Love for special needs ministry creates bonds through smiles, spiritual growth

“He’ll give you the biggest smile ever. His smile is the sweetest.”

Seeing Cody smile means the world to senior Madison Goolsby, along with the smiles of about 30 other disabled kids and adults she works with in the special-needs ministry at Central Baptist Church. Madison began working with the special-needs ministry three summers ago Vacation Bible School.

“We’d sing a couple songs and break up into our own groups where we’d go do arts and crafts, and go to bible study,” Madison said. “They love music so when we’d have snack they’d eat while listening to music and we’d go to the music section where they played drums and stuff like that.”

At first, working with the special needs ministry was a little nerve wracking for Madison.

“I guess I was nervous because you never know how they’re going to act out,” Madison said, “but everyone treats you like you’re family, they really are the sweetest people ever.”

After a lot of experience, Madison got the chance to work as a Buddy, which meant she specifically spent time with one disabled teenager in the special-needs ministry named Cody.

“I’m with him most of the time so I help him color, walk to different classes, and help him be quiet and focus on what he’s trying to do,” Madison said.

Madison explained that there’s more to being a Buddy than just helping them do different tasks.

“Once I was helping Cody walk, but he’s so strong he just leads you,” Madison said. “He wanted to drop, and he brought me down because he’s so strong, and I was like, ‘Cody let’s go worship,’ and he was like ‘No!’ and he just fought me to not pick him up.”

Madison said that the loving nature makes worth the struggles that she sometimes encounters in the ministry.

“This one girl will text me, ‘I love you sister,’ every single day, so they’re just like another friend, another brother or sister in Christ to look forward to seeing,” Madison said. “It’s sweet.”

Madison’s mother, Rita Coker, said that since Madison started working with the ministry she has gotten very involved with those with special needs.

“Madison has made several good friends in the bible study, and they look forward to seeing her in church,”Coker said. “She has participated in the Buddy Walk and has gone to watch some participate in Special Olympic activities.”

Not only has Madison been a spiritual guide to the special ministry, but it’s also helped her grow spiritually.

“I love it when we have bible study and we’ll ask them questions and they’ll just jump right in and answer,” Madison said. “Just to see their drive for God pushes you to be better in your walk with God too.”

Coker has also seen Madison grow in other areas after working with the special needs ministry.

“She has become very confident in her abilities,” Coker said. “She has learned to be a more patient person. She has also become more conscience of others’ actions toward those individuals with special needs.”

After working with the ministry for a few summers, Madison said she would love to stay with it, and has decided to continue to help with the needs based career path and go into speech therapy.

“I’d love to still be a part of the ministry and help out at church and stuff, or just in the community if I look more into it wherever I live,” Madison said.

Madison was taught by the leader of the special needs ministry to never feel sorry for people because of their disabilities. She loves every aspect of volunteering with the special ministries.

“One of the dads came up to me and said, ‘Thank-you for helping with the church,’ and he meant it from the bottom of his heart,” Madison said. “I love doing this, I find the ministry so awesome. They’re all friends and they just care about each other so much. It’s a nice environment.”

She may love every aspect, but Madison admitted one thing in particular makes her day.

“I think I love Cody’s smile best,” Madison said.