Joni Eareckson Tada – at the 2013 National Religious Broadcaster’s Convention (video)

Cover of "Joni"

Cover of Joni

I don’t know about you, but Joni Eareckson Tada has been a blessing and an encouragement to me over the years, as I watch her live her life to the glory of God, in spite of her physical limitations. After a diving accident, Joni has been paralyzed in a wheelchair for 45 years now.

Here is Joni giving the keynote speech at this year’s National Religious Broadcaster’s Convention. Joni:

  • I was 17 years old, athletic, took a dive and bang!I can’t use my hands, I can’t move my legs, everything’s paralyzed, I’m a quadriplegic. The doctor announced that I had severed my spinal cord, that I’d never use my hands or my legs for the rest of my life, and he walked out of the door…. I can’t live like this, and I just sank into depression.
  • A Christian friend shared with me: Joni, God permits that which He hates, to accomplish that which He loves. I realized, God takes no pleasure in my spinal cord injury, but He loves the way He is changing me in it, and encouraging others through it. Psalm 10 says that God hears the cry of the afflicted. His heart goes out to those with disabilities. He is filled with compassion for those with special needs.
  • I want people to know this God whom I love. I would not trade this intimacy, this sweetness, this nearness, this tenderness, this preciousness of faith, come alive n my life, I wouldn’t trade it for any amount of walking.
  • There are 1 billion people with disabilities in the world, 80% of whom live in developing nations. That is to me overwhelming. I wanna do everything I can to make a difference in their lives. I think God is using people with disabilities to wake up the church. God is up to something big.
  • Outwardly, our bodies are wasting away, but, inwardly, we’re being renewed day by day. God has not abandoned those with disabilities. No, He is working through them. God’s power always shows up best through weakness. The Bible says, „Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Defend the rights of the weak and the needy, and we do that at Joni and Friends.”
  • I sing because I have to. I remember darker days, when I was in the hospital. I wanted so much to cry, but, instead I would stifle the tears and comfort myself singing a hymns like „Savior, Savior, hear my humble cry. While on others Thou are calling, do not pass me by”. And it always reminded me, as I sang that, of the pool at Bethesda. You know that portion of Scripture from John 5, that friends would come to the hospital to visit me, I would always ask them to read it to me. I cannot tell you how many times, at night, I would picture myself there, at Bethesda, lying next to the man with paralysis, and I would wait alongside him, waiting for Jesus to walk in through those columned colonnades, and I would see Him, and I would, in my mind’s eye cry out, „Oh Jesus, Jesus don’t pass me by. Here I am. Heal me!” But as many times as I pictured myself there, at the pool of Bethesda, and as often as I asked Jesus to heal me, I never got up, I never walked.

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