“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” – Unknown Author
Meet Steve—Steve is a 31-year-old from Wisconsin. He is a huge sports fan, is passionate about his family and friends, and loves Jesus. He regularly says yes to opportunities to share God’s story in His life. Steve also has Down syndrome.
Steve has participated as a camper for many years at the Joni and Friends Family Retreat in Texas. The life-long friendships he has made through Family Retreat have made a lasting impact in His relationship with the Lord. When the leaders of the Texas Family Retreat saw Steve’s heart to serve others, they invited Steve to join them at the International Family Retreat in Cuba. Traveling internationally can be difficult for anyone, but this is especially true when you have a disability. You need to think through your medical care, dietary restrictions, and so much more. It can be intimidating and easy to say no because staying at home is easier and more comfortable.
After receiving the invitation to serve internationally, Steve spent dedicated time praying about the opportunity. As he prayed and discussed it with his family, friends, and leaders, Steve decided to say yes to what God was doing in and through him. Steve believed that God opened the door and was calling Him to Cuba. He didn’t let excuses hold him back from serving the Lord, even knowing that he would miss the MLB World Series!
As Steve stepped out in faith, it was amazing to see how God met him along the way in what he calls God moments—moments when we notice God at work through the love we show each other. Steve explains that some of the God moments he saw in Cuba were simple—playing games with children affected by disability and sharing a smile with those who were hurting. But the most impactful way that the Lord used Steve was simply through his presence at the retreat. It is not uncommon for disability to be viewed with negative connotations in other countries—it can symbolize a curse or the result of some sin. Steve’s example of stepping out of his comfort zone to serve other people affected by disability was a powerful testimony that displayed not only the value of a person affected by disability, but also that every person can be used by God. After Steve got home from Cuba, we asked him what he would say to someone who is considering serving on an International Family Retreat, and he said:
• Be ready for the unexpected and don’t worry, be happy!
• Sometimes you gotta come out of your comfort zone.
• You’ll have the time of your life!
• One extra bonus tip: if you are traveling to Cuba, try the chocolate! It’s amazing!
God calls all of us to step out of our comfort zone in various parts of our lives. Where is God calling you to step out in faith today? Perhaps He is calling you to serve in Cuba at an International Family Retreat like Steve did, or at one of the other Family Retreats around the world. Or maybe He is calling you to something in your local community like serving in the disability ministry at your church, loving your neighbor, or inviting the parent of a child with disability to coffee. Whatever God is calling you to today, will you say yes like Steve did? Because I am confident that when you do, you too will have a God moment.
Cameryn Bartschi serves with International Family Retreats at Joni and Friends, a program that partners with local churches worldwide to bring the gospel to families affected by disability through a respite program offering love, acceptance, and compassion. Before coming on staff with Joni and Friends, Cameryn worked for a company that provided behavior therapy and helped start a disability ministry at her church. She and her husband live in California, spending their time working on creative projects and pouring into the lives of their friends and family.