Faith, Hope, and Love: An Interview with Joanna Pistorius, Wife of Ghost Boy Author, Martin Pistorius

by Sally Matheny

Martin and Joanna Pistorius
Embrace Faith, Hope, and Love
Several months ago, I wrote a book review of Ghost Boy, by Martin Pistorius. Gems of his remarkable life story nestled in my mind. One facet that continued to shine was how faith, hope, and love grew when he met his wife, Joanna. It made such an impression that I hoped to talk one day with Joanna. 

She and Martin were on a book signing tour in Norway when I caught up with them. Joanna graciously agreed to talk with me when they returned home to England.

If you have not read Ghost Boy yet, Martin tells an amazing story of going from a healthy twelve-year-old boy to living in a waking coma state, unseeing and unknowing of his surroundings. 

Four years later, his mind slowly wakes up. But his body does not.  

Then, for ten more years, his mind is completely aware—aware that he is trapped inside an unresponsive body and powerless to communicate with others.

You’ll have to read the book to get the whole story of Martin’s incredible journey. Eventually, he is able to communicate and he meets Joanna. Both Joanna and Martin are originally from South Africa. However, Joanna was working as a social worker in England when she and Martin were first introduced. 

Martin’s sister and one of Joanna’s friends were roommates in England. All three girls were together when Martin’s sister contacted him in South Africa on New Year’s Day in 2008. It was during this Internet Skype conversation that Joanna first met Martin.

Immediately, she was attracted to Martin’s kind heart and infectious smile. The feeling was mutual and their online friendship began.
Martin uses a computer for verbal communication. The computer pronounces the words Martin types. During their many Skype sessions, as Joanna gazed into Martin’s eyes, she heard the recorded, South African voice, but even more intently, she "listened" to what was in Martin’s heart. Soon, they began planning for Martin to travel from South Africa to visit Joanna in England. Joanna says,  

“As Martin describes in his book, we instantly had a connection and spent many, many hours talking. Martin is the most honest person I know and I think the open and honest conversations we had meant that by the time we met in person we knew each other extremely well.”     

Before Martin’s visit, one thing Joanna shared with him was her Christian faith. She said, “I grew up in a Christian home where faith and worship played the central role in our lives.”

While Martin had an amazing testimony of God’s presence in his life, his conversations with Joanna spurred a deeper relationship with God. Joanna also made it clear how a Christian relationship is to remain pure before marriage. She and Martin honored one another, and God, as their love quickly grew.

Martin and Joanna pledging their love to one another.

In June 2009, Martin and Joanna pledged their love to one another forever.
Martin said it was Joanna who taught him to understand the true meaning of 1 Corinthians 13:13. I asked Martin if he could give us a glimpse of how God used Joanna to help him understand the reality of faith, hope, and love. He said,

“I think I have learnt many things through my journey, of which Joanna plays a very important part. Joanna helped me to experience pure, deep and all accepting love. 

I remember once reading about Mother Teresa saying there is more hunger for love and appreciation than bread, and I think, as she so aptly said, we all need love - to be loved and to love someone. God is a God of love, and through love, we can be kind, caring, generous, compassionate and accepting.

As time has gone on, and when I think about all the blessings I have, I am flooded with feelings of gratitude, especially for Joanna, our bond and the wonderful marriage we have. For all this and more, I can only but offer prayers of thanks to the Lord.”     

 Martin and Joanna continue to live in England where Joanna still serves her community through social work. Martin is a web designer and book author. After the publishing of Ghost Boy in 2011, they travel all over the world sharing words of encouragement and hope.

Trusting God's Plans
    When asked how her faith has grown over the years, Joanna replied,

My faith is constantly evolving and deepening. Martin and I are hoping to start a family and I read something recently, which said, "I have a plan. Do you trust me?” I think we need to bring things to the Lord and trust Him to help us, He has a plan, even though as it is said in [1 Corinthians 13:12] we may not yet know the bigger picture.”

Joanna speaks the truth for us all. God does have a plan. A magnificent plan. The struggle lies in trusting Him every inch of the way. Our human perception limits our vision to a tiny corner of our lives. God sees the entire map—from beginning to end.

Faith will help us take another step. Hope enables us to cling tightly to Jesus’ hand as we travel. And love? Love is the greatest of all. Love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.” (1 Cor. 13:7)

That makes me think of Joanna and Martin. When I contacted Joanna about the interview, she said to send my questions to Martin's email. I thought What a wonderful way for Martin to protect his wife. Probing questions from an American stranger have to go through Martin first! We only have a glimpse of the couple's lives but we clearly see a love that protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres.
Ghost Boy
by Martin Pistoius

Thank you, Joanna and Martin, for encouraging us with your faith, hope, and love.

Readers, you may want to check out these links for further information:

Click here to read my blog post book review of Ghost Boy.


  1. Thanks for sharing this Sally! God is so good! I will have to check this book out.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Tammy. God is good! I gave my copy of the book to a friend who works in an assisted living center. I think everyone who works in a care facility should be required to read the book. Martin's story is disturbing yet he chooses to focus on joy, peace, and most of all--love.


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