A Place to Belong, to Rest, and Be Loved

By |Published On: September 23, 2022|Categories: Family Retreats|
A group photo of Maddie seated in her wheelchair and smiling as her aunt, Stephanie, and her mom, Jennifer, stand on either side of her and smile at the camera.

Maddie is 20 years old and lives with her mom, Jennifer, and her aunt, Stephanie. Maddie has multiple physical disabilities including quadriplegia, cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, gastrointestinal issues, asthma, and medical PTSD.

Over the past year Maddie’s health challenges have intensified and she’s spent a lot of time in the hospital. Jennifer says,

“There have been numerous times where we thought God was going to call her home, but he has allowed her to fight on. With each hospital stay, we wonder if this will be her time to go to her forever home.”

Amid struggles with Maddie’s health, difficult medical decisions, and ongoing caregiving demands, Joni and Friends has been a lifeline for Maddie and her family. For eight years, they have attended Family Retreat.

Maddie riding a horse as she's being held by a Joni and Friends volunteer who is sitting behind her and smiling at the camera.

At Family Retreat families living with disability like Maddie’s experience respite, joy, and belonging.

They get to play, worship, and enjoy camp-style activities, surrounded by believers who understand the unique challenges that disability creates every day.

“Joni and Friends has given us the strength to keep going when we had none of our own left and has made life a lot less lonely. They have loved on Maddie like she was their own. And they always know how to have fun!”


And the Joni and Friends community doesn’t stop at Family Retreat.

Throughout the year, Maddie’s family participates in Joni and Friends programs, and stays connected. Joni and Friends has even provided food during Maddie’s hospital stays, a place to stay when hotel costs were overwhelming, prayers, and roadside help when the family wheelchair van stopped working in 120-degree weather.

For Maddie’s family, this past year—full of uncertainty and difficulty—could have been unbearable. But Joni and Friends helped them experience the love and provision of the Lord. Because of this grace, Maddie’s family rests assured that God is in control. 

No matter what Maddie goes through, they know God has perfect plans for her.

This past May, when Maddie graduated from high school, Joni and Friends hosted her graduation party! As Stephanie said,

“Joni and Friends is a family, a place to belong, a place to be loved, and a source of strength. It is a place where true friendships have developed. Joni and Friends is what we picture heaven will be like, only we will all have new bodies!”

Maddie seated in her wheelchair and smiling at the camera as she's wearing a mask and a superhero costume.

“We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing.”

2 Corinthians 5:2

In Arizona and throughout the world, Joni and Friends serves families like Maddie’s, and shares the Gospel with them, in word and deed. You can help us bring hope through hardship to many more families waiting to experience the ultimate Good News of Jesus Christ.

Support Joni and Friends Arizona

Your donation today will provide hands-on help and the love of Jesus to people living with disabilities at home and across the globe.

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