International Family Retreat Reflects God’s Grace

  • By: Joni and Friends
  • Jan. 26, 2017
  • International Family Retreat


Have you ever wondered what it’s like to serve at an International Family Retreat (IFR)? We asked volunteer, Nikki, to answer some questions about her recent experiences with IFR!

Which country did you travel to on your IFR?

I traveled to Brasov, Romania in 2016.

What were your expectations about serving in another country?

I was nervous that the local volunteers would not accept me and would treat me as an outsider. As one of only two Americans on the team, I was afraid that the in-country volunteers would rather stick together and not integrate with us. I could not have been more wrong! The connections were instant and the volunteers were amazingly kind, generous, and helpful.

What impacted you the most in terms of disability ministry?

How desperately the families needed the support, love, and encouragement they found at IFR. There is a huge need for disability ministry, especially internationally, and it was amazing to see how the families opened their hearts to us.

How did you grow spiritually?

The people that I worked alongside in Romania were some of the most hardworking and selfless people I’ve ever met. They truly displayed sacrificial love, continually pouring themselves out in service to others. It really impacted me and set an example of what living like Jesus looks like.

If you could tell people one thing about working with those affected by disability, what would it be?

I would use the wise words about God’s grace included in the Joni and Friends Beyond Suffering curriculum I read while preparing for my trip: “Friends with disability remind us of God’s grace. Without Christ, we were once disabled spiritually, unable to move into his kingdom, blind to his purposes and deaf to his voice. By his grace we are made whole, and it is often the disabilities in others which serve as God’s physical, audiovisual aid of how he’s working spiritually in the lives of us all.”

What was your favorite memory from your IFR?

I enjoyed the debriefing time with the volunteers each night. Most of them had never worked with people affected by disability before. It was a beautiful thing to watch an individual that was apprehensive on Day 1 transform throughout the week - not only in how they interacted with their buddy but how they viewed people with disabilities as a whole.

Are you interested in serving on an IFR outreach? Visit our website to find out more!


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