The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

Archive for Media Announcements

Christian Illness Ministry Sponsors 5-Day Virtual Conference Online

09_logo-for-blogSBWIRE – SEPT 14, 2009 / Nearly 1 in 2 people in the USA live with a chronic illness and about 96% of these illnesses are invisible.* Rest Ministries, Inc., the largest Christian organization that serves the chronically ill, and an affiliate of Joni Eareckson Tada’s International Disability Ministry, is encouraging those with illness, friends, family, caregivers, and churches to get involved in their annual outreach, National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, September 14-20, 2009.

In addition to churches having outreach events for those with chronic conditions, Rest Ministries organizes a 5-day free virtual conference with 20 seminars that can be attended via one’s computer and computer speakers. Seminars are on a variety of topics including marriage, parenting, starting a business, how to apply for disability and more—all when you live with a chronic illness. The seminars are held via Blog Talk Radio and listeners can call in through their phone line with questions.

Well known Christian authors who will be presenting include:

  • Bill and Pam Farrel, best-selling authors; The Marriage Code (Harvest House, 2009)
  • Naomi Kingery, author of Sugar Free Me (Xulon Press, 2008)
  • Dena Dyer, author of Mothers of the Bible (Barbour Publishing, 2009)
  • Georgia Shaffer, author of How Not to Date a Loser (Harvest House, 2008)
  • Joanna Faillace, Certified Biblical Health Coach an author of Super-Naturally Healthy Families Cookbook Devotional
  • Lisa Copen, author of Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend (Rest Publishers, 2008)
  • Maureen Pratt, author of Peace in the Storm: Meditations on Chronic Pain & Illness (Galilee Trade, 2005)
  • Jennifer Saake, author of Hannah’s Hope: Seeking God’s Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage and Adoption Loss (NavPress, 2005)
  • Marcia Ramsland, author of Simplify Your Life (Thomas Nelson, 2004)
  • Jolene Philo, author of A Different Dream for My Child (Discovery House Publishers 2009)

Lisa Copen, 40, founder of Rest Ministries says, “Many Christians may have a solid walk with the Lord, but the emotional roller coaster of a chronic illness and its constant progression can leave them feeling alone and misunderstood. They are hanging on by a thread and being told they look fine and should just make themselves get up and go to church only adds to the isolation and bitterness of others ‘not getting it.’ The emotional scars can be harder to cope with than the actual illness.”

Copen, who has lived with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia since the age of twenty-four, ended up in the hospital for a week last fall fighting off the flesh eating bacteria in an ankle wound. We never know what the next day will hold,” she explains. “It is so important that there is good communication between those who are ill and their loved ones, as well as the church body.”

Did Copen’s circle of friends and church come through for her? “It was an enlightening experience,” she says. “Although I teach others to ask for help, I found out how difficult it is. And then when I did ask for help, I experienced what it is like when you fall through the cracks and everyone thinks someone else is providing both the practical support as well as emotional encouragement.”

Rest Ministries extends their outreach about invisible illness awareness to churches, providing materials to start up HopeKeepers groups, books, cards, tracts, etc. About 96% of those with illness may appear perfectly healthy on Sunday mornings, but may struggle to get out of bed the remainder of the week.

Ken Chambers, Director of Church Relations at Joni and Friends International Disability Center, says, “It is vital that Christians understand the emotional and spiritual trials of those with invisible disabilities, as well as those with visible disabilities. I encourage church leaders to take advantage of the wealth of resources at Rest Ministries and to participate in the National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, which they sponsor annually.”

One can get involved by joining the hundreds of bloggers who are writing about illness in the next few days, by joining the cause on Facebook, and most especially, by tuning in for the conference. All seminars will also be recorded and archived.

See for more information or for the sponsor of this event, Rest Ministries.

*Source: Chronic Care in America, U.S. Census Bureau

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Podcaster Seeks Hospice Expert

LAKEWOOD, CO - AUGUST 21:  Terminally ill hosp...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Bridgette Mongeon is a writer/podcaster. She says, “We are saddened to report that we have lost one of our co-hosts to our  podcast. They had entered hospice and it was our first experience with  hospice. We would like someone who can tell us more about what hospice is  and how it works for what may be an emotional podcast. In addition we may be interested in doing a separate podcast on the experiences that have been  viewed by perhaps hospice nurses or others concerning visitations from the  other side during hospice . Much of this happened with our experience.

Please indicate HARO-Hospice information or HARO Hospice-visitation in
your subject line. This is a Christian podcast and a christian viewpoint
is helpful but not necessary.
Please note that I appreciate all response
but the grief is making it very difficult to get back to work. We will
respond to all as soon as we can.

Thank you in advance. You can  listen to other podcasts here

Email her soon because her deadline is: 01:08am CENTRAL – 28 August

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Joni and Friends Celebrates Anniversary

book-joniWhen I was young I read the book Joni and saw the movie. That this young woman’s life could be turned around in a second, all from a simple dive, was scary to hear. But to see her faith, regardless of her circumstances, was amazing and inspiring.

Years later, at the age of 24 I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I looked for the chronic illness Christian organization for those with illness. I was familiar with Joni and Friends, her ministry for the disabled, but I didn’t feel like it “fit” what I was going through at the time.  I wasn’t in a wheelchair, after all. I just would never be able to wear high heels ever again.

But after searching Christian bookstores for a resource and scouring the Christian ministries I was aware of I couldn’t find anything. I was surprised! Where did Christians turn when they were told “You have diabetes” or “You have rheumatoid arthritis”? Yes, of course, God could heal me. But what if He chose not to? And what if it was ten years from now? I needed people who understood what I was going through- now!. And the secular support groups were just making me more depressed (too much venting and negativity and no hope at all…)

I started a little newsletter called …And He Will Give You Rest.  It was 1997 and I was just beginning to become familiar with the Internet. I built a little web site. People started to connect.

My husband and I went to hear Joni speak and I stood in line to have her sign my book but really just to talk to her. I told her about my ministry and asked if anyone else was doing illness ministry. She said “Not that I know of” and basically told me to “go for it!” Well… I did. I never looked back and always hoped I could somehow fulfill the vision God gave me.

jonisYears later I was honored to be on Joni’s radio program. She has her ministry send out our brochures when people call her ministry who have an illness. I served on the board of directors for an organization she had begun called the Christian Persons with Disabilities. A couple times a year I flew around the country and our board met to talk about disability and illness ministry in churches today and how we could make leaders more aware of the opportunities and joy people with disabilities can bring to a congregration. But Joni wasn’t there… Sometimes she had planned to be and her own health issues prevented her from coming.

At a christian book expo I found a copy of one of her paintings: Heaven. It is on the wall in my office. Her book When God Weeps is one of the best I’ve ever read.

One time I was exhibiting at a church conference where she was the keynote speaker. She zoomed by in her chair and said, “Hey, Lisa! How are you? I’m going to eat lunch over there. Come on over and join me!”

I don’t remember what I said. Nothing eloquent. My sister was standing beside me and said “She knows your name! She knows your name!”

I wandered over and had the joy of sharing a meal with her in a cafeteria setting behind the exhibit room, just her and I and her assistant.

And then one day someone from their office called me. (Me?) He had a chronic illness and had talked to Joni and thought Rest Ministries would be a good fit for an affiliate organization of Joni and Friends. I had assumed since we were more of an illness ministry and not so much a disability ministry, we wouldn’t be eligible. I attended my first meeting and the compassion of all of the staff was amazing.

A couple years ago I was to speak and exhibit at a conference organized by Joni and Friends. Days before we had to evacuate for about 5 days due to fires coming through our neighborhood. We packed 2 cars. One with our stuff. One with our exhibit stuff. I wrote my presentation sitting at a picnic table on La Jolla shores–the only place where one could breath a bit in all of San Diego county. I tried to concentrate on what I was to be doing in a few days and yet both my husband and I felt a sense that God really could take our home to make us have a spiritual lightening bolt moment in our lives. (Thankfully we weren’t right. God gave us grace and saved our home.)

But I remember my husband asking me… “What if we lose our home? Will we still go up to LA and go to Joni’s conference?” (Thinking, surely not, right?)

And without missing a beat I said, “There are no people I would rather be around after those at Joni and Friends those first few days.”

I don’t even know a lot of J&F staff or volunteers, but that’s how loved you feel. It would have been like being with my closest family during the most difficult time of our lives.


I hope you will celebrate with me this special time for Joni. Below is the press release I received today and wanted to share it with you. I wish I could say Joni and I just hang out, but that’s not true. Despite my involvement with her ministry I still stand in awe of her. When I am at a conference or her office building, she always is so busy and I know she is tired and don’t want to bother her. But her ministry and her message (through speaking, books, and sense of humor through anything) has been one of the joys in my life.

When I started Rest Ministries I had no idea what I was doing. Sometimes I think nothing has changed. I still feel in over my head, especially when my health issues mess with my schedule (I had to cancel participating last year in J&F’s conference due to having that bummer flesh eating bacteria). I will never measure up to Joni’s ministry, but is my hope that, by using it as my blueprint, I can bring glory to God.

jaf-rooms.pgA couple years ago I had the opportunity to go up and visit her new building (see right). It’s beautiful. You can stand in one place and sing and it echoes all over the building. The chapel is amazing. If you are ever in Agoura Hills, CA (north of LA) you can take a tour.

The whole building was designed for ministry (cute little places to sit and pray), comfort (it feels so light and refreshing) and to make anyone in a wheelchair feel normal (a building that makes the wheelchair ramps appear to be nothing but design inspired to add to the visual pleasure). A waterfall in the reception area immediately calms you and makes you feel like –for a moment– all is right with our world.

jonisdesk meAnd then I got to see Joni’s desks – one was spotless but the other one, the real working desk…? Let’s just say for a moment was thrilled because it looked as full as mine! It stands as a reminder to get back to work because when it comes to illness or disability ministry “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Matthew 9:37

If Joni has blessed you (as I know she has – many of you) remember to drop her a note or a birthday card in the next couple of months.



As Joni Eareckson Tada observes her 60th birthday in October, this year also marks the 30th anniversary of the ministry she founded to provide support and outreach to individuals with disabilities and their families — inspired from her own experience as a quadriplegic trying to adapt and survive in an inaccessible world.

Tada became a quadriplegic at the age of 17 as the result of a diving accident. As part of her rehabilitation, she learned to paint beautiful pictures with her mouth, which she showed at local art fairs. She was featured on a local television program, after which NBC’s “The Today Show” booked her for an interview with Barbara Walters.

“After that interview, things kind of exploded,” Tada said. “A publisher asked if I would write a book (I did and its called “Joni”) and the Billy Graham film ministry did a story on my life.

“This resulted in thousands of letters from disabled people,” Joni continued. “These letters inspired me to begin this important ministry, responding to people seeking advice and encouragement.”

Joni and Friends was established in 1979, in Burbank, Calif., and Tada began the now- internationally-syndicated radio program “Joni and Friends” in 1982. The ministry grew and moved to a new location in Agoura Hills in 1986.

One of the ministry’s best-known programs is Wheels for the World, providing wheelchairs for individuals with disabilities all over the world. Family Retreats are another renowned JAF outreach, during which individuals with disabilities and their entire families are encouraged and given a real respite during a week-long “summer camp” atmosphere.

As JAF has moved from a personality-focused programming ministry to a vision-driven movement, it has engaged in the bio-ethics debate, with the establishment of the Christian Institute on Disability. This development has helped prepare JAF to lead the Church into the 21st century, as technological advances outpace Christians’ engagement in science and culture.

A critical development in this growth and transition has been the addition of Doug Mazza as president and COO (Tada continues to serve as CEO). Mazza came to JAF in 1999 as executive vice president, moving to his new role in 2004. Drawing on his years of corporate management experience, Mazza helped initiate the transition from “Joni” to “Joni and Friends,” and encouraged a more collaborative and integrated organization.

Billy Burnett, vice president and chief financial officer, oversees financial and administrative systems at JAF, and along with other ministry leadership, is amazed at how God has blessed and grown Joni and Friends. The organization recently completed construction on a large, new hi-tech headquarters building — a model of accessibility for the 21st century.

As the ministry turns the corner on this its 30th year, it continues to fulfill Tada’s vision of accelerating ministry to those with disabilities. “If churches around the world would grasp the revolutionary truth that Christ’s transforming power always comes through sacrifice and weakness, it would dramatically alter the landscape of the global church,” Tada said.

In celebration of the 30th anniversary, JAF has established a special gold seal for use in all literature and communications. It serves as a reminder of how far the ministry has come, Mazza said, but is just the tip of the iceberg in how JAF plans to continue to grow and serve in the future.

“While we pause in appreciation of the past, we look forward with more excitement than ever, as we continue to see so many opportunities ahead,” Mazza added. “Because of Joni’s vision and foresight, JAF is poised to lead the Church in meeting the challenges of a new era — a time when technology has advanced and life has been devalued so that those with disabilities and those without a voice need a champion more than ever.”

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HopeKeepers Magazine is Out!

HopeKeepers Magazine Sample - April-June 2009
HopeKeepers Magazine Sample – Read 18 Pages Free!

Do you have a subscription? If we have your correct email,
you will have already been notified. If not, check here.

New 64-Page Digital Magazine Offers Spiritual Support to Chronically Ill

Over 100 million Americans live with a chronic condition and despite what we may assume, 60% of are between the ages of 18 and 64.1 This is nearly 1 in 2 people. HopeKeepers is a consumer magazine which offers spiritual support to those who live with a chronic condition, such as fibromyalgia, diabetes, or degenerative heart disease. It’s published by Rest Ministries, Inc. a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. It began in 2003, but has now moved to a digital format to be able to reach more people and double its size from a digest version to 8.5 x 11. You can read 18 pages for free at .

This 64-page publication subtitled “joyfully serving the chronically ill,” is Christian in nature, and addresses diverse topics such as spiritual struggles, family challenges, alternative medicine, and caregiving, and includes devotionals, doctor’s advice, and profiles of celebrities and national HopeKeepers groups.

The current article features articles on how our personality makes a difference in dealing with difficult times, grand-parenting with an illness, a checklist for a successful support group, a feature on Adoption coach Sherrie Eldridge who lives with lupus, and more.

Research has shown that patients who seek a connection with God and support from church members are less depressed and rate their quality of life as higher, even when the diagnosis is less than favorable.

“There are many health magazines,” says Lisa Copen, 40, founder and editor-in-chief of HopeKeepers, “but for those who may live for decades with a chronic illness, there are few resources, especially Christian ones, that address the roller coaster of emotions they experience and the practicalities they need to live effectively with disease.”

Lynn D. Morrissey, author of Love Letters to God: Deeper Intimacy through Written Prayer and AWSA/CLASS speaker. “Its articles are encouraging and enlightening, written by real people who have overcome their pain with the hope of Christ. Hope is more potent than any medicine from a bottle—it’s the love of God poured into our hearts.”

Copen, who has lived with rheumatoid arthritis since the age of twenty-four, is the founder of Rest Ministries, Inc., the publisher of HopeKeepers and National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, an event held annually in September featuring a free 5-day virtual conference at . HopeKeepers is one of the sponsors of NICIAW.

Read 18 pages for free at . A one-year single subscription is $17.97 or one issue is $6. All proceeds support Rest Ministries, Inc.

Sources: 1 Chronic Care in America: A 21st Century Challenge, a study of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Journalist Looking for Stories About Praying Thru Depression

Hallie Potocki is a healthfirstmag writer and is writing an article for First Magazine.

Her deadline for you to respond is: 01:05pm EASTERN – 15 May

She says, “I’m seeking everyday women (non-experts) between 30 and 55 who had been diagnosed with depression but who weren’t being helped by pills or didn’t want to chance side-effects or dependency – and who discovered prayer as just the antidote they had been in search of. If you or someone you know fits the bill, please respond with your name, city and state, a brief summary of your story and an electronic photo, so we can put a face with the story. Thanks!”

Hope Endures Radio Program Brings Christian Encouragement to the Chronically Ill

We encourage you to post this anywhere you see fit! Your web site, blog, email your friends, etc. We are eager to spread the word about this new exciting area of our ministry!


Contact: Lisa Copen, 858-486-4685


Hope Endures Radio Program Brings
Christian Encouragement to the Chronically Ill

Rest Ministries, Inc., the largest Christian organization that specifically serves the needs of those who live with chronic illness or pain, is launching an online radio program, Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at 10 a.m. pacific time. The program, titled “Hope Endures” will be hosted by Rest Ministries founder, Lisa Copen, who is eager to connect with the thousands of people who visit her web site daily or who may know the ministry through one of the 400 HopeKeepers groups that they attend in their church.

The two 1-hour weekly programs will air on Blog Talk Radio, every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 10 a.m. pacific.

Tuesdays will feature special guests who will be interviewed about a topic related to chronic illness, from a Christian perspective. Guests will share about their own ministries and how they began them, despite dealing with daily chronic pain. Topics will include everything from marriage and caregiving, financial planning to parenting, health and medical news, awareness about invisible illness in congregations, to living with illness as a child, teenager, young adult, and more.

Thursdays will consist of hearing from callers who lead HopeKeepers groups, volunteers of Rest Ministries, announcements about things happening at Rest Ministries social network (with over 1000 members) and thoughts from Lisa Copen.

Copen shares, “The internet has become an amazing tool for connecting with others who have the same challenges and passions. We hope through our radio program, we can increase these friendship bonds so that our sense of family only strengthens and that people find our program to be that “one stop” place for Christian support while coping with chronic illness.”

Copen herself has been a guest on radio programs such as Joni and Friends and Billy Graham’s Decision Minute.

February 10th will be the kick off program featuring special guest Naomi Kingery, 19, author of Sugar Free Me: An Inspirational Book for Diabetic Teens and Their Loved Ones. She will be talking about her journey from growing up in Bangalore, India as the child of missionary parents who worked with people with disabilities, to her diagnosis of diabetes at the age of twelve.

Listeners can participate in the live program at or listen to the program any time, as it will be archived. The MP3 file can also be downloaded to one’s itunes. Fore more information see

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Pray for Amazing Opportunity

I’ve just been given a wonderful gift from our Lord! I received a call that American Bible Society Presents television show, which is syndicated in over 400 areas in the USA, is intested in featuring Rest Ministries on their program. (Oh, happy dance!)

Details will be announced in January, but the format will be a lot like our video on our web site, where they interview me and visit a HopeKeepers group.

You can actually watch the complete episodes online too. I just watched EPISODE 47 from October 22, 2007. It has a wonderful story about how a church reaches out to people who have cancer. It’s a wonderful model for us to pray about for our own ministry under the HopeKeepers program.

Please praise the Lord for this wonderful blessing! The oppotunity for us to be able to let people who are hurting and feeling isolated with chronic illness or pain know there is hope and support available is our true purpose!

Pray with me that this will come to pass and that the Lord will direct my steps to give Him the glory!