“You see, if I had never decided to go swimming that hot July day back in 1967, I know I would not be sitting here speaking to you about the glory of God,” Joni Eareckson told a hushed stadium at a Billy Graham Crusade in Tampa, Florida, in 1979.
“But I am,” she smiled. “And it’s wonderful.”
More than 35 years later, Joni Eareckson Tada is still telling the world about the glory of God.
The radio host, musician, author, artist, evangelist and international disabilities advocate will speak at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Sept. 8 before holding a book signing.
The free event is the latest chapter in a longstanding story of friendship between Joni and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that began after Ruth Bell Graham read Joni’s autobiography in 1976.
Joni: An Unforgettable Story tells of that hot July day Joni has mentioned at a dozen Billy Graham Crusades around the world. On that day, she unknowingly dove into some too-shallow water in the Chesapeake Bay and became a quadriplegic at age 17.
The story of how God lifted Joni up from depression and used her in such a mighty way to glorify Him moved Mrs. Graham deeply. She told her husband, Billy Graham, he needed to invite Joni to one of his Crusades.
Joni traveled around the world with BGEA, cultivating a friendship with Mr. and Mrs. Graham as she spoke at Crusades from Tampa to Amsterdam. In 1979, the BGEA’s filmmaking ministry, World Wide Pictures, turned her story into a feature-length movie, Joni.
“It’s been a long history with the Graham team, whom I love dearly,” Joni told the BGEA in 2012, as she encouraged believers to take part in the national evangelistic outreach, My Hope.
The Sept. 8 event at the Billy Graham Library (4330 Westmont Drive, Charlotte, NC 28217) will begin at 1:30 p.m. as Joni shares a personal message with guests. She’ll then sign copies of her books, including her newest, Beside Bethesda: 31 Days Towards Deeper Healing, in which she relates her journey of dealing with the most painful “unanswered prayer” in her life.
Books will be available for purchase in Ruth’s Attic bookstore at the Library, or guests can bring their own. There will be a limit of two signed items per person.