Agape news

An unexpected meeting...

September has rolled around once again, and with it comes the start of a new school year. As I sit in the bus on my way to the orphanage, I find my heart a little disquieted, there are always so many unknowns: who will run out and greet me… and who has been adopted, or transferred to another orphanage? How many new children will there be? Our opportunities to get together over the summer were limited, I don’t have any idea who is still there and who isn’t.

Once more, I go over icebreaker games in my head. I repeat the main thoughts about God that I want to leave them with today, no matter who actually turns up… after all, teaching in the orphanage has its own challenges. With the constant turnover, children are always coming and going. 

I finally arrive… the littlest kids see me coming and start running, trying to see who can reach me first. They rush up, hugging me, literally jumping up and down with joy; at the same time, they’re already trying to get a look into my bag to see what I’ve brought them. All of the kids who know me are just overjoyed to finally see me again. Only the new kids, the ones I don’t know hold back, watching this joyous reunion with scarcely concealed suspicion. 

I noticed one teen sitting on a bench off to the side, all by herself. She looked to be around 15yo; sitting there so lost in her own sad thoughts that she didn’t notice anything around her. Even the noise of the overjoyed kids hadn’t registered. Suddenly she lifted her head a bit, eyes darting here and there, taking in what was going on… and her questioning gaze came to rest on me. Our eyes met for a moment; her blank stare seemed to reflect nothing at all…except emptiness, disappointment and dejection. I walked over and introduced myself. She grudgingly, coolly introduced herself as Angelica. When I asked if she’d like to help me organize a game with the little kids, she didn’t deign to answer one way or the other.

 I went ahead and started my lesson right there, outside on the playground. The kids enthusiastically took part, singing and playing games. I pulled out the illustrations for the Bible lesson from my purse and began to tell them about the God who created them. At some point in my story, I noticed that my new acquaintance was sitting there with an entirely different expression on her face… she was simply beaming! The joy in her eyes and the smile on her face completely transformed her. As I was wondering what had happened, Angelica, completely on her own initiative came over and began helping with the smaller children. I just couldn’t figure out what had changed, it was if she’d become a different girl altogether. She was happy and cooperative, soaking up every word I had to say about God… and then it hit me! The bag! Of course, what else could it be! As soon as I’d pulled the bag with illustrations from my purse, her expression had changed. That one little thing, that simple plastic bag with Agape’s logo on it immediately melted the ice in her heart and changed her attitude towards me and everything I was doing! It was a real miracle. 

After the lesson was over, I hugged her and thanked her for her help. Angelica started asking me all sorts of questions about Agape, and particularly about the camps that Agape held this past summer. It turns out that the year before, she was at an Agape Orphan Camp and came to really love her counselor there, Valentina. Once she started talking, she didn’t even stop to breathe until she’d poured out everything that had been building up inside. She told me all about herself, her challenges, her anxieties, her dreams. When it came time for me to go, I promised that I would pass on her fondest greetings to Valentina.

You should have seen how excited she was when only a few days later I returned to her orphanage with her beloved counselor Valentina in tow. Angelica was simply overjoyed, and she stuck to Valentina like glue the whole time we were there. As for myself, I was just happy to see them together; it took them quite a long time to catch up and was really a joy to observe.

Oh Lord, I’m so grateful that You have given me this ministry. I see orphaned children finding true friends, and through these friends, finding You! It’s at times like this that I see once again how important this ministry is… thank you, Jesus! Thank you for letting me be a part of the loving family of Agape Ministries. Lord, I see you changing the hearts and lives of the children, helping them, protecting them, caring for them. As we serve these children, we need Your blessing upon us like never before, help us “learn to do good;
to seek justice, to correct oppression and bring justice to the fatherless.” (Is.1:17)

Svetlana Lubyanaya,
Agape teacher