Welcome to Godly Girls For God
Glorifying God and Encouraging Others.
- Reading Corner
Joni Eareckson Tada
Interview with Joni Eareckson Tada
1.How did you become a quadriplegic?
I was 17, athletic, reckless and a bit of a risk taker when I had a diving accident in the Chesapeake Bay back in 1967. Immediately my head hit the bottom, snapped my back, crushed my spinal cord at the forth-cervical level, and left me paralyzed floating face down in the water.
2.How did you handle the news that your paralysis would be permanent?
I didnít take it well; I had been a very active teenager. The first year in the hospital, I didnít even get out of bed. There were nights I would jerk my head back and forth to try to break my neck completely, hoping to die. I had wonderful friends, family, and kids from church that used to come by the hospital. They didnít treat me as a cripple, or an invalid. Through the prayer of friends, I was finally able to cry out to God: ďIf I canít die, show me how to live.Ē Either I was going to choose hope and get busy living, or give up and get busy dying. One day I finally understood that my accident was actually a drastic answer to my prayer. Before my accident, I had become a very lukewarm Christian Ė I asked God that he would do something in my life to change me. Now, I realize that I am always in desperate need for Him.
3.When did you learn to paint with your mouth?
After two years of rehabilitation, I spent several months learning how to paint with a brush in between my teeth. The physical therapists knew I painted before the accident, a talent I inherited from my father. I wasnít excited about the idea at first, but it became a release for me, a way to express what I was feeling. Through rehab and the help of my supportive therapists, I learned that my talent was in my head and my heart, not my hands.
4.How did you become well known?
After all those months of learning how to paint between my teeth, I began exhibiting my art locally, and it garnered some attention. The local media interviewed me there in Baltimore, and soon the New York media noticed, having me on the Today Show with Barbara Walters as one of her first guests. My art began to be highly sought- after and collected. The next thing I knew, people started inviting me to speak and share my story. In 1976, a Christian publisher asked me to write about my accident, recovery and life with my disability. The autobiography, ďJoni,Ē is now an international best-seller. Afterwards, The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association heard my story and asked me speak at their crusades and to take part in a movie titled, ďJoni,Ē based on my book.
5.How did you come to start Joni and Friends?
Once the movie was shown around the world, I began receiving a ton of letters from people suffering with their own disabilities. They had so many questions on how to manage getting through their tragedies and how I got through my own depression. It was clear there was a great need for encouragement and outreach to share the love of Christ with this community. I knew that others had blessed me, and you canít hoard that blessing for yourself, youíve got to extend that grace to somebody else. So, I gathered wonderful people who provided insight and support, and together we started the ministry.
6.How do you get through each day, especially on the difficult days when your pain is worse?
Every morning I wake up, leaning extremely hard on Jesus. I know before I get out of bed, that I just canít make it through the day without Him. And Iíve discovered that is a very good way to wake up in the morning Ė to lean hard on the Lord.
7.How do you answer the question about why God allows suffering?
Itís impossible to conjecture what is in Godís heart. I think the Bible calls suffering a ministry for good reason. We canít see the big picture. Even if we were to try to ascertain Godís fairness, it would be like us walking into a room halfway through someoneís argument and being asked for an opinion. We donít have the facts this side of eternity. If God were to eradicate suffering he would have to eradicate sin. To eradicate sin he would have to eradicate sinners. Jesus could have done that at the cross, ushered in the Kingdom of God and done away with Satan and sin and suffering, but then you and I would never have had the chance to hear the Gospel. God is giving Satan a stay of execution, which means there will be war and suffering and genocide. But the core of his plan is to rescue people, to draw them to his side. And how dare we not share that news with those who are suffering!
8.Sometimes, people can put ministry leaders like yourself up on a pedestal. How do you keep that from happening, so that God is glorified, and not yourself?
If people put me on a pedestal, they donít understand what Iím saying. Iím just another beggar telling others where to find bread. I tell them I struggle with sin and all too often I want the spotlight on me. Iím a sinner, full of pride. Iím quick to admit it and to keep very short lists with other people. Those are the ways to climb down off the pedestal because people can see Iím just like them and struggle with self-centeredness, too. The best way is just to admit Iím the chief of all sinners, because I know what the Bible says and the riches of Godís grace, yet there are some days Iíd rather watch Food Network than read Godís Word.
9.What motivates or inspires you to keep going in your ministry?
There are one billion people on the planet with disabilities, 80 percent of them in developing nations. This means 99.99 percent suffer far worse than me. I know nothing about suffering. I remember a lady polio survivor in Ethiopia, limping home with her children in the rain following a meeting we held there. We pulled over and offered her a ride. I asked where her husband was and she told me ďOh, Joni, you donít understand. Here, those of us who are like this have no husbands and are the habitual targets of rape and abuse.Ē Thatís the life of those with disabilities in most of the world, especially the women and children, they are treated as the targets and the refuse of society. Thatís what inspires me to keep going and meet the needs of the people in the rest of the world. I want to do everything I can to make a difference in their lives.
10.What is your favorite thing about the ministry of Joni and Friends?
I love doing Joni and Friends, going to family retreats and hanging out with other couples, delivering wheelchairs and Bibles around the world. We want to get the word out that God has not abandoned those with disabilities Ė he is working through them. Godís power shows up best through weakness. We are called to speak up for those who canít speak for themselves and defend the rights of the weak. We do that every day at Joni and Friends. Through the Christian Institute on Disability, we are the advocates, the champions of those with disabilities, whether the issue is right to life, end of life, physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia, we speak Godís truth to the disability community and to society. Joni and Friends stands for the spark that started the movement to take the truth of the Gospel where the world is bleeding out of control. And I want to be there Ė Iíve got a message to share. I would rather be in this wheelchair knowing Him than on my feet without Him, and that is worth living for.
comments powered by Disqus