In Loving Memory of Jean Blaise Kikudi

It is with great sadness that we must say goodbye to one of our own, Jean Blaise Kikudi. Jean went home to be with the Lord the end of September at the age of 52. He was employed at The Hope Center as an evening deskman/security for our emergency men’s shelter. But his is the story of God’s transformational love and the visible manifestation of what God is doing in the lives of those who step foot into The Hope Center.

Volunteer Appreciation 2013 019 (2)Jean Blaise was born in the summer of 1966 in the Congo. He earned a BS in Economics and became a naturalized US citizen in February of 2003. Unfortunately Jean Blaise found himself in some trouble and was convicted of a felony and was paroled to The Hope Center. When he first arrived he wanted nothing to do with The Hope Center and it was obvious that he did not want to be here. But in September of 2009 he applied for enrollment to Foundations Life Recovery, our 13-month rehabilitation program. On December 1, 2009, Jean was officially entered into the Foundations program to start getting his life back on track.

During his time as a resident in Foundations, Jean totally changed as God began to doDSC_1390 (2) major work in his life. God worked in his life and Jean’s attitude and personality were completely transformed. What was once a scowl on his face became a huge, infectious smile. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old is gone, the new is here!” Jean was not afraid to share his story of transformation and his testimony was incredibly inspiring and one that encouraged the other men in our Foundations program to continue fighting the fight to recovery. Jean completed the program and graduated on April 15, 2011.

Following his graduation he became employed at The Hope Center. He continued to be involved with The Hope Center in other ways including singing with the residents when visiting churches, attending other Foundations Life Recovery graduations, and helping anywhere he could. In addition to helping at The Hope Center, Jean was very involved with his church, St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Hagerstown.

Jean BlaiseIf you’ve ever volunteered at The Hope Center, especially for the evening chapel and community meal, or had hosted our residents at your church you’ve probably seen Jean and his big pearly smile. Jean was a great man who came from a very good family and almost lost it all until God did an incredible work in his life.

We are so deeply saddened by the death of Jean Blaise but it is the promise that God gives us of eternal life that helps us deal with the sudden loss of our graduate, coworker, and most importantly, our friend. His death was shocking and difficult to process but we all have the hope that he’ll be waiting for us with his huge smile as God calls us home one day.

To each of you who have supported The Hope Center by praying, financially sponsoring, donating gently used items, volunteering, hosting food drives, or being involved in any other way, you were a part of helping to change Jean’s life for good. He may never have met each of you and you may never have known him, but God used you to help bring Jean to him and now Jean is singing the song of victory.

Thank you for supporting us as we work each day to help people like Jean. Your support helped save a man and change his life completely. Thank you for caring and sharing. God used your gift and turned it into an investment of eternal proportions.

To God be the glory!

 

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Happy Memorial Day!

“In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,

With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;

As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free!

While God is marching on”    -Battle Hymn of the Republic

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As Americans we love our freedoms but sometimes we often forget the extreme price that has been paid for those freedoms. We can easily get caught in our day-to-day routine of balancing family with work and navigating such busy lives that we sometimes forget how blessed we are to not just live in a prosperous nation but also one that enjoys such incredible freedoms.

As we go to picnics, parties and gatherings today, we need to remember the thousands of patriots who have gone before us sacrificing their lives, their blood and their families so that we can enjoy such human freedom that was once only imagined as a dream.

We thank God everyday for our military and their families who give up so much so that we can be free. Thank you to each of you who are currently serving right now to make sure that these shores are protected and our rights and freedoms continue.

Thank you to the families who watch as their loved ones leave for long periods of time to put their lives on the line for millions of fellow Americans that they’ve never met.

And we thank God for giving us the honor of living in a country where we value freedoms and each other so much. We hope that each day serves as a reminder of the blessings given to each of us from above. May we continue to fight for freedom, both here and elsewhere, defending those whose voices have been silenced and whom God asks of us to help.

On this Memorial Day, we hope that we all can come together, in spite of our differences, to thank those who have given their lives so that we can all live in peace and be free.

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

 

Our Loss is Heaven’s Gain

It is with profound sadness that we are writing this. Our friend, and former Thrift Store manager, AJ Imbach, went home to be with the Lord this past week.

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AJ and his wife, Jayne, were with us only briefly. AJ accepted the call to become the manager of our Hagerstown & Chambersburg stores in the summer of 2013.

He came with fresh ideas and an excitement for this new phase of ministry in his life. He was going to help bring some much needed change to our stores and would have the opportunity to build relationships with the men in our program who work at the stores.

AJ and Jayne were following God’s plan which brought them all the way across the country from Oregon. Both AJ & Jayne were a breathe of fresh air at The Hope Center.

AJ Imbach

Their joy of life and overall positive outlook showed the love of God in them. They were passionate about reaching others for Christ and doing their part to help bring real hope and change to broken and hurting lives.

Unfortunately in early fall AJ was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. They were hoping to stay at The Hope Center for a while as he dealt with his disease but it progressed much quicker than expected and the doctors suggested they might want to return to Oregon to be with family & friends.

Jayne helped AJ adjust to his condition and worked hard to make him comfortable as his body dealt with ALS. And through it all, both AJ & Jayne remained faithful to the Lord and confident in His will and plan.

AJ left his earthly life surrounded by his family. And as we weep here on earth for our loss, we can only imagine the magnificent celebration in heaven for their gain!

We wish we could see AJ’s big smile again, and we have confidence that we will see it as each of us are welcomed into eternity. We’re sure Jesus greeted AJ with a big ole, “well done”!

AJ & Jayne left a lasting impact on the staff and guests at The Hope Center. Their excitement and joy was contagious and their optimism and confidence in God’s perfect plan was inspiring.

We thank God for the opportunity to have met and worked with these two wonderful people. Our thoughts and prayers are for Jayne and the family & friends in Oregon who are left behind.

While we may not understand God’s plan through all of this, we know that His plan is perfect and greater than our minds can ever understand.

Please pray for Jayne as she begins a new chapter in her life. It’s going to be difficult but we know that she is an amazing woman who has a close and deep relationship with an amazing Savior. Please pray for her healing and her new journey.

And please remember to pray for the thousands of families across this nation who are dealing with loved ones suffering from ALS and other terrible diseases. Life is so precious and so many people are hurting and only God can provide the true peace and hope that we all need.

If you have any questions about AJ & Jayne, please call 301.739.1165, email hagerstownrescue@verizon.net or mail us at P.O. Box 685, Hagerstown, MD 21741.

If you don’t have the peace of Christ in your life and are desperate to experience the joy that AJ had, please contact us immediately so we can talk to you about the greatest relationship you will ever know with Jesus. As long as you’re still breathing, it’s never too late. God doesn’t care about your past, He is ready to change your future. Don’t wait to prepare for eternity.

 

 

The Dream Continues

On August 28th, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of the most inspiring and socially motivated speeches in modern American history. His “I Have a Dream” speech would become one of the most widely-known speeches around the world.

His dream of an America where people of all races can live peacefully together is more alive now than ever before in American history. But with that being said, there is still much work that needs to be done to create a society of love and acceptance.

At The Hope Center, we are proud to say that we strive to be a facility which shows God’s love to all people and accepts each one for the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

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God looks on the heart, not the outward appearance of a man. And so do we. No matter the race or ethnic background, our doors are open to help people in need. Our program is designed to bring people to God and teach men how to change their lives through the transforming power of God’s love. And when you’ve learned how deep God’s love is for you, you learn to show that love to others, no matter who the person is.

The men who live in our residential program are a living witness of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream. These men, from all different backgrounds, social levels and races have come together and formed the bond of brotherhood that can only be done through the unconditional love of Christ.

These men live together, eat together, pray together, learn together, worship together, work together, struggle together, heal together and succeed together. They are the body of Christ. Brothers in Christ. They’ve learned to put aside the childish things that separate people and have discovered the deep truths that bring us all together.

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They know that at the core of each human is a deep need to have a relationship with their Creator. They understand that hate is what destroys lives and that love truly conquers all.

So today, as we remember MLK Jr and celebrate his legacy of brotherhood, please join us in thanking God for His unfailing love and acceptance of us. He truly sees us as the person that we are. He doesn’t love us more or less because of our skin color, or our social standing, or our family name, or our degrees, or our bank account. He loves us just for us.

And when we all start to love each other the way that God loves us, then the desperate people of America and the entire world, will see the difference of Christ in us and will come running to be apart of what we have.

We are so proud of our residents. To see the bond of brotherhood through Christ that these guys have created is a living testament to the power of God!

A Beautiful Memorial for a Beautiful Lady

If you’ve driven past our property on the corner of Walnut & Church streets you might have seen something a little different.

This week we had the fine folks from Snavely’s Garden Corner, Inc. in Hagerstown landscape a beautiful memorial garden in front of our Thrift Store on the Walnut Street side.

The garden is in memory of Ellen Resh, the founding partner of The Hope Center at Hagerstown Rescue Mission. She and her husband, Jim, followed the call of God to move their family from the quiet, peaceful life in Cascade, MD to the gritty and unthinkable atmosphere of Jail Alley in downtown Hagerstown.

For years Ellen worked as the “Mission Mom” to create a family environment not only for her own children but for the hundreds of men who were residents and guests through the years.

Ellen wasn’t just raising her children during those years. She was also raising the new converts of men who passed through the doors. She became a positive female influence to all the grown men who were in desperate need of a mother’s love.

Ellen was an important part of the ministry of rescue throughout the years. She was an important part of Koffee Klatch, our weekly Bible study & fellowship time for women. She also oversaw the Sorting Room and all the merchandise that was priced and placed into our stores.

But when Ellen wasn’t busy working at The Hope Center, she enjoyed the quietness of God’s creation at her home outside of Hagerstown. She enjoyed the beauty of flowers and trees and loved feeding and taking care of animals – especially cardinals.

Our Auxiliary decided that the best way to pay tribute to the founding mother of The Hope Center was to create a garden in her memory.

She would love to see the flat, grassy area between the Thrift Store and Walnut Street be landscaped into something beautiful and provide a place for the birds to sit and sing their praises to God.

The garden is not exactly finished at this point. We are in the process of getting a sign installed in her memory.

As beautiful as this garden turned out, we are hoping to do more of these along Walnut Street in the future. Adding trees and plants not only makes our property more beautiful but it also is another way to celebrate God, the Creator, and helps us to be more environmentally responsible by adding more trees to help provide fresh air in the downtown environment.

We want to thank Snavley’s for doing such a beautiful, professional job on the garden.

And we also want to thank the Ladies’ Auxiliary at The Hope Center for funding this gorgeous addition to our property! We appreciate all the work that these ladies do to help improve our facilities and keep the ministry moving forward!

If you or someone you know are interested in learning more or joining our Ladies’ Auxiliary, please call 301.739.1165 or email hagerstownrescue@verizon.net for more info.

Thank You, Veterans!

Today we celebrate and honor the many men and women who have given their time, dedication and most importantly, their lives to protect this great nation!

As we celebrate the day with family & friends, let’s not just treat it as another day off of work, but as a day of reflection and remembrance for what thousands of fellow Americans throughout our history have done for us.

Jesus said it best in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” And just as Jesus layed down His life for our spiritual freedom, our neighbors, family members, friends and others do the same for our personal freedom.

But we as citizens need to remember to protect and take care of our service men & women after their time in the military is over. Unfortunately, a rather large number of veterans end up homeless and jobless. From dealing with the pressures of war to disabilities to the stress of returning to civilian life, our veterans can have a difficult time getting settled into everyday American life.

At The Hope Center, we work with many homeless veterans. Whether they stay with us as transients or as residents, we work to help restore the courageous individual that once defended this great nation.

So today, and everyday, please remember to pray for the many veterans who sacrificed so much for each of us. Pray that God will direct their paths to find peace and restoration in Him. And let’s work together to make sure that our veterans receive the proper gratitude and life that they deserve!

Thank you, veterans! And Happy Memorial Day, America!!

In Memory

On Friday, April 27, 2012, a dear friend and long time friend of The Hope Center went home to be with the Lord.

Martha Jane Reid
May 4, 1950-April 27, 2012

Martha J. Reid of Williamsport was an active supporter of The Hope Center and a devoted member of our Ladies’ Auxiliary.

For nearly 40 years, Martha Jane was actively involved in this ministry through our Ladies’ Auxiliary, serving as president for many years. As a member of the Auxiliary, Martha Jane would often spearhead various fundraising projects and help in many ways with the many different events that the Ladies’ Auxiliary would host. Her heart was definitely in tune with this ministry and she helped touch the lives of hundreds to thousands of people in many different ways.

She may not have known her impact here on earth, but now in Heaven she can see how her faithful attitude serving the Lord has changed the lives of so many!

Even though we will miss Martha Jane in our Ladies’ Auxiliary, we know that she is so much better off now!  “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (I Cor 15:55)