Because He Lives (Paul Buursma)

  • By: Joni Eareckson Tada
  • June 27, 2016
  • 13 Comments
  • Joni's Posts, Radio, Video Archives

Paul BuursmaYears ago, back in 1998, I met a little boy with cerebral palsy named Paul Buursma at one of our Joni and Friends’ Family Retreats. He had a smattering of freckles, shiny blonde hair, and the biggest smile I’d ever seen. He also had many physical complications related to his cerebral palsy, all of which required non-stop 24/7 care from his parents, Dirk and Harriet. His siblings, Abby and Nate, also helped out.

That Retreat was such a huge blessing to this family that they decided to come back the following summer and 16 more summers after that! Over the years, I had the chance to watch this little boy grow into a beautiful young man. Life swirled around Paul Buursma because everybody was drawn to his infectious love for Jesus. Family Retreat helped ‘launch’ Paul’s ministry to other families like his – his witness changed his church and community, for everyone was touched by his smile!

Late in 2015, Jesus called Paul home at the age of 32. But what a legacy he has left on the lives of literally thousands of people. His sister Abby now works with Joni and Friends Chicago. Recently I got the nicest email from Dirk Buursma, Paul’s father. It was filled with warm reflections of Paul and our Family Retreats. Dirk wrote, “Joni, we have no finer family, no more cherished group of saints on earth, than those at Family Retreat. At the conclusion of almost every talent show on the last night of Family Retreat, our sweet Paul would always sing a hymn of praise to the great God who created him, sustained him and welcomed him through the portals of eternal life. In fact, I thought you’d enjoy this little video of Paul.” Friends, I watched that video right away and, oh, did it grip my heart. So, I’m passing along the blessing to you. And thank you for lifting up all our Family Retreats, especially as we celebrate 25 years of Family Retreats.

 

 
 

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13 Comments

 
Really precious, I may come to volunteer, God willing🍁🍂🍃 tthank you Joni & friends🍁🍂🍃
  • Oct. 3, 2016
  • 10:52 p.m.
  • Mary Falls
Wow, what an encouragement. Brought much reminding of truth that no matter the lot one is given 'life is worth the living just because he lives'. Praise God for His kindness to Paul is allowing him to grasp this truth.
  • July 9, 2016
  • 10:26 p.m.
  • Kelsie Meadors
With tears streaming down my face, it's hard to express how much I appreciate this! My brother was just telling me to work within my parameters. Wow… then I saw yourthen I saw your live broadcast. Thank you Joni! I have MS and my parameters are always changing. I must not compare myself with even what are used to be able to do. I need to do and be what God wants me to be today! I love you Joni!
  • June 30, 2016
  • 7:08 a.m.
  • Kathleen Evans
I praise the LORD for Paul and for this ministry. I was so encouraged and filled with joy!
  • June 28, 2016
  • 2:47 p.m.
  • Michelle Stavrou
This really touched me today. Thank you
  • June 28, 2016
  • 11:55 a.m.
  • Rachel
Dear Joni and friends, I feel as if I know so much about family retreat at Maranatha Camp in Muskegon because Paul Buursma and his family would tell me such wonderful stories of their one week every summer when they so looked forward to relaxing together as a family. Paul's big smile and body language said it all with such joy and excitement. In 2014 , I became a caregiver for Paul and it was also the year I became involved in bicycling across Michigan to do fundraising for ROC Michigan. Paul's aunt Deb joined me in 2015, cycling across the state. It was always the exact same week as Joni Camp, and although I tried to get Paul to join us for a day, Joni Camp always was trump and it was easy to see why. Deb and I have a photo of us visiting Paul with our bikes and gear on, because we happened to be staying in Muskegon on exactly the same day.
  • June 28, 2016
  • 8:47 a.m.
  • Alice Geelhoed
Dear Joni and friends, I feel as if I know so much about family retreat at Maranatha Camp in Muskegon because Paul Buursma and his family would tell me such wonderful stories of their one week every summer when they so looked forward to relaxing together as a family. Paul's big smile and body language said it all with such joy and excitement. In 2014 , I became a caregiver for Paul and it was also the year I became involved in bicycling across Michigan to do fundraising for ROC Michigan
  • June 28, 2016
  • 8:36 a.m.
  • Alice Geelhoed
THAT is as good as it gets before we are Home...
  • June 27, 2016
  • 6:44 p.m.
  • Nancy
This song has so much meaning to me. We sang it at the funeral services of my son, stepson and my husband. It is a go to song for me most any time I am confronted with another challenge. I am a paraplegic and that chorus is my stay until he welcomes me to my eternal home.
  • June 27, 2016
  • 2:47 p.m.
  • Connie Keene
That was so beautiful. I cried through the whole song, but smiles knowing that Paul's is in glory with a new body.
  • June 27, 2016
  • 1:10 p.m.
  • Pat Rebar
 
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