Andre’s Story: Finding Acceptance in the Body of Christ in El Salvador

Andre's family in El Salvador experienced finding inclusion, transforming acceptance and love through family retreat and their church.

EL SALVADOR — Joni and Friends envisions a world where every person with a disability finds hope, dignity, and their place in the body of Christ. They bring this vision to reality through programs like International Family Retreat. Andre’s family in El Salvador experienced finding inclusion in Christ, transforming acceptance and love through family retreat and their church.

Andre is 14 years old. He has a lot of dreams.

Bonilla Cortez Family:

I’d like you to know Andre’s big heart. We received his first wheelchair from Joni and Friends in 2011.

And for three years we’ve been in the Family Retreats.

We came from a catholic church which was mostly social events. We’d go to events, but without any spiritual depth. We went to Family Retreat with completely different expectation. We never thought we’d find Christ in Family Retreat.

Family Retreat was very nice to share with parents who experience the same situation as our family.

We started seeing people who helped us that had great love for someone they didn’t even know. So that gave us a kind of curiosity to know what moves these people. At Family Retreat we started to be included as a family. Most importantly, the Family Retreat was like removing a blindfold from our eyes. And we started looking for God because we felt eager for him. Coming to church and seeing the doors open and suddenly they came to us to hug us, to welcome us. So, it’s completely different to other places.

Adrián GuardadoPastor:

As a church, we have the purpose of being a completely inclusive church, whether people have a disability or not.

Bonilla Cortez Family:

Here they opened a space for us to come, right to the front. At the other churches we felt we were a nuisance. Here we feel included.


The church should be in Jesus’s arms. And I think that Joni and Friends has a very important role in this work.

Bonilla Cortez Family:

And then going to Joni’s House, they have therapies. Andre likes coming here and Miriam is like a friend and she’s helped us a lot to deal with Andre’s condition. She supports us by talking about God, about his mercy, it helps us to keep going on, giving us strength, encouragement.

Miriam de GuardadoBiblical Counselor, Joni’s House:

And at Joni’s House I have the chance to be able to serve families in spiritual counseling. And when we go to the Lord’s Word, we understand that God has created in his own image and likeness all people with disability.

Bonilla Cortez Family:

There were times with Andre when we didn’t go out because people wouldn’t stop staring. And then, when we got to know Joni and Friends and the church, he loved going to church from the very first day.


What is your favorite part of the Church?

Bonilla Cortez Family:

The songs. He has created his own worship song. Why did you choose me? To have your path. To have your path full of your blessing. And knowing so many wonderful people. When I doubt you. You keep me. You send me. You send me something to continue having your faith.

Read more news on Faith Based / Non Profit Organizations, Disability, Christian Ministry and Compassion Services on Missions Box.

About Joni and Friends

For 40 years, Joni and Friends has provided the hope of the Gospel and practical resources to people affected by disability around the globe. Ministry programs include Wheels for the World, Family Retreats, the Christian Institute on Disability, and church ministry training. Joni and Friends also delivers inspirational media such as the Joni and Friends radio program and podcasts. To find out more, please visit


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