Documentary Short Film ‘Ebenezer’ Tells of Joni and Friends’ 100,000th Wheelchair

Global Access Conference to Host film’s launch, debut screening

AGOURA HILLS, Calif., Jan. 26, 2015 – As part of its upcoming Global Access Conference to be held in southern California Feb. 17-20, Joni and Friends International Disability Center will launch its first documentary short film, “Ebenezer,” which follows the 100,000th chair donated to the ministry through its refurbishment process until its delivery to a little boy in Ghana.

GA-Social-Media-Graphics-Ebeneezer-2“We thought Global Access would be the perfect place to launch the film, as it’s a great picture of the needs within the disability community around the world,” said Executive Producer and Joni and Friends Vice President, Marc Stein. “We know those in attendance will celebrate along with us this significant milestone, and embrace the challenge we issue with the film – to reach our next 100,000 wheelchairs by 2020.”

“Ebenezer” is Joni and Friends’ first foray into film-making, having focused on television production in-house to this point. However, with the proliferation and the impact of short films through social media, this seemed an opportune time for them to delve into the genre. While serving in a ministry leadership position at Joni and Friends, Stein has a background in production and film-making, and recognized that the talent of the Joni and Friends production crew could be utilized in expanding ways.

Without any words, the film vividly portrays the gratitude of a grieving widow that an old broken-down wheelchair can be given new life to serve someone else, the feeling of purpose that the restoration of the chair gives to the prison inmates who perform the task, and the joy of the young boy Ebenezer that he’ll no longer be house-bound while his friends are out playing soccer.

“Stories are so powerful for communicating human emotion, uplifting people and inspiring change, and we believe Ebenezer’s story will do the same for those who see it,” Stein said. “We hope to release more films like this as tools for increasing awareness about Joni and Friends and encouraging new volunteers, advocates and donors to become involved in the ministry.”

Ebenezer has been previewed among Joni and Friends internal audiences and will be submitted for competition in a variety of film festivals in the next few months. In addition, Joni and Friends will be offering it free for distribution in movie theaters looking for short films to run before the feature begins, on select television networks and to churches.

The theme of the Global Access Conference, “Where Disabilities and Possibilities Meet,” is carried out in the film, as a young boy with his life ahead of him, but unable to walk because of a disability, is matched with a wheelchair, giving him mobility and hope for the future. Viewers can see the possibilities come to life in his eyes.

Individuals from around the world will be coming to Southern California for the conference. Disability leaders, ministers, educators and practitioners will share experiences, forge relationships and learn how to practically and effectively promote disability ministry in the Christian community.

The conference runs Tuesday evening, Feb. 17, through Friday evening, Feb. 20, at Calvary Community Church, 5495 Via Rocas, Westlake Village, Calif. Registration is $299, which includes all sessions as well as lunch, dinner, snacks and beverages during the conference and transportation from pre-arranged hotels. More information is available online at www.globalaccessconference.org.

In addition to Tada, conference speakers include: Doug Mazza, President and Chief Operating Officer of Joni and Friends; Nick Vujicic, international speaker and founder of Life Without Limbs; Dr. Charles Ware, President of Crossroads Bible College; Dr. Joseph D’Souza, International President of the Dalit Freedom Network; Dr. Eddy Bazin, pastor of Delmas Christian Church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Lon Solomon, senior pastor at McLean Bible Church; international missionary and speaker Bernadette Todd; and full-time painter and speaker Hyatt Moore, former president of Wycliffe Bible Translators.

For more than 35 years, Joni and Friends has worked to accelerate ministry to the disability community around the world, offering a wide array of life-affirming ministries, including the Christian Institute on Disability; the International Disability Center; international radio and television programs filled with inspirational stories; Wheels for the World, which every year gives thousands of individuals wheelchairs and the life-giving message of the Gospel; and Family Retreats, where families affected by disability learn they are not alone.

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