Joni Eareckson Tada Says ‘Disability is Not a Curse’: All are ‘Image Bearers’ of God

Photo from Joni and Friends on Instagram

Joni Eareckson Tada Says ‘Disability is Not a Curse’: All are ‘Image Bearers’ of God

By Movieguide® Contributor

Joni Eareckson Tada created Joni and Friends because she believes that Satan creates lies to make people think the lives of the differently abled are not valued.

“I think, Kirk, that the devil thinks that disability is his last frontier…He’s going to make a stand against the goodness of God,” she told actor Kirk Cameron on his show, TAKEAWAYS. “He’s going to use disability as ammunition against the goodness of God, spitefully saying, ‘Look, how can God call himself good if he allows this child to be born with that birth defect? You can’t call yourself good, God.’”

“That’s what we want to change,” Eareckson Tada said. “That perspective. And that’s the point behind all the program services that we have to not only give physical support but spiritual hope in in the Bible and in the good news of Jesus.”

A differently-abled person herself, Eareckson Tada’s organization, Joni and Friends, helps people all across the world who are dealing with disabilities. Through her work, people are shown that they are loved, cared for, and valued.

Movieguide® recently reported how the organization rescued stranded people in Ukraine:

The war in Ukraine has left countless people stranded and desperate for help with evacuation, and people with disabilities are among the most vulnerable.

Faith-based ministry Joni and Friends is stepping in to bridge the gap for many of the 2.7 million persons living with disabilities in Ukraine who might have otherwise been left behind. Founded by Christian author, speaker, and radio host Joni Eareckson-Tada, Joni and Friends has helped 250 people reach Poland since the start of the war and plans to escort more to safe locations around the globe as conditions allow.

According to CBN News, Joni and Friends is planning to rescue an additional 50 people with disabilities and their caregivers in Eastern Ukraine on Friday, March 25, organized by Galyna, their In-Country Coordinator in Ukraine.

“There are so many other people in the country and around the world who are suffering,” she said. “Far more than I am and I want to give them the same good news that transformed my life, and so that’s pretty much why I started Joni and Friends. I’m just one lady. I can’t do it by myself.”

So she has many friends across the U.S. and the world who help perform Joni and Friend’s programs.

They “give the good news of Jesus to millions of people with disabilities, who, as I said, are in circumstances far more changing than mine ever will be so it all got started because I wanted to pass on the blessing and let me tell you it is the real deal.”

“In 1989, I was in the Philippines and it was during the monsoon season. I was there speaking at a pastor’s conference, and I was waiting outside the stadium with an umbrella over me, and I looked across the street, and there was a woman who dragged herself through the muddy road. She was dragging her paralyzed legs behind her, and she came up to the back door of a restaurant and tucked her legs up underneath of her and sat there quietly by the door until someone opened and handed her a bag of scraps.”

On her way home to America, Eareckson Tada prayed to make a difference in that woman’s life.

“I said, ‘Lord Jesus, if you could please use my life to make a difference in that woman’s life, I give anything. I’ll do anything.’ It was my first experience with someone who was that disabled and who was that impoverished, and so right away, I came home, and I said, ‘Team, we’ve got to make a difference in the lives of people like I saw in the Philippines because there are millions of them just like that around the world.’ And of course, having traveled to 60 countries, I’ve seen many sights like that replicated time and time again where people with disabilities live like homeless people.”

“They live under bridges, alongside rivers. They do the best they can,” she explained. They’re relegated to back bedrooms.”

In Southeast Asia in particular, she’s seen that parents are ashamed of their disabled children.

“There’s much social stigma connected to disability. So when we take wheelchairs around the world — and we’ve delivered hundreds of thousands of wheelchairs and Bibles — it’s not only about giving a wheelchair. It’s about changing the culture of disability and helping people see that a disability is not a curse from the local Shaman or it’s not a curse from the witch doctor or the animous spirit, but we are all image bearers of our great Creator God in one way or another.”

“We’re image bearers of the Lord Jesus, and that’s what we want to do through every wheelchair that we deliver,” she said. “Through every retreat that we have for families struggling with disability either here in the United States or around the world in developing nations.”

Joni and Friends recently provided a wheelchair for a 17-year-old Filipina, Prences.

“This is Prences’s first time in a wheelchair. 🦽 ❤️,” Jonie and Friends shared on Instagram.

“Since she was born, Prences has only ever laid on the floor or couch due to severe scoliosis and cerebral palsy. Through our Joni and Friends Wheels for the World program, she now has a custom-fit Cub wheelchair that allows her to experience the world around her at a 90-degree angle!” the post said.

Joni and friends recently celebrated the start of a Joni’s House international disability center in Opovo, Serbia. The organization hopes that it will help many Serbians and spark more ministry for the differently abled within Serbia.

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