Recently I shared the story of Joni Eareckson Tada who, as a teenager, dove into shallow water, breaking her neck and becoming paralysed from the neck down.  God has brought immeasurable blessing from her life despite it being filled with hardship each and every day for over fifty years and counting. 

Joni’s ministry has a project called “Wheels for the World”.  They collect used wheelchairs, have them restored in prisons and take them overseas to fit them for disabled children and adults.    John, who is the director of Wheels for the World, led a team to Ghana in West Africa, and they travelled to the town of Kumasi.  They arrived and set up the wheelchairs they’d brought and immediately people began streaming in. They realised straight away that they didn’t have enough wheelchairs. There was one African woman who had carried her twelve year old disabled son on her back, her back bent from carrying his weight.  When John told her that the chairs had run out, she smiled undaunted.  “That is no matter”, she said with an air of assurance.  “You will return.  You will bring us more chairs.”  John was taken back by her assurance and looked at her doubtfully, but the woman simply smiled, “we know you will come back.” 

Later that year one of her staff told Joni about an essay competition that KLM airlines were running to celebrate their 75th anniversary. The prize was 25 free airline tickets to anywhere in the world with all the cargo space needed to “bridge the world” of difference between people.   Joni entered the competition, convinced they would win.   And they did!  Joni’s appeal for transporting wheelchairs to Kumasi had won over 15000 other entries.

They organised another trip to Ghana.  After arriving, Joni gave a press interview and was invited to meet with the president of Ghana.  He asked if he could do anything to help with their mission.  Joni explained that the whole trip had begun because of a promise to one woman in Kumasi and told of their desire to travel there.  Amazingly the President put the Air Force at their disposal so they could get to Kumasi.

They arrived in Kumasi and set up.  A woman in beautifully coloured tribal dress approached John, carrying her disabled son.  “Do you remember me?” she asked.  “You have something for me,” she said with a confident smile.  “I know you do.”

John recognised the woman, “Yes, I know who you are.  You insisted we would come back.  And here we are.  Isn’t it incredible?”

“Incredible?” she answered.  “Why is that so?  I knew you would return.  We prayed that you would.”

On one side of this story there is a beautiful African mother living a harsh life in Kumasi with a 12 year old disabled son, simply trusting that God would answer her prayer and bring her son a wheelchair.

She didn’t see all that was involved in answering her prayer:  a woman who had spent  years in a wheelchair;  her ministry transporting wheelchairs around the world;  an international competition with over 15000 entries; a meeting with the President of Ghana; an air force at their disposal.

What a stunning picture of the love of God!

I’m convinced that what God did for that African woman, He does that for you and me. 

“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption…”  Ephesians 1:4

God’s plan for salvation was far more complex and costly than the plan to get a wheelchair to an African woman.  It stretches back before the foundation of the world. Jesus became flesh, was rejected and crucified; He died for us in our place while we were still sinners.  Jesus’ life, death and resurrection fulfilled many, many prophecies made over thousands of years, including the family He would be born into, the place of His birth, details of his life and death.  For you and me, our salvation also involved God working personally in our circumstances and in our hearts, drawing us to Him, opening our eyes to see Him, opening our ears to hear him, opening our hearts to respond.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.”
 1 John 3:1

“By this we know love, that he laid down His life for us.”
 1 John 3:16

God’s steadfast love for us is relentless, unmerited and unending. It’s a love that is so personal it knows the number of hairs on our head.  It’s as high as the heavens are above earth!  It’s a love that redeems. When we understand this, we can rest secure and safe in Him, knowing our past, our future and our present are in His hand.

“He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?”
 Romans 8:32

Your Care Team Pastor

Donna Hill