in the field of disability ministry and social work at Azusa. This year’s recipient was Angelica Guangorena, a senior at APU who plans to work with children with autism when she graduates.
“I'm deeply honored that Azusa Pacific University has established the Joni Eareckson Tada Scholarship Award, along with the help of our friends at the Ambassador agency,” Tada said. “But I’m even more excited about how students at APU are getting involved in disability ministry and receiving special training to share the love of Christ with special needs families!”
One of the requirements for the scholarship recipients is their enrollment in the course Suffering: Theological and Practical Perspectives on Disabilities that is being offered at APU this semester. The entire class will be visiting Tada and her team at the Joni and Friends International Disability Center later this month for additional perspective on ways in which they can serve individuals with disabilities and their families.
The idea for a Joni Eareckson Tada scholarship originated with ...
Right now, our Wheels teams are distributing wheelchairs and Bibles in Peru, Cuba, and the Middle East nation of Jordan! They will be serving children with disabilities like Cusmaylin (Koos-MAY-lynn). This little four-year-old is blind and hasn't been able to walk since birth. All day long, Cusmaylin lies on the floor while her mother, Sylvia, works in their home. “I read in the Bible that God can do anything,” Sylvia said, “but here in my country, a wheelchair is only for the rich. Even God can’t change that.” But Luke 18:27 says, “What is impossible with men is possible with...
Volunteers are truly the backbone of our ministry, and recently the women of Church in the Canyon in Calabasas, California held a "Sew In" for Wheels for the World. Young and old alike brought their sewing machines to stitch 'pocket bags' for wheelchairs and walkers – even 10-year-old Brontë brought her mini 2-speed sewing machine. Our Wheels teams take these beautiful (and very practical) pocket bags on outreach trips for distribution to disabled children and adults. Marilyn Rosenberg, organizer of the "Sew In" said, "We ladies had such a grand time, we can't wait to do it again." Our hats off to the girls of Church in the Canyon for providing such personal gifts with every wheelchair and walker!
Recently Ken and Joni spoke to the “Theology and Disability Ministry” class at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, CA. Nothing thrills our hearts more than to see a passion for Christ shining bright in a student’s eyes, especially when that student understands the desperate need of giving the Gospel to the world’s neediest – and that’s children and...