Five years ago, I felt a desire to serve more at Brook Hills. I am a teacher and special education was my first calling many years ago. When I saw the need for special buddies in the children’s ministry, I felt that was something I could do within my already busy schedule. I also believe God gifts and trains us for areas where we can serve, and teaching those with special needs is what he has prepared me for.

I have been with the same student for 5 years, and it has been wonderful to watch her grow and find her place in the student ministry.  Her needs are great and in the beginning it was challenging. However, over time, we grew a strong relationship and our time together is very productive. Some Sundays, I am tired and would love to sleep in, but when I receive my buddy’s enthusiastic greeting and hug, I am ALWAYS glad I came. I cherish our relationship; she is cute, delightful, funny, friendly, active, and full of surprises. She has disabilities but also many abilities, and I am grateful to be a part of the team of people in her life who help her reach her potential. Her parents are the greatest! I admire them tremendously and hope the time I spend with their daughter serves them as well.

Watching the Brook Hills students accept and love my buddy is a blessing. It’s heartwarming to experience the efforts of the leaders to include her in activities. Her small group leaders have planned activities for the girls specifically with my buddy’s needs and interests in mind. This IS the body of Christ.

As much as she receives from the student ministry, she also gives. She is uninhibited in greeting everyone, joining in activities, and dancing to the student praise band music. If only the rest of us could express our worship as freely!

My buddy participates in the regular group as much as possible, but part of the time, I plan an interactive lesson that is on her ability level. It has really made an impact on me spiritually to realize that no matter what Bible story or Bible truth we are studying, there has always been an application appropriate for my buddy’s everyday life. God’s Word is for us wherever and whoever we are. At the end of each lesson my buddy ends our time together in prayer. It humbles me and warms my heart to hear her pray for me; it feels like a little piece of heaven. I look forward to seeing what God has in His plan for her life in the years to come.

Gaye Cole and her family began attending Brook Hills when we were just 2-months-old. This faith family has helped her and her husband, David, raise two God-fearing sons who married Christ-honoring young ladies. Their older son, Carson and wife Carolyn live in Dothan, AL and younger son, Wesley, and wife Emily live in Lynchburg, VA. David is in the life insurance and investment business, and Gaye teaches  6th grade language arts, English as a second language,and math at Riverchase Middle School.