Tahni’s Story

applefamI have loved God and the Bible for as long as I can remember. I was seven-years-old when my daddy built me a wooden pulpit. I put on my plaid three-piece wool suit on a snowed-in Sunday to deliver a message on obedience to my family in the living room. Then, one day as this wonderful invention showed up at our house–a VCR–I picked up a flair for the theatrical as I would rewind and rehearse lines from the likes of “Anne of Green Gables.” The love of communication in writing, speaking, theater and sharing compelling stories has always run deep for me. It’s funny how you can trace those traits way back even to your childhood.

Little did I know that language and expression that I loved the most would be whisked away from my only son, leaving me wounded and speechless before my God. An autism diagnosis at age two for our little boy, Josiah, was so swift, so final, with the words, “No known cause. No known cure. Lifelong.” My deepest question was, “Wow, what happens to hope when there is no hope?” Everything that I loved, believed in, and thought I knew about God got tested. If Jesus was Burden-Bearer, I knew somehow I would have to see if He would be that for me when the pressure of sickness, work, marriage, loneliness, finances, and spiritual wrestling dog-piled on our lives.

Like so many things—impossible things—we are told to accept them and to learn to manage and to cope. The world is always trying to get us to just face facts and not to get our hopes up. “Your daughter is dead, Jairus. Why bother the teacher anymore?” But just when the facts start to get locked in as the “final answer,” if we listen hard enough, we will always hear Jesus say the same words He said to this dented father: “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Does the same Jesus we serve today still sound like this?

It’s a complex road these days to a simple faith like this: don’t fear; just believe. I’d been desperately pursuing healing for five years, and learned so much about what intimacy with God, my identity in Christ, and my inheritance really meant to living out a Christ-following life. But despite our gallant efforts to help our son, my boy still was “severe,” nonverbal, stuck in the quicksand of autism. Life seemed frustrated.

And then, one day, something finally happened! The striving started leaving and peace settled in. Psalm 68:9 happened. “You, God, sent a plentiful rain, and did confirm your inheritance when it was weary.” After praying and praying, “Lord, let it be on earth, just like it is in Heaven,” I was given a rare opportunity to see the veil between Heaven and earth get very thin as my son unexpectedly typed his first sentence on his iPad, “God is a good gift giver.”

That message started what has been now hundreds of stored, typed pages of Josiah’s conversations with me. They have revealed him as a wise, funny little guy who can write beautiful poetry and lyrics, and has been given access into the heart of God that he has never been taught on this earth. Josiah’s words on an iPad have told of God’s unfolding love for us, His ways, His instruction, and even strategies for victory over the enemy. Truly, as we wait for the full reality of Josiah’s healing, we have seen the kingdom of God come near us through a boy who had no voice, but shouted RESTORE! Lord, may our story give You glory. You truly are a good gift giver!


Tahni Cullen worked in ministry for 13 years at a large, multi-campus church in the Twin Cities, MN, first as a communications and marketing director and then as a ministry director and pastor. When her son Josiah was diagnosed with autism, she blogged through the ups and downs of their early journey at www.hopingnotcoping.wordpress.com and she and her husband, Joe, produced an award-winning documentary called “Surprised By Autism.” Drama and speaking are passions of hers, and she has helped script and perform two hour-long women’s ministry variety shows. She also led the launch of special needs ministry assistance for kids within her church. Recently leaving her job to invest in her son’s typed communication, and to write and speak, Tahni is passionate about sharing God’s hope and healing. You can follow her son’s writings on Facebook at Josiah’s Fire.

20 thoughts on “Tahni’s Story

  1. Ok looked through the blogsite…..Awesome!! I would like to hear more about how Joe is doing? Any prayer requests from the husband and father?
    What comes to mind as I read about the partial miracle is this….the autism is the door…..it is the door that allows Josiah into the secular community where the people are sick and need a physician. Josiah may possibly be healed tomorrow fully. But today the autism provides the door to reach the secular community. Josiah will use the autism as a means to Glorify God to people who would not normally hear about God. If there was a full miracle today, Josiah would appear on Sid Roth and minister only to the followers of Christ. As it is today, it would seem Josiah can reach both the secular and the saved.
    Again, I will watch for speaking opportunities….Blessings to you and your family,
    Steve Wilson
    Rochester, MN

  2. Tahni, my grandson Logan is our story of God’s love and mercy. We knew he was autistic before his diagnosis at 3 years of age. He is also ADHD. Our motto was and still is “failure is not an option.” We have home schooled him, as the primary public school system here in Riverside, Ca. has failed him. Logan is non neuro typical, but has a strength in mathematics, spacial recognition (designing and building Legos from mind to finished product), and piano. Logan loves God and has some insights that neuro typical children don’t. He continues to be a blessing.

  3. Pingback: Life With Purpose Radio #39-2016

  4. Dear Pastor Tahni,
    I am about a third into your book. And, I’m already blown away. I THOUGHT I had always loved the Lord as well.
    But, I,now, realize that my faith is but a drop in the sea.
    Most importantally, I didn’t realize that we could have that personal a relationship. God forgive me, but I thought it ended with Jesus time.
    I hope you’re planning on a follow up book.
    Thank you, and God’s continued blessings!

  5. Tahni, after seeing you on Sid Roth, I knew instantly that I needed to contact you. Your son indeed has an amazing gift and you have been thru so much, but I believe that God would like to give you revelation on the words that you speak. You said on Sid that your son is still NOT speaking and you CALLED him ‘autistic’. But God calls him ‘healed’. You obviously believe the Word of God so a scripture in Acts 10:38 says that Jesus healed all that were oppressed of the devil. We KNOW that satan is the author of sickness and NOT God. God said in 1Peter 2:24 “by His stripes we WERE healed”. So Jesus healed your son 2000 years ago at the cross when He said in John 19:30 “it is finished”. I’d like to give you some things to ponder if you don’t mind. God tells us how important the words of our mouth are and the importance even to the point of healing. We can’t pray for God to heal us, as He ALREADY DID IT. Matt8;17 Jesus TOOK (past tense) our infirmities and BORE (past tense) our sickness/ Matt.21:21 SPEAK to the mountain Pro.18:20 death and life are in the POWER OF OUR TONGUE/Rom 4:17 CALL things that are not as if they were/Mark 11:23 whoever SAYS to the mountain be removed, believes what he SAYS, it WILL BE DONE. you will HAVE WHAT YOU SAY/Matt 12:37 by YOUR WORDS you will be justified or condemned
    Prov6:2 you are snared by the WORDS OF YOUR MOUTH/Gal 3:13 Christ has already redeemed us from the curse of the law (Deut.28:61, sickness is a curse of the law) James 4:7 RESIST the devil and he WILL flee from you/1Peter 5:8 RESIST the devil steadfast in faith/Heb.4:12 the WORD of God is living and powerful/James 1:17 every good and perfect thing is from above(sickness and infirmity is NOT of God)/Col 1:13 Jesus already delivered us from the power of darkness/ Ps 107:20 God sent His word and already healed us/Luke 17:6 if we have faith the size of a mustard seed (small) we would SPEAK to the mountain (autism) and it would obey us. Tahni, there are too many scriptures to write, but it’s very clear that Jesus already healed us and He’s never the author of infirmity. His instructions are clear on what we’re supposed to do for healing. SPEAK, RESIST, BELIEVE. If you would go onto the Andrew Wommack ministry ‘testimonies’ there are 2 children that were healed of autism by SPEAKING to the infirmity and taking the authority that God provided for all of us. Luke 10:19 give US authority over the power of the enemy. Authority is delegated power from Jesus Christ Himself. The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead LIVES in us therefore we have the power to break the power of darkness by using the NAME OF JESUS. (Rom. 8:11) I don’t mean to preach to you, as that’s not my heart, but I’d love for your son to benefit from the promises that God gave us and that’s for him to be healed and speak. God created all things thru His spoken word and tells us to SPEAK also. Also Charles Capps has a book called ‘The tongue, a creative force’. I hope this ministers to you and your son is having some amazing encounters with the Lord.

  6. Pingback: There is hope: Tahni Cullen shares how her son, diagnosed with autism, has miraculously acquired deep knowledge and wisdom coming from heaven. | House of Bread

  7. Dear Tahni, Joe, and Josiah. My mom finished reading Josiah’s Fire and lent it to me while I was visiting her in Chicago last week. I started reading it the day before yesterday and could not put it down!

    As I pondered what Josiah has learned from his time in heaven and how it has helped you to learn to trust God at a deeper level, I wept. As I realized more deeply the tension between the “now and the not yet” I groaned and sobbed. Josiah, you have given me hope that God’s promises are yes and amen, that my guardian angel “gets me”; that Jesus deeply understands and that the nature of the spiritual realm is foundational to our material world. Thank you for sharing your journey. We all needed to hear about it! And if Joe could write his story, I know my husband would love to hear about how God has rocked his world.

    By the way, I train animals, especially dogs, for a living. Many people ask me if I think they will see their pets in heaven. My answer has always been that God cares deeply about the things that matter to us, and so I believe I will see them again. Thank you for sharing that for those who believe, I am right.

  8. Wonderfully encouraging. I know Tahni you have done much to help your son but it’s great to see how God has shown us the perfection of Josiah s brain using what you have taught him..his communication direct from God so his spirit is perfect too which makes his ♡ so as well. To me he sounds perfect.
    Everything is allowed of God I believe..there is always a great purpose if we would care enough to do our part..which you have done..spiritually & practically.
    One thing from reading the comments..I pick up that some think & believe God is too nice to not be behind sicknesse/infirmities or bad..the God of my Bible sent disease upon Miriam in OT & also He sent evil in situations..He sends the lightnings & the thunders etc..He’s ultimately in charge of all..isn’t He?
    I know we now not under old covenant but I’m just saying. AND in no way implying He sent this infirmity upon Josiah..in fact I wonder if he was immunized (as we are told we must do), & if so, could well have been the cause, (the doctors said ‘no known cause’ but many families have linked autism back to vaccines as has been documented)..BUT whatever, God has turned it for something beautiful!

  9. I’m feeling sorry that I left an in depth comment when really all I wanted to say was how encouraging and precious Josiah’s story is and what wonderful parents he has. I’ve learned more clearly & simply about the triune (Trinity) nature of God.
    Please forgive anything that my first comment may have caused any undue upset or negative response. I know nothing in these matters!

  10. I am trying to remember a quote from Josiah, and was wondering if you could remind me of the exact wording, please. It was something like, “God wants, Jesus loves and Holy Spirits gets”.

    Thank you and thank you for sharing your story about Josiah. I love reading anything and everything he writes.

  11. Has Josiah commented on Mary The Blessed Virgin, Holy Mother of all humanity. Michael H. Brown , Spirit Daily, wrote an introduction to your timely release to help save our nation and hopefully other countries.

  12. Oh my goodness! an incredible article dude. Thanks Nevertheless I’m experiencing situation with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone getting equivalent rss downside? Anybody who knows kindly respond. Thnkx

  13. I have just finished reading your book, Josiah’s Fire, for the 3ed time. It is the most wonderful, encouraging, uplifting book I have ever read and I plan to read it yet again. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I have a much deeper understanding of God’s love and commitment to us each time I read it. Much love you and your family, Shirly Mentzer

  14. Would you & your family please pray for my little grandson Quinn? His parents are unsaved & he’s only 4 almost 5. His parents are involved in the occult but he’s miraculously a Christian who sings songs to Jesus all the time. I was hoping you’d ask Josiah to pray for him too because I’m at my wits end about how to deliver him to safety or how to get his parents saved. I’m in despair & I know that’s not what Jesus wants for Quinn or me. I’ve prayed & prayed & when you said in the Sid Roth video, you prayed so much you were like speaking into nothing. That’s where I’ve been for a while now. Please pray. Please.

  15. Tahni:

    good afternoon, please help her because I have been struggling for many years, I have asked GOD a lot for her help and I do not see her presence.
    Please an answer.
    Thank you

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