Joni and Friends Blog

A Heart-Opening Outreach

Simone serving in Peru

We love seeing who God calls to serve at International Family Retreats! Each year Short-Term Missionaries (STMs) from all different backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, and life-experiences come together to show Christ’s love to families affected by disability. This year we were blessed to send Simone to our Family Retreat in Peru. Simone works at Joni and Friends in our Human Resources department and has a huge heart for special-needs families.

Upon meeting the local church and special needs families, Simone saw that the handiwork of God existed in all of them. The genuine fellowship was overwhelmingly beautiful. As she interacted with the families, their warm and welcoming attitude made her feel like a friend or family member coming to bless and care for them. Simone offered encouragement and support to local pastors by answering their questions about reaching families affected by disability and how to bring them into their church. She stated that we are all equally capable of loving each other like Christ, despite cultural or societal differences.

Simone said, “It was a heart-opening experience. I did not know that God could stretch my heart with each person and each interaction, but somehow I left each conversation and each day with more blessing and transformation than the last.”

If you have ever considered serving at an International Family Retreat, but have felt nervous, Simone says to embrace this feeling. This is God helping to prepare your heart for a joy and wonder you have not experienced before! In Simone’s words, “International Family Retreat is an experience that leaves you yearning for the presence of God wherever you go and reveling in it among people who turn from strangers into brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Visit our International Family Retreats webpage to learn how you can be part of bringing the Gospel to special-needs families!