Joni and Friends is an international organization dedicated to ministering to people with disabilities, founded by Joni Eareckson Tada. Tada became a quadriplegic at age 17 in a diving accident, but has gone on to be a sought-after artist, speaker, and teacher. This spring, Joni and Friends hosted the Global Access conference in California and shared a regionally focused version of the conference at Indiana Wesleyan University.
Joni and Friends invited Brett Fischer, Founder and CEO of Victory Lane Camp, to speak at this “Hope in the Midst of Suffering” conference on October 16-17. Brett spoke about the future of the disabled in secular society and “Finding Hope in Nopeville.”
“The first presentation was about obeying Christ’s call to serve the underserved. The future really is optimistic for the disabled when the church is educated and ready to serve,” Brett said. “The main point of the ‘Nopeville’ presentation is that in a culture saying ‘no’ to people with disabilities, we can say ‘yes’ through service, love, and friendship.”
One of the primary speakers for the event was Steve Bundy of Joni and Friends, who serves as Vice President of the Christian Institute on Disability. He referenced Luke 14, where Jesus shares the parable of the great banquet. The master orders the servant to bring in the lame, deaf, and blind. Beyond simply extending an invitation to the banquet, the servant is ordered to compel them to come in so that the house would be full. The implication is that it’s not going to be easy, and requires work and intentionality.
“That was a powerful statement for me,” noted Brett. “At Victory Lane Camp, we want to make it easier for families to hear about what VLC has to offer and to become part of this community.”
Joni and Friends hosted booths for a variety of organizations at the event, including VLC. This gave Brett the opportunity to connect with college students and other ministry leaders at the local, regional, and national levels.
One of the breakout sessions led by Kate Brueck, Church Relations Manager at Joni and Friends of Charlotte, focused on how people with disabilities are perceived by church leadership.
“More and more, I’m convinced that God has a heart and a passion for people with disabilities, and any church that doesn’t include the people with disabilities is missing out on a huge blessing,” Brett expressed.
For more information about Joni and Friends visit www.JoniAndFriends.org.