When God Launched a New Ministry

What date is burned into your memory?

Many people impacted by disability can tell you the day it started. It is the day the child was born, or the diagnosis was made, or the accident occurred, or the virus attacked the body. 

And God already knew it.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:16)

For years this verse has been a particular comfort for me. God doesn’t just know my days, he has written them down!

That’s helpful when the days are hard because of disability. He knows, and he has a purpose.

Joni and Friends

On July 30, 1967, Joni Eareckson dove into shallow water — and God launched an international ministry. Not right away; she has openly and helpfully written and spoken about how hard those early years were. 

Yet nobody alive today has been used more by God to serve families and raise awareness about God’s sovereignty over disability than Joni Eareckson Tada. Joni’s books have sold by the millions, and millions more have heard her on the radio. Joni Camps have served thousands and thousands of families over the years with the love and hope of Jesus Christ.

And later this month she will receive the Wilberforce Award for her lifetime of work addressing the issue of disability in the church and the culture, and for making Christ look glorious amidst suffering and pain. The award is named in honor of William Wilberforce who spent his life combating slavery.

The Elisha Foundation

On June 18, 1997, a baby boy was born with Down syndrome — and God launched a new ministry.

When Elisha Reimer was welcomed into the world, his parents knew their plans in foreign missions had just changed. God gave them a new vision, and The Elisha Foundation was created for families experiencing disability with the goal to “equip these special families for a more intimate faith in Christ, passionately lived out with love.” Last year Justin Reimer, Eli’s dad, left his career in aviation to focus full time on this ministry, which has grown to include a desire to serve families experiencing disability in Eastern Europe.   

Joni’s ministry has served millions because God had a plan through one young woman to use disability to make his name known and glorified around the world. 

Elisha’s ministry, in its short history, has served dozens of families, including mine, because God knit together a boy with Down syndrome.

What new ministry will God give to your church or to your family, not in spite of disability, but because of it? 

Ask him. He’s already written it down in his book, for his glory and for our good.

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John Knight is Director of Donor Partnerships at Desiring God. He is married to Dianne and together they parent their four children: Paul, Hannah, Daniel, and Johnny. Paul lives with multiple disabilities including blindness, autism, cognitive impairments, and a seizure disorder. John blogs on issues of disability, the Bible, and the church at The Works of God.