By Chandler Means, Executive Director
Wow, what a day! That’s what I was thinking as I drove home last night from Madison to Franklin. I’ve had a lot of “wow” days at AGAPE over the last seven years, but for some reason, this one caught me off guard emotionally. As I describe this day, you will see the great value of your support, and I hope you will be reminded of why AGAPE needs and is worthy of your continued support.
When you work with children and families in crisis, most every day is filled with emotions, both good and bad. You experience the celebration of hope through recovery and restoration in the name of Jesus, while also experiencing the agony of abuse, neglect, violence, shame, guilt and just downright evil at times. Many of you have been a part of the stories that resulted in joy and hope through AGAPE, some of you have experienced the days of agony, and still some the rollercoaster of both extremes.
So why was yesterday so significant?
Last night, I attended our Morning Star Sanctuary mentoring program’s holiday meeting for victims of domestic violence. Each month, nearly 90 mentors, mentees, friends and their children gather to share a meal with a time of devotion and celebration to encourage former victims of domestic violence, many of whom have now become mentors themselves.
As I sat by one of the many survivors and her 9 and 11-year old boys, we listened to another 8-year old boy recite six verses out of Proverbs 3. While he was speaking, I got a text message with a picture of a precious baby girl, safe in the arms of an AGAPE foster family (pictured to the right). She had been life lighted to Vanderbilt a few days earlier following a car crash that would take her mother’s life and expose the mother’s boyfriend, who was driving the car and was high on drugs. The Department of Children Services called AGAPE and asked, “Do you have a family…?” And we said, “Yes, we do.” Wow!
As I turned my attention back to the little boy, his final verse was from Proverbs 3:5-6 which mentions trusting in God with all your heart and not relying on your own understanding. I scanned the room and all around I saw the faces of women and children, who had been victims of domestic violence, now surviving and thriving. There were men there too, good men who came to support their wives as mentors and others who were there because they married a survivor and now support her and her family. Wow!
I slipped out a little early and thought about the events of the day culminating with the mentoring program. As I drove home, I called to check in on our main office, which was open until 8:00 pm serving counseling clients. Anxiety, death of a loved one, depression due to an abortion, bipolar diagnosis, divorce, job loss, substance abuse – were just a few of the reasons why 81 clients had called or come to AGAPE this day for counseling assistance. And that was only at our main office on Trousdale Drive. Wow!
As I passed under 440 on I-65, I called our domestic violence shelter to see if we had a full house, and as is sadly the case on most nights, we did. 17 women and 7 children and one male staying in a nearby hotel. Maybe one day they would be able to be a part of the mentoring program for survivors and share with others their story of hope. Wow!
The following day, I recounted the case of the little baby with Ami, our new social services director. I asked the obvious questions about the birth mom and her death. Did she have family? Was the boyfriend charged? Is he the father? Did he have family? What’s the permanency plan for this precious baby? Ami answer my questions and then shared, “You know we prayed with the boyfriend’s family” …let that sink in for a moment. Wow!
All of the 41 children in AGAPE’s foster homes and the 7-14 children that find refuge at the Morning Star shelter each night, along with 8-10 children who walk into our counseling offices each day, are special and in need of the love of Jesus and the care that comes from our foster families, counselors, advocates and caseworkers. But this little baby, on this day, was a special reminder of God’s providential care for children and families through AGAPE and a reminder of the good that your support will do for them in the coming year.
As I turned into my driveway off Columbia Pike that evening, I took a deep breath and thought, “Wow, what a day.”
By supporting AGAPE, you help make a difference every day in the lives of children, families and individuals here in Middle Tennesse. In this season of giving, will you consider making a gift to AGAPE before the end of 2019? The people we serve are counting on us, and we are counting on you! We appreciate your help and ask that you continue to pray for AGAPE and those we serve.