Charity Spotlight: An Act of Faith

One couple’s infertility struggles transform into hundreds of homes for foster children

Agape Adoption Agency of Arizona

Co-Founders — Leslie and Douglas Reprogle

CEO — Leslie Reprogle
Board chair — Dr. Janel White Taylor

“Agape was founded as an act of faith,” said Leslie Reprogle.

When Leslie and her husband Douglas Reprogle were unable to conceive, Leslie decided that if she couldn’t have children, she would serve them. She started going on mission trips organized by the couple’s church, River of Life Tabernacle. Returning from a trip to Haiti, Leslie heard God’s voice speaking clearly to her heart, telling her she would open an adoption agency.

That was a surprise, because she had no background in child or family welfare. But out of obedience, she and Doug talked to the church’s senior pastor about creating a new adoption-agency ministry modeled on a similar one in another part of the country. They agreed the ministry would have to be a standalone business, so Doug and Leslie took out a second mortgage on their house and started Agape.

In 2005, just as the agency was being licensed, the number of children coming into foster care in Arizona began to climb dramatically. Friends of the Reprogles — pastors with histories in child welfare — advised the couple that Agape should become contracted to provide foster care services for the Arizona Department of Child Safety. The Reprogles did and received a contract.

Because of Leslie’s ties with Arizona’s Black community, the agency initially did most of its outreach through Black churches and in the South Phoenix area, where Agape’s offices are located. But as word about the agency spread, families of every faith and cultural background responded. Agape’s foster care program quickly became its flagship program.

Known For
Agape is known for being a small, spunky agency that does what it can to meet all of its clients where they are, and get them to a better place. Its mission statementis “Agape is a Christian service agency with a passion to empower positive outcomes for children and families.”

Most Surprising Thing About the Organization
Although Douglas is a pastor and Leslie was ordained and served in women’s and youth ministries for years, Agape is a faith-based agency that isn’t “religious” in the traditional sense.

Case in point: Last Christmas, the Voodoo Mayhem Riding Club contacted Agape, because they had heard about its work with families and children. Though foster parents were hesitant to accept gifts from an organization with “Voodoo” in its name, the Reprogles assured them there was nothing nefarious about the club, which supports organizations that care for children throughout the Phoenix area.

As they unloaded an 18-wheeler full of gifts for foster children in Agape’s foster homes, men and women in the riding club shared stories and wept with the Agape team about the difficult circumstances that bring children into foster care, as well as the ways the community can support them as they heal.

Fun Fact
Leslie met board chair Dr. Janel White Taylor, or “Dr. J.,” when she was 4 years old. The women’s families attended United Methodist Church in South Phoenix, and the two grew up together. Dr. J is an educator and parent who has spent decades sharing her knowledge about technology and what it can do for children in communities all over the world.

Organization Highlights
A highlight of Agape’s service centers around a blanket. “One of our partners provides something called Bags of Love that includes a handmade quilt for each community foster child placed in an Agape home,” Leslie said. The Bags of Love — which are customized to meet the age and gender identity of each child that receives them — provide a carrying case the children can use to pack their possessions into when they return home.

The Future
Agape’s executive team is currently doing environmental scans to determine where the greatest need to serve families exists. One immediate need they have identified is affordable housing for families experiencing crisis pregnancies. As rent prices have skyrocketed in Arizona, it has become harder for birth mothers to secure housing, so Agape is discussing a fundraising drive to help meet this need.

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