The Word Is God

  • Oct. 24, 2017
  • #9257

Family Retreat is all about God and the marvelous things He does to refresh the hearts of special-needs families. 

James at Family Retreat

Hi, I’m Joni with a word I bet you can guess.

Looking back to this past summer and our season of Family Retreats, I treasure one special memory that happened at our Joni and Friends Family Retreat in Alabama. The Joni and Friends team in Jackson, Mississippi does a fantastic job of running such a fun camp. Besides great times of worship and wonderful Bible teaching sessions, there is lots of excitement. The camp has a big swimming pool, and they do horseback riding, hay rides, pampering day for special-needs mothers, children’s movie and pizza night, and even skeet shooting for the men—even guys in wheelchairs. They put on Banana Olympics – that’s where you have this major sling shot and you shoot bananas to see who can get them the farthest through a grove of pine trees. All this to say camp is not only inspiring and spiritually refreshing; it is a lot of fun.

One afternoon, shortly after lunch time when everybody was heading outside for camp activities, a volunteer wheeled James up to me so he could say hi. Now, James has cerebral palsy. He’s an adult and he’s pretty much non-verbal, but when I’m around such people I always like to try to get beyond just talking at folks with disabilities who can’t speak. I always try to talk with them. And so I asked James the question, hoping that I’d be able to understand whatever answer He gave. I leaned toward his wheelchair and I said, “James, what is your favorite part about Family Retreat?” And he gave me this really big grin and he said, “Gaaad.” Well, I couldn’t quite make that out; I couldn’t quite understand it. So I asked his volunteer to help me with James’ speech, figuring that, you know, these two guys had spent enough time together, maybe his volunteer had the hang of this man’s speech nuances. So his volunteer leaned in and I asked James the question again. I said, “James, come on, one more time. What is your favorite part of camp?” Again, he leaned his head back, smiled real big and answered, “Gaaad.” Okay, we were gonna need more help here. I could not pretend like I knew what he was saying. Just then James’ dad, an elderly man, walked up and I asked for his assistance. And the third time when I asked about James’ favorite thing about Family Retreat, again he said, “Gaaad.” I gave his dad a questioning look, and that’s when his father started laughing and said, “Well Joni, James is saying “God,” of course!” Like, duh, hello? Did I not know that everyone’s favorite part of camp was God? That’s what the “Gaaad” was. It was God. Oh my goodness, that little encounter so spoke to me because when his dad said, “God,” James laughed and started shaking his head yes. Of course, Family Retreat is all about God and the marvelous things He does to refresh the hearts of special-needs families. The God of the Bible always shows up at Family Retreat, and everything we do at camp is a refreshing reminder that Jesus cares, and is concerned for, and delights in, and shows His strength through people with disabilities and their families. God is the word, wow! And I encourage you to sign up and serve families like James and his dad. So do that next summer; would you? So be sure to visit for all the details about Family Retreat.

And this fun story is a great setup for my free offer today called God’s Word on Disability. Because perhaps there’s someone in your church like James who, you believe, would benefit from this encouraging booklet. It’s all about what God’s Word has to say on the subject of disability. And it’s yours for the asking, free today at And guess what? I’m going to send James and his dad a copy! Oh and by the way, if you have a prayer request, let me know on our radio page and our Joni and Friends staff will lift up your need before the Lord.     

© Joni and Friends


Have You Been Encouraged?

  • Your email address will not be published with your comment or be displayed anywhere on our website.
  • We do not rent or sell your personal information to other companies or individuals.
  • For more information please see our privacy policy.