Phil and Joan

Phil and Joan

Phil Bova was enjoying his life to the fullest. In addition to his career as an entertainer for many years, he was also a lay cantor for a large synagogue near Cleveland, Ohio. That is, until he suffered a major stroke at the age of 29 which greatly affected his speech and voice, as well as his body. He could no longer drive a car, or run across the yard, or sing, or be active in any of the ways he once was. With a whole new physical challenge, he had no idea what would happen next. In spite of this experience Phil was drawn closer to God than ever before.

Joan McCallister grew up as a happy, physically healthy, energetic, little girl. She was very active in all kinds of young girl activities. That is, until she was unexpectedly diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of twelve. Her life was changed forever. Her arthritis was severe from the onset and by age fifteen she found it necessary to begin using crutches to protect her already affected hips, knees, and ankles. When Joan was only twenty she was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis. She had to remain in bed for the first year, which worsened the arthritis and required that she use a wheelchair the rest of her life. Her arms, hands, fingers, and legs were not able to fully develop and her height remained at 4’9”. She would have great difficulty having kids or live a so-called “normal” life. Although often tempted to question God’s judgment, she chose to trust Him.

Phil met Joan. Although the illnesses negatively affected most of her body, it did not remove her beaming smile or her infectious positive attitude toward God, life, and others. The two dated, fell in love, married, fostered close to 20 abused kids, adopted two, and are proud grandparents today. Even with her own disabilities and continual pain, Joan has worked as an Independent Living Service Provider, is a public speaker, and has traveled around the United States giving disability awareness seminars.

In reality, their situation has been much worse than can be told here, but God has continued to hold them through it all. Joan says, “Sometimes trusting is painful. Sometimes it is hard. But trusting while experiencing our own darkness is always beneficial.” Phil’s and Joan’s attitudes have always been that "all things work together for good to them that love God." They have lived their whole lives around that promise. They have chosen not to harbor anger and resentment over their disabilities. Instead, they truly believe that God, in His great wisdom, has allowed them to experience tremendous trials in order to work out a bigger plan that He has for them.

Originally from: Jewish Discoveries by Jeff Zaremsky, pages 17-18, which contains a total of 22 fascinating chapters of biblical history and lessons plus 25 rich Jewish tradition sections, and 27 powerful testimonies, with over 40 beautifully rendered professional works of art all on over 300 jam packed pages. You can own this treasure by visiting Jewish Discoveries.

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