Joni and Friends Blog
Bringing Jesus into Hearts and Homes!
“Let us love not with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”1 John 3:18
Gregory and Joshua are 8-year-old twins with multiple disabilities including autism, developmental and cognitive delays, and Noonan syndrome. Their mom, Jody, explained to our team that their care involves 24/7 demands that bring feelings of isolation and exhaustion.
Jody’s transparency reveals an urgent need for respite, which is why our Respite at Home program is such a necessity! Our Joni and Friends Internship program has partnered with the University of Northwestern St. Paul to serve families in Minnesota – just like Jody’s – who are living with disability and are in desperate need of rest and refreshment in Jesus.
Respite at Home pairs Christian nursing students at the University of Northwestern St. Paul with special needs families in order to provide them with the respite care they so desperately crave. And while these interns serve families with the practical gift of rest and renewal in Christ, they are using their internship experience to preach the Gospel in both word and deed.
Interns visit special needs families like Jody’s for three-hour sessions each week over the course of their entire college semester – building friendships with each member of the family through activities like singing, dancing, Bible stories and crafts. And while the interns share the love of God with Gregory and Joshua, Jody gets some much-needed time to herself… something that’s exceptionally rare for special needs moms.
“This brings the boys so much joy! They get so excited; lots of smiles and giggles! And I see God through the nursing students. They’re being the hands and feet of Jesus, showing us God’s love. Respite at Home is an answer to our prayers!”–Jody
Other special needs moms share that Respite at Home is renewing and strengthening their faith, showcasing God’s provision, depicting the Body of Christ in action, and bringing everyone in their families closer to Jesus.
“I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”Isaiah 49:15-16
Jenny is a single mom raising her 9-year-old son, Willy, who has autism, developmental delays and past trauma after-effects. She knows all too well how isolating disability and single parenting can be. She and Willy have been abundantly blessed by Respite at Home, too!
“I’m overwhelmed by the nursing students’ kindness and helpfulness. They are so positive, always asking how they can help, and they make everything about Willy.”–Jenny
Better still, Respite at Home makes everything all about Jesus! “Respite at Home has helped Willy grow spiritually. He listens very intently when the nursing students read the Bible to him,” explains Jenny.
And when they read the Easter story with Willy, he had lots of questions, including how the Easter bunny fits into Christ’s death and resurrection. The interns shared that Easter is all about celebrating that Jesus is alive today and that through Christ, we can have new life!
“They have given Willy the greatest gift they could!” declared Jenny, which is all of their undivided attention and the power of the Gospel. Respite at Home gives special needs families the rest and fellowship they need alongside love, joy and new hope in Christ!
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!”1 Peter 1:3
Through Respite at Home, our interns aren’t the only ones sharing the Gospel. Jack, who is 16 years old and has Down syndrome and autism, is an evangelist, too!
Jack loves to preach the Gospel. His message is clear and concise: “Jesus. Born. Died. Rose again. New Jesus!”
Jack even takes Jesus off the crucifixes in his home because he knows Jesus is alive! He shares this Good News with everyone he meets, including the interns in our Respite at Home program, which has blessed him and his mom, Kelly.
“This is really the first time we’ve ever had respite. It’s such a gift!”–Kelly
Respite at Home gives the gift of God’s love to families impacted by disability, and it gives individuals with special needs like Jack the opportunity to use their spiritual gifts in new and wonderful ways.
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.”1 Corinthians 12:4-5
A recent needs assessment report commissioned by Joni and Friends shows that respite care is the most significant need among individuals with a disability, their parents and caregivers, and the family unit as a whole. Joni and Friends is meeting that need through Respite at Home and our many other respite events all across the country.
Your generous gift given today will meet the desperate needs of families impacted by disability through Respite at Home and all of our life-giving outreaches. Thank you for caring about special needs families. Thank you for bringing Jesus into their hearts and homes today!
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