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Joni Eareckson Tada

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Photo courtesy of Joni and Friends

Adam Navis and Christy VanArragon tell the story of Joni Earackson Tada. She suffered a major injury that changed her life.

Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Adam Navis.

Voice 2 

And I’m Christy VanArragon. Spotlight uses a special English method of Broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Follow along on YouTube
Voice 1 

It was a sunny day on the East coast of the United States. Joni Eareckson Tada was 17 years old. She was standing by a lake. Tada began a strong dive into the water. She did not know that in a moment her life would change forever. Today’s Spotlight is on the amazing life of Joni Eareckson Tada.

Voice 2 

Tada dove head-first into the lake. But the water was not deep. She hit her head on the bottom of the lake. She heard a loud quick noise. After that, she could not move. Tada was trapped under the water. She wanted to call for help. But she could not open her mouth under the water. No matter how hard she tried, Tada could not get up. She did not understand what was happening. She was holding her breath. But she could not last much longer under the water.

Joni before the accident, Photo courtesy of Joni and Friends
Voice 1 

Finally, Tada’s sister, Kathy, pulled her out of the water. Tada could finally breathe. But she still could not move her arms or legs. An emergency vehicle brought Tada to the hospital. She was very frightened. She asked Kathy to hold her hand while they were waiting. Kathy told Tada that she was already doing that. Tada was surprised. She could not feel her sister’s hand.

Voice 2 

At the hospital, doctors discovered that Tada had broken an important bone in her neck. She was now a quadriplegic. She could not feel or move any part of her body below her shoulders. And this condition would never change. Tada was in the hospital for a long time. She thought she would probably die. She did not die. But her life, as she knew it, had changed completely.

Voice 1 

Tada experienced intense depression for a long time. At first, she could not accept what had happened to her. She thought it was unfair that she would never move her body again. She was angry that her life had changed so much. She wanted to die. She wrote about her experiences:

Voice 3 

“I asked many of my friends to assist me in suicide. I wanted to find a final escape. I could not face the possibility of sitting down for the rest of my life without the use of my hands, without the use of my legs. All my hopes seemed destroyed.”

Voice 2 

But then Tada began to have more hopeful thoughts. She was a Christian. Before the accident, she felt like she was not living her life very well. She had prayed that God would change her. She wanted to be a better person. And now, after months of depression Tada had a new idea. She wondered if the accident might have been God’s answer to her prayer. Tada began to study the Christian Bible. She read what God teaches about pain, suffering, and healing. Tada says:

Voice 3 

“I have discovered that God can heal. He does heal. But he is not required to heal… He has shown me that my suffering is part of a better plan.”

Joni begins speaking in public about her accident, Photo courtesy of Joni and Friends
Voice 1 

Today Tada believes that her accident was the beginning of a long and difficult process. It was the process of becoming more like Jesus Christ. Tada writes:

Voice 3 

“God used this injury to develop in me patience and endurance and tolerance and self-control and steadfastness and sensitivity and love and joy. Those things did not matter much to me when I was on my feet. But, oh boy, they began to matter after I began living in a wheelchair.”

Voice 2 

Tada learned that her worth did not depend on being able to move her body. Instead, she could use her situation to help people who were dealing with suffering. And Tada has done this in many ways. She has written over 50 books for people of all ages. Tada learned to paint beautiful pictures. She paints by holding a paintbrush in her mouth! Tada has also worked with government officials to help people with disabilities. She is a singer, a speaker, a writer, an actor, a wife, and an encouragement to many people.

Joni drawing Christmas Art, Photo courtesy of Joni and Friends
Voice 1 

Tada is the president of a group called Joni and Friends. It is a group that helps people with disabilities in many countries. Every day Joni broadcasts a short radio program for Joni and Friends. Her program is broadcast in many different countries. She tries to help people understand pain and suffering. She encourages everyone to work with people with disabilities. Nate Dell works with Spotlight English. He went to see Joni Eareckson Tada at a conference in 2015. He told Spotlight how she changed the way he thinks:

Voice 4 

“I had heard of Joni before I ever got to see her speak. Before, her quadriplegia seemed to be just a discussion starter for her message. But Joni parked her chair right beside where I was sitting! And I saw how her disability affects every part of her life. She had two women helping her. They held a water bottle for Joni to drink from. They helped her wipe her nose. They even adjusted her clothing. I do all of these things without even thinking about it! Joni’s message is that God loves us – even through difficult circumstances and suffering. Hearing this message from a wheelchair was very powerful.”

Voice 2 

Tada has continued to have struggles. She often has problems with her muscles. She feels a lot of pain. In 2010, Tada had treatment for breast cancer. But throughout all these difficulties, Tada kept her trust in God. She says:

Voice 3 

“My weakness, that is, my quadriplegia, is my greatest strength. It forces me into the arms of Christ every single morning when I get up.”

You can find Joni Eareckson Tada’s song Alone Yet Not Alone on YouTube
Voice 1 

In 2014 Tada recorded a song. It became very famous. Over a million people watched the Youtube video of “Alone But Not Alone.” We end today’s program with some words from this song. They show Joni Eareckson Tada’s faith, and the strength it brings her every day of her life.

Voice 3 

“I will not be bent in fear.
God is the shelter I know is near.
In His strength I find my own.
By His faithful mercies shown.
When my steps are lost and desperate for a guide,
I can feel his touch, a soothing presence by my side.
I am alone yet not alone.”

Joni shares her hope, Photo courtesy of Joni and Friends
Voice 2 

The writers of this program were Liz Waid and Rena Dam. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Joni Eareckson Tada’.

Voice 1 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

You can visit JoniAndFriends.org to learn more about Joni’s work

Question:

What is your greatest weakness? Do you think it is also your greatest strength? Write your answer below.

Join the discussion

19 comments
  • Dear, I am thankful for you to make this amazing work, it courage us to think more about our weakness and be more endurance and tolerance and steadfastness

  • En un mundo tan “al revés” siento que mi mayor fortaleza es mi bondad, y en momentos mi debilidad, por las acciones que esperan que cumpla en un plano directivo.

  • I think you should write the program with less name in it. Name is hard to pronounce, and it isn’t necessary

  • I think you should write the program with less name in it. Name is hard to pronounce, and it isn’t necessary

  • From the program and from the final questions it seems clear that there is no suffering, however great it can and should be placed before the value of life. However, I find it inevitable to reflect on the universal conspiracy against suicide. It even seems natural to risk one’s life to save that of others, but is this the fruit of man’s love for his neighbor or is it a consequence at an unconscious level of the selfishness of those who are afraid of being alone on this earth?

  • I used to have many weaknesses. But now I also think they are my great strengths. Because I know God or Jesus Christ is always beside me. He is my friend, my best friend forever. That is the only reason that helps me through the tears to be better every day. I’m a Christian and I know:
    ” …for when I am feeble, then am I strong.” (II Corinthians 12:10b)

    Thanks for giving this useful information.

  • When it comes to the greatest weakness, I believe I am extremely fortunate in that I am not one of the people who has a disability. I’m still growing up and becoming stronger, and the story of Joni Eareckson Tada continues to inspire me. Tada, I’ve learned some new things that have the potential to change my life, such as the importance of remaining optimistic despite adverse circumstances.

  • Ok, my greatest weakness is I don’t have money , I don’t have job , I need to get married with a girl who I love , this will not still , this poor will be go away from me.
    I have a huge faith of my god(ALLAH) , he will help me , he will give me everything I need , I love god ( ALLAH)
    My weakness is not a strength point , but it also not a very weakness point

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