Hey, there's ministry happening among our brave soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm Joni Eareckson Tada and for some time now, I've had a burden to help our servicemen who have been severely disabled in the war; and so for the past year, we've been welcoming these soldiers with disabilities and their families to our Warrior Getaways...
Now, this is how it goes: families arrive broken in body and spirit, but I tell you after just a day or so, these soldiers and their wives and children are smiling and laughing, even soldiers who have suffered traumatic brain injury or who have lost their legs in roadside explosions. We get these wounded soldiers climbing rock walls again, going bass fishing, horseback riding, golfing, and even dancing on their new titanium legs.
You heard me right. Most of these soldiers had not danced since their wedding, let alone since being injured. It was kind of a wild, crazy fun time with half square dancing... a little Irish jig... a little hokey-pokey and a bit of a Polish polka thrown in... and a little bit of jitterbug in there somewhere. Anyway, the dance at our Warriors Getaway was a real hit with these soldiers and their wives.
But there was one man, Lt. Nuñez, who sat on the sidelines - he was a double amputee, but he had not yet been fit for his prosthetic legs, so he came to our Joni and Friends' Warrior's Getaway in a borrowed wheelchair. Well, with all the dancing and laughter and music, Lt. Nuñez couldn't just sit there -- especially when he saw his fellow soldiers and their wives having so much fun. So before you know it, next thing we saw, Lt. Nuñez pushed out onto the floor, got out of his wheelchair, and he started "breakdancing," twirling around on his shoulder and up on his arms; breakdancing! This guy was amazing. Everybody stood back and began clapping and cheering on Lt. Nuñez with no legs, but a great skill for breakdancing!
Oh, who would have imagined a moment like that would open such a door! Because right then it was as though these soldiers, wounded and weary and frightened about their disability had just been waiting for a moment to let down their guard... could they dare have fun? They hadn't experienced laughter since their devastating injuries. But our Joni and Friends' Warriors Getaway was a time to break barriers, crack the mold, fight past the fear, and push beyond every bias these soldiers ever had about a disability. And friend, once you crack the mold, you know, once you help people push past their fears -- especially if those people are strong, brave soldiers who must now fight a different battle, the battlefield of disability -- once you help them break that barrier, then they really become open to the Gospel; they are ready to embrace Jesus Christ as their source of hope and help! And that's exactly what happened at our recent Joni and Friends' Warriors Getaway -- of the 36 soldiers and their families who attended, more than half received Christ as Savior, even Lt. Nuñez.
Friend, would you please pray with me that God to give these disabled servicemen His courage so they can fight the good fight and, as the apostle Paul wrote, "endure hardship as a good soldier." I've posted a couple of photos on our radio page that I'd love you to see. Oh, and remember Lt. Nuñez? Well, his wife said to me, "I have never seen my husband open up like this. I knew that God was looking out for me when He let my husband live, but here I have really seen the Lord and His love for us."
Until next time, don't forget to take a look at these great photos I've posted at JoniandFriendsradio.org. You've just got to see these soldiers, wounded as they are having so much fun. Again, photos are posted for you to look at on JoniandFriendsradio.org.
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