Single Father Encounters Christ-Centered Community at Family Retreat

CALIFORNIA— Joni and Friends Family Retreat provides a place where families living with disability can find love, community, and Christ-centered support. Mike’s story of finding hope through hardship is just a peek into the lives of the many families who attend Family Retreat.

Mike “Boston” Andrejczyk:

My oldest son, Naim, was adopted through Family Services. He was born with some very adverse circumstances. Naim was diagnosed with autism, with ADHD, ODD, and life was very difficult for him.

You kind of mourn because he’s not getting invited to birthday parties because other children don’t like him. There’s very little friendships that I’ve developed over the last, you know, almost 15 years. And as a parent, you grieve and you cry and you mourn and you wonder, is he OK? Does he enjoy life? Is he having fun?

You adopt him for a purpose because you want to give him the very best and to give him a good life. But things didn’t work out. Divorce has not been easy. I don’t believe it’s easy for the kids. And Naim is with me full time.

I’ve tried to find jobs, but it’s hard. Life is a complete financial struggle for me. I’d be homeless without my church. They have provided rent for me. And in your own self, you feel guilty, like I should just work two or three jobs. But it’s like, how do you work when your kid’s home? And how can you work overnight when your children are asleep?

I’m currently a maintenance man at McDonald’s. It’s not easy getting out of bed in the morning to go clean McDonald’s. And then you wonder, am I the dad that he really needs? You know, would he be better off as someone who makes more money or, you know, someone who could, you know, have been better over the years?

Jamia CinelliOhio Area Director, Joni and Friends:

Parenting is hard. Parenting a child with disability is hard. And doing it on your own, I can’t even describe it. At times, parents need breaks. And a single parent, especially single parent of a child with a disability, there’s no such thing as a break.


Joni and friends, it is such a wonderful place to come to. I come probably out of necessity in a lot of ways because I can’t really afford to take them away for a week at the beach, but to come to family camp and to be in a place that was safe and that you knew that we weren’t being judged.


It’s where families can be themselves and get the love and the rest and relaxation that they need. My hope is that they’re energized, they’ve got that peace and that hope to move forward, but that there’s a place for them to go and fit in as a family as well.


Joni and Friends is extended family. You come back and you see familiar faces and people that have watched your children grow up, they see the struggle. They see the first time you had to attend a dinner as a single guy and you didn’t really wanna go.

And yet they made it possible. The hopelessness you feel sometimes, you know you’re around kindred spirits like mine and people that are struggling daily to not allow the diagnosis and the disabilities to hold us hostage and to be everything in our life. Joni and Friends has just become a part of the fabric of who we are as a family. It’s a place where we love to come. We enjoy the activities.

This is our eighth family camp. But just this is the first time. He went to the dance for the whole time. Normally he’s out in five minutes, you know, And just to see him interact and smiling has really been a dream come true.

It just reinforces who the body of Christ is and that we are the body of Christ and that we are the bride of Christ. We are the temple of God. All those things that the church are, and this is certainly an extension of that.

This is just the most amazing week. And just to see our kids have a wonderful vacation experience and to also be a part of the body of Christ while doing it, such a beautiful, beautiful gift that I’m so very grateful for.

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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