Bill Hiser

  • May 28, 2010
  • #5325

Joni pays tribute to her friend, Bill Hiser, and shares how she will carry his legacy at Family Retreat this year.

Hi, I'm Joni Eareckson Tada and you're listening to "Joni and Friends."

And when I think of dear friends, my heart turns to a man named Bill Hiser who became spinal cord injured during his time in Viet Nam. It was during his tour of duty as a medic over there in Viet Nam that he took a bullet in his back - and Bill was rushed to the field hospital, but they could only do so much.  The bullet had left him paralyzed from his waist down, and Bill became one of the many wounded American soldiers who returned from Viet Nam. I met him many years later and I've always been impressed by his sweet spirit and love for Jesus.  Bill always said that, having dodged what could have been a fatal wound... he always said that he felt like he was living on borrowed time.  Given that so many servicemen never returned from Viet Nam, he felt as though God had graciously extended him extra days, extra years.  And each one he considered pretty precious.

Now Bill, for all the years that I've known him, has always been the picture of health - a strong, handsome man, he's always been very active and, recently, he developed a real passion to share the Gospel at our Family Retreats.  Young kids in wheelchairs kind of look up to this handsome Viet Nam vet in his wheelchair and, I don't know, I think they saw him as a role model. Especially as Bill would do marathons. In fact, it was for an upcoming race that he and his wife, Ellen, were practicing running. They returned home from a good long hard run (or, in Bill's case, it was a long wheel - wheeling in his wheelchair). Tired and sweaty, Ellen and Bill headed up their driveway to the wooden ramp on the side of their home that led to the kitchen door.  Ellen entered the house, put down her things, and then turned and wondered why Bill was taking so long to wheel up the ramp. She poked her head out the door and was shocked to see her husband lying on the ramp beside his wheelchair. She rushed to him and found him unconscious - checking his pulse, Ellen realized there was no sign of life. A 9-1-1 call and the arrival of paramedics confirmed that her husband died very suddenly of a massive heart attack. The bullet that Bill had dodged decades ago back in Viet Nam finally caught up with him and the many good and pleasant years God had gifted him were drawn to a close.

You know, as I think back on this extraordinary guy, I think of his passion to give the Gospel to those who don't know Christ at our Family Retreats. It's Bill's legacy and, believe me, when next week's season of Joni and Friends' Family Retreats begins full swing, I'm going go out there and I'm gonna carry his torch. True, I realize that you never knew Bill, but you do know the Savior he loved. So I want you to join me in praying for the many unsaved families that Bill would have so loved ministering to. And as you pray for them and for your own loved ones who do not know Jesus Christ, I've got a great poem about salvation that I think you'd enjoy quoting as a prayer to the Lord for all you know who need Jesus Christ. I really would love to give it to you. You can simply come and visit me at and download it or you can always call toll free anytime at 888/522-5664 and just ask for the salvation poem. And finally, thank you for honoring the memory of this disabled American veteran by praying for this season's Family Retreats. Pray for the people who do not know Jesus Christ. The moms and dads of disabled kids who are coming, feeling worn out and weary... and one day you can tell Bill up in heaven that you, like me, helped carry his torch for the Gospel. Do that when you finally arrive on the other side of eternity and see him at the foot of Jesus' throne. 

© Joni and Friends

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