Agape Training School

 My thoughts on Agape's Adaptation Center Leaders' School


I, Vladimir Pavlyuchenko, am serving as an adaptation center leader in the village of Osipenko, in Zaporozhye Region of Ukraine. My family and I are living in an adaptation center with anywhere from 10-16 teenagers. (This doesn't include our own four children.) As a leader in an adaption center, you feel the constant burden of responsibility for all aspects of this special ministry. Working with and training the teens; taking care of the house, outbuildings and garden; church ministry, all of this takes its toll. At times, when your strength and resolve flags, you feel like you're at the end of your rope, just wrung dry, inside and out. It seems like you're always running around trying to catch up and you realize that if you're not careful, you're just going to burn out spiritually, physically and emotionally.

This year, we as adaptation center leaders were given the opportunity to start studying in a training school that was organized specifically to help meet our needs. I want to express my gratitude to all who are taking part in this project. I've attended two sessions so far and my conclusion has been the following: for us leaders, this training school is like a drink of cold water in a time of drought.

Friendship and fellowship of others who have also committed themselves to this ministry; a break from non-stop busyness and problems at the center; spiritual refreshment and renewal; praying with and for other leaders; answers for questions that frequently arise working with our teens; resolution of personal problems and inner conflicts - I have found all of this and more during the training school.

This school for adaptation center leaders has been  a great help to me personally. I was able to identify my own internal conflicts that needed resolving. I have come to understand that I am not alone in this ministry, there are a lot of us, we share the same goals, the same passion to reach these teens, and we're are all part of the same team. I've also gained an even greater understanding of my own responsibility before God and to these teens I'm serving. As I've studied at the training school, I've been forced to reexamine my own priorities, my habits and views, my weaknesses and insufficiencies. Things that I considered unimportant in my life have turned out to be vital elements that need careful attention.

I've already gained a lot of knowledge that I really needed for ministry, as well as spiritual refreshment and renewal. As a result, I've found myself inspired anew, coming up with new ideas for ministry. I came out of these sessions on fire again, ready to get right back into ministry and keep going for the long haul.

Studying orphan psychology was something that really shook me up, opening my eyes to things I'd never really seen before. As we studied this topic, I found many answers to problems that had long been unresolved in working with our teens. I began to see these kids in a different light altogether. I saw much that was wrong in my own reactions to their acting out. The way they act is so often the complete opposite of what they are actually feeling and thinking, and I learned that much of their present behavior is an echo of emotional trauma they suffered in early childhood. As I learned more about what has shaped their lives, I found my resolve to nurture and support these teens growing greater and greater.

I also learned during the training school how to practically draw these kids out of their inner world where they so often shut themselves away. I learned how to help them find healing and resolution to unresolved conflicts in their past and how to build healthy relationships for the future. They themselves often don't believe that this is even possible, even though they long for a normal, happy future.  I really want to help them grow closer and closer to God - He alone is the true source of life and joy, and He is the one who can truly make them into new people.

I thank God for the times of fellowship He has given me with others who are committed to serving orphanage graduates during this training, and for bringing me together with such wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ.
May He be praised!