Tada, Joni Eareckson 1949-

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Tada, Joni Eareckson 1949-


Born 1949; married Ken Tada (a retired teacher), 1982. Hobbies and other interests: Painting.


Office—Agoura Hills, CA.


Founder and chief executive officer, Joni and Friends (Christian ministry), Agoura Hills, CA, 1979—, and of the Joni and Friends International Disability Center. Served on National Council on Disability; senior associate, Disability Concerns for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization; board member, Christian Writers Guild, Christian Medical and Dental Society, and New Europe Communications; honorary cochair, Presidential Prayer Team; member, Disability Advisory Committee, U.S. State Department, 2005—. Advisor to National Institute on Learning Disabilities, American Leprosy Mission, Christian Blind Mission International, and Love and Action.


Golden Plate Award, American Academy of Achievement; Courage Award, Courage Rehabilitation Center; Award of Excellence, Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center; Victory Award, National Rehabilitation Hospital; Golden Word Award, International Bible Society; Layperson of the Year, National Association of Evangelicals; Churchwoman of the Year, Religious Heritage Foundation, 1993; Gold Medallion, Evangelical Publishers' Association, 1997, for Tell Me the Promises, 1998, for Tell Me the Truth; Silver Medal, C.S. Lewis Awards, 1997, for Tell Me the Promises; William Ayer Award, National Religious Broadcasters' Association, 2002; Golden Medallion Award, 2003, for When God Weeps, 2004, for Hymns for a Kid's Heart, Volume 1; Golden Medallion Lifetime Achievement Award, Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, 2003; inducted into the Christian Booksellers Association Hall of Fame. Honorary bachelor's degree, Western Maryland College; doctor of humanities, Gordon College; D.H.L., Columbia International University; doctor of divinity, Westminster Theological Seminary and Lancaster Bible College.


(With Joe Musser) Joni, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1976, published as Joni Eareckson Tada: Her Story, Inspirational Press (New York, NY), 1994, twentieth anniversary edition published as Joni: An Unforgettable Story, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1996.

(With Steve Estes, and illustrator) A Step Further, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1978, updated and expanded edition, 1990.

Choices, Changes, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1986.

(With Gene Newman) All God's Children: Ministry to the Disabled, Ministry Resources Library (Grand Rapids, MI), 1987, revised edition, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1993.

(With Bev Singleton) Friendship Unlimited: How You Can Help a Disabled Friend, H. Shaw Publishers (Wheaton, IL), 1987.

Jeremy, Barnabas, and the Wonderful Dream, illustrated by Ann Neilsen, Chariot Books (Elgin, IL), 1987.

Meet My Friends, D.C. Cook (Elgin, IL), 1987.

Darcy, Chariot Books (Elgin, IL), 1988.

Ryan and the Circus Wheels, illustrated by Norman McGary, Chariot Books (Elgin, IL), 1988.

Secret Strength: For Those Who Search, Multnomah (Portland, OR), 1988.

Glorious Intruder: God's Presence in Life's Chaos, Multnomah (Portland, OR), 1989.

Let God Be God, edited by Bryce Inman, transcribed by Bryce Inman and Jerry Cleveland, Word Music (Irving, TX), 1989.

A Christmas Longing, Multnomah (Portland, OR), 1990.

Seeking God: My Journey of Prayer and Praise, Wolgemuth & Hyatt (Brentwood, TN), 1991.

(With Joe Musser and Linda Lee Maifair) Joni's Story, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1992.

When Is It Right to Die? Suicide, Euthanasia, Suffering, Mercy, foreword by C. Everett Koop, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1992.

(With Steve Jensen) Darcy and the Meanest Teacher in the World, Chariot Books (Elgin, IL), 1993.

Diamonds in the Dust: 366 Sparkling Devotions, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1993.

(With others) Flights of Angels: Selections from Billy Graham, Joni Eareckson Tada, Helen Steiner Rice & Others, Dimensions for Living (Nashville, TN), 1994.

(With Steve Jensen) Darcy's Dog Dilemma, Chariot Books (Elgin, IL), 1994.

(With Steve Jensen) Darcy's Great Expectations, Chariot Books (Elgin, IL), 1994.

Heaven: Your Real Home, Zondervan (Grand Rapid, MI), 1995.

The Life and Death Dilemma: Families Facing Health Care Choices, revised edition, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1995.

A Christmas Longing, Multnomah Books (Portland, OR), 1996.

(With Steve Jensen) Tell Me the Promises: A Family Covenant for Eternity, illustrated by Ron DiCianni, Crossway Books (Wheaton, IL), 1996.

(With Steve Jensen) Barrier-free Friendships: Bridging the Distance between You and Friends with Disabilities, revised edition, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1997.

(With Steve Jensen) Tell Me the Truth: God's Eternal Truths for Families, illustrated by Ron DiCianni, Crossway Books (Wheaton, IL), 1997.

(With Steve Estes) When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1997.

God's Precious Love, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1998.

I'll Be with You Always, illustrated by Craig Nelson, Crossway Books (Wheaton, IL), 1998.

More Precious Than Silver: 366 Daily Devotional Readings, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1998.

Heaven: What Will It Be Like?, Marshall Pickering (London, England), 1999.

Holiness in Hidden Places, Countryman (Nashville, TN), 1999.

You've Got a Friend, illustrated by Jeff Meyer, Crossway Books (Wheaton, IL), 1999.

(With Steve Jensen) The Amazing Secret, Crossway Books (Wheaton, IL), 2000.

(With Melody Carlson) Forever Friends, Crossway Books (Wheaton, IL), 2000.

(With Steve Jensen) The Unforgettable Summer, Crossway Books (Wheaton, IL), 2000.

The Incredible Discovery of Lindsey Renee, illustrated by Irena Roman, Crossway Books (Wheaton, IL), 2001.

(With Steve Jensen) The Mission Adventure, Crossway Books (Wheaton, IL), 2001.

(With Kay Strom) Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith, T. Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2001.

(Compiler, with others) What Wondrous Love Is This? Hymns of Wonder and Worship to Remember His Love (includes sound disc), Crossway Books (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

(With others) When Morning Gilds the Skies: Hymns of Heaven and Our Eternal Hope, Crossway Books (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

On the Wings of the West Wind, illustrated by Michael Steirnagle, Crossway Books (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

God's Tender Care, Inspirio (Grand Rapids, MI), 2002.

The God I Love: A Lifetime of Walking with Jesus (memoir), Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2003.

(With Bobbie Wolgemuth) Hymns for a Kid's Heart, illustrated by Sergio Martinez, Crossway Books (Wheaton, IL), 2003.

31 Days toward Intimacy with God, Multnomah Publishers (Sisters, OR), 2005.

(With Dave and Jan Dravecky) 365 Days of Hope, Authentic Media (Waynesboro, GA), 2005.

A Father's Touch, illustrated by Craig Nelson, Crossway Books (Wheaton, IL), 2005.

31 Days toward Overcoming Adversity, Multnomah Publishers (Sisters, OR), 2006.

(With Nigel M. de S. Cameron) How to Be a Christian in a Brave New World, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2006.

Pearls of Great Price: 366 Daily Devotional Readings, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2006.

31 Days toward Passionate Faith, Multnomah Publishers (Colorado Springs, CO), 2007.

Author of foreword, Pursued: A True Story of Crime, Faith, and Family, by Donald Smarto, InterVarsity Press (Downers Grove, IL), 1990; Just Like Everybody Else, by Jim Pierson, illustrated by Kathy Parks, Standard (Cincinnati, OH), 1993; Harps & Halos: Songs about Heaven, Everland Entertainment: Word Records & Music (Nashville, TN), 1994; Acres of Hope: The Miraculous Story of One Family's Gift of Love to Children without Hope, by Patty Anglin and Joe Musser, Promise Press (Uhrichsville, OH), 1999; author of introduction, Hand That Paints the Sky: Delighting in the Creator's Canvas, special message from artist/composer Cindy Morgan, New Leaf Press (Green Forest, AR), 2003. General editor with Dave and Jan Dravecky, NIV Encouragement Bible: New International Version, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2001. Contributor to O Come, All Ye Faithful: Hymns of Adoration to Celebrate His Birth, Crossway. Contributor to periodicals, including Christianity Today, War Cry, and Today's Christian Woman.


Joni's Song, Word (Waco, TX), 1981.

Spirit Wings, Word (Waco, TX), 1982.

Lord of Love, Word Records (Waco, Texas), 1984.

I've Got Wheels!, Word Records (Waco, TX), 1985.

Let God Be God, Word (Dallas, TX), 1989.

When Is It Right to Die? Suicide, Euthanasia, Suffering, Mercy (sound recording), Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1992.

Joni, Zondervan Audio Pages (Grand Rapids, MI), 2001.

(Narrator) Stephen Elkins, The Great Adventure: A Very Special Story for Children (includes sound disc), illustrated by Ellie Colton, Broadman & Holman Publishers (Nashville, TN), 2001.

God's Precious Love, Inspirio (Grand Rapids, MI), 2002.

God's Tender Care, Inspirio (Grand Rapids, MI), 2002.

When Morning Gildes the Skies, Great Hymns of Our Faith, Crossway Books (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

Choose Life!, Focus on the Family (Colorado Springs, CO), 2004.


Joni was adapted as a feature film.


An athletic teenager who loved to swim and ride horses, Joni Eareckson Tada had her life changed forever when she was seventeen. She dived into the shallow end of a pool and broke her neck in 1967. Paralyzed, she has been a quadriplegic ever since, a disability that severely tested her Christian beliefs. She seriously contemplated suicide, as she told an interviewer on the Notes in the Key of Life Web site: "I was so depressed, so discouraged … and when I was even brave enough to think about living life sitting in a wheelchair for the rest of my life, without use of my hands, I begged my friends to aid me in suicide. I asked them to bring in their mothers' sleeping pills, their father's razor blades, anything to put me out of my misery." Tada eventually found the strength to go on with her life through her religious faith. Seeking to inspire others with disabilities, she founded the ministry Joni and Friends. The organization serves the public in many ways. For example, they refurbish thousands of wheelchairs and distribute them to the needy worldwide, they aid hundreds of families whose members have special needs, and they provide educational and religious support through publications, organized retreats, radio broadcasts, and more.

Tada has written dozens of inspirational books, too, for both adults and children, including her autobiographical books Joni: An Unforgettable Story and The God I Love: A Lifetime of Walking with Jesus. The former was later republished as Joni and has been adapted as an inspirational film. A Publishers Weekly critic said of the autobiography that "Christian readers should appreciate this mature, absorbing reminiscence of a remarkable life," while Booklist reviewer Donna Chavez called it a "moving, well-told memoir."

Others with her disability have supported such causes as assisted suicide and stem cell research, positions that Tada has said her Christian beliefs do not allow her to support. Contrary to the position taken by the late actor Christopher Reeve, who supported the use of embryonic cells to repair nerve damage, Tada has felt that such research cheapens human dignity and the human soul. In How to Be a Christian in a Brave New World, which she cowrote, Tada addresses stem cell research, as well as other issues involving medical ethics, such as cloning, in vitro fertilization, and euthanasia. Graham Christian stated in his Library Journal review that the book is "thoughtfully argued." Assisted suicide is the topic of Tada's When Is It Right to Die? Suicide, Euthanasia, Suffering, Mercy. This is a subject that the author knows very well, and her conclusion that killing oneself is not the right choice thus bears considerable weight. Instead, she counsels those who are suffering to seek hospice care and to find comfort in the words of the Bible. Tada "delivers an eloquent, persuasive testimony," according to one Publishers Weekly reviewer. A writer for Issues in Law & Medicine concluded: "It presents a reasoned argument—including moral, emotional, philosophical, and spiritual aspects—to an issue society will increasingly face."



Tada, Joni Eareckson, and Joe Musser, Joni: An Unforgettable Story, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1996.

Tada, Joni Eareckson, The God I Love: A Lifetime of Walking with Jesus, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2003.


Booklist, October 1, 1996, review of Joni, p. 308; July 1, 2003, Donna Chavez, review of The God I Love, p. 1849; October 15, 1992, "When Is It Right to Die?," p. 385.

Christianity Today, March 1, 2003, Joni Eareckson Tada, "Threat of Biotech: Joni Eareckson Tada Responds to Christopher Reeve and Others," p. 60; August 1, 2003, review of The God I Love, p. 58.

Issues in Law & Medicine, December 22, 1992, "When Is It Right to Die?," p. 419.

Library Journal, September 15, 1992, review of When Is It Right to Die? Suicide, Euthanasia, Suffering, Mercy, p. 80; May 1, 2006, Graham Christian, review of How to Be a Christian in a Brave New World, p. 91.

Publishers Weekly, October 26, 1992, review of When Is It Right to Die?, p. 51; November 9, 1998, review of More Precious Than Silver: 366 Daily Devotional Readings, p. 72; September 24, 2001, review of "How to Be Santa Claus," p. 61; February 18, 2002, review of What Wondrous Love Is This: Hymns of Wonder and Worship to Remember His Love, p. 64; June 16, 2003, review of The God I Love, p. 65; April 3, 2006, review of How to Be a Christian in a Brave New World, p. 65.

School Library Journal, May 1, 1993, "Joni's Story," p. 112.


Armchair Interviews,http://www.armchairinterviews.com/ (May 15, 2007), Brenda A. Snodgrass, review of 31 Days toward Passionate Faith.

BBC Web site,http://www.bbc.co.uk (May 15, 2007), interview with Joni Eareckson Tada.

Joni and Friends,http://www.joniandfriends.org (May 15, 2007).

Notes in the Key of Life,http://cindyswanslife.blogspot.com/ (February 3, 2005), interview with Joni Eareckson Tada.