When my family moved back to Brook Hills after working in other cities for the past seven years, I knew that I wanted to get plugged back into serving in the church in some capacity. I’ve been a youth leader, an adult small group leader, and a mission trip leader. Discipling and being discipled has always been important to me, so Lord willing, I hoped I could somehow continue to serve in a personable and relational capacity.

The church maintains a list of serving opportunities on the website that I prayed over for several weeks. At the time, Special Needs Buddy was an immediate need. I couldn’t escape being led to reach out to the Special Needs coordinator, Dawn Stephens, and eventually I was partnered with a preschooler, Shawn, with whom I’ve been a Buddy since 2019. 

I’m raising two sons and wouldn’t trade a single moment with them. The same could be said of my time with Shawn. The myriad of blessings I’ve experienced since I became a Special Needs Buddy are priceless. Not every moment is easy, but every day I have with him is one of no regrets. You can’t get more local in your disciple-making than to have a little boy run into your arms and trust that you’re there for him, that you care for and love him, and who asks you to teach him Bible verses or go for a walk and hold his hand. 

Psalm 78:4 says, “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” I have found that being a Buddy not only impacts the coming generation, but their family as well. An unplanned benefit throughout this process is that I have developed a closer relationship with Shawn’s parents, who are my brother and sister in Christ. They are able to serve and be active members of the church, while in turn, I serve them by being a Buddy to their son. How beautiful are God’s plans for His servants!

Special Needs Buddy is back on the Serving Opportunities list for both Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. We are very short on men who serve as Buddies, and trust me when I say that men are especially needed in a variety of ways in the Special Needs Ministry. Maybe it’s helping in a more physical role for a medically fragile child, or just being there for the kids who make stronger connections with men. Whatever the case, if you’re not serving anywhere or are praying about where you might need to serve next, please consider the Special Needs Ministry. Man or woman, you can make a difference.

This is a ministry where you may not be able to impact every child or family at the church, but you can make a difference to one, and that one will, without a doubt, make a difference in you.

If you’d like to join our team of Buddies, go to brookhills.org/specialneeds to learn more, or email Dawn Stephens, Special Needs Coordinator, at dstephens@brookhills.org.


Rod Cude has been a member of Brook Hills since 2019. He is married to Leslie, and has two sons, Briggs and Max.