Every donated wheelchair Joni and Friends receives comes with a story—many with a story of loss. But when a wheelchair is given, its original owner’s story is far from over.
In fact, their story—and God’s story of grace and healing—live on in a tangible way.
James lived with quadriplegia caused by a condition so rare that it doesn’t have a name. He was non-verbal but communicated clearly through smiles, nods, and blinks.
While Elizabeth, James’s mother, adored her son and found great joy in caring for him, the two of them couldn’t count on acceptance from others—even in the church.
After facing rejection from multiple churches, Elizabeth came to doubt that she and her son had a place in the body of Christ.
But when Elizabeth found Joni and Friends, she finally received the warm welcome she and James deserved. Through fellowship and prayer, Elizabeth and James quickly became part of the Joni and Friends family. When James turned fifteen, the team from Joni and Friends got to celebrate his birthday with him.
No one realized that James’s fifteenth birthday would be his last. But on July 27th, James went home to be with Jesus. And while those still here missing him grieve, the blessings and legacy of James’s life live on.
Elizabeth prayerfully decided to give the wheelchair her son no longer needs to Joni and Friends. As the wheelchair is restored to like-new condition and given to a child in need, the blessing of James’s life continues to multiply. So while James enjoys his fully restored body in heaven, another child will receive the gifts of mobility and dignity, because of his life and his mother’s courageous love.
Today Elizabeth remains part of the Joni and Friends community, sharing hope with other families living with disability. Speaking from experience, she encourages others to look for the ways that God shows up, unexpectedly, again and again. And having found a place of belonging for her and her son at Joni and Friends, she has become part of the welcoming committee that Jesus commissions in Luke 14:
“Go out quickly in the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame…. Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.”
Luke 14:21, 23
When you partner with Joni and Friends, you make it possible for families like James and Elizabeth to experience full belonging in Christ. Join with us to bring more people with disabilities into God’s house, now and for eternity.