Friendships formed at Family Retreat often last a lifetime. Meet Jacob, one of our stellar short-term missionaries (STMs), and his buddy Miller. Miller is passionate about music, his love for the Lord, and Jacob's friendship. He has Down syndrome and has been Jacob's buddy at Family Retreat since 2008. This year, when Jacob walked down the aisle to marry his fiancé Hannah, he invited Miller to be one of his groomsmen. Jacob wanted to show Miller that he is more than just a buddy at Family Retreat, he's part of the family. Jacob said, “Miller is like family to me. He really is. I had all of the men in my family in the wedding.” Miller was proud and overjoyed to be a part of his friend’s special day! And most remarkably, three weeks following his wedding (at the insistence of his bride Hannah), Jacob returned to serve as an STM for two weeks at Family Retreat -- he wanted to be there for Miller and his other buddies! Like so many of our wonderful STMs, Jacob values the dear friendships that he’s formed serving at Family Retreat!
Volunteer to serve! That’s what these three sisters have chosen to do. Every week at Joni and Friends, they’re leading tours, sending cards to kids, preparing mailings – whatever is needed. Their help makes ministry happen! ‘When you serve other people, you feel so joyful because you’re helping and not just thinking about yourself,” explains Isabella. “JOY stands for Jesus, Others, and then You!” Olivia loves the words of scripture on the walls of the building. “My favorite says, ‘When you give a banquet, invite the poor and crippled and you will be blessed.’ Joni and Friends is helping people that others forget.” Says Ahna, “The Bible tells us that we are not to be served, but to serve. I’ve learned to be a friend to people with disabilities and to relate to people who are different than me.” With sweetness and passion, these three are setting a new standard for their generation.
Did you know that one in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome? Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition, but there are still many misconceptions about Down syndrome. Well, this being National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, we at Joni and Friends want to shed some light on Down syndrome, provide resources to families, and encourage you to support, include, and love people with Down syndrome. Join us in raising awareness by watching (and sharing) this short video our Kid’s Corner produced on how kids with Down syndrome make great friends. And don’t forget to listen to Joni’s radio programs this week to learn more about Down syndrome.
This month, Wheels for the World is providing wheelchairs and Bibles to hundreds of children and adults affected by disability across the world! Throughout October we have teams traveling to Jordan, India, Peru, and Thailand to share the love of Christ through the gift of mobility. Please join us in praying for each detail of these outreaches to come together so that hearts will be changed and more families affected by disability will come into the kingdom of Christ! If you'd like to learn more, turn on Joni and Friends radio this week to hear Joni share more about how Wheels for the World works.
Have you ordered your 2013 Christmas cards? This year, you won’t want to miss Joni’s beautiful Herald Angel design. On this richly embossed and gold foiled card, Joni’s artwork captures the joyful announcement of the Savior’s birth. Share this joy with your friends and family with the inside message: “Joy to the World! The Lord is come! May the glad tidings of this happy season fill your heart with heaven-sent peace and the joy of Jesus. Merry Christmas!” Each box contains 15 cards and 16 foil lined envelopes. Order yours today!
EDUCATE.TRAIN.ACTIVATE. Through Cause 4 Life Global Missions and Internships, we’re equipping interns for ministry, missions, and advocacy to the world affected by disability. Watch as our interns share their passion for disability ministry and be inspired to get involved! Learn more about our 2014 internships and apply today to receive the education, training and hands on experience that will give you the skills to make a difference in the lives of people affected by disability in your church and community!
Katy Hine is a graduate student in physical therapy. When a professor introduced her to Wheels for the World, she knew it was a match. “My mom has a disability,” explains Katy. “She knew Joni had used her disability to reach people with God’s love. Now it was something God was giving us to do!” Katy was a natural from the start. Using her PT skills was an exciting challenge, but it was the love in her smile, her bright spirit, and her caring touch that opened hearts to Christ. And throughout the week, God was moving in Katy’s heart just as powerfully. Home and back at work in her PT internship, Katy is sharing her faith as openly as she did in Romania. “When people ask me about my trip, I’m open about why I went – to share the love of Jesus and distribute wheelchairs and let people with disabilities know that God sees them...
When you stand strong on behalf of families at Family Retreat, you’re also empowering the short term missionaries that serve them. Nick Charles has been an STM at Family Retreats for four years. “I feel a strong sense of significance here,” Nick explains. “The first night you see parents who are exhausted and barely hanging on. By Friday afternoon, they’re walking around holding hands. Marriages are restored and families are recharged.” Through your example of faithful servanthood, young leaders like Nick are taking compassion for people with disabilities into every area of life. “If there’s someone with special needs on my college campus this year, I will definitely be their friend. I don’t have any fears or barriers.” You’ve inspired one college freshman to love boldly through Christ. That kind of love will change the world!
Your life leads by example. Your passion for Christ is contagious. At Joni and Friends, young leaders are following in your footsteps and living the adventure of serving Jesus Christ! Several times a year, physical therapist Dianne Sanker happily rolls up her sleeves to join a Wheels for the World outreach. “Wheels for the World is all about offering people with disabilities and their families the gift of salvation,” says Dianne. “A wheelchair is an earthly solution and comfort – but it can’t compare to the gift of eternal life!” Dianne’s daughter Michelle sees her mom’s joy increasing with every trip. “There’s new life and excitement inside of her that’s noticeable to everyone – she got me curious!” explains Michelle. “Seeing my mom willing to use her vacation time to work hard and serve others with Joni and Friends was contagious.” So Michelle jumped into the adventure of serving God on a Wheels outreach to Thailand, where she worked as her mom’s assistant through long, hot, joy-filled days. Side by side, they shared the love of Jesus freely with hundreds, comforting hearts and physical bodies...
Because you stand strong for families, a week at Family Retreat leaves parents, kids of every age, and volunteers with one thing to say: It changed my life! Meet one special needs family, and their Short Term Missionary Zach, and find out why... Dad Steven has discovered that God can use his disabled son and daughter to touch lives. “My daughter Katie doesn’t even speak. But at Family Retreat we see the tremendous impact she has had in the lives of her STMs each year. We see that God has given Katie a way of turning hearts to Him.” Mom Mary Ann is a caretaker 24/7 for her daughter Katie, 22, and son Nicholas, 26. “Disability never ends. We are on the job day and night. At Family Retreat, someone else looks over our children for a few hours. We can take a breath. We can worship and not listen for our child's needs or worry. We're...