Joni and Friends Blog

"Serving as an STM is Refreshing and Freeing!"

  • By: Joni and Friends
  • April 17, 2014
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  • Family Retreats

Sisters, Gina and AmyGina is a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, with a degree in violin performance. But serving as a Short Term Missionary (STM) at Family Retreat has taught her lessons in giftedness that can’t be taught anywhere else. “I’m in a world where performance and ability count—where meeting a certain standard of excellence is critical,” Gina explained. “Family Retreat is a lesson in celebrating each individual for who they are and not holding people to a standard of ability or qualifications in the world’s eyes. As a part of the body of Christ, it’s important for me to see the gifts that we all can bring to the church and the world. It’s refreshing and freeing.” This year, Gina brought her younger sister, Amy, to serve as an STM, too! “Gina told me how authentic people at Family Retreat are,” says Amy. “It’s so much fun to see how much joy people have in Jesus, in spite of their hardships. This makes Jesus so real, so exciting!”

Kahla & Lillian: A single mom finds help at Family Retreat

  • By: Joni and Friends
  • April 14, 2014
  • 1 Comment
  • Radio, Video Archives

Joni and LillianKahla was only 20 when six months into her pregnancy she was in a tragic accident. Miraculously, her baby survived, but little Lillian was born with cerebral palsy. Raising a special needs child as a single mother can be very challenging, but Kahla and Lillian have found help and hope at Family Retreat. The fellowship, fun, and resources at camp have encouraged this small family to press on in Christ. It’s why if you have a child with a disability, or know someone who does, we’d like to invite you to watch this short video of Kahla and Lillian at Family Retreat. And if you’d like to learn more about our Family Retreats, click here and then, pass on the info!

National Volunteer Week - Gail

Gail giving a blanket she crocheted to Joni and KenOur faithful volunteer, Gail, hadn’t heard of Joni and Friends when she and her sister passed by the Joni and Friends Bay Area office in 2011. But because Gail’s sister knew Joni’s story, she suggested they stop in. After learning more about the ministry, Gail began crocheting scarves and blankets to share with special needs families at Family Retreat. Through her involvement with Joni and Friends, Gail experienced God’s peace for the first time, even accepting Jesus as her Savior! Since then, Gail has become a regular fixture in the Bay Area Ministry office and Joni and Friends events, crocheting over four hundred items for the ministry! “Whenever I make a scarf or blanket, I feel a sense of peace inside,” she says, adding with a smile, “I don’t feel like a volunteer anymore, I feel like family!”

National Volunteer Week - Interview with Emily

Emily volunteering at Joni and FriendsHow did you get involved with Joni and Friends?
I have known since early childhood that I wanted to work with people with disabilities. I went to preschool at a school for children with severe disabilities as a peer mentor. I believe at the very core of my being that the Lord put me there to put His love for His children with disabilities in my heart. By the time I was in high school, I was on a perpetual quest to find opportunities to be involved in disability ministry. I had heard Joni’s story when I was very young; I picked up a cassette tape at the store, simply because it had a person in a wheelchair on the cover. Little did I know that her story and her ministry would become such a large part of my heart and my life. When I was a senior in high school, a family friend told me about Joni and Friends Family Retreats and encouraged me to apply. The...

Ministry Continues Beyond International Family Retreats

  • By: Joni and Friends
  • April 10, 2014
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  • Christian Institute on Disability, Family Retreats

AmberSome plant, some water, but God makes it grow! ~ 1 Corinthians 3:6 Joni and Friends’ International Family Retreats provide families affected by disability a week of encouragement, rest and lots of FUN. But what happens when the wheelchairs have been distributed and the Bibles handed out? When the crafts have been packed away and loaded alongside suitcases headed back to America? A lot! In many countries, people with disabilities face crushing poverty, social stigma and isolation. While one week of ministry is a welcome respite, we know it is crucial to follow-up and continue coming alongside these families. Kevin, one of our in-country partners in China, goes the extra mile to ensure that life-changing ministry doesn’t end on the last day of an International Family Retreat. Amber has a physical disability that limits her ability to walk, but has no impact on her mental...

National Volunteer Week - Cameron

Cameron wrapping Christmas presents For National Volunteer Week, we’re recognizing some of our faithful Joni and Friends volunteers. Meet Cameron, a 17-year-old high school junior, who was introduced to Joni and Friends when his mother encouraged him to serve as an STM at Family Retreat. Cameron says it was “one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” Through serving, Cameron discovered a passion for working with kids of all ages and a sense of direction from God. With this new direction, Cameron took on another volunteer role at Joni and Friends when he learned of his high school internship requirement. Cameron chose to serve in the Joni and Friends’ Bay Area office once a week for three months, assisting with office and administrative activities. Looking forward to serving again at Family Retreat this summer he says, “Most teenagers at my age have no idea what they want to do in life, but because of a simple push out of my comfort zone, I found what God has put me on this earth to do.”

National Volunteer Week - Breanna

  • By: Joni and Friends
  • April 8, 2014
  • 1 Comment

Breanna volunteering at Joni and FriendsThis week is National Volunteer Appreciation Week and we’re featuring a few of our faithful volunteers. Meet 20-year-old Breanna who has been volunteering in the Joni and Friends Charlotte Area Ministry for several years. She comes into the office diligently each week and whether she’s working on the computer, helping with our prayer calendar, making Gospel bracelets, or greeting attendees at our luncheons, she always has a smile on her face! Breanna says that volunteering at Joni and Friends Charlotte has helped her grow closer to the Lord and she loves sharing about the ministry with her friends – she even encourages them to come and volunteer with her in the office! When she isn’t volunteering, Breanna loves to play wheelchair basketball. Thank you, Breanna, we’re so grateful for your service at Joni and Friends!

Meet Veronica Hache, Wheels for the World Physical Therapist

  • By: Joni and Friends
  • April 7, 2014
  • 1 Comment
  • Radio, Video Archives

Veronica HacheEvery year Joni and Friends distributes thousands of wheelchairs to developing nations—but we don’t do it alone. With the help of volunteers, translators, mechanics, and physical therapists, we are able to match the right wheelchair to each person’s individual needs. And serving alongside us on many wheelchair distributions is Veronica Hache—a stellar physical therapist who is fluent in Spanish! You just have to see her at work, assessing the needs of wheelchair users, showing gentleness to disabled children, instructing caregivers on proper care… Click here to watch a video to get a glimpse of Veronica’s work at our Wheels for the World outreach in El Salvador—and then, share it with your friends!

National Volunteer Week

Volunteer with camper at Family RetreatDid you know that this week is National Volunteer Week? At Joni and Friends, we are so thankful for you, our dedicated volunteers who partner with us to serve people affected by disability through prayer and hands-on ministry! Because of your support and participation we’re able to share the gospel message together, equip churches for disability ministry, and serve those affected by disability worldwide. To celebrate this week, we’ll be highlighting a few of our faithful volunteers. Be sure to check back on our blog throughout the...

Lillian: A Bright Star at Family Retreat

  • By: Joni and Friends
  • April 4, 2014
  • 0 Comments
  • Family Retreats

Lillian performing at Talent Night with her STM at RetreatKahla is a single mom raising her beautiful little daughter Lillian, who has cerebral palsy. Three years ago they came to Family Retreat for the first time. They discovered a world of joy and celebration beyond anything they had ever experienced. Instead of stares and questions, Kahla and Lillian have found a family for a lifetime and a place to shine. At Family Retreat, Lillian has found a place to show all the beauty God has put inside her. “This year, Lillian made up a song and dance for the Talent Show all by herself,” says Kahla. “She has been practicing all day, every day!” But Lillian’s gifts go far deeper than a song and dance. She has made a powerful impact on her Short Term Missionary, J’Lynn, who has served as her special friend for the past three Retreats. “Although Lillian is not like every other person, she is even more special,” says J’Lynn. “Lillian has taught me that God makes every individual...

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