Hey, do you know my friend Emily Colson, Chuck Colson’s daughter?
Well, if you do, I just bet you know all about her amazing son, Max. Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada, and with World Autism Day coming up this Friday, I just have to tell you about Max. He’s Emily’s 30-year-old son who not only has autism, Max has the most amazing ministry. And during my recent bout with COVID, I was the honored recipient of that ministry. Now first, you need to know that Max has a lot of limitations, but his heart has none of them. His ministry began around this time last year. He and his mom prayed a quarantine prayer, asking God, “How can we be a blessing to others?” Now right there, that’s something pretty special. Because that COVID quarantine last year cut back all sorts of social services for young men like Max. It was hard being sequestered, a single mother like Emily and an adult son with his disability. But that did not daunt Emily and Max. Because as Emily prayed, Max began to paint. It was something fun and interesting to take up his time while holed up in the house. And Emily, his mom, became paint-squirter, paintbrush-washer, and gentle guide. But here’s the really fun part…
As an encouragement and a blessing to others, Max started painting big red hearts – all kinds of hearts – and he painted them on yard signs and then, with his winning smile and unstoppable joy, he delivered them to neighbors and friends. And big red hearts on big signs began to crop up on everyone’s front lawn, on picket fences, propped up against mailboxes, on front steps. That quarantine was not about to get this young man down and, even with his limitations of autism, Max knew that people needed to be encouraged. Emily knew this was of the Lord, and so she started posting photos of Max and his hearts on her Facebook page.
And the response was amazing! Everyone was so excited about Max’s ministry, the word began to spread. And it became an honor if one of Max’s original heart paintings ended up on your front lawn! And you can imagine how I screamed with delight when, over the recent Christmas season, I opened a big package from Emily and, oh my goodness, Max even sent me one of his original heart paintings. I couldn’t believe it. In the middle of dealing with COVID, it so touched me that Max thought of me; and he wanted to encourage me. I went on Facebook and saw that Emily was always producing notecards from Max’s artwork, and requests for heart cards by Max started pouring in from around the country. And what really touched me is proceeds from the sales of Max’s cards go directly to charity – and yes, Joni and Friends is one of those honored charities. And I was stunned. How good of Max to cheer on our ministry to other people with disabilities with his boxes of heart cards.
So do me a favor, and go to joniradio.org today where I have posted fun photos of Max and his artwork. And I have even provided a link to Emily Colson’s website where you can learn more. We all need hope. We all need love. Especially now. So celebrate World Autism Day this coming Friday, and pass on the blessing of Max and his story. Again, you can learn more and enjoy these wonderful photos when you visit my radio page at joniradio.org. And Max? If you’re listening today, your original painting of that big red heart is being proudly displayed in my art studio for all to see! Thanks, Max. And thank you, friend, for giving heartfelt hope in our hardships.
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