Joni shares a story about a Marine with a heart of service for his country, family, church, and the disabled.
I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a great story about a very special Marine.
This Marine’s name is Michael and I met him not long ago when I spoke at First Baptist Church, Orlando. And this guy even looks like a Marine – well built with a strong jaw; polite, gracious and respectful. And like any Marine, Michael had experienced his fair share of battles during his tours of duty – he had seen a lot of heartache and pain; a lot of devastation; he had been through hell.
And all the while his wife was standing by him, holding down the home fort. That is, until, Michael’s wife gave birth to triplets. These three little ones were quite a handful—unusually so! In fact, something was wrong. These three boys weren’t developing as they should and they were exhibiting unusual behavior. After seeing one doctor after the next, they finally got a diagnosis. All three of their triplets had autism spectrum disorders. Not one or two, but all three.
And Michael’s wife needed help. That’s when this hard as steel Marine decided to leave the Marine Corps to devote more time to helping at home. When I talked to Michael about this, he scratched his head and smiled. He said, “You know, once I got really involved in my children’s routines, I discovered quickly that God had prepared me through the Marine Corps – because you know Joni, this struggle on the home front was far more difficult than anything I’d ever experienced in the Maine Corps. Raising three boys, all the same age, with autism is the toughest tour of duty I’ve ever had!”
My heart went out to Michael and his family – I met them all that evening when I spoke at their church. But there’s something else about this family I want you to know. You see, First Baptist Church of Orlando had been reaching out to special needs families for many years under the leadership of Gail Brown – she had been championing the program for a long time and was looking to hand the reins over to someone who could take charge… take the special needs outreach to a new level. Well, guess who stepped in to take over that role? Yep, Michael the Marine. As if raising his own kids weren’t enough of a challenge! Oh my goodness, this man and his wife realized that there were other families like theirs, others that needed even more help and guidance. Michael didn’t know much about running a disability ministry, but as he told me, “Joni, I’m brand new to this, but I’m willing to learn.” I noticed in the special needs classroom of the church that Michael had a copy of our Joni and Friends Smart Pages, a comprehensive resource that teaches churches how to reach out to families and train helpers. What I loved most about Michael was his great attitude – willing and available, he was, and that means the special needs department in this Baptist church will go far. Thank you for that, Michael… we salute you; you and your wife and children! (And if you’d like to see a photo of this exceptional man and his family, I’ve got it posted on my radio page).
Oh and real quick, there’s something about a Marine that touches my heart. You should know that next week we will be holding another Wounded Warrior Get-away for wounded American servicemen and their families. Military personnel, like Michael, they need our support; because as he said, when there’s a disability, it can be a very tough tour of duty. So be praying as we give the love of Christ to these servicemen and their wives and children next week, and if you’d like more information, just visit our website at joniandfriends.org. Oh and remember I mentioned our Joni and Friends Special Needs Smart Pages for churches? You can find this book on our website, too. My friend Michael would salute you! So, come by and visit us today at our Radio page at joniandfriends.org and let us hear from you. Until next time, thanks for listening to Joni and Friends.
© Joni and Friends
- Your email address will not be published with your comment or be displayed anywhere on our website.
- We do not rent or sell your personal information to other companies or individuals.