Joni Eareckson Tada: What Every Pastor Needs to Know About Ministering to Those With Special Needs

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Joni Eareckson Tada, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Joni and Friends International Disability Center, is an international advocate for people with disabilities. A diving accident in 1967 left Joni Eareckson, then 17, a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, without the use of her hands. After two years of rehabilitation, she emerged with new skill and a fresh determination to help others in similar situations. Joni is the general editor of the Beyond Suffering Bible. She and her husband, Ken, have been married since 1982 and reside in Calabasas, California.

Key Questions:

What advice do you have for pastors who are ministering to people going through incredible suffering?

How have you learned to apply the promises of God when you feel discouraged?

What would you say to someone who feels guilty for not having to suffer much in their life?

Key Quotes:

“God permits what he hates to accomplish that which he loves.”

“[God] loves to see us lean hard into Jesus and develop perseverance, endurance, patience, self-control, compassion for others who hurt, and most of all, he loves to see the image of his own son shine through our smiles.”

“I finally cried out: Oh God, if I can’t die, then please show me how to live!”

“Many Christians wish they could erase the word suffering out of the dictionary. Today’s culture of comfort and instance gratification has no patience for suffering and I think that Christians have bought into the cultural innuendo.”

“Most of us want to drug suffering, escape suffering, divorce it, institutionalize it, surgically exorcize it, do anything but actually live with it.”

“Suffering might well be God’s choicest tool in shaping the character of Jesus in us.”

“We as Christians should never think of ourselves as above our master. God shares his joy, his peace, his contentment on his own terms, and some of those terms call for us, in some measure, to suffer as his own Son suffered.”

“It should give us encouragement that the same Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane, trembled, shuddered, was overwhelmed with the thought of suffering that lay ahead of him…I’ve got a Savior who identifies with us, who resonates with us. He’s Emmanuel, God with us. He gets it. He understands the horrors of suffering.”

“God’s power is best displayed through human weakness.”

“I’m grateful for the wheelchair. I’m grateful for the fact that this is the prison that has set me free.”

“If you’re not suffering, then find someone who is, and make their life a little easier.”

“Let’s start living out what we actually believe about the word of God.”

Mentioned in the Show:

joniandfriends.org

Beyond Suffering Bible

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Andrew Hess
Andrew Hess is Senior Editor of ChurchLeaders.com. He teaches Bible and Psychology classes at Colorado Christian University and is a graduate of Denver Seminary. His writing has appeared on The Gospel Coalition and Leadership Journal. When not working, Andrew is usually enjoying scenic Colorado, teaching Sunday school, or buying a priceless antique at a local garage sale. Connect with Andrew on Twitter @AndrewWHess.