Skip to comments.Joni Eareckson Tada on Wilberforce Award, 'Better Off Dead Than Disabled' Mentality
Posted on 03/16/2012 9:24:09 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
A disturbing belief is spreading within the hearts of many around the world and within America: that a person is better off dead than disabled.
But a leading advocate for people with disabilities is fighting that notion and looking to educate the world and the church about the precious lives and rights of "those who seem to be weaker."
The Christian Post spoke to Joni Eareckson Tada on Thursday, the founder and CEO of Joni and Friends International Disability Center, about her countless achievements for the disabled community, unwavering faith in God, battle with breast cancer, and her latest recognition by Breakpoint and The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview.
The 62-year-old evangelical author, who became a quadriplegic at the age of 17 due to a diving accident, just recently learned that she would be honored with the prestigious Wilberforce Award – named after the British parliamentarian who fought for 26 years to abolish slavery in Great Britain – during the annual Wilberforce Weekend held at the end of March.
CP: First of all, how do you feel to have gotten this award? Were you surprised, shocked? How did your husband react?
Tada: I was completely stunned by the news that I would be receiving this year's Wilberforce Award. I had actually nominated someone else, and when I received the first notification, I thought the committee had accepted my nominee. Imagine my surprise when I read it and discovered I was the recipient. My husband? He was just plain proud!
Like us on Facebook
CP: Why do you think they chose you to receive this award?
Tada: For many years I have worked hard to promote a biblical worldview on disability, whether in churches or in the community. I served on the National Council of Disability and helped spearhead the effort to draft the original Americans with Disabilities Act. Most of all, it's been my heart's desire to see the church carry out the mandate from the Gospel of Luke, the 14th chapter where Jesus says to go out and find the disabled and bring them in. My life goal is to see the world's one billion people with disabilities embraced and encouraged by the church.
CP: What do you believe is the greatest achievement you and your organization have accomplished for the disabled?
Tada: I believe we have brought the plight of the world's special needs families before the church, reminding them that "those who seem to be weaker" are actually indispensable. Whether through the 25 U.S. family retreats we sponsor, or the thousands of wheelchairs and Bibles we've distributed in developing nations, our passion is to make certain these disabled people and their families find a place in the fellowship of the church.
CP: What do you believe is the foremost important problem right now facing the disabled and how is your foundation working to fight and overcome this?
Tada: There is a growing premise in this country and around the world that a person really is "better off dead than disabled." This premise reflects a fundamental fear that people have about disability and, unfortunately, it has influenced social policy, such as the legalization of physician-assisted suicide and the destruction of human embryos for stem cell research. Just this week a couple in Oregon were awarded $2.9 million because doctors did not diagnose their unborn child with Down syndrome. When we disregard the rights of the weakest and most vulnerable among us, then the rights of all of us are in jeopardy.
CP: How is your health right now? I know you were battling breast cancer. Have the treatments finished? Are you now in remission?
Tada: My health is great! It's been nearly 20 months since my battle against Stage 3 breast cancer and I have a little under four more years to go before I can be declared cancer free. As long as I take my daily medication, I feel I'm on the right and best track!
CP: With another obstacle to overcome, how do you continue to look to God for strength and reason that everything that He has planned for your life is for His glory and for your good?
Tada: My weakness, that is, my quadriplegia, is my greatest asset because it forces me into the arms of Christ every single morning when I get up. As long as I come to God with my need, I am promised more than enough grace to help me smile, not in spite of my disability but because of it. And that's good!
CP: Is there any words of advice you would like to give those who continue to fight injustice throughout the world?
Tada: The Bible is replete with commands to persevere, especially in the face of injustice. The God of the Bible also heartily commends those who strive for mercy and justice in this world. God is truly on the side of those who work for social justice, especially when we accompany that work with the giving of the Gospel!
Joni Eareckson Tada is the senior associate for Disability Concerns for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and has authored nearly 50 books on disability and Christianity including her best-selling autobiography Joni.
For more than 30 years, she has worked to accelerate Christian ministry in the disability community through her wide array of life-affirming ministries begun by her organization including Wheels for the World, Christian Institute on Disability, the International Disability Center, Family Retreats, and her television and radio programs geared toward encouraging people with biblical insights.
She and her husband Ken Tada are currently traveling around the Bay area, speaking at different venues to energize and inform people about their disability ministry.
To learn more about Joni and Friends International Disability Center and keep updated on their status, click here.
What a blessing she has been to me and many of my church friends! We have completed many studies in which she is either a speaker (on DVD) or has written material for the class. Just think of how many lives she has touched, in spite of her disability! One day her faith will become sight, and she will be able to stand and walk with Jesus! All lives are precious, and we learn so much from each other through our shared lives! He uses unfortunate experiences to bring us closer to Him, and Joni has definitely lived that. Bless her & Praise God!
I remember when I first encountered Joni’s wonderful art work and then her even more amazing story. Her life, just as it is, is such an inspiration for me. No matter what I want, God knows better. Regardless of what I ask for, God is still in charge and will make sure that I end up exactly where I should.
Wonderful award for a very humble and courageous woman.
I have been inspired and influenced by Joni ever since I read her story as a teenager. She has contributed more for God and society than most of us could in 10 lifetimes.
Beware, America. The Culture of Death surrounds us and know this for a fact: God is not mocked.
Thanks for the ping. What an inspiration Joni has been to so many people. Some will say in spite of her disability. I say its because of her disability. I wonder where the healing crowd is in this thread?
Hey, Kandy! Why hasn’t God ‘healed’ Joni? Do you think she doesn’t have enough faith?
She is an inspiration, I read her biography (autobiography?) when I was a teenager before I was even a Christian. She always gave me the courage to deal with my disabilities.
Freepmail wagglebee to subscribe or unsubscribe from the moral absolutes ping list.
Not sure why you are targeting me with your unbelief. My opinion is meaningless. Only the Word matters. If you choose to believe that God has not provided healing in redemption, that is your unfortunate choice. The Word is quite clear on this subject whether you believe or not.
I still don’t understand why people are looking for reasons NOT to believe God’s Word, or to prove that He does NOT heal. That seems a bit troubling. How would you receive any promise of God if you are mired in such unbelief and doubt?
Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefitswho forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles. Psalm 103:2-5 NIV
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5 NIV
He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24 NIV
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Matthew 4:23-24 NIV
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 NIV
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12 NIV
He said, If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you. Exodus 15:26 NIV
There are hundreds of similar promises, types, figures, shadows of God’s will for your health. Exodus 12, Deuteronomy 28, 30:19-20, Joshua 21:45, 1 Kings 8:56, Psalm 34:19, 91, 107:19-21, 118:17, Isaiah 40:28-31, Jeremiah 30:17, Nahum 1:9, Malachi 4:2, Proverbs 4:20-24
It gets more prolific in the NT, and expands under an even better covenant after Pentecost: John 10:10, Galatians 3, Romans 8, Colossians 1, 2, 1 John 3:8, Revelation 12:11, Matthew 8:2-3, 8:5-13, 8:16-17, 9:18-29, 9:35, 12:9-13, 22, 14:14, 34-36, 15:30-31, Mar 1:40-42, 5:21-42, 6:53-56, 7:31-37, 8:22-25, Luke 4:16-21, 4:40, 5:15, 17-25, John 4:43-54, 5:1-18, 9:1-41, 11:1-46, Acts 3:1-10, 5:12-16, 8:5-8, 9:32-34, 14:8-10, 19:11-12, 28:8-9, 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, James 5:14-16, 2 Peter 1:2-4, 1 John 5:14-15, 3 John 2, Galatians 3:5,
By no means is that a complete list. If you study all the verses above, it would be impossible to conclude that it is NOT God’s will for the Body of Christ to be made whole.
It does not matter what you think, your experience, doctrine, tradition or dogma. All that matters is what God says on the subject.
Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. Romans 3:4
For nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37
Then the LORD said to me, You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it. Jeremiah 1:12
God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19
You never answered my question from an earlier thread. Is God a liar? Answer that, and you will begin to answer the deeper questions that you have.
Frankly, your post seems inappropriate on this thread. So, I would suggest you examine the motivation behind it.
I recently read Joni’s comments when she went with others, as herself, to a Healing revival early on in her plight. They all loaded up there wheel-chairs and off they went to have the opportunity of being healed at this revival.
However, once there the ushers and helpers lined them all up in their wheelchairs.... basically “outside” the arena....telling them that they didn’t want the crowds to tumble over them as someone might get hurt.
So there they set....hardly able to even hear the people on stage....and nobody came to them thorughout the surface. It was then Joni realized the “hosts” of this event were not interested in crippled wheel chair patients....and was hurt that all these other people with her were lined up as they were as if outcasts from the happenings.
She realized these false teachers had no intentions of healing anyone where it could “show” an actual healing.
Imagine being crippled and sitting in your wheel chair hopeing for something profound to occur...only to out outside the event....All those people hoping but left out!
The scriptures you used about Jesus taking our pain etc....was of sin and it’s consequences....he was bruised and sticken for OUR SINS, which we deserved....he bore our grief and sorrow as well...
When I see these faith healers going up and down children’s cancer wards and healing these kids.....or veteran’s hospitals....and cancer treatment centers.....then we’ll talk.
Jesus healed people in His day 100%...there were no re-trys as is done today.....further HE healed many without them asking...and those who had no faith whatsoever.
To say you must have “enough” faith is “works”......If God wants to heal he does so regardless ....our souls were redeemed....our bodies continue to bare the sin of the old nature which we also stil have until we are ultimatley with Him. And interesting even the earth otself “growans within itself” for falling under the curse of Adam’s sin.
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."
I remember reading in Joni's book about her views on God before her accident. She admitted that she was not a strong Christian and, at first, she was devastated that such a horrendous thing could have happened to her. But as she grew in her acceptance of the condition of her body and her faith grew because of what had happened - and this is a very important part since a "normal" human reaction would have been to curse God and hate him for "doing" this to them - she stopped asking, "Why me?" and started saying, "Why not me?".
She also spoke about where she would have been in her spiritual life had God NOT allowed this trial in her life. It is in finally grasping that critical point, that all who suffer in this life as Christians realize the GIFT God has given to them. They, we, understand that God does have a purpose and plan for us and that our suffering IS part of his wondrous plan - a plan that has eternity in view.
There are many out there who refuse to accept God might actually want to allow affliction to stay. They have been convinced that the "healing" God said that Christ's suffering brought us is physical in nature when it is obvious that it cannot be that. The atonement gave us spiritual healing - our SOULS have been healed - and at the resurrection, our bodies will also experience a total and complete healing from all sickness, suffering AND death because we will be given glorified bodies like unto Christ's glorified body. Our corrupted and mortal flesh will put on in-corruption and immortality and we WILL live for eternity with our Savior. The atonement enables us to live for eternity in Heaven with God - that is the healing Christ's suffering bought for us.
Some like to quote God's promises to the Israelites when he brought them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land and promised them a life without diseases and a land flowing with milk and honey. And he most certainly had the power to do so but, because of their disobedience and grumbling distrust, the majority never saw that in their lives. What God promised to Israel at that time is NOT a promise he repeats to anyone else. Sure Scripture says God's promises are without repentance and God is no respecter of persons, but they forget that there were conditions placed on the people of Israel and, had they obeyed God, he WOULD have fulfilled his promises to them. Therefore, the promises of "no diseases" and "land flowing with milk and honey" were definite promises to specific people under specific conditions. We are not the nation of Israel coming out of Egypt, so the promises to them do not apply to us. Now, obviously, some other promises DO apply to us today, but as far as a guarantee that God WILL heal all OUR diseases, no such thing was ever promised.
That leaves us to understand that although God DOES heal, sometimes God allows suffering and sickness, trials and testings, persecution and, sometimes, martyrdom, and, in order to grasp the meaning behind this, we have the New Testament Scriptures to guide us. We can look at the lives of the Apostles and the early Christians and realize that God had a higher purpose for them and He also does for us today when he allows these things in our lives. No one doubts that God can't heal whoever he chooses to and many people have experienced miracles, but when he chooses NOT to, then we know there is a purpose and we discover an even greater miracle.
Joni is an incredible woman whose strength of faith is amazing but, had she either never been stricken or been healed by a "faith healer" early on, we can only guess about where she would be today. Her victory and her testimony is that she rejoices in what God has allowed her to suffer because it was by that suffering that she has been able to be such an instrument for God's work and because of the relationship she has with the Lord that she KNOWS she could not have had any other way. I do not think she has given up the hope that God could still make her whole, but, if He doesn't, she has the strength through Christ to be the woman God wants her to be exactly as she is. Her life is a powerful testimony to the world of the truth of Christ's love and sacrifice for us and her crown in glory will be filled with the stars of all those she has led to Christ because of her faith. God does not lie, he WILL work all things together for our good, and Joni is living that truth!
Joni paid a price at the hands of the healing crowd if you have read her book.
She was likewise blamed for her disability continuing because of her lack of faith to be healed.
When I go in faith for prayer for healing and it doesnt happen, there are really two options. One is to praise God for the strength to carry on and continue to trust Him anyway, figuring that His grace is sufficient for me and when I am weak, then (in Him) I am strong,
The charismatic movement way, and that is to try to figure out why I didnt get the healing. Is it me? Do I not have enough faith? Generational curses? Sin in my life? yada, yada, yada.... Or to blame Satan and try to figure out why hes attacking me. Are there strongholds in my life? Sin? Generational curses? etc......
Now, it finally occurred to me what the big problem is. My way, of accepting the not being healed, leaves me free to praise God and continue to trust Him in faith. It keeps my eyes ON GOD and I have peace in the situation through trust in Him.
The other way takes my eyes off God and puts them on me or Satan. Theres stress and strife and worry and fear and guess whos getting all the attention? It sure isnt God. Its on me, or even worse yet, Satan.
Ive decided that anything that gets my attention off God isnt of Him and does not, and should not, deserve my time and attention.
If the charismatics are correct and healing is part of the atonement, which I really do think that it is, since we are not saved by works, we are not healed by works. We ask in faith and leave the answering of that to Gods sovereignty.
I have not yet realized the fullness of my salvation that I do have in the spiritual reality. I can live with not realizing the fullness of the healing that I also have in the spiritual reality.
I can live in peace with trusting God. Ive been reading Hebrews 11 lately and twice in there is says that those commended for their faith DID NOT receive the promises but died in faith believing for what they saw afar off but did not yet have. NOT the charismatic name it and claim it way.
I live in faith, believing in and for the spiritual reality which exists and have peace in it while still stuck in this world.
And thats a lot of what faith is. Believing what exists that we cant see but know to be true because God told us. When we have what were believing for, then it wont be by faith anymore because we will have it and it will be by sight.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
Hebrews 11:39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,....
Hebrews 12:1-3 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
God has used this food intolerance in a mighty way in my life. There's nothing quite like staring your own mortality in the face to cause you to pursue God with your whole heart and soul and mind and get your eyes of the world. This world has no more grip on me and I refuse to obsess with it, even in the realm of getting my own healing. I will give God the glory for the strength to deal with it and lose the *Woe is me* pity parties.
I forgot to add......
The other problem is the paradoxes of the Christian life. IN CHRIST my salvation is complete, I have everything I need in the heavenlies. Here on earth is another matter. My salvation is not complete only in the sense that I have not yet died. I still have a physical body which will die. I have a sin nature which has been crucified in Christ but is still alive and kicking in reality that I still struggle with.
Jesus said to be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. We can overcome, but we are not guaranteed deliverance from everything we dislike.