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Joni and Friends Missionary Retreat

  We just returned from Joni and Friends retreat for missionary families. We are parents to a young lady on the spectrum. Although she can do many things a person her age likes to do, she has challenges to overcome in how she regulates herself in the everyday world because of her significant developmental delay. This past week she was surrounded by people in many different age groups with challenges, but autism was a predominant special need throughout the families.
  A group of believing teachers and students from an international Christian school in our area assisted these precious families by becoming buddies with the kids attending, giving the parents a break from routine care as they engaged the kids in many different skill-building and fun activities.
Madeline's buddy was Hanna, a seventeen-year-old with very similar life experiences to Madeline, living in China, Taiwan, and Thailand. God picked the perfect friend for Madeline as they spent most of the week together, and in addition to a nice break, we saw Madeline grow in confidence.
  At the retreat, we'd gather together in the mornings and evenings for worship, singing with hand and body motions. Throughout the day, parents would have the opportunity to meet with experts who came for this retreat. We also were greatly encouraged by each other as we fellowshipped together.
  Thank God as we notice that having a child on the mission field with a disability opens a door for the gospel to be lived and spoken into other families' lives. Life can be complicated, and the challenges vary. Having a child with a disability invites us back to His throne of grace as He helps us to live the gospel out loud for all to see and hear.
Tom - Family and Ministry