A Christian leader is marking five decades of being in a wheelchair by celebrating God's goodness and graciousness.
50 years ago this month, Joni Eareckson Tada took what she calls "that stupid dive into shallow water," breaking her neck and becoming a quadriplegic. Since then, she has gone through times of depression and despair, but she says God's grace brought her out of that. The founder of the ministry Joni and Friends believes her story speaks to people with physical disabilities as well as many others.
"I think that really speaks to other people who maybe are handicapped by being a widow or feeling like they are going to be single forever, or maybe they feel crippled by anxiety or fear or worries about the future," she poses. "Maybe they feel disabled in their job or limited in their marriage. Maybe they haven't had a broken neck, but maybe they've experienced a broken home or a broken heart."
Tada sees commonalities between what she goes through in a wheelchair and some of the things every Christian must face.
"There's no fine print in the Christian contract. We are going to face trials; we're going to have them," she recognizes. "God is going to send them our way. It's just what we do with them -- that's what counts."
She encourages believers to use the trials of life to become more like Christ.
Joni and Friends is marking its 50th anniversary at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, California on August 6th. The ministry will be showing the re-mastered and digitized version of Joni, the movie produced in 1969 by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.