Joni and Friends Helps Organize Group to Facilitate Disability Ministry Worldwide

Global Access Association Could Transform Conference into a Movement

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., Feb. 26, 2015 – Organizers of the Global Access Conference, a first-of-its-kind event held last week to promote disability ministry worldwide, launched a new association at the conference that could prove to be its lasting legacy.

joniMore than 1,000 people from about 50 countries attended the conference, organized by the Joni and Friends ministry, at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village. Almost half of them – 450 — signed up for the new group, the Global Access Association.

“The world’s 1 billion people with disabilities are desperately crying out for help and hope,” said Joni Eareckson Tada, founder and CEO of Joni and Friends. “This is why the Global Access Association is critically needed – we simply must resource, network with, and help one another reach for Christ this global population!”

Members of the staff of Joni and Friends, who had planned for the four-day conference for five years, said that the association will facilitate the growth of disability ministry as a worldwide movement by:

  • edifying participants with practical knowledge and resources to accelerate their ministry;
  • engaging participants in a global network of like-minded people and organizations; and
  • encouraging the worldwide mission of the body of Christ through people with disabilities.

The conference – subtitled “Where Disabilities and Possibilities Meet ‘’ — brought together disability leaders, ministers, educators and practitioners to share experiences, forge relationships and learn how to practically and effectively promote disability ministry in the Christian community. The Global Access Association was a natural outgrowth of the gathering. For more information, please visit www.gaa.community.

Attendees heard speakers such as Nick Vujicic, international speaker and founder of Life without Limbs; Dr. Joseph D’Souza, International President of the Dalit Freedom Network; and Hyatt Moore, former president of Wycliffe Bible Translators who painted a 17-by-6-foot mural of the banquet from Luke 14 during the conference.

Conference participants also attended a pre-release screening of “The Drop Box,” a highly praised documentary about the “baby box” in South Korea where unwanted infants – many of them disabled – are left anonymously in the care of Pastor Lee Jong-rak. Joni and Friends also released a short film, “Ebenezer” about the 100,000th wheelchair delivered under its Wheels for the World program.

For 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; and Family Retreats, where families affected by disability learn they are not alone. For more information, please visit http://www.joniandfriends.org/.

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Note to Editors: For more information or to arrange an interview with Joni and Friends representatives, please contact Melany Ethridge of A. Larry Ross Communications at 972.267.1111 or melany@alarryross.com.