This is Day 16 of the 30 Days of Giving: Making Christmas Meaningful campaign, which is designed to bring the community creative and practical ways to cheerfully give this holiday season through gifts, relationships and charity. Come visit the 30 Days of Giving Advent Calendar each day in our countdown to Christmas for intriguing and original ways to help you to experience and spread the spirit of joyful giving that God intended throughout the holiday season.

“Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, maimed, blind, and lame.” —Luke 14:21

Sometimes we don’t appreciate all that we have, including the seemingly simple ability to move around on our own. However, many others throughout the world are not so fortunate.

While most Americans respect others with disabilities, that is not always the case in other countries. Here are just a few ministries making a difference:

Free Wheelchair Mission

A number of years ago, Don and Laurie Schoendorfer were on a vacation in Morocco when they noticed a poor disabled woman literally dragging herself across a dirt road. She was ignored by others and barely made it across the road without being hit by the traveling cars. This was the inspiration behind the Free Wheelchair Mission. Without a fancy title, The Free Wheelchair Mission does just that – offer free wheelchairs to those who need them worldwide.

While traditional wheelchairs are expensive, Schoendorfer found a way to cut costs dramatically with an economical design and a network of manufacturing, shipping and distribution partners. Each wheelchair is created in China and then packed alongside 549 others that are shipped from Shanghai to the desired destination. Each wheelchair created by Free Wheelchair Mission costs only $71.88 to make and deliver! 

Joni and Friends

Founded by Christian artist and speaker Joni Erickson-Tada, Join and Friends works with churches and communities throughout the world in helping families affected by disability. With the help from volunteers, Team Joni helps train and mentor those with disabilities to become leaders within the Christian community and beyond. They help bring support to those affected by disabilities as well as their families. 

Since 1994, the foundation’s Wheels for the World program has helped to provide wheelchairs, free of charge, to children and adults who cannot afford them in developing countries. However, the ministry says that it is not just about dropping off a wheelchair. 

“It’s about changing the hearts, minds and lives of people. It’s about transforming societies, village by village, person by person… through the gift of mobility.” In addition, TeamMED, a Joni and Friends initiative, sends medical and therapy teams to help train local leaders on how to support those in their community with disabilities.

You can help support this ministry by making a donation or by purchasing gift items from their website including Christmas card, books, devotionals, gifts and more.

Life without Limbs

Born without arms or legs (and no medical reason for this condition), Nick Vujicic is an inspiring speaker who shares his challenges and struggles with people all over the world. On his website he says that “doors open to a man without arms and legs much more easily than to anyone else,” and he welcomes that privilege. 

He has traveled to more than 44 countries to share his testimony in schools, churches, prisons, orphanages, hospitals and stadiums. Because of his unique condition, he has been able to personally build up others in similar situation with a “if I can do it, so can you” attitude. You can help support this ministry by purchasing gift items or by making a donation to the website.

Lift Disability Network

Located in Minnesota, the Lift Disability Network was created in 2006 by Eleos, The Care Network. It supports those with disabilities by combatting isolation by connecting with individuals and their families. This is done through programs that include social services, mentoring, mental health and family counseling, social events, and spiritual development. 

“Lift Disability Network is a community where the disability family is embraced, encouraged, and empowered,” states the ministries website. “An intersection where helplessness meets hopefulness … a place of healing for wounded souls … a connection to faith for a better life.”

Each month, the ministry presents “Boost” an event that features food, “crazy activities” and fellowship for those with disabilities and their families. Each summer the ministry offers a special camp. Donations can be made through the Lift website.

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