The Love of Christ Shines at Joni and Friends Family Retreat

By |Published On: July 5, 2023|Categories: Family Retreats|
Andrea and her family smiling at the camera in front of a large tree at Bay Area Family Retreat.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”

Romans 1:16 

Before Andrea arrived at Family Retreat, she and her family felt isolated. She is a single mom to 10-year-old Victoria, 7-year old Viviana, and 11-year-old Vincent, who has autism and anxiety.

Andrea sees the ways that God has gifted all of her children: Vincent is passionate about music and nature, Victoria is strong-willed, and Viviana is compassionate. Unfortunately Andrea and her children found themselves under threat. “My ex-husband was abusive with me and Vincent. We moved [to the Bay Area] to start over,” Andrea shared.

Living in a new community Andrea struggled to find meaningful connections and a sense of belonging.

A Place of Welcome

From the moment Andrea drove into retreat and saw the signs welcoming each of her children, she knew her family would be served by a team that loved them.

“I was blessed to see the kids’ names on the signs as we crossed the bridge. That touched my heart.”

At Family Retreat Andrea and her kids had found more than just friends…

“When we arrived, we felt ‘seen’ and we feel like we are family.”


Vincent, Victoria, and Viviana experienced freedom to be themselves at retreat. Vincent enjoys the peace of nature, Victoria likes gymnastics and writing calligraphy, and Viviana likes to dance. At retreat, they had fun sharing their interests with their buddies.

Andrea remembers, “My middle daughter Victoria, her face has been lit up since we got here.”

“This retreat is better than being in Disneyland.”

Andrea’s children

Finding Belonging

When asked about how Joni and Friends Family Retreat impacted her family, with tears streaming down her face, she replied:

“We matter, and we are not alone. We have experienced sincere love without judgment or any obligation to pay back.”

Andrea found support and encouragement at retreat. She learned that Jesus is her Master Carpenter, uniquely crafting her family and building them up for the journey ahead. She knows that God is always with her, equipping her to serve her children—she is not alone. The encouragement Andrea received at Family Retreat went home with her.

Whether in Northern California or across the globe, families living with disability share one primary need for the only true hope that can carry them through every day…Jesus!

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Your gift today will give more families like Andrea’s the chance to discover the hope of Christ and Family Retreat!

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