Since the pandemic begin, Joni Eareckson Tada’s ministry has been offering prayer and practical support for medically vulnerable people who have contracted COVID-19. Now, Joni and Friends is asking for prayer for its founder and namesake, who has contracted the virus at age 71.
Tada is showing signs of improvement after receiving monoclonal antibodies, a treatment designed to help boost disease-fighting by the immune system that has been used by high-profile COVID-19 patients including President Trump.
“It has been a long hard day, but I know people are praying because Ken’s and my spirits are bright,” she said, according to a ministry update posted on Facebook.
But given Tada’s medical background, including having just recovered from cancer for the second time last year, this is “just the beginning of her road to recovery,” Joni and Friends wrote. She recently tested positive after experiencing flu-like symptoms.
When the coronavirus outbreak began in the US in March, Tada—who has written and spoken extensively on faith amid suffering—emphasized God’s sovereignty during the pandemic.
“Jesus knows exactly where the virus is and where it is going next, who will get it and who will not. Since our Savior always does what is wise and good, he has prudent purposes in this disease and its impact,” she said, going on to describe her own vulnerabilities should she become infected.
“Personally I am staking my life on that because I am a person at great risk. I am an aging quadriplegic with fragile lungs and an immune system that can be easily compromised,” she said. “But I am following all the protocols and I am bolstering my confidence with the same assurance that we giving the people we serve through Joni and Friends: The world belongs to Almighty God.”
Recognizing how people living with disabilities have been disproportionately hard-hit, isolated, and distressed by COVID-19, the ministry has been adapting to meet their physical and spiritual needs during a time when other resources and support have been shut down.
Tada also served on the Heritage Foundation’s National Coronavirus Recovery Commission. As a part of the commission, offering guidance on response efforts, she prioritized the need to safeguard “the vulnerable, the weak and medically fragile, the disabled, and the elderly who are our nation’s heritage and who deserve our protection, respect, and gratitude.”
Back in March, she spoke up about her desire to see Christians’ faith on display during a time of national and global suffering, and she has previously applauded believers who choose careers working among the weak, elderly, and disabled—saying their willingness to treat them with dignity and value can have a meaningful impact on how society sees the most vulnerable.
Tada wrote for CT about how her paralysis and desire for healing has changed her view of heaven, saying, “Physical affliction and emotional pain are, frankly, part of my daily routine. But these hardships are God’s way of helping me to get my mind on the hereafter.”
She also battled breast cancer in 2010 and 2018. Facing the coronavirus, she thanked readers for their prayers: “I am deeply humbled that the Holy Spirit has garnered so much prayer support for us. I don't deserve it, but I sure do appreciate it! Thank you for asking God to grant me strength, increased faith, a singing heart, and sure hope!”
Joni and Friends wrote to supporters, “While we know this diagnosis has not taken Jesus by surprise, we are interceding for Joni’s health, strength, and confidence in God’s good purposes. We have seen God protect her from two bouts of cancer and we know he can do it again! Thank you for joining us in prayer!”