Influential International Leaders Joni Eareckson Tada and Billy Kim to Address Biola Graduates

Apr. 29, 2010 By Jenna Bartlo

Joni Eareckson Tada, founder of the Joni and Friends International Disability Center whose vision is to accelerate Christian ministry in the disability community will serve as keynote speaker for the Biola University undergraduate 2010 commencement ceremony in May.

Billy Kim, pastor emeritas of one of Korea's largest churches and recognized as a senior Christian statesman and international leader, will address the graduate and BOLD graduates at Friday’s ceremony.

“It’s only appropriate we have commencement speakers like Joni Eareckson Tada and Dr. Billy Kim, internationally recognized for their leadership and breadth of ministry, charging Biola University students to become world-impacting leaders in their own right,” said Biola University President Barry H. Corey. 

James Ingram, famous musician known for the hit songs, “Yah Mo Be There," and “I Believe I Can Fly,” will be performing at the undergraduate ceremony. He has worked with artists Ray Charles, Anita Baker, Nancy Wilson, Natalie Cole, and Kenny Rogers.

Graduating students will begin a new journey as they graduate from their respective schools at the commencement ceremonies —undergraduate students on Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 9 a.m. and BOLD and graduate students on Friday, May 28, 2010 at 6 p.m.

Approximately 640 students will receive their bachelor’s degrees at the undergraduate ceremony and approximately 350 students will receive degrees at the graduate ceremony. Students take their place in a long line of alumni stretching back to 1908 when Biola was founded.

Tada has strong ties to Biola having spoken multiple times at Biola, specifically as a guest speaker in one of the school's most popular classes, Theology of Suffering, which integrates Joni & Friends ministry. Her story begins with a tragic diving accident in 1967 that left her paralyzed from the neck down. Emerging from rehabilitation with a deeper understanding of those with disabilities, she has since transformed the world’s view of those with disabilities and empowered those who suffer through disabilities.

In 1979, Joni founded Joni and Friends (JAF), which she now leads as Chief Executive Officer. After almost two decades of growth, JAF is now the Joni and Friends International Disability Center whose vision is to accelerate Christian ministry in the disability community.

Known for growing his church from 10 members to more than 15,000, Kim was the senior pastor of one of Korea’s largest churches for 45 years. His remarkable career of ministry includes pastoral and church leadership, evangelism, and influence within business and political circles that have made a significant impact for God's kingdom. He is the director of the Far East Broadcasting Company, a Christian radio network that broadcasts to 150 language groups in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Kim also served as president of the Baptist World Alliance, a fellowship of 211 Baptist unions and conventions worldwide, for more than fives years. His impact on the people of Korea and worldwide is phenomenal.

The university will confer honorary doctorates to both Tada and Kim at the event.

Honorary degrees are awarded to recognize individuals who have a clear evangelical Christian testimony and have demonstrated significant service and achievement over an extended period of time, which is national or international in nature and is relevant to the mission of Biola University.

Biola University President Barry H. Corey will hand diplomas to each graduate as they are sent out with a Biblically-centered education.


Biola University is a private Christian university located in Southern California on the border of Los Angeles and Orange counties in the city of La Mirada. For over 100 years, Biola has remained committed to its biblical foundation, integrating biblical principles with every academic program. U.S. News & World Report recognizes Biola as a “National University,” which is considered the “major leagues” of higher education. In addition to its focus on intentional spiritual development and career preparation, Biola offers a unique academic environment where all faculty, staff and students are professing Christians. With over 145 academic programs in seven schools, Biola offers degrees ranging from B.A. to Ph.D. For more information, visit or call (562) 777 – 4061.

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