Home of Wheaton Bible Church's Quarterly Magazine
By Angie Roberts
A busy seventeen-year-old, Bella deals with all the usual complexities of high school and teenage life. But each Sunday morning she looks forward to a welcome break from her everyday world as she volunteers in the Shine Special Needs Ministry of Wheaton Bible Church.
Bella’s connection with Shine started with an invitation from her friend Emmy, who knew of Bella’s interest in helping those with special needs. A Shine volunteer herself, Emmy invited her friend to help with a summertime Neighborhood Bible Club for kids with special needs. Bella was disappointed that her family had already made vacation plans for that week, but when it came time to set the schedule for the following year’s family vacation, Bella made sure they kept the dates of the Shine Neighborhood Bible Club open.
After two summers of helping with the club, Bella started serving in the Sunday-morning Shine program as well. “I fell in love with working with the Shine kids during the summers,” she says, “and I wanted more.”
To say that Bella enjoys her volunteer role is an understatement. She loves it! And for the past year she’s been a committed member of the Sunday-morning Shine team, working with the mostly younger children in the GEMS room during the busy 9:45 hour.
Bella’s interest in serving those with special needs goes back to her junior high years, when she helped a friend’s mom—a nurse at an elementary school—in some of her activities with kids in the special-needs program at the school. And while she learned a lot through that opportunity, she especially enjoys her volunteer role at WBC and being part of teaching the children about God and being part of their lives as they grow in their understanding.
“I love seeing them participate in the activities and interacting with others,” she says, “and seeing them grow and mature as individuals.”
But the kids aren’t the only ones who are growing.
“Spending time with these kids has allowed me to see the world through their eyes. I can teach them about God, but they can teach me so much about the world and about being happy,” she adds. “I love their constant joy in all they do.”
Looking to the future, Bella knows that when it’s time to go away to college, she’s going to miss the Shine kids and their families that she’s come to love. But there’s no doubt that working with kids with special needs will always be part of her life.
“I feel like God has called me to this,” she says.