"The story of Joshua Gooding is a story of hope for every cancer patient. You cannot help but be moved and inspired by Joshua's refusal to give in to cancer despite being told twice by doctor's that he was at deaths door."
Thank you for visiting my website and reading more about my life story and speaking. Let me tell you a little about why I do what I do, and what I would love to do more of.
The young girl Anne Frank, who was a victim of the Holocaust in 1945 is quoted as saying, "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." And, while I don't begin to compare myself to her, that has been my goal in life as well – trying to change people's lives for the better.
Most people who read this will have already read or at least heard some of my life story. At the age of only four, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given only one week to live. You can read my life story here if you've not read it. But that was 41 years ago – so it's been a long week!
When I was in elementary school, many of the other students would make fun of the way I talked due to my vocal chords being partially paralyzed by the cancer and treatments I had been through. In fact, when I was in first grade, and we had to recite a poem or something in front of the class, I would ask the teacher to take me out in the hall where I could recite it only to her, because I knew the other students would laugh at me. And still to this day, when I speak (especially to young people) I can hear and see people snickering. Because of this and other physical problems I had to deal with, becoming a preacher and speaker was the LAST thing anyone thought I would do with my life.
However, at a very early age, I realized God had allowed me to undergo all of the trials and troubles of a terminal disease, so that He could use my life to be an inspiration and encouragement to others.And God has graciously blessed me in being able to reach people in many ways over the last 40+ years. I couldn't do it without Him!
When I was in the fifth grade, and felt God calling me to preach, I went to the pastor of the church we attended in West Virginia and asked him if I could use an old church auditorium that was owned by the church, but was on the other side of town. I asked him if I could use this auditorium on Saturday evenings to speak, to which he agreed.
I used to get up early on Saturday morning and go up and down the streets around that old church and knock on the doors inviting people to come hear me. Of course, it's not every day that you hear a knock on the door and when you open it you find a little short kid who talks funny asking you to come hear him speak. So, I got many doors slammed in my face, people told me to stop playing "pranks," and people laughed. On the biggest night I had over 75 people come to that old church auditorium to hear me speak. I have no idea what I spoke about, since that was so long ago, and I was so young – but thus began my speaking career.
When I graduated from college, I envisioned traveling the world – speaking in churches, schools, businesses, colleges, etc., full time. That was my dream, and maybe someday I'll be able to do that; but even though I haven't yet gotten off the ground with a "full-time" speaking career, I have spoken all over the United States. I generally speak 10 or so times a year at various places. And the websites I've created and articles and publications I've written have been read by people all around the world. And, when people hear or read about me, I've had people ask me often, "Joshua, why do you do this?"
Well, people all over the world are hurting. People have problems in their lives both spiritual and otherwise. Financial troubles, personal issues, physical difficulties to overcome, daily problems and trials they face. And these people are looking for hope. They are looking for encouragement. They are looking for "answers". And every time I get a chance to speak to a group, I ALWAYS have people talk to me afterwards and say things like, "Thank you so much for sharing – you just changed my life!" or "What you said today is exactly what I have been needing to hear." and other things. That's why I do it – to make a difference in people's lives – one person at a time. I've spoken in many churches, in colleges and schools, at camps, at business meetings and conferences, at rally's and other events, and even in prisons.
Last year, I traveled at my own expense up to Indianapolis, Indiana to speak to several groups of young inmates at the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center. When I walked into the cell block and into a meeting room where there were about several young teenagers sitting, I immediately noticed many of them laughing and joking about me. Quite used to that, I didn't allow it to affect me – but got up to speak. They continued to laugh for a minute or two while I spoke. But after a few minutes, you could have heard a pen drop as they all sat there, on the edge of their seats with their attention totally on what I was saying.
As I talked about my faith in God and the daily struggles and difficulties I've faced with having cancer and its many changes on my life, it was that message of struggles, faith and overcoming impossible trials that resonated with the young men I was speaking to. I saw tears come to some of their eyes. And when I got done speaking a young man in the back raised his hand and said; "I have to apologize. When you came in here we all made fun of you for being short and then when you started talking, we all made fun of you for talking funny. But then we heard what you had to say, and we were wrong about you. I'll NEVER forget you or what you've shared with us. I'm sorry we laughed." And one by one almost all of the young people in that room said something similar. On the way out the door – they all hugged me and thanked me for coming. A couple of days later when describing me to a new inmate, one of the young men said; "Joshua may be short on the outside, but he's really BIG on the inside!" And they said stuff like, "I'm always going to remember this man... his story is amazing... if he can overcome all that, then God can help me through this..."
I spoke to several groups of young people over the next 2 days there at the Detention Center. The next week, one of the guards at the center was talking to the chaplin who had invited me to come speak. He said that a few days before I came to the Center, there was one young man who tried to hang himself in his cell, and whenever he saw the young man, he looked dejected and miserable. He then went on to say, "You know when Joshua was here speaking, I saw that young man sitting there listening. That young man had the biggest smile on his face I've ever seen as he listened to what Joshua had to say."
In 2009, the Florida School Nutrition Association paid me to fly to Orlando and be a Keynote speaker at their annual conference/expo. I don't know anything about nutrition, but I flew down there and spoke for 45 minutes on "Making A Difference". When I finished, there was a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. The Director of the FSNA told me afterwards that many of the hundreds of attendees told her that this was the BEST Conference they had EVER had! And this year, I was invited to speak at the South Carolina School Nutrition Conference, where again I received comment after comment and had people lined up to hug me and thank me for coming. The Director of South Carolina Conference wrote to me: "...You are the epitome of taking life's lemons and making lemonade. We shall never forget the lessons we learned from you and will be better servants for it. Please keep sharing your message, the world needs to hear it."
I've voluntarily spoken at many American Cancer events over the past few years. Each time I speak, I get comments like this one: "It is wonderful that you are here (literally). You have survived the odds and proved the medical professionals wrong!!! Way To Go!!! Thank you again for joining us. You give us so much more than hope. You show us that yes our children do have a great chance at leading full productive lives and to me that is worth more that gold."
That's why I speak. That's the only reason – to change lives. And it's not just kids in detention centers who need a new perspective on life. It's employees in our work places where moral is low. It's business leaders in our corporate offices and politicians in our governments. It's kids in our schools struggling with peer pressure and other things. It's fathers and mothers trying to raise a family in this tough economy. It's cancer patients and people facing other life threatening diseases who need hope. It's PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD.
Businesses spend thousands of dollars at times bringing in "programs" to help better their employees and improve moral. Schools spend lots and lots of money on "programs" to keep kids off drugs, from having sex, etc., Churches spend lots of money on conferences and other events trying to impact their members. Colleges and Universities spend millions on speakers to inspire and teach their students how to make money, how to be successful, etc. However, you know what's missing in most of these? No one is impacting people's hearts and changing lives.
When employees learn the importance of putting others first, of being kind, of overcoming difficulties the right way, and their attitudes are chaged, that impacts the company and all those the company does business with. When kids realize they don't have to follow the "crowd", they don't have to do what "everyone else is doing", it's okay to be different – their lives are changed. Cancer patients and others with life threatening problems, who need to hear a story of hope and inspiration. Corporate executives, politicians, and other decision makers who need to realize the importance of making the right choices and how they can impact the world. When hearts and attitudes are changed, lives are changed, and when lives are changed ‐ the world is changed!
I often wish I had the financial means to just travel the world and reach people... there are so many who need hope, encouragement, and inspiration. And maybe one day God will open that door. Until then, I'm just trying to make a difference in this world – one opportunity at a time, and reaching people with the one thing that will not only change their lives here, but also for eternity - faith in Jesus Christ! He ALONE can bring peace and joy like you've NEVER known.
To book a speaking engagement, request more information, or just send a note, you can contact Joshua at: