50th Anniversary Reflections

  • By: Joni Eareckson Tada
  • July 30, 2017
  • Joni's Posts

During July, Joni is reflecting on the past 5 decades of God's faithfulness following her 1967 diving accident.

Decade 5: 2008-2017

Joni's Cancer JourneyThe last 15 years in my wheelchair have not been easy. Around 2002, I began to experience a great deal of pain in my back and hips. Doctors told me that it was due to scoliosis. By that time, I had been sitting in a wheelchair for so long, my weakened spine was curving more. My bones were too porous for an operation, and so I had to, well… live with it. That thought depressed me, and I struggled emotionally for a long time. But years of quadriplegia had taught me to run to God whenever my emotions tried to drag me down that dark, grim path. And so, I immersed myself afresh in the Word of God. Later in 2010, I shared the lessons I learned in A Place of Healing. To this day, whenever I meet someone dealing with chronic pain, I direct them to this special book!

That same year I discovered a large lump on my breast. Ken didn’t waste time in taking me for an exam. I'll never forget the radiologist telling me, “Mrs. Tada, you have a large suspicious mass with irregular edges. We need to schedule a biopsy for you.” The biopsy revealed stage 3 cancer. Was I nervous? Of course. But I held onto Hebrews 10:36, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” The year-long ordeal gave Ken and me many chances to talk about Christ with chemo patients, nurses, doctors, secretaries, and technicians! Wow! (And 2017 marks two years that I’ve been cancer-free).

100,000th Wheelchair!In 2014, we delivered our 100,000th wheelchair through Wheels for the World. A disabled little boy named Ebenezer who lived in Ghana received it. His village staged a celebration with African drums and dancing. To me, it was fitting that the 100,000th chair was given in Ghana, the country where it all began. Back in 1994, the first time Wheels for the World delivered chairs there, a paralyzed man came into our distribution center, ‘crawling’ on his hands and dragging his legs. When he saw me, he leaned back with arms spread wide and said, “Welcome, Joni, to our country where God is so much bigger. And He is bigger because we need Him more.” That was a highlight!

I'm amazed at all the ministry God has accomplished through my life, these 50 years. And I want to you to join me as we do more ministry in the years to come. Help me celebrate by volunteering at a Joni and Friends’ Family Retreat, or on a Wheels for the World team. Serve as a Cause 4 Life intern, or join our prayer team. Let’s take this party to the streets and alleys, to the highways and byways to bring in more people with disabilities!

Celebrate with Joni  


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Madam, You are one of the Great woman of God of this century. I thank God for your life. May God Bless you and your ministry greatly.
  • Aug. 5, 2017
  • 8:18 p.m.
  • Pastor. J. P. Masih
You and Ken are a great inspiration to me and I would love to meet both of you one day, Joni. I try to be very optimistic, so I do still hope for a cure for you before you go to Heaven. Thanks for all the good you do in the world, because this world certainly needs it!! Take care and God Bless You Both. Fondly, Nicole
  • Aug. 1, 2017
  • 12:11 p.m.
  • Nicole Allen
Thanks for sharing your life with the world.Blessings
  • July 31, 2017
  • 10:35 a.m.
  • Harriet Nakitto
Dear Joni, thank you for being an example of how to persevere, and how to trust in God in all circumstances. May God continue to help you bring messages of hope and encouragement into many more dark corners! With love from Mary Hamilton in Galway, 🇮🇪
  • July 31, 2017
  • 4:36 a.m.
  • Mary Hamilton
Hello Joni I have been following your ministry for sometime now and have been touched by your testimony. I too have a disability and have learned to overcome it by having Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. I hope to talk to you soon by email. In Christ Mark Leo Perez
  • July 30, 2017
  • 10:33 p.m.
  • Mark Perez
Your witness has given me much encouragement through the years as I have followed you and prayed for you since the initial accident. God bless you and Ken. I am 88 and eager to see my Savior, but wouldn't it be breath taking to go in the rapture?
  • July 30, 2017
  • 8:45 p.m.
  • Ann Bearden
What an inspiration you have been to millions. May God continue to bless you and your ministry.
  • July 30, 2017
  • 11:35 a.m.
  • Barbara Ingolia
Dear Joni you are such blessing for so many years!! God will carry you through the comming times as He leads you in recent times Praise be to Him for your ministry and for your sweet guiding husband Ken !Lots of love from the Netherlands Rita and Hans Edelenbos
  • July 30, 2017
  • 10:18 a.m.
  • rita Edelenbos