Hi, I’m Ashley, former Agape parent. When I first brought my daughter to Agape House, I was nervous just like any parent. Mostly, I had hope. Hope that some how miracles would happen to help to make her life better; to help our family. I had no clue how that was going to happen, but one could hope. I thought Agape House would work miracles for my daughter, but little did I know that by the summer my life would change drastically. I never thought someone like me with a past like mine would experience such a miracle, but I have.
You see like most people, life hasn’t been a walk in the park for me – we all have our trials. Mine had got the best of me. As a child I was called fat, ugly and other names that hurt too much to even talk about. I experienced emotional abuse; being told how worthless l was.
My parents divorced my freshman year of high school. Dad moved to Kenosha. We stayed with my mother. I failed my freshman year of school due to the stress, depression, anxiety and the average 14-year-old problems.
Through those dark times in my life, I had completely forgotten about God. He wasn’t there. How dare He put me through all of this. The God that I was taught about would never have let this happen. I fell into a deep depression, I wanted to die. I was hospitalized and put on suicide watch. I had changed, I was dark in appearance and had no personality. I was unrecognizable to most, but mostly to myself. I was a person that not even I would want to know. Eventually, I went to therapy and was put on anti-depressants to get through this dark time in my life.
Through high school, the anxiety and depression continued. I had no hope and no relationship to God. I tried to pray. I tried to bring God back into my life. I felt that since I had pretty much cut Him out of life, I was not worthy of His love. For this reason. He would never come back. I eventually concluded that God was not for me. I felt I had severed a relationship that I wished to have. I didn’t deserve His love. Why would a girl who was awful enough to be hit and beaten, called fat, ugly and stupid? Why would that girl be loved by God? God had given up on me and I had given up on God. For years, I fought the battle within me. I could not find it within me to repair my relationship with God.
In 2017 my life changed. Agape House came into my family’s life. I have changed for the better. My relationship with God is now strong. I have started to iron out the trauma from my past. It will always be there, but I can look at myself in the now and smile. I have to say that after years of hating myself, my reflection is that of someone that I love and deserves my love.
I have now found the love of Jesus Christ, I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I know that even though I have experienced some hard times in my life, I am not a child anymore. That even that child, would deserve to be loved by God. Everyone is worthy of God’s love. I may be broken but I am beautifully broken, God’s grace and glory is mine to experience. Even through the hard times, it may not have been apparent to me, He was there. He carried me in his loving arms. He took care of my family. Without the shelter of God’s love, I may not have survived.
Without God’s love, grace and mercy, I would not be the person that I am today. My depression has lessened. My relationship with family and friends has improved. For the first time in 20 years, I can say that I am at peace. Life is good. There are still challenges, and definite hard times; however, I know that God will get me through anything that comes my way.
Without Agape House I would not have re-connected with God. Agape House truly did work a miracle, the miracle of bringing God back into my life and for that I will be forever grateful.
My name is Jay. At age 17, I was returned to Agape as a student. Two years prior, I had been a first-time student at Agape and dealt with some of my surface problems; like the physical and emotional abuse of my alcoholic and drug addicted father and anger with my mother for not leaving before things got as bad as they did. I was struggling with my own drug problem, self-harm, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and being suicidal.
I left Agape at the end of that school year feeling so free inside and feeling happy. My relationship with God was so strong. These feelings I left Agape with were completely unknown to me before I came there. However, a huge tragedy struck my life. I got the news that my dad had died the day after Christmas, in a drug house 7 hours away. It had been 4 years since I had seen him. Not long after that I got back into drugs, sex, robbing people, hanging out with gang affiliated people, and skipping school. My life had become a mess all over again.
In addition, to all the tragedy and problems I was facing, I held onto a secret. A secret, I had locked inside a box and stuffed deep inside my heart. It was now showing up in bits and pieces. That secret was, as a young girl, I was molested by multiple people repeatedly throughout my childhood. I was angry at the world and God. I realized I had reached the point where I needed help.
I needed a way out. What I was doing and who I had become, was not who I wanted to be. I needed saving again. Agape opened there doors once again to me. With nothing but unconditional love and support, I moved back in two days after I called them. God had been taking me on a journey of healing, of remembering, forgiving and feeling. All these things, I cannot do on my own. It’s not easy by any means. I’ve had my bad days, where God has shined a light of truth on things I’d rather forget. I would just break down and flip out. Every time I would, there has been a staff by my side. I have a hard time letting people in and trusting that they will not hurt me. I had given the staff at Agape a run for their money. I’ve tested them, pushed them away countless times, but they let me know they were always there, and they were not going to hurt me. They showed me repeatedly they were there to help me go through the journey God has called me to walk.
God has shown me so much about myself. I can’t even begin to explain how loving and merciful God has been with me through my healing process. There are no words to begin to describe it. There is a verse that does explain it. Psalms 107:17-21: “Some of you were sick because you lived a bad life, your bodies feeling the effects of your sin. You couldn’t stand the sight of food, so miserable you’d thought you were better off dead. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition, He got you in the nick of time. He spoke the word that healed you, that pulled you back from the brink of death. So, thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves.”
The way I see my future now is completely different from before I came to Agape. Before Agape, my future and my dream of becoming a counselor seemed so far away and impossible. I didn’t have a support group and I didn’t have anyone that could help me reach my goals. I was super behind in school. I wouldn’t have been able to graduate with my class. I graduated in May 2018. My life is starting to fall place.
I wouldn’t be where I am without the love and support from Agape. And of course, all the mercy, grace and unconditional love from my Father above.”
I came to the TLH to grow in my relationship with God and to learn to be independent. I learned that it’s okay to make mistakes in life as long as you don’t sit in your own self-pity. I am walking away confident in Christ and able to look back at my journey here. I believe in myself for the first time and that I can do all things through Christ when I fully rely on HIM!
I knew that I was coming to Agape House 6 months before I actually moved in, but when I finally did move in, I felt as if God was punishing me. I felt abandoned and rejected by Him. So I did what I do best; I ignored and rebelled against Him. I thought I didn’t need Him and that I could make it without Him.
Boy, was I wrong! He saw my pain. He wanted to help but I wouldn’t let Him. Then on October 17th I opened up about a subject that was consuming me, and when I finished, I felt the weight pressing on my lungs disappear and a warmth filled me. It was the most amazing feeling I have ever felt. I could feel His love pulsing through my body, reaching the darkest parts of me. He grabbed the pain in one hand and held me in the other. At that moment I knew how horribly wrong I was, I knew that He loves me and He has never left me.
The next day when I walked into school and sat down for morning devotions, I didn’t scoff when the teacher was ‘ranting’ about how amazing our God truly is. I sat and listened quietly, talking to myself, saying that He is amazing and He is perfect. Just because I accepted God into my life didn’t mean my life became perfect. I had one of my worst break downs just a week or so after getting saved. But it didn’t take as long to recover from it like it used to, because I know that God loves me and He will always love me no matter what.
I still have hard days where I just want to give up, but then I remember how many people love me. And God is at the top of that list, rooting me on right next to my Mom.