Restoring Hope Through Wheelchairs and Retreats

  • By: Joni and Friends
  • Dec. 28, 2009
  • Family Retreats, Wheels For The World

Joni and Friends Mix Optimism, Success and Vision to Provide Fresh Outlook for Disabled Community

Brazil Wheels for the World outreachHope restored is the most rewarding benefit people have received this year through the Joni and Friends (JAF) disability ministry. Through refurbished wheelchairs in the Wheels for the World program to refreshed families in the Family Retreats, Joni and Friends provides hope in situations that were once seen as hopeless. 

Without a wheelchair, many of the estimated 700 million disabled people in the world are imprisoned by their surroundings. Prior to receiving their wheelchairs through Wheels for the World, many disabled people are unable to leave their beds, or are either carried or crawl to move around. This year, Joni and Friends provided wheelchairs and Bibles to individuals in more than 20 countries, including Poland, Romania and Thailand. Joni and Friends implemented Wheels for the World in 1994, with 125 wheelchairs in an outreach to Ghana, West Africa.

“We’ve been restoring and refurbishing wheelchairs for years. JAF has been recycling and economizing at every turn and doing it long before our culture started ‘going green,’” said Joni Eareckson Tada, founder of Joni and Friends.

Since 1991, more than 6,000 families affected by disability have been strengthened and restored through Joni and Friends Family Retreats. With the 2008 addition of the International Family Retreats along with the Wounded Warrior Family Getaways, serving American soldiers disabled in service and their families, JAF meets the needs of people with disabilities and their families, offering a week of fun activities, spiritual refreshment, acceptance and understanding. This year, there were 22 Family Retreats across the US, serving more than 800 families.

“In a world filled with so much bad news, as well as a world focused on 'health and beauty,' people with disabilities often feel weighted down by discouragement and despair. But I'm so thankful we have the opportunity to serve and encourage these families through our retreats and getaways,” Tada said. “But I think our staff and volunteers receive the biggest blessing of all, forming friendships with those who attend the retreats and being strengthened by their faith and hope and joy – even sometimes in the midst of great suffering.”

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Your ministry has been such a blessing to my life throughout my walk with the Lord. Thank you. I am actually writing for a friend of mine who is interested in helping with the Wheels for the World ministry that you direct. He is qualified to repair medical is a long story which space prevents me from telling, he is unable to communicate at this time so I am his mouth (so to speak- no pun intended) but he wanted to know if there is a branch of this ministry in the Dallas area? I await your response. Thanks for your time.
  • Feb. 2, 2011
  • 12:06 p.m.
  • Pam Sandlin
I'm not very good on the computer, but I wanted to know the dates and towns of the Family retreats. I would like to get my church involved. I love Joni and Friends. thanks, Vickie
  • Jan. 8, 2011
  • 9:03 a.m.
  • Vickie Hood
I've always been inspired by Joni and then Joni And Friends, but am especially grateful to find the resources available since my nephew (in-love - he's married to my niece) suffered a spinal cord injury in a motorcycle accident. They live far away, and I long to be of help, so recommending this blog is something I can do - - but not something they can readily access since they live in an area not serviced by internet. May I ask for prayer that there may be a way for Stacey and Vicki to be blessed by Joni And Friends? And thank you SO MUCH.
  • Nov. 15, 2010
  • 3:11 p.m.
  • Ruth Stickney
My husband Greg and I have an almost 14 year old son, next Sunday the 19th is his birthday. Even with his multiple challenges (autism, CP, mental retardation, and a seizure disorder) shines Jesus' spirit more than anyone in our family. Joni, you and Ken are in our prayers daily. I wanted to share the hymn that God uses to bring me back to him when I am frustrated and unfortunately have allowed Satan to lead me astray. It's called "For Those Tears I Died" and it was written by Marsha Stevens. 1) You said You'd come and share all my sorrows. You said You'd be there for all my tomorrows. I came so close to sending You away, but just like You promised You came there to stay, I just had to pray. Chorus: And Jesus said, "Come to the water, stand by My side, I know you are thirsty, You won't be denied. I felt every tear-drop when in darkness you cried And I strove to remind you that for those tears I died." 2) Your goodness so great I can't understand. And dear Lord, I know that all this was planned. I know You're here now, and always will be, Your love loosed my chains and in You I'm free. But Jesus, why me? Chorus 3) Jesus, I give you my heart and my soul. I know that without God I'd never be whole. Saviour, You opened all the right doors And I thank You, and praise You from earth's humble shores. Take me, I'm Yours. Chorus I know that by God's grace you and Ken have come to the level of faith and spiritual development that you are at, but I just want you to know, you are both such an inspirition to me. I see the struggles and trials that you and other people with disabilities live with and conquer on a daily basis, and I have to admit that I am ashamed of how shallow and frail my faith is. Since you want to know what my prayer requests for myself is, it would be that my faith would be stronger and my time for the Lord would be true, not just "running through the motions" Thank you for your example of Jesus.
  • Sept. 10, 2010
  • 12:12 a.m.
  • Carol Hall