What is an Agape year?

Agape Year is an eight month long missional gap year for recent high school graduates based in Pittsburgh, PA. The goal of Agape year is to see young adults anchored in:

·       A Story to Believe In

·       A Family to Belong To

·       A Kingdom to Build Up

Everything we do during our four months studying and serving in Pittsburgh, our two months learning from the Anglican Church in Thailand, and our two months of sharing with churches across the US moves to the beat of that drum. Where do we see ourselves in the narrative of Scripture? What does it look like to belong to something bigger than myself? What are we supposed to do about the brokenness we see all around us?

This year’s Agape Year cohort is two people strong. Tessa hails from Massachusetts and Kieran from Florida. Kieran was super excited to share some of his story:

Hello, I’m Kieran Caspian Kirby, I’m one of the two Agape Year fellows for the 2018-2019 year. I come all the way from Gainesville, Florida, my hometown, where I’ve lived in the same house for as long as I can remember. I have a wonderful loving family who brought me up in the Anglican church, and I’ve spent my entire life considering myself a Christian. In 2015, I was confirmed by Neil Lebhar, Bishop of the Gulf Atlantic Diocese, and my life was forever changed by Christ, and confirmed for Christ. When Bishop Neil prayed over me on confirmation day, the Holy Spirit spoke through him, and he prophesied that I was going to be a “storyteller for God.”

In 2016, I went to the New Wineskins youth retreat called “Re:mix.” On the retreat, I had a woman I did not know come up to me, and she told me “from the moment you walked in, I got this feeling that you’re going to be a storyteller for God.” If I didn’t know before, I certainly knew then that my life purpose was going to be telling stories to share my faith. Re:mix was also the first place that I heard about Agape Year. I felt a strong calling to the idea of a gap year mission, and in the fall of 2017, I applied and got accepted for the journey.

Since my confirmation, I’ve realized how true the “storyteller for God” label is for me. Throughout high school, I gave many talks at the Anglican youth event “Dynamos,” where I often shared personal stories to relate to the topic. I also shared some stories with my non-Christian friends at school along the way, as a way to reach out to them. Even now at Agape Year, I find myself retelling a story from one of my Dynamos talks in a Bible study with the homeless. That particular moment to me serves as a confirmation that I’m in exactly the right place, and doing what I’ve been called to do.

In the month that I’ve spent at Agape Year so far, I’ve realized that there are still a lot of areas where I am being challenged and stretched. The places in which I’m ministering to elementary and middle school youth are particularly stretching, as I mostly have experience working with my peers. Also, I work best with a predictable schedule and I know that our two months teaching English as a Second Language in Thailand will require a lot of adaptability! With that in mind, a goal for me this year is to build my ability to work with younger kids, to be flexible, and to be open to areas where God wants to move in my life that are brought out by my time in Agape Year. I’m also striving to build a firm relationship with God--one in which I can talk to him, and I can listen for him--that I can maintain after this year is over.

If anyone who is reading this is in high school and thinking of a doing a gap year, I cannot recommend Agape Year enough. I’m only a month in, but the director’s Nathan and Erika Twichell are extremely supportive and spirit-led, making this a very safe and encouraging place to grow your faith. Thank you for your time, and God bless.

For more information about Agape Year check out agapeyear.org or contact the co-directors Nate and Erika Twichell at erikatwichell@sams-usa.org