Dawn Ferguson

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One tomato at a time, church seeks change

OLD HICKORY, Tenn. (BP)–Members of First Baptist Church in Old Hickory, Tenn., plowed ground and sowed seeds this past spring in anticipation of a harvest of zucchini, squash, lettuce, radishes — and relationships. It all started a little over a year ago as part of the church’s refocusing effort, Pastor Jud Hays said. A community […]

Ministry brings special needs families ‘out of the woodwork’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Lisa Nolan wondered if her son Chase would ever understand Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.       Chase, now 13, was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome -- a form of autism. When Chase was younger, Lisa and her husband Jeff often had to leave worship services because they were too stimulating for him.       As Chase got older and the Nolans began to learn more about how to deal with Chase, he was able to go to worship and to Sunday School.       "I know seeds were planted along the way," Lisa said. But it wasn't until Chase became involved in a ministry at his church, Judson Baptist in Nashville, Tenn., that those seeds sprouted. That ministry -- Stone Soup -- gave Chase just the opportunity he needed to start talking about Jesus with others.       "As a volunteer, he started verbalizing about Jesus to participants in the ministry," Lisa said. "Volunteering met Chase's needs by giving him an opportunity to express God's love in just a way that was special to him. He flourished, and in less than two years of volunteering for Stone Soup confessed Jesus as his personal Savior."       As a child with special needs, Chase could have been a Stone Soup participant. Instead, "I help out with the children," he said. "I mostly help with Clarisa who has Down syndrome. She likes playing basketball so I get her basketballs and she shoots hook shots. She always makes them, but I don't know how."       Stone Soup is a ministry designed to build a community among families with a child or young adult with special needs, providing a loving and safe environment not only for Sunday School and worship services but also for monthly parents' nights out, a special camp during the Christmas season and other activities and support. The ministry's name is derived from an old French children's tale about a village that comes together for a common cause out of unlikely circumstances.       One Friday every month, volunteers provide care for special needs children and young adults and their siblings so parents can have a date night.