Help is on the Way

  • July 14, 2011
  • #7619

Joni shares about a time at Family Retreat when she really needed to "borrow someone's hands."

Help is on the Way

I'm a quadriplegic and that means I need help. 

Hi, I'm Joni Eareckson Tada and it’s why I love people who volunteer as “my hands” (I call it). Reaching for things on the shelf… helping me with lunch… driving me to work in the morning… helping me on with my coat or sweater… holding books, you name it. I appreciate people who serve the Lord Jesus by helping me. And I'm not the only one who needs and appreciates help! I remember one Family Retreat… it was back at one of our retreats in Spruce Lake, Pennsylvania… and I decided to go on (as I call it) a “wheelchair hike” in the woods behind the dining hall with my friend, Jennifer, who has cerebral palsy. We were both in our power wheelchairs and the dirt road was smooth enough – it was just kind of nice to be off by ourselves, one-on-one, but near the end of our so-called “walk,” the batteries on Jennifer’s wheelchair went dead. There she was, stuck. I couldn’t help her. Jennifer panicked – she had forgotten to charge her batteries the night before. Well, we really needed help – and we needed it fast. Thankfully that’s when I spotted a couple of volunteers way up the road near the back of the dining hall and I screamed out for their help. Thankfully, they heard me and came running to the rescue.

Yep, people with disabilities like me… we can’t make it without help. It’s why I hold in highest esteem the folks who volunteer with us at our Family Retreats. Our volunteers don’t have to be “experts,” and we’re not looking for people with degrees in rehab counseling; I mean, you could know zilch about disabilities… like my friend Michelle. She's a hairdresser by trade and works in a busy salon; she knows nothing about wheelchairs or walkers. She was so nervous about signing up as a volunteer for our Family Retreat at first, but when she told us that she was really good at cutting hair, suddenly, a lightbulb clicked on. She said, "I could cut hair at a Family Retreat; I could do pedicures and nails and hair color – do you think the mothers of the disabled kids would like that?" Like that?! Are you kidding, Michelle?! So there on that first day of retreat, Michelle found a porch on the side of the camp dining hall where she was able to set up her little tray table with scissors and brushes and a blow dryer. She had a sign-up sheet and everything – haircuts, pedicures, and nail jobs for free; and hair color, too. You can imagine, the mothers of these disabled kids (many of them single moms) who can't afford a really fancy hairstyle. So Michelle was in her glory –serving and praying over every person she worked on. And, oh, did those mothers and fathers thank her – Michelle was the hit of the camp. In fact, one single mother of a child with spina bifida slipped Michelle a note with just II Corinthians 9:12 scribbled on it. It simply read, "This service that you perform is overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God."

So I challenge you today – perform a service on behalf of someone you know with a disability. Because we do need help. And when you give it, it'll provoke many expressions of thanks to God, believe me! Oh, and one more thing. We still are in need of volunteers to help with this month's Family Retreats and next. You only need to be available and willing. We’re just looking for folks like you… people like Michelle, who love Jesus. So visit our Family Retreat page at for all the details. So come this month and practice a little "Christianity with its sleeves rolled up," as I like to say -- it's a wonderful way to offer help where it's needed most.

© Joni and Friends


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