Interview James Lewis

  • Oct. 25, 2018
  • #9519

James and Laurie Lewis pioneer a ministry to become group home parents for young women with disabilities.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and I have someone very special for you to meet!

JONI: James Lewis and his wife Laurie,( who passed away three years ago), those two have always had a heart for reaching out to people with disabilities, and they were doing it a long, long time. We’re talking back in the 60s when ministry to young people with, let’s say, Down syndrome or other intellectual disabilities was still new. But James and Laurie were pioneers, isn’t that right, James?

JAMES: Yes, we really had a wonderful opportunity.

JONI: Welcome to the program. You’ve got to tell us your story about how you and Laurie got so interested in helping people with disabilities.

JAMES: I was a college graduate and a parole officer and then we had the accident with Andrew, our first son, and that changed everything.

JONI: So Andrew had a disability as a result of that?

JAMES: Yes, that was the disability that was created that morning. Fortunately he lived through it and has grown.

JONI: So, was Andrew your big inspiration for it all?

JAMES: Yes. He is really one of the principle people to inspire us.

JONI: Were you disappointed that more churches weren’t interested back then in disability ministry back in the ‘60s?           

JAMES: It was a unique situation because we had moved into our group home in Redwood, California, and part of Marin County.

JONI: Hold on a second! You said when you moved into your “group home.” How did you jump from taking care of Andrew, your son with the disability, to starting a group home?

JAMES: It was a group home called Redwood, or Miller Creek Group Home. They established this brand-new group home; we were invited to become group home parents.

JONI:   There you go! What a ministry to become parents to other young people with disabilities who want to live independently, right?


JONI: How did you find that satisfying?

JAMES: I thought that at first we would find it somewhat difficult raising five ladies and one son at first, and then of course our second son came along in the same group home. We became a family. If we could not get along, then of course we would not remain group home parents; we couldn’t care for five developmentally disabled very young teenagers and then our own son at the same time. We would have found other work.

JONI: What Scriptures inspired you do take that ministry on?

JAMES: Psalm 139, verses 13-16 “You created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to me.”

JONI: So what does that verse tell you, James, about people with developmental disabilities and God?

JAMES: I think we all come into the world destined to live life as best as we can. We all come into this life destined to do something and to do it in the Lord’s way.

JONI: I am so grateful that you and Laurie developed the Abundant Living Curriculum as a result of being group home parents and living with, not only your son with a disability, but of course those five young women with developmental disabilities. Friend listening, I invite you to go to my radio page at and download a copy of James and Laurie’s Abundant Living Curriculum – something way before its time. As you look through it, thank God for James Lewis and his wonderful wife who were pioneers when it came to special needs outreach in today’s irresistible churches. James, thank you for sharing with us from Psalm 139 your perspective, especially voiced from your age means a great deal.

JAMES: Thank you Joni.

© Joni and Friends



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