Wheelchair for Maria

  • March 9, 2018
  • #9355

Maria, a little girl in El Salvador, receives a wheelchair and the love of Christ through Wheels for the World. 

Little girl, Maria, in her new wheelchair with a balloon

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a story from Wheels for the World.

Okay, you already know how we deliver wheelchairs and Bibles around the world. Well, every time — I mean every time — I see the amazing transformation that happens in the lives of disabled kids who receive these wheelchairs. Well, I tell you it’s a Jeremiah Chapter 31, verse 13 moment where it says: “I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing!”

That’s what I think of when I read about the story of little Maria in El Salvador. Her mother brought her early in the morning to where we were fitting people with wheelchairs. Now, Maria and her mom have come from a far distance, out in the country where there is little help and absolutely no medical services for children like Maria. Maria has spinal bifida and she was withdrawn, hiding her face in her mother’s arms; very shy. Every once in a while, she glanced up from her mother’s embrace — her eyes were so sad, so frightened. In developing nations worldwide, kids like Maria are objects of shame and rejection. Without a wheelchair they crawl in the dirt or must be carried everywhere — which causes even more shame. Having no wheelchair also means having no schooling, no medical attention, or physical therapy. And for a family like Maria’s, there is no money for a wheelchair. For this child sorrow and suffering is their everyday experience. But little did Maria and her mommy know that this child was in for a Jeremiah Chapter 31 surprise.

Our Wheels for the World physical therapist gently lifted Maria out of her mother’s arms and before she sat her in her new pediatric wheelchair, she rocked her and hugged and played with her. In the span of less than an hour, the fear in this child faded away and she began to — what is this, a smile?! Soon, Maria was being passed from one physical therapist to the next, each of them loving on her, tickling her and making her feel special. Her mother stood back, watched this and was amazed. She had always thought of her child as damaged, but she said to our Wheels for the World team: “You people you treat her like a princess. And today I see my daughter through God’s eyes. I see that to Him, she truly is His Princess.” And Maria looked like a princess sitting on her little throne in her new little wheelchair.

I tell you, you really must go to my radio page today at joniandfriends.org and see for yourself the transformation in this child and her mother. It is nothing short of miraculous, especially when this little family realized that the God of the Bible was the source of that love and acceptance. Why was it so important that our “Wheels” team spent so much time loving on Maria? Because it just doesn’t happen in a country like hers. They are considered outcasts. They are a source of stigma and shame. But proof of the love of Christ was not only the gift of a wheelchair, but the gift of love and acceptance; that is what really touched the heart of Maria’s mommy.

You know friend, there are tens of thousands of children like Maria, who need wheelchairs — and pediatric wheelchairs are in desperately short supply worldwide. This is why we’ve designed and now manufacture a pediatric wheelchair for our own Wheels for the World outreach. Truly, friend, God turns our mourning into joy and when it comes to Wheels for the World, He exchanges these peoples’ sorrow for rejoicing. Just visit my radio page today at joniandfriends.org and see God’s love at work for yourself, and then share this program with your Facebook friends. Hey friend, at Joni and Friends we would like to pray for you so share with us your thoughts and your prayer needs at joniandfriends.org.

© Joni and Friends



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