Family Retreats - A Ministry for Families Affected by Disability
According to some statistics, families who have a family member with a disability have high rates of estranged relationships, stress, financial burdens, and despair. Also, there is a high rate of divorce among parents who have a special needs child. Families affected by disability can face social isolation and they might feel that nobody truly understands them. Because of this, their practical, emotional and spiritual needs are often left unmet. These are some of the reasons the ministry, Joni and Friends, holds their Family Retreats.
Relaxation and Restoration
Family Retreats were founded by the Christ-centered ministry, Joni & Friends in 1991 as a way to strengthen family bonds, provide education for families on how to cope with disability-related issues and to give hope.
According to Joni and Friends, when a family is affected by disability, the demands and pressures of daily living are even greater. It becomes more of a challenge to find opportunities for rest, Christ-centered encouragement, and the tools to build a stronger family.
During these week long retreats, which are held in late spring and summer, there are many activities for those who have a disability as well as the other family members.
This year, there are over 20 family retreats scheduled. Some of the locations include:
- Muskegon, Michigan
- Tustin, Michigan
- Murrieta, California
- Crossville, Tennessee
- Flat Rock, North Carolina
- Rockaway Beach, Oregon
- Jumonville, Pennsylvania
- Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
- Greenfield, New Hampshire
This year they are also hosting some International Family Retreats in Guatemala, Serbia, Ghana, Ukraine, Romania, China and El Salvador.
Some of the recreational activities include boating, hiking, crafts and fishing. It is also a time where families can get together and have fellowship along with enjoying a relaxing atmosphere.
People who serve as "short-term missionaries" volunteer to help at the retreats. Each volunteer is assigned to a family. According to Joni and Friends, these short term missionaries, "reach out in a meaningful way to one of the most unloved, unreached people groups right here in our communities - people affected by disability."
Family Retreat Schedule for 2011
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Joni and Friends
One in every five Americans has a disability and only 10% of churches in the U.S. are actively reaching out to them, which is one reason why Joni and Friends exists. They are an international ministry which advocates for people with disabilities.
The ministry was founded by Joni Eareckson Tada, who at seventeen years old became a quadriplegic as the result of a diving accident. She has a radio ministry, a television ministry and has written several books including her best-selling autobiography, "Joni."
The objective of Joni and Friends is to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of those with disabilities in practical ways. Their mandate to draw people affected by disability into the Kingdom of God comes from Luke 14:21:
"Go quickly to the highways and streets of your city and bring in those who are helpless, injured, blind or disabled..."
The ministry of Joni and Friends not only tries to serve individuals but also to equip churches and communities as well. Joni and Friends has been around for three decades and they feel that disabled people are not being reached by the Christian church and are not experiencing fellowship and support.
Joni and Friends Vision Statement:
To accelerate Christian ministry in the disability community.
Joni and Friends Mission Statement:
To communicate the Gospel and equip Christ-honoring Churches worldwide to evangelize and disciple people affected by disabilities.