Offering 2nd Chances & Never Giving Up!

From disappointment, discouragement, obstinacy and failure, to perseverance, change and the hope that comes with a second chance. For “David” (name was changed), it was a
two year journey. Here is part of his story.

David came to Agape Villages when he was 11 years of age as a result of enduring a long history of mistreatment from his family of origin. What finally triggered his entrance into the foster care system was his father getting caught locking him in a closet for an extended period of time.

For David, he wasn’t totally “blame free.” He reacted to his parents treatment with anger and belligerence. His behavior and attitudes continued on display at his foster homes. Yes, he had more than one placement. In fact, he failed his way through four different foster homes until he was placed in a therapeutic group home program. He was a challenging young man to serve.

The last foster home really tried, but finally surrendered to his resistance to work on things in his life. However, they never gave up hope and maintained a relationship with David while he was in the therapeutic group setting.

After completing the program 2 years later, he was placed back with this Agape foster family. He told Agape Outreach Social Worker, Dave Roach, that one thing he learned was people like his foster parents are what unconditional love is all about.

David is now 17 years of age and in the 12th grade. He has been described by his foster parents as having gone through a complete turnaround. He is respectful now, funny, and enjoys his family. He says “I have a loving family I can call my own.”

David’s happiness is evident by the facial expressions of love and contentment he has in addition to his cooperative behavior. He enjoys sports and everything related to physical activity. He is now on the honor roll at school and his teachers say that he is a role model for other children to follow. Yes, hope can be found in giving second chances and never giving up! We appreciate all those who help us serve youth like David!

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Printed Newsletter – February 2018

Please read the Agape Villages February Newsletter, “The Love Letter,” to learn more about all of the people and programs that are changing the lives of foster children each day!

click here to download the PDF file.

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Make It Personal… A Great Motivation!

In the book of John, chapter 20, verses 18- 24, we read where Jesus appeared to the apostles after his crucifixion. One can only imagine the excitement the apostles felt. However, Thomas was not present.

One might think that Thomas would be filled with joy at the news at what the other apostles saw. However, he did NOT believe them. He said, “unless I see in his hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (verse 25)

One week later, when Jesus appeared, He invited Thomas to “Reach here with your finger and see my hands.” Thomas was convinced and proclaimed Jesus as HIS LORD AND HIS GOD.

Part of what this story reveals is that having a personal experience can be helpful in understanding the reality of a situation. This can relate to the work we do at Agape Villages. We can ask, “What is it that would help more people to understand the importance of the work we do and join with us?” We would probably all agree that we become more passionate when something is personal.

This is probably one reason why Jesus gave us what we call the “Golden Rule.” He said in Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” This makes things personal, doesn’t it?

Applying this to the children and families we serve at Agape, consider if you were one of them. What if you were a child who was in need of a home? How would you want others to help you?

We so appreciate all of you who believe in what we are doing in caring for the children that cannot care for themselves. Your prayers, your volunteering, your financial support makes our job here at Agape Villages possible. WE NEED ALL OF YOU serving side-by-side for the GOOD that can be accomplished. May God be glorified!

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Our Values

Agape Villages has some core values we follow to make our job of helping foster kids as effective as possible. We think it’s important we share them.

Quality

Striving for excellence in all we do, upholding the highest standards.

Mercy

Extending kindness and grace in excess of what may be expected.

Sharing

To whom much has been given, much is expected.

Stewardship

Protecting the community’s trust through integrity and management of resources.

Child & Family Focused

Every child deserves a loving, stable family where their best interests are preeminent.

Golden Rule

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Love

Sincere love and compassion for the vulnerable children and youth among us.

Servanthood

Doing what we can, where we can to serve others and alleviate suffering and need.

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Proud Of Our Service To Children And Youth

I was working our fireworks stand one afternoon when a young couple approached the stand. I greeted them and told them that the money we raised went to help foster children. The man said, “I was a foster child once!” So I asked him to tell me his story. I was hoping for a positive one. IT WASN’T!

The home he was placed in treated the children badly. He said the only time they treated the children nicely was when the social worker was there. The social worker never asked the children how they were doing (so he said).

In that home, the children were locked in their rooms much of the time. Before the social worker came, they would call and let the home know they were on the way. So the children were let out of their rooms. I told him I was sorry that he was treated so badly. In reality, a CPS investigation should have occurred at the home and possible charges filed.

Unfortunately, there are times when we hear these kind of horror stories and it breaks our hearts. These few stories perpetuate the view some people have that ALL foster homes are like that one. It often coincides with the idea that foster parents are only in this for the money.

However, this is not the case. In fact, it is the farthest from the truth for the vast majority of situations. Foster care at Agape Villages, and at most all private agencies, is a sincere mission of love and service. We engage to make life better for the children and youth. Our foster parents do this work as angels of mercy and work closely with us at all times. Part of this does include unannounced visits by our social workers.

We want to be the agency that you are proud to be part of. We want to please God with the care we give to His children.

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Lessons From Bonanza

I recently watched a “Bonanza“ rerun about two young boys who had been abandoned by their parents. The younger brother did not speak because of the heartbreak he had been through. The older brother (about 10) was very protective of his younger brother and tried to take the place of his missing parents. A young couple wanted to adopt them, but finding the younger brother unable to talk, decided to only adopt the older brother. When the boys learned of their possible separation, they ran away. A lonely old gentleman who had lost his wife, befriended the boys and gave them unconditional love. His example convinced the young couple to adopt both boys and give them a caring home.

There is no such thing as a throwaway kid. Every child deserves a chance to reach his potential in life. Agape Villages is there to provide these children with a happy, normal life. What can you do to help? Please consider donating time in volunteer service with Agape, prayers for the success of the mission of Agape, or a financial gift to assist in this good work. You’ll feel like you hit a bonanza! I know!

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Tip a Hero Event at Chili’s

Get ready to spend a night with the heroes that help protect our country and benefit Agape Villages at the same time! Join us March 6 at Chili’s in Manteca, 2262 Daniels St, Manteca, CA, 95337. All day Chili’s will be giving back 15% of your meal orders to Agape Villages when you present this flyer. We hope to see you there!

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What To See So We Can Be

The Board of Directors at Agape Villages is made up of a group of diverse individuals who come from a variety of vocational backgrounds. This brings many perspectives to the board as we discuss and make decisions in governing the work of the agency.

Many may know, but I have been a pulpit minister in the Churches of Christ for 46 years now. This explains why I like to write articles for our newsletter which tie into the Christian motivation for our work. This work is, indeed, close to the heart of God. Scriptures speak much about our hearts also! We are challenged to do this work from the heart.

The Apostle Peter in 1 Peter writes to those who are the people of God and encourages His people to see how special they are…a royal priesthood …people belonging to God who have been “called out” of darkness into His wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9). We need to see and understand who we are so we can be who we need to be!

The Apostle Paul wants us to see that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. (Ephesians 2:10). We see this so we can be about good works!

We continually encourage you to see the opportunities for service through Agape Villages. We are about caring for the children and youth in need of loving foster homes. We keep them safe, meet their needs and help them reach toward a better and brighter future. We help them see how God loves them and cares for them also.

Here’s an important question. “If the ‘called-out’ don’t step up and out to do good, who will?” I believe God wants His people to lead the way in being there to serve children. We are encouraged to do good to all people as we have the opportunity (Galatians 6:10).
Agape Villages is looking for good people with good hearts to take advantage of the opportunities to serve children who need our help. Let us see what we can be!

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They Are All Our Children

A child welfare expert recently commented on some of the problems and challenges in the foster care system, including children moving from home-to-home and the difficulty obtaining counseling for children and youth. He framed it personally when he said, “I look at the overall situation and think none of us would sit still for a minute if this was our child, when in fact, these are ALL our children.”

Yes, children in state custody foster care are, in a very real sense, all “our” children…our responsibility. This highlights one of the biggest challenges we have to overcome. It relates to the following idiom, “If it’s everyone’s responsibility, then it’s no one’s responsibility.” This is mostly true. Why? When it’s also someone else’s responsibility, we let them handle it. If everyone responds this way, no one takes charge.

The antidote to this tendency is for us to be full of compassion. Have you heard that admonition before? Scriptures relate to this often as well as provide other similar encouragements, i.e. be kind, be merciful, be gracious and tenderhearted. What do these have in common? They call upon us to take the concern of those in need personally and get engaged in helping.

We’ve been beating this drum for nearly 60 years now as we continue our outreach to vulnerable children and youth. We are grateful for how so many have joined with us over the years. Even so, there is so much more to do, so many more children and youth in need of homes. We must respond and do more! This is what we are trying to do! Please continue to partner with us as, together, we continue to do something very special for “our” children!

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Investing In Children Is Worth It!

When Ms. Kleyn asked me to write an article regarding children, foster care, etc., I first was inclined to decline saying I was too busy and/or had too many important things to do. Now, I am very glad I accepted.

When you look at the word orphan, we see “a child whose parents are dead or has been abandoned.” If we broaden the definition, we will see neglected or abused children. What are the reasons orphans, adoptions and foster care are not on many people’s radar? I believe, like me, many are too busy to think of helping someone else. We may think of our own children and the investment, time and energy we have put into them. Are we happy with the return? We may remember church members and youth groups, the time, money, energies spent, and looking back we may be wondering, was it worth it?

I would like you to look at these disenfranchised children differently. To see ourselves in these often poor, neglected, lost, abused children. Was there a time when we were without God, lost, poor (economically, spiritually, emotionally, etc.) and someone loved us, showed genuine care for us, spent time with us, picked us up, directed us until we were able to get up on our feet? Looking back, we see God’s hand every step of the way. Let’s all remember today that someone helped us so we can help others. The question at the table for the ones that have been helped is, was it worth it for you?

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