International Family Retreats

Families around the world can experience Christ-centered encouragement and acceptance at an accessible family camp. 

Retreats for Special Needs Families Around the World

Around the world, families affected by disability face extraordinary challenges. In under-resourced countries, education and health services are extremely limited and families coping with disability are often excluded from local community life.

Joni and Friends offers hope and help to struggling families through International Family Retreats (IFRs). In partnership with local churches, the Gospel message is demonstrated on a personal level as families experience Christ-centered encouragement and acceptance at an accessible family camp. What a joy to see families affected by disability discover that they are valued and loved by God!

Would you like to partner with Joni and Friends and other international volunteers to serve special needs families abroad? Join one of our IFR teams to discover a dynamic and unique opportunity to live out your faith and present Christ’s love in tangible way! To learn more, please explore the “Volunteer to Serve” section below.

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Volunteer to Serve

Serve as a Short Term Missionary (STM) at an International Family Retreat – no experience necessary!

What exactly will I do?

As an STM, you will come alongside local church volunteers to support families affected by disability. You may be assigned a specific role or asked to fill a variety of roles, depending on the immediate need.

What are some of the specific roles I might take on?
  • Disability Specialist: typically an occupational therapist, physical therapist, registered nurse, speech and language pathologist, special education teacher, or behavior therapist
  • Program Assistant: help lead arts and crafts, recreation time, and games
  • Parent Group Leader: help lead small group meetings with local caregivers
  • Family Retreat Trainer: train local STMs to be a buddy to someone with special needs
  • Speaker: serve as camp pastor; Biblical training, ministry experience, and/or experience with people affected by disability is recommended
  • Photographer: document the Retreat through photos
What are requirements to serve?

You do not need to be a professional to be a part of the team. STMs are simply committed Christians that have a desire to serve families affected by disability.

Whether you're a college-aged student or a grandparent, you will serve a vital role at International Family Retreat. STMs must be at least 18 years old to apply. If you are younger than 18 years old and would like to serve, please contact the IFR department at ifr@joniandfriends.org or 818-575-1774.

Will I receive any training?

Yes! We provide all the training materials you will need before and during the Retreat. You will be trained on disability awareness, cultural awareness, and your role(s) at the Retreat. Ongoing support will be provided from the International Family Retreat Manager and the Retreat Team Leader.

How long is the Retreat?

A typical Family Retreat is 3-5 days. Including training, travel days, and a day to sightsee/shop, the trip will last about 10 days.

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