Today, March 20th, would have been the 98th birthday of James Resh, the founder of The Hope Center.
Many of you reading this might not have any idea of the man behind this ministry. The story of how the Hagerstown Rescue Mission, which later became the Hope Center, cannot be told without telling about the incredible man, and his incredible wife, who tirelessly worked following God’s call to reach the least, the last and the lost.
Jim and his wife, Ellen, opened the Hagerstown Union Rescue Mission on Jail Alley in 1955. Feeling the call of God to reach out to the homeless and drunk men of the region, Jim & Ellen packed up their belongings and moved from a quiet, peaceful life in Cascade, Maryland into the heart of Hagerstown’s inner city.
When Jim received the call to minister he was working at Fairchild Industries in Hagerstown. Deciding to leave that job and move his family was not a popular decision to others in Jim’s family but he knew that God would provide. As soon as Jim and Ellen took that initial leap of faith, Jim had officially found his calling. He knew that starting a rescue mission and reaching Hagerstown’s inner city was exactly what God had planned for his life!
To say that Jim was passionate about helping others is an understatement. After Jim’s passing, his wife Ellen wrote this about Jim, “It seemed Jim had energy to spare, for he was never satisfied with just one mission. From our local mission came six other missions, all because Jim said ‘Here I am Lord, use me’. And He did!”
Jim was definitely a visionary. He was constantly looking for new projects and better ways of helping those in need. He wanted to live the Great Commission. Ellen recalls, “I remember when we would go on a little vacation in whatever town we would pass through, if Jim saw an empty building he would say, ‘That would make a good rescue mission.’ If it were possible, he would have started a mission in every town in America”.
In addition to starting the Hagerstown Rescue Mission and other area missions, he also created the Good Samaritan Lodge, a facility outside of Hagerstown which is now home to the graduates of the Foundations men’s program. He also had a hand in the creation of many other projects including Cedar Ridge Children’s Home, Four States Crusade for Christ, Four States Prophesy Conference, Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, WJAL TV 68, a radio program and Echoes of Hope weekly TV broadcast.
Jim truly loved the Lord and took his calling into ministry very seriously. Through the years there were always challenges and trials but Jim knew that keeping focus on winning souls for Christ was the whole point of the Rescue Mission. As Jerry Falwell said of Jim, “Jim Resh was a simple man, a humble man. He sought no glory for himself. Souls were his motivation.”
On March 29, 1996, the Lord took Jim home to be with Him. And while he may no longer be with us on earth, his legacy is still making an impact today. His devotion to the Lord and his heart for people in need is still changing lives today.
Jim would always say, “keep on, keeping on!” And thanks to his love for Christ and dedication to reaching others, the Hope Center is still fighting the good fight and reaching those who are often overlooked in our society.
Happy Birthday, Jim! You are greatly missed!