Some 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...
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.”
This 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!
Every 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!
Did 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...
Kahla 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...
In a culture where disability is often the cause of shame for a family, Flor’s parents have tried to make her life better. But they simply don’t have the means to do enough. When Flor was lifted into a specialty chair at a recent Wheels for the World outreach, her parents were speechless. “Who gives such a thing without cost?” they whispered. “What kind of love comes so far with so much?” Jesus’ love does. The Gospel is shared with Flor’s parents. It’s a message they’ve never heard before, a love they know nothing about, a promise and a future they can’t wait to say YES to! And they do. On this day, they become God’s own children and received more than they could ask or imagine by His power at work in you.
When you give the gift of a wheelchair, even a child like Yida will ask, “Why…? Why would you care about me…? Why would you give me such a gift…?” In developing nations, like Peru, no disabled child or adult expects anyone to care that much. Yet the answer is simple to give: Because Jesus loves you so much. And just that quickly, the door to eternity is opened. For Yida, as soon as she heard the Good News she wanted to receive it all. “I want Jesus to be my best friend!” she cried. Her mother Marilous agreed, and together they prayed to receive El Salvador (the Savior). They came to Wheels for the World for a wheelchair, but left with Jesus and a brand new walk of faith together!
The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association has nominated Joni & Ken: An Untold Love Story as a finalist in the nonfiction category of the ECPA Christian Book Awards. Since 1978 the ECPA has recognized quality and encouraged excellence by presenting each year the ECPA Christian Book Award (formerly known as Gold Medallion). The Christian Book Award recognizes the highest quality in Christian books and is among the oldest and most prestigious awards program in the religious publishing industry. Five finalists are selected in seven categories. The winners will be announced at ECPA's Leadership Summit held on April 28-30 in Colorado Springs. I'm grateful not only to ECPA, but to the many readers who have given our book a solid 'thumbs up!' To God be the glory!
Nedic wasn’t looking for God when she showed up at our Wheels for the World distribution in Peru. The needs of her son, Patrick, compelled her to come. Nedic is a single mother who heard about Joni and Friends from a neighbor. “These people will show you love and help you,” the neighbor said. And Nedic needs help. She’s drained of strength, energy and resources. Too tired to go to church, she’s fallen away from friends, fellowship and the Lord Jesus. But God used Patrick to lead her back. “Today God is giving me new eyes to see my son as He sees him,” she says. “This wheelchair is God’s gift to my son so he will always know that he is special to God. And it is a gift to me, too.” With your prayer behind the gift of a wheelchair, God has blessed not one life today, but many – including Nedic’s. Thank you for loving and restoring families, in Jesus’ name.