Special Needs Families Can Thrive With the Lifeline of Respite

By |Published On: August 3, 2022|Categories: Hope & Inspiration|
A family portrait of Steve Bundy and his family. His wife, Melissa is to his right, his younger son, Jaron is to his left and his son Caleb is in the front of the three in his wheelchair. They're all smiling at the camera with lush trees and grass in the background.

As the Senior Vice President of International Ministries and the Christian Institute on Disability at Joni and Friends, Reverend Steve Bundy understands families’ need for respite.

As the father of Caleb, a young man with complex disabilities, Steve describes respite as a lifeline necessary for special needs families to survive.

Caleb is 23 years old and has muscular dystrophy, intellectual disabilities, and severe autism.

“His complexities are such that he cannot be left alone due to his intense self-injurious behaviors. Caleb requires 24-hour care.”


Steve and his wife, Melissa, face multiple struggles in providing care for Caleb. “It’s a real challenge finding and training caregivers. The desperation we – and all special needs families – feel when we don’t have people we can trust to lean upon for help leads to exhaustion upon exhaustion,” explains Steve.

“The cycle of always giving to your loved one without being replenished leaves us running out of what little reserve we have physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Respite is such a critical ministry because it allows parents and siblings the opportunity to rejuvenate and refresh so they can continue serving their special needs family member,” shares Steve. Melissa and their younger son, Jaron, agree.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

“A child with disabilities can become the crisis point in a family, and like any crisis, disability can become an all-consuming focus and the center of the family. That’s why Joni and Friends programs like Halftime Respite and Respite at Home are so important. They provide families with a biblical balance, keeping Christ as the center of the family and keeping the focus on the sovereignty of God. This balance cannot be found by the special needs family alone… it takes the family of God,” says Steve.

He continues, “Without the body of Christ coming alongside special needs families with respite and supplemental care, these families will wither and die on the vine. Joni and Friends offers a reservoir of respite care – the living water of Jesus and a refreshing drink to families who are quite honestly parched. Respite allows families to love their children and love them well because they themselves have been refreshed.”

A head shot of Steve Bundy and Melissa standing together and smiling at the camera.

“Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 4:14

Thank you for your faithful prayers and generous support of families struggling with disabilities. God is using the love poured out through Joni and Friends respite events to keep marriages and families together all for his glory!

Want to Hear More?

Listen to Steve Bundy share his story on the Joni and Friends Ministry Podcast!

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