Interview with Hillary Marides

Joni interviews her friend Hillary with cerebral palsy about her involvement in disability ministry.

Joni: Hi, this is Joni Eareckson Tada and I want you to meet a very special friend. It’s my friend Hillary Marides. Hillary, welcome to Joni and Friends.

Hillary: Thank you Joni, it’s a pleasure to be here.

Joni: Folks can’t tell from your voice… they certainly can’t see you sitting in that wheelchair you are with cerebral palsy, bless your heart. But you haven’t let your cerebral palsy slow you down one bit.

Hillary: No, I haven’t. 

Joni: I remember the first time we met. Can you recount it?

Hillary: Yes. I was 24 years old, just graduated from Gordon College and I was looking for a job and said, “Can I come work at Joni and Friends?”

Joni: That’s right! And you found your way out here to Southern California all the way from Boston, Massachusetts. And of course you have been with us at Joni and Friends and most recently been volunteering with our ministry for quite some time. But you are not just volunteering at Joni and Friends, you are doing some other important stuff, huh?

Hillary: That’s right.

Joni: What do you have going on?

Hillary: I’m in the Masters of Biblical Counseling program at the Master’s College here in Southern California and I am also a volunteer at my church at Grace Community Church in special ministries as well as being a Joni and Friends ministry associate, so I am pretty busy.

Joni: You are busy and you know I’m thinking that there are a lot of moms and dads of kids with cerebral palsy and they are scratching their heads wondering if their child – their son or daughter – will ever one day wheel on to the campus of a Christian college. How would you encourage them? 

Hillary: Well I would just say if your child feels that they are called by God to do something they should just go for it and if they fail they could always try again.

Joni: Now your mom must have been pretty nervous when you packed up and moved all the way across the country.

Hillary: Well I think my dad was more nervous because he is one of those dads who thinks you stay at home until you get married and since I never got married I think he would have preferred I stay at home but my mom was like here’s the money, you want to go to Gordon College, I’ll pay for half. So you know my parents were both great.

Joni: And your life is pretty fulfilled, isn’t it?

Hillary: Yes, it is.

Joni: Now tell me about what energizes you, what gives you the “umph” to get up every morning?

Hillary: Well I have to say, especially now that I am in the middle of finals, for the SIP students at the Master’s College it is the joy of the Lord that strengthens me because trying to write papers on five hours of sleep, I used to be able to do that when I was 28, but I’m 46 now so I have to say that’s what it is.

Joni: No way you are 46!

Hillary: I am too!!!

Joni: Oh, my goodness, this woman’s no longer a young adult, she’s an adult! Wow! Well, Hillary what do you hope to do with that Master’s Degree when you’re done?

Hillary: Well, at our church there are tons of women with disabilities who come to church on Sunday mornings who are in the local nursing homes and our Special Ministries pastor, Rick McClean doesn’t have time to counsel them all so I would like to help out with that.

Joni: You know, thumbs up to you Hillary. I applaud you, I tip my hat to you, I yield to you. There are so many folks, Christians, who don’t have cerebral palsy who are sitting at home wondering ‘Gee what kind of a ministry could I possibly have, what kind of influence for Christ might I have?’ And there you have just laid it out.

Hillary: Well, I think we could all have a ministry for Christ as long as we know what the Bible says and encourage people with God’s word. I think no matter what your disability is you can always have a ministry for Christ if you know God’s word.

Joni: There you go, and of course attending Grace Community Church, John McArthur’s Grace Church and the Master’s College, you certainly are being steeped in the Word of God, aren’t you? 

Hillary: I’ve been at Grace Church for 22 years.

Joni: Well, Hillary, you have such a thriving ministry in your own church, how would you recommend people get involved?

Hillary: Well if they want to get involved in their own church they should get involved in our Church Relations page. Go to, look up “Church Relations” and see what research we have so you can get involved in your own church.

Joni: And also our Christian Institute on Disability page. There are all kinds of internships available for people with disabilities such as yourself, right Hillary?

Hillary: That’s right.

Joni: Hey, you’re the best!

Hillary: You’re the best!

Joni: Jesus is the best! Thanks for inspiring us today.

Hillary: Thanks, Joni.


Joni and Friends Radio Broadcast # 7594. Airdate June 14, 2011.

Links and Resources

Hear more broadcasts from the Joni and Friends Radio Program (

To find out more about disability ministry or to get involved, visit the Joni and Friends website. (

The Christian Institute on Disability at Joni and Friends aggressively promotes life, human dignity and the value of all individuals – despite their disabling condition–from a biblical perspective through the Beyond Suffering course. (

The Joni and Friends Radio Program is a five-minute broadcast hosted by Joni Eareckson Tada. The inspirational program airs each weekday, sharing a biblical perspective on a wide range of topics. Joni shares encouragement, tackles issues related to disability awareness, and provides uniquely personal insights into life’s tougher questions. Her contagious joy and unwavering faith provide hope for those who find themselves faced with life’s crippling blows.