With a background of educational training and years of experience, Kait Gregory and Kiana Phillips felt fully qualified to serve at the Joni and Friend’s Murrieta Family Retreat. But no training or experience could have adequately prepared them to efficiently serve their mischievous, nine-year-old camper, Ben.
Though the many hours of keeping up with Ben were challenging and exhausting, Kait and Kiana took comfort in knowing that God had paired them together for a reason. Ben indicated no noticeable changes, but the two young ladies continued to pray for God’s will to be revealed as they invested hours of love and affirmation into this bright-eyed boy.
Towards the middle of the week, Kait and Kiana finally experienced a breakthrough with Ben.
“We were hanging out, and Ben was sitting in Kait’s lap. Suddenly, he snapped out of his behaviors, and he leaned his forehead on mine,” Kiana beamed.
“I don’t know what changed,” Kait shook her head. “I think it was the power of prayer. He didn’t hit or scratch or run away that day. He just smiled!”
The joyful smile that lit up Ben’s face made all the hours of hard work worth it!
Seeing this change in behavior gave them hope for the rest of the week and was a testament to God’s faithfulness as He answered their prayers. Love, gentleness, kindness, and peace—these were a few gifts that Kait and Kiana witnessed in their interactions with Ben.
“Nothing mattered more than letting Ben know that he wasn’t a burden and that people fought hard to be in his life,” Kait explained the ultimate goal of the week. “It was amazing because we were able to step into his ‘junk’ and do life with him. Interacting with him, we loved him with a love like Jesus’ love. And it was incredible just seeing how big God is, bigger than his autism.”
Though Kait and Kiana walked away from the week with a few extra scratches and bruises, they both agreed that it was worth every minute.
“God is so much bigger than disability and even our flaws,” Kiana asserted. “Love, kindness, and gentleness can break through the challenges and disabilities that people face. They go so far in interacting with disabilities and ministries. Sometimes that’s even the answer to communication. The fruits of the Spirit helped us create a bond.”
Kait and Kiana’s experience serves as a wonderful reminder that God is so much bigger than disability and, through the fruit of His Spirit, we can overcome unbreakable barriers.
Grace Shaffer is currently serving as an intern with the Joni and Friends Cause4Life internship program. She is passionate about capturing people’s stories and is completing a writing degree at Pensacola Christian College while drinking copious amounts of coffee.