In a culture where disability is often the cause of shame for a family, Flor’s parents have tried to make her life better. But they simply don’t have the means to do enough. When Flor was lifted into a specialty chair at a recent Wheels for the World outreach, her parents were speechless. “Who gives such a thing without cost?” they whispered. “What kind of love comes so far with so much?” Jesus’ love does. The Gospel is shared with Flor’s parents. It’s a message they’ve never heard before, a love they know nothing about, a promise and a future they can’t wait to say YES to! And they do. On this day, they become God’s own children and received more than they could ask or imagine by His power at work in you.
When you give the gift of a wheelchair, even a child like Yida will ask, “Why…? Why would you care about me…? Why would you give me such a gift…?” In developing nations, like Peru, no disabled child or adult expects anyone to care that much. Yet the answer is simple to give: Because Jesus loves you so much. And just that quickly, the door to eternity is opened. For Yida, as soon as she heard the Good News she wanted to receive it all. “I want Jesus to be my best friend!” she cried. Her mother Marilous agreed, and together they prayed to receive El Salvador (the Savior). They came to Wheels for the World for a wheelchair, but left with Jesus and a brand new walk of faith together!
The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association has nominated Joni & Ken: An Untold Love Story as a finalist in the nonfiction category of the ECPA Christian Book Awards. Since 1978 the ECPA has recognized quality and encouraged excellence by presenting each year the ECPA Christian Book Award (formerly known as Gold Medallion). The Christian Book Award recognizes the highest quality in Christian books and is among the oldest and most prestigious awards program in the religious publishing industry. Five finalists are selected in seven categories. The winners will be announced at ECPA's Leadership Summit held on April 28-30 in Colorado Springs. I'm grateful not only to ECPA, but to the many readers who have given our book a solid 'thumbs up!' To God be the glory!
Nedic wasn’t looking for God when she showed up at our Wheels for the World distribution in Peru. The needs of her son, Patrick, compelled her to come. Nedic is a single mother who heard about Joni and Friends from a neighbor. “These people will show you love and help you,” the neighbor said. And Nedic needs help. She’s drained of strength, energy and resources. Too tired to go to church, she’s fallen away from friends, fellowship and the Lord Jesus. But God used Patrick to lead her back. “Today God is giving me new eyes to see my son as He sees him,” she says. “This wheelchair is God’s gift to my son so he will always know that he is special to God. And it is a gift to me, too.” With your prayer behind the gift of a wheelchair, God has blessed not one life today, but many – including Nedic’s. Thank you for loving and restoring families, in Jesus’ name.
This Easter, share the joy of Christ’s resurrection with your children and grandchildren. In this beautifully illustrated children’s book, God Gave us Easter, follow Papa Bear and Little Cub on a memorable afternoon walk as Papa explains God’s love for His children and His purpose for Easter. Papa uses clear and simple terms that even the littlest cubs can understand.
Order your copy today!
The Eberlys are “regulars” at Family Retreat. They’ve been coming for six years – and not just because it’s right for Brandon, who has autism. Their two other boys, Ethan, 11, and Justin, 6, can’t wait for Retreat! “If a kid thinks Family Retreat is a boring camp for kids with disabilities, they’re wrong!” says Ethan. “It’s my favorite thing to do all year!” For parents Darrell and Betty, it’s the one place they can let their guard down and find rest. “We are sleep-deprived, exhausted, and emotionally drained when we get to Family Retreat,” says Betty. “But once we’re there, I have a chance to get in touch with the Lord and myself again.” Adds Darrell, “Family Retreat reminds me that God is in control, and not me. He is my strength. It’s not on my shoulders.” Would you like to attend Family Retreat in your area? Find a Retreat near you.
Are you on Pinterest? Follow Joni and Friends as we celebrate 35 years of ministry with a special Pinterest memory board! Throughout March, we’ll be pinning photos from the Joni and Friends archives… Joni Eareckson Tada in the early days of ministry, the first Wheels for the World wheelchair distribution in Ghana, Family Retreats through the years, and more! To see these photo highlights, follow Joni and Friends on Pinterest, visit our 35 Years of Ministry board, and check back throughout the month to see the latest photos. Do you have Joni and Friends ministry photos to share? We’d love to see them on Pinterest! Be sure to tag @JoniandFriends as you pin, and we may feature your photos on our 35 Years of Ministry Pinterest board.
Can you imagine spending over half of your life in your bedroom, unable to get out of bed or go outside? This was the life of Didina. When at the age of 22 an unknown illness left Didina paralyzed, her husband and two children abandoned her—leaving Didina to be cared for by her mother. Since then, Didina spent thirty years lying on her bed, isolated from her gypsy community in Romania. Day by day, her depression grew, leading her to desire suicide. But all that changed when local pastors and our Wheels for the World went into Didina’s gypsy village to minister to people with disabilities. Our team of volunteers and physical therapists were able to fit Didina into a wheelchair and pastors shared the Gospel with her. And when Didina wheeled out of her bedroom into the streets, tears of joy began to flow! “Thank you, God, for seeing the sky! Thank you, God,” she said. Friend, this story does not end with Didina—because more people’s lives were transformed through the work of Wheels for the World in Romania. You can see it all here in this short video featuring our team...
If you visit my blog often, you know how much I love our interns who serve with us at Joni and Friends. Our 2014 Cause 4 Life Missions and Internship Program is filling up fast, but we still have a few spots open -- especially with our East Coast Ministry and Missions Academy, which includes biblical training, hands-on service to kids with disabilities. weekend camps, church ministry and community outreach, and a 10-day mission to Haiti. Scholarships (50-75%) are available and are given on a first come, first served basis! So apply now online!