The Story of Li Jia

  • Dec. 12, 2018
  • #9553

11-year-old Li Jia and her mother are overcome with gratitude for receiving her new wheelchair and the gospel from Wheels for the World team members. 

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a story about a special gift!

Every once in a while a child's story so grips my heart, that I just have to keep a visual reminder of it so that I always remember its impact: little 11-year-old Li Jia from China is one of those stories. Whenever I feel overwhelmed by deadlines and piles of paper, I glance up at little Li Jia's photo sitting framed on a shelf above my desk. Her buoyant, happy smile helps me keep everything in perspective. We met Li Jia when our Wheels for the World team was in the People’s Republic of China delivering wheelchairs, Bibles and the Joni book in Chinese. What made this kid so special? She and her mother were so very, very poor, in fact, her mother carried her everywhere. But Li Jia was getting older and bigger. This 11-year-old felt so badly for her mommy who had to keep carrying her. So you can imagine how thrilled she was with the junior-sized wheelchair that we gave her. But why was she happy? Get this. Oh my goodness, Li Jia was thrilled for her mother. With wisdom beyond her years, she knew that a wheelchair meant that her mommy would no longer have to carry her, and that thrilled this child’s heart.

Li’s mom, named Zhang, was just as excited, but typically for a mother, she was excited for her daughter! In fact, when she stepped back to take a first look at her daughter in that brand-new wheelchair, she pressed her hands together and exclaimed, "This is a miracle of God's provision! Now that you have given us this wheelchair,” she told the physical therapist, “I can take my daughter to church so that she can learn about the God who performs miracles! My daughter is seeing God's miracle for her today, just for her!”

Just then, one of our Wheels for the World team members came up to Zhang and her daughter Li and opened the Joni book to explain the photographs and my story inside. Little Li Jia stared intently at the pictures and devoured every word. Pointing to the picture of me on the cover, she giggled and then hugged the book to her chest. Leaning over in her new wheelchair, Li Jia touched the wheels and looked at the book again. That’s when her smile exploded into joy. “For me too!” she said. And pointing at the photo of me on the cover, she fiercely hugged the book to her chest again. I guess this young girl had found someone like her, someone who was happy to have a wheelchair and honestly, I am so very honored to be Li Jia Xiang’s role model, even if I do live on the other side of the earth. That day, we shared the Gospel of Christ with this mother-daughter duo to which her mom replied, “Thank you for this miracle that we will never forget! You have given us a look at Heaven—where God will dry our tears and fill us with joy! Today we have tasted this joy. Thank you and bless you forever."

Like I said, I keep a framed photo of Li Jia on the second shelf of my desk, angled so that I can easily see her while I work. And I think after sharing her story today, you can see why. She reminds me daily that Joni and Friends exists to reach children like her for Christ. And if you would like to help a child like Li Jia, if you would like to give a wheelchair to someone like her, then please visit our Wheels for the World page at And if you would like to see a photo of Li Jia, the same one that is on my desk, then visit my radio page today at where we have posted a wonderful photograph of her. God bless you for caring and sharing with these little ones at

© Joni and Friends


Oh to be a burden download  

Have You Been Encouraged?

  • Your email address will not be published with your comment or be displayed anywhere on our website.
  • We do not rent or sell your personal information to other companies or individuals.
  • For more information please see our privacy policy.