‘We’ve Got This,’ Joni and Friends’ second offering, follows #1 ebook in Social Issues and Special Needs
New book is part of Irresistible Church series to equip disability ministries
AGOURA HILLS, Calif., Mar. 31, 2016 – Following last month’s release of the #1 ebook in Social Issues and Special Needs, Joni and Friends International Disability Center hopes to repeat with its second offering, “We’ve Got This,” available as a free Kindle download on Amazon.com. It is also available as a free download through BarnesandNoble.com and other online bookstores. The new book continues the Irresistible Church series launched by Joni and Friends to equip churches in becoming inclusive, welcoming communities – especially in the area of serving those affected by disability.
“We’ve Got This” explores the area of respite – a time of rest and refreshment desperately needed by family members of a loved one with special needs. “Whenever a family first faces disability, a dream has been altered,” the book explains. “The loss of that dream or expectation leads to grief—grief that is every bit as real and challenging as the physical death of a loved one.”
“As parents are grieving, they are simultaneously thrown into a world of intense discovery, uncertainty, added expense, long hours, and emotional exhaustion,” author Debbie Lillo continues. “Many find that it is no longer easy to be included in social and recreational activities and become increasingly isolated. Marriages grow fragile under the strain of new financial obligations, exhaustion, and the lack of time or energy to work on the marriage relationship.”
The analogy is made that when a church can step into this situation and give these parents a few hours “off,” it is like offering a refreshing glass of cool, clear water to a hot, thirsty traveler in a dry and dusty land. In helping to meet this need, the church is also provided a unique opportunity to forge relationships with those affected by disability in the community, in a fairly “easy-to-plan, low-budget fashion,” Lillo adds. “It is a church outreach activity that draws otherwise cautious families over the threshold and into the church because it meets a valuable and practical need.”
Marc Stein, Joni and Friends Vice President of Field Services, suggested that meeting such a need is a great first step in a church becoming irresistible. “Once we have shown that we care about the needs of families affected by disability, that we love them, and that they can trust us to have a compassionate response, then they will begin to feel more truly welcome in our churches,” he said.
“We’ve Got This” spells out the planning for a respite event step-by-step, including scheduling activities, gathering supplies, recruiting and training volunteers, and publicizing the event. Typically held on a Friday or Saturday evening, the respite is several hours of fun activities for the individual affected by disability, along with his or her sibling(s). These events are often just as important for the siblings to have a chance to relax and enjoy bonding with others in their situation, allowing their parents to have some time for themselves while their children are well cared for.
All of the books in the Irresistible Church series will be free, short resources – 50 pages or so. They are written as practical guides to effective special needs ministry, from the very first steps of gauging the need and cataloging available resources. These guidelines are designed to work in any church, no matter the size, budget, or leadership style. Each book includes several free downloadable resources available at the new website, www.IrresistibleChurch.org, also launched by Joni and Friends to equip churches in becoming an “authentic community built on the hope of Christ that compels people affected by disability to fully belong.”
The books and articles on the website are written by experts in disability ministry and church outreach, with experience in starting such ministries from the ground up. A theological and biblical perspective of disability and suffering will also be explored throughout the series, showing the basis for and the call to engage in such ministry work.
The previous title in the series, “Start with Hello,” served as an introduction disability ministry and provided practical first steps from bringing up the topic with church leadership to teaching basic disability etiquette to church members. The next release, “Engaging Game Changers” explores the idea of recruiting and coaching volunteers for the work. In addition to the series’ availability on Kindle, it will be available on 350 other books sites including Barnes and Noble. Formats include mobi (Kindle), epub and PDF.
For more than 35 years, Joni and Friends has worked to accelerate ministry to the disability community around the world, offering a wide array of life-affirming ministries, including the Christian Institute on Disability; Wheels for the World; international radio and television programs filled with inspirational stories; and Family Retreats, where families affected by disability learn they are not alone. For more information, please visit http://www.joniandfriends.org/.
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Note to Editors: For more information or to arrange an interview with Joni and Friends representatives, please contact Melany Ethridge of A. Larry Ross Communications at 972.267.1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.