How Joni and Friends Family Retreat Changed My Life

I’ve followed Joni Eareckson Tada’s ministry for several years, but this was the first time I was able to participate as a volunteer or STM (Short Term Missionary).

[If you don’t know Joni’s story, you can read a brief bio here.]

God put all of the pieces together for me to serve at Week 3 of Joni and Friends Texas Family Retreat this summer.

I’ve wanted to be an STM for at least 5 years, but it hadn’t been possible until this year. I finally had enough vacation time saved up from work, my finances were secure for me to pay my own way, and my church was planning on sending a team for the first time.

Isn’t that how life works? God is the One who gets the glory for aligning schedules, providing financial resources, and equipping just the right personnel!

If you’ve already watched the video above, you will have a very good understanding of what happens at Family Retreat.

[If you want more information about this ministry, click here.]

How did one week of summer camp change my life?

Here are 9 things God taught me this summer:

  1. Love
  2. Joy
  3. Peace
  4. Patience
  5. Kindness
  6. Goodness
  7. Faithfulness
  8. Gentleness
  9. Self-Control

Does this list look familiar? It ought to.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NASB)

Every expression of the fruit of the Spirit was on display for all to see.

How often do you see truly sacrificial love, selflessness, and patience being lived out during a meltdown…or an incident with a fire alarm?

  • Families that get little to no rest at home, or lack a strong community, experiencing true hope and peace?
  • Nonstop acts of faithfulness and kindness from sunrise to sunset?
  • Goodness and gentleness exhibited by little ones and young adults toward each other as they hear the Gospel taught?
  • Self-control being practiced, even when it’s not easy to do so?
  • Lasting and overflowing joy because the Spirit is present and active in the lives of so many?

I guess these things shouldn’t be a surprise. They should be abounding in every Christian’s life all the time.

They should be in my life all the time.

I was greatly encouraged by this short week, but I also drove away challenged, even convicted, by the abundance of fruit-bearing life present at camp.

Lord, please continue the work that You started in me. Sanctify me and use me wherever You choose.

I’m ready for next year!

Have you ever considered how you might show the love of Christ to those who desperately need a Savior? The only One who can offer them hope and spiritual (and eventually physical) rescue?

I’ve heard someone say that “you might be the only Bible they ever read.

Are you representing Christ well?

You too can be the hands and feet of Jesus to the hurting and hopeless.

3 thoughts on “How Joni and Friends Family Retreat Changed My Life

  1. I was scheduled to be a STM for the Joni and Friends Wounded Warrior retreat in 2010 but circumstances didn’t allow me to attend. I know the Lord will arrange things for me so that one day I can do it. I’m more encouraged to do it now. Thanks to you!

    Liked by 1 person

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