There is a group of men and women in our church who love and serve some a special group of people that are gifts to our faith family… your Special Needs Ministry Leadership team. That team is led by:

• Ryan Harris

• Matt Lustig

• Sheila Martin

• Christina Manuwai

• Andrea Maddox

• Cynthia Murphy

Let me tell you a little about the people on this team:

Ryan Harris is a young adult who faithfully serves each week as a Buddy for one of our teens with autism. Ryan is with him in student worship and his small group. If there is a week when his student won’t be there, Ryan always quickly and willingly comes and serves as a Buddy in preschool and is willing to do whatever is needed to help his special friends.

Matt Lustig is a young husband, father and pediatric neurology resident/fellow at Children’s Hospital of Alabama. Matt has a heart to serve families with children with special needs, specifically to help them navigate the medical environment and processes for their children’s treatment and care.

Sheila Martin is a wife and mother of four sons, two with special needs. She understands the journey of foster care, adoption and special needs, a trio that often travel together in our children and families. She has also served as a preschool volunteer and staff person who has a heart to serve children and families with God’s love.

Christina Manuwai is a wife, mother, and grandmother who has served in years past with teens in therapeutic foster care, been a homeschool teacher, and now serves as a Buddy for preschoolers in our church. Christina has a passionate heart and spirit of service and love for all people.

Andrea Maddox is a wife and RN turned stay-at-home-mom of three children, two of whom are twin boys on the autism spectrum. Andrea has a desire to encourage other mothers walking her same road with the encouragement Christ has given her. She feels privileged to walk in fellowship with the Brook Hills special needs mothers small group and to serve in the ESL ministry.

Cynthia Murphy is a long time Brook Hills member, (20+ years) and most of that time spent serving as a preschool teacher and Buddy for children with special needs. She has a background in medical social work with children and youth with special healthcare needs and uses that knowledge and experience to serve our children and families at Brook Hills in truly needful ways. From hospital visits, researching resources, or helping others learn more about our special kids, Cynthia goes “the extra mile” for anyone needing her help.

These sisters and brothers work alongside me to dream, brainstorm, and serve children, teens, and their families walking the special needs journey.

So Brook Hills… 

1. Pray for this team to be sensitive and pro-active as we learn the needs of this community and build a well-defined response to those needs. Pray for these sisters and brothers as they serve our special sisters and brothers.

2. Learn more about our needs by going to Today we need 5-6 adults to serve as a Buddy for preschoolers and older children on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. 

3. Look around you this week, open your eyes to families and adults walking this road of special needs and befriend them, ask how you might pray for them and serve them. Invite them to your home for a meal, take a meal to them, or simply meet them at the park for some fun time.

4. Invite a young single (20/30) to our 11:00am small group especially designed for young adults with special needs. Get more details at

5. Educate yourself on this growing group of individuals in our churches and world and ask God to use you to serve them. They are special to us all.

Dawn Stephens

Women’s Minister and Special Needs Coordinator


We have space for 5-6 buddies on both Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. If you think this might be an area where you could use your God-given gifts to serve our faith family, email Dawn at