Families Living with Disability Find Respite and Joy at Family Retreat

By |Published On: January 18, 2023|Categories: Family Retreats|
A family photo of Russel, Andrew and their two kids in between them.

Russell and Andrea have two children: eight-year-old Kaelyn, and eleven-year-old Devin who lives with epilepsy.

Devin has been through seven brain surgeries—including the removal of several brain lobes, and part of his hippocampus and amygdala. Because of his condition, Devin suffers from social anxiety, and gets overstimulated and overwhelmed by loud sounds.

Devin’s significant challenges impact his whole family. They live in what can feel like a grind of day-to-day medical and therapy appointments, exhausting routines, and limited opportunities to relax, let alone feel understood in community. But when Devin’s family came to Family Retreat, God provided exactly what they needed.

“The overwhelming joy started as we drove into the camp where the staff were holding handmade signs with our family’s name on it cheering for us as if we were the most important people on the planet,” said Andrea.

One favorite moment for Russell and Andrea was to see men reach out to the children who they just met and who cannot walk, carry them up two flights of stairs to go down the water slides.

Andrea said, “This filled my heart! Absolutely amazing mothers, fathers, and children loving each other as if we were a part of the same family.”  

Russell and Andrea also had the opportunity to attend a marriage class. Russell was able to be part of the men’s group, while Andrea was able to be part of the women’s group.

This time refreshed them spiritually, as individuals and as a couple.

“We left filled with more joy and love than we have felt in years, and we gained a family we did not know we needed. We are so excited for next year’s Family Retreat and hope to see YOUR family there. I promise you will not regret it!” 


You can make it possible for more families like Russell and Andrea’s to find encouragement, refreshment, and an experience of belonging in the body of Christ. When you partner with Joni and Friends Arizona through prayer and financial support, you carry out the call of Jesus in Luke 14:

“Go out quickly in the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame…. Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.”

Luke 14:21, 23

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