Please Help Get This Book Published
When I was eleven years old, I started writing a book. Like most eleven-year-old boys, I lost interest, put the draft away, and lost track of it. But the desire to write a book lingered in the back of my mind. In 1999 I began writing another book, but daily life took over and that one also fell by the wayside.
Finally, in February 2018 I sat down and began writing the leadership book that had been on my heart for years. With the support and mentorship of a friend, I was able to write Practical Leadership: Lessons from an Average Leader. I spent hours writing, editing, rewriting, and having the book read by others to get critical feedback. I am very happy with this book. I am excited because I believe leaders will be able to improve their craft by reading this book and internalizing the lessons within. My goal is to get the book published early in the new year.
One thing I did not know when I began this process was how expensive it is to publish a book. This is where you come in. With your help, this book will see the light of day. Please join me on this journey by giving whatever you can to help with the cost of editing and publishing this book.
To say thank you for your donation, we have created incentive levels ranging from Copper, which is for $25 donations to Agape, our highest level of a $5000 donation. Each level has varying incentives of appreciation. However, donations of any amount will be greatly appreciated.
Any funds raised above what is needed to publish this book will be used for Agape Leaders or donated to four different scholarship funds: the Jang-Kim Scholarship, the Juanita Mays Scholarship, the Miss Lakeland Scholarship Competition, and the Miss Florida Outstanding Teen Scholarship Competition.
Again, thank you for taking the time to read this and seriously consider donating to this project. Click here to Donate today!
Meet Jessica Maldonado
This month’s guest writer is Jessica Maldonado. She is a valued member of the Agape Leader’s staff. Her presence has enabled our organization to grow and reach new heights.
Jessica is the founder of Viches Niche, an outstanding graphic design organization that can fulfill all your graphic needs. She is also an exceptional 2D artist.
You can see Jessica’s talent on display by going to her website: https://www.vichesniche.com/ or YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJC2Lugw-CQWAhzM-i5qtZQ/featured
We are blessed to have Jessica Maldonado write this month’s featured article in Agape Letters.
A Light in the Darkness.
I wrote a blog to talk to you all about my testimony, to share how much God has helped me through some struggles and how God can help you through times of uncertainty but it was more so for hope. And I only hope that in the future, I will be given an opportunity to share it with you.
But right now, today, January 7, 2021, my heart breaks. I dont think today would be appropriate to talk about me and I don't want to fill up this page with hope because everyone, no matter good or bad, can have hope. So, I think today, after we watched what some people have said is the darkest moment in history, we need to talk about something more.
When you allow darkness to consume you, although you might not realize it, it changes you. It's no one's fault. I'm not here to judge, I'm not here to say Bob was right for doing this and Sue was wrong for doing that. We already have enough bickering going on in the world and quite frankly, I don't have the time to do that. But I want you to know, that when darkness comes, it engulfs you. Unless you have something to hold on to, you lose sight of who you really are and I think a few of us have lost sight of who we are and I think we need do a double check before we post that next opinion or before we post that unread news article with a misleading headliner or before we simply respond to someone's message.
I think we need to slow down because when you run full force into a dark room, you are going to run into something and you are going to get hurt and you are going to hurt someone else.
This past year has been a year like no other. I have watched silently in the background my peers turn into selfish monsters that belittling someone because they did not have the same opinion as them. I have watched people go into a public facility with no regards of anyone else, not wearing masks and not protecting the other people. I have seen white people turn against black people. I am watching what my history teachers have taught me come to light right before my eyes. And my heart breaks.
I can't think about when it started. When did we become so consumed with ourselves that we have no regards to anything or anyone else? When did we start making places and hobbies into idols that we can't go a day without? When did we start putting things or money or people before our neighbor? When did this become the norm.
In December, there was a movie released called Soul. I wanted to watch it so badly because I love art and creativity and I thought it would be a great movie to motivate me. But instead, the movie made me think a lot about today's world. The movie is about a middle-school band teacher named Joe that is so passionate about Jazz but dies before he fulfills that passion. In the movie, Joe learns what it means to have a soul and to die without one. To be quite honest, the bigger picture is not finding something you like to do, not finding what you are excellent at, but what ultimately happens if we get so consumed in ourselves. You lose your soul.
If we are a lost soul, we have no regards to the people around us. The movie depicting this as the dark soul grumbles at anyone that nears. And today, I know a lot of us are lost souls. But we don't have to be.
God calls us to be like Him. To love and act and care like Him. But we don't, because we only go to God when it is convenient for us. It's not even only about religion right now, it's about good vs evil, light vs darkness. To live a meaningful life like shown in Soul, you are full of light. But to lose that, you become dark. Is it easy to always be a light? No. It freaking sucks sometimes.
We even see it in the movie when Joe just shuts down 22, the Soul he has been helping. Joe is a motivator and he has been positive throughout the whole movie and he just, shuts down, because his selfishness consumes him. But that's also what is shown in the scene at the barbershop when Dez, the barber, opens up about his life. He tells us that the reason Joe didn't know all of these things about him before was because he simply didn't ask.
So yeah, sometimes it is HARD to put someone else first. We all have dreams. We all have desires. And sometimes putting someone else first means we can't have what we want and you know what, that sucks. But sometimes, putting someone else first, will give you a bigger opportunity and reward than if you wouldn't have.
One last reference I am going to mention before I finish this today.
The Dark Knight, a movie that was released many years ago, a movie that I love to this day because it reminds me of morals. You have good and evil, Batman which is the Good and the Joker which is the evil. I view them very much like God and Satan. Batman is able to destroy the Joker. Easily. He is given many opportunities to kill him and to save Gotham from suffering. But he doesn't and the reason he doesn't is not because he doesn't love Gotham, he doesn't because without the Joker, there would be no bad in Gotham. What does that mean? That would be great then! No, because without the crime in Gotham, there would not be free will to decide what to do. The people that do crime, simply would not exist. Which would not allow Gotham to grow. Which is the same if God stopped Satan from allowing suffering and bad things to happen. If God didn't allow us to suffer, if God took it all away and only left the good, we wouldn't be who we are today.
"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-4
Batman and the Joker find themselves in an interrogation room and their conversation goes like this:
Batman: You wanted me. Here I am.
And that's where we are today. Many people have left God because things have gotten better for them. They don't need Him anymore. The Joker said when the chips are down, the civilized people will eat each other. Look around you friends, he was right. We have let ourselves get consumed by the negativity going on and we have stopped caring for anyone but ourselves. We are seeing brothers and sisters fight each other. We are seeing people tear each other apart. Yeah, I'm going to be honest, being isolated for a month sucks. Yeah, giving up that last roll of toilet paper sucks. And yes, watching what could have been your political party lose, quite frankly sucks.
But you know what else sucks?
Not seeing your parents for almost a year because they are high risk.
Not being able to celebrate things like a wedding or a baby in the same way that you dreamed of.
Not being able to publicly be happy over something that happened because you don't want to be attacked by other people's opinions.
And watching the destruction and carnage of people that aren't happy because things just simply suck.
So I challenge you, look at your life right now. Are you living in darkness? No judgement if you are, but I urge you friend to reach out to someone that is a light. And if you aren't living in darkness, I urge you to be the light that my friends, my family and my country need right now.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
Do an internet search and you will find several definitions for the word “Agape.” According to one site, Agape is a Greco-Christian term referring to love, "the highest form of love, charity" and "the love of God for man and of man for God". This is the definition that we use at Agape Leaders for the way we mean agape. In our lives, many of us long to receive a “love letter” from that special someone. You are our special someone, therefore we are sending you our “Agape Letter,” our love letter to you.