“God Gave Me a New Beginning – Even at My Age”

To a lot of people birthdays are kind of a big deal. We all love celebrating the birth of our kids, family, friends and other loved ones. And at The Hope Center it gives us great joy to celebrate the birth of the guys in our residential recovery program: Foundations.

For the residents in our program, the celebration of their birth is special because many of them came to The Hope Center in desperate need of help for victory over addictions and other destructive lifestyles that were destroying them. The fact that we celebrate their life is a major victory for each of these men. And since they’re a part of our family, we love celebrating them!

So last Friday we celebrated the birthday of one of our residents, Terry Barnes. If you’ve volunteered or stopped by The Hope Center there’s a good chance you’ve seen Terry. Since being in the program Terry has worked in our kitchen and more prominently in our shelter as a deskman. So there’s a chance you have seen him smiling around The Hope Center.

IMG_2758But even if you’ve seen Terry you might not know much about him or his journey in life, especially the most recent journey of recovery and redemption at The Hope Center. So we asked Terry to give us a little summary of his thoughts as he celebrates another birthday. Here is what Terry has to say:

“I want to thank God first, then The Hope Center and the pastors and staff. I came to The Hope Center on June 1, 2018. I will graduate January 19, 2020. God has given me a new beginning at even my age. He’s shown me how to be accountable and responsible, and to believe and trust in Him. I say that because I found myself in a very difficult situation last month and God showed me He was right there with me and He gave me patience and strength. When I leave here, I am going to live a different lifestyle and give praise and thanks to God every day for changing my life.”

We are so proud of Terry and all the work he’s put into his personal recovery and relationship with God. He’s just a few short months away from completing our Foundations Life Recovery program. Please continue to pray for Terry as he moves quickly towards that finish line. And please remember to pray for the many other men who are in our recovery program and those who will enter our program hoping for a lasting change and freedom in Christ.

Please join us in wishing Terry a very, very HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Here’s to many more, Terry!

And we want to thank our friend, Stormy, for baking another delicious birthday cake for our celebration! Every month we celebrate a birthday Stormy faithfully bakes and decorates a cake for our residents to enjoy. We appreciate her kindness and generosity so much!

To learn more about our recovery program please visit http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com/foundations. If you’d like to talk to someone about our program, including enrolling in Foundations, please call 301.739.1165 or email foundations@hagerstownhopecenter.com.

“I Knew I Needed a Change”

As a friend and supporter of The Hope Center, you are vital to the ongoing success of this ministry and the work God is doing in the hearts and lives of men, women and children.

But do you realize how God is using you to make a difference in the lives of those He sends our way?

Many of you are aware of our food programs, like Soup Line and our Food Bank. And most of you are aware that we have a homeless/transient overnight shelter for men that is open year round. But what many of you might not be familiar with is our Foundations Life Recovery program. Foundations is our free rehabilitation program for men battling addictions and who’ve strained their relationships and lost employment. For the duration of their program the men reside in our dormitory located in our main building but separate from our shelter. These men attend classes and work jobs around The Hope Center as they maneuver through the program.

Let me share with you the story of one of our current residents, Terry Barnes. This is Terry’s story:

IMG_2758“I came to The Hope Center on June 1, 2018. I knew I needed a change and I asked God to show me the way. And He did! My son brought me to The Hope Center and it was here that I finally had hope! I have been moving forward every day, trusting in Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.’

To celebrate Father’s Day I am going fishing with my son! What a blessing! I never had a father to experience good times and memories with, so I have committed to be the best father I can be. I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for the change He made in my life so I can be a father that my children love and respect.

I will graduate from Foundations program in August 2019. I came here as a project for God to rebuild and work in me. I am thankful for everyone here at The Hope Center for their guidance and support. And I am thankful for all those wonderful people who support The Hope Center.”

Terry’s story says it all. Your support of God’s work at The Hope Center is crucial. When you give you’re helping men like Terry rebuild their lives and create a fresh start. God is healing lives and restoring families and you are a part of this miracle.

If you’d like to learn more about partnering with us to help restore lives then please visit http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com or email info@hagerstownhopecenter.com.

If you or someone you know is in need of help with addiction or need life recovery then please contact us immediately. Our program is free for men ages 18 and older. Foundations Life Recovery is a 13-month residential program aimed at helping men break their destructive habits and showing them the value that God sees in each of them. To talk to someone about the program please email foundations@hagerstownhopecenter.com or call 301.739.1165. We currently do not have a program for women but we do have resources and connections to help women get the recovery they need as well.

One Major Breakdown, Multiple Headaches & Eight Good Samaritans

In May the baler in our Recycling Program broke down and was inoperable for approximately 3 weeks. While the baler was broke down our Recycling Center got backed up with piles of cardboard that we were unable to bale and truck away.

But then God sent a few good Samaritans, or angels even, to help us get back on track. But before we get to that act of kindness, maybe we should get you up to speed on what exactly our Recycling Center does.

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Most of you know all about the various ministries, programs and services at The Hope Center. But one area that many of you might not be as familiar with – or never even knew existed – is our Recycling Center.

Our Recycling Center is open M-F from 9am – 2pm (closed for lunch 11:30-12:30) and Saturday 9am – 11:30am. Our Recycling Center is manned by one of our Foundations Life Recovery program residents who is assigned to the baling room area of our Recycling Center as a part of the work assignment in the rehabilitation program. The program men who work the baling room are trained to operate the baler and also gain certification to operate a forklift.

The job of the Recycling Center attendant is to receive donations of cardboard; break down boxes; fill baler with the flattened cardboard; bale the cardboard and wrap with baling wires; and finally unload and stack the bales. At 33-36 bales we schedule a truck to pick them up.

In addition to recycling cardboard we also recycle old clothing and rags. The process for baling clothing is the same as cardboard. Now, you may be wondering what clothing ends up in the Recycling Center – good question! Any clothing that we are not able to sell in our Thrift Stores or donate to locals or missions agencies is sent to the baling room to be recycled into something new.  While we do recycle clothing and rags, we recycle much more cardboard because we try to find as many uses for clothing as possible before recycling it.

The Recycling Center is an important, but generally invisible, part of our ministry. So the unfortunate break down of our baler caused quite a few headaches.

And that’s when God sent Terry Izer to help! Terry is the Maintenance Service Manager,  Hagerstown Regional Maintenance of the Maryland Department of Public Safety. But he’s also the husband of Aimee, the manager of our Thrift Stores and Sorting Department at The Hope Center.

Terry is basically a jack of all trades and a master of them all! On top of his busy work schedule and his personal hobbies and family life, Terry lends a helping hand around The Hope Center whenever there’s a need. And this time we had a desperate need that Terry was just the man for. Terry gave of his time to volunteer to help repair our baler.

Even though Terry worked his magic and repaired our baler, the backup of cardboard was already an overwhelming job for our one worker. So Terry put the word out to some of his employees that help was needed to bale up the cardboard that had piled up.

After working their 7am – 3pm shift on Thursday, June 6th, six of his men came in to help get the job done! What a huge blessing these men were to The Hope Center!

We want to thank Steve Staley & Andy Koontz, welders who helped repair the baler, Bob Stine, Randy Mills, Mark Thomas, Marty Kending, Matt Reel, and of course, Terry Izer for all their help and their volunteering spirit!

 

“Here in the Power of Christ I’ll Stand”

Good Friday 1

“There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ”
-from the song, In Christ Alone

What a powerful thought for what should be a dark day in human history. This day thousands of years ago was to be sin’s greatest triumph. Instead, it turned into our greatest hope.

As Jesus uttered the words, “It is finished”, it was. Death was finished. Evil was defeated. Hopelessness was destroyed.

The tears and fears of that day were quickly replaced by the glorious victory of Christ’s resurrection on Sunday. And from that day forward, each new sunrise is a promise of hope and love from a God who suffered tremendously so that we could know how valuable we are to Him.

We are not in this alone. We don’t suffer by ourselves. In Christ is all of our hurt, abandonment, abuse, fear, pain, and sadness. Jesus felt it all as He hung on that cross. And He paid it all as He rose from the grave.

Today, or any day, as you’re struggling with whatever pain or hardship you have please remember that you are not alone. Please remember that God suffered for you and feels your pain. And that no matter how dark today is personally, the sun will always rise again. The darkness of Hell wants you to forget that Jesus already won. Satan wants you to feel all your regret and sin. But Christ already dealt with that for you. The darkness will not last because it’s already lost. There is HOPE for today because He lives.

“No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.”
– from the song, In Christ Alone

IMG_4189Join us tonight at 7pm at the Trinity Center to celebrate the HOPE of Easter as Maranatha Brethren Church presents an Easter musical and dinner. For more info or to talk to someone about what Jesus did on Easter weekend please call 301.739.1165 or email info@hagerstownhopecenter.com.

Have a safe and glorious Easter weekend!

“Those Frightened Eyes Still Haunt Me to This Day.”

By John Miller

JohnMiller (2)It happened 25 years ago. I was in my early 20’s. My wife sat on the kitchen floor looking up at me with tears because in anger I pushed her and she tripped over our young daughter. Those frightened eyes still haunt me to this day. I ran out of our small mobile home into the woods from sheer embarrassment at having abused my young wife. Now, she and our daughter were legitimately afraid of the one who was supposed to protect them from harm.

I found in the woods a huge log, sat down and wept. You see, I was full of rage and unreconciled pain from my childhood. My drug-addicted birth mother abandoned me when I was 9 months of age. She couldn’t handle being a mom and a drug addict so she made her choice and danced her “Woodstock Flower-girl” way into the sunset searching for her next “buzz”. Dad came home from work and found me in the crib with a wet diaper and an empty bottle. Dad was fighting his own demons of alcoholism and the next 14 years turbulently unfolded. We never did see “mom” again, to this day we don’t know where she ended up. Dad went through another bad marriage before he met his third wife and today I claim her as my “mother”.

But in my early 20’s, Dad was still trapped in the bottle and I was working through my own pain of feeling worthless, abandoned, and extremely inadequate to be a father and husband. I became a father at age 16. I did not grow up in church or in a Christian environment. When I met my girlfriend, now wife, we had no Biblical guidelines in our relationship. She stepped off the school bus in our Senior year of high school with tears and told me the news. Everyone pushed abortion but in our hearts we knew that was wrong and had our firstborn 9 months later, I had turned 17.

At age 19, after 2 years of a very troubled marriage, Melissa recovered her childhood Christian Faith and rededicated her life to Jesus Christ. I followed her to church one day and after listening to the Gospel for a few months and researching the evidence for the Bible, I asked Jesus to be my personal Savior and Lord! However, though I was truly saved, I had some inner wounds that needed healing.

That day in my early 20’s, as a young Christian sitting on that log in the woods near our home, I poured my heart out to the Lord. I said: “Lord, I know I’m saved, but I’m still struggling with how to control my tongue and my temper. I need your help Lord. I can’t do this alone. You have to help me. I want to be a better man.”

I had to walk back to that mobile home where a frightened mother and daughter waited for the angry monster to return. I walked in with swollen, moist eyes and announced my apology, stating that I am going to change. Well, those are nice words, but we’ll see. What about the next time I become angry? What then? What kind of hope can I give them in that moment to show that I am allowing the Lord to heal my pain and help me recover godly, gentle manhood to lead my family with love and in a safe environment?

I began to study verses of Scripture in the book of Proverbs about anger. I memorized verses like Proverbs 29:11, Proverbs 15:1, Proverbs 15:18, also Galatians 2:20, Philippians 1:21, Galatians 5:22, and Philippians 4:13. These verses became lodged in my heart and mind! God’s Word was bringing about transformation. I urge you to look at these verses that will help not just in areas of uncontrolled anger but any area of weakness and sin that trips you up!

Over a period of time and “proving”, the Holy Spirit had more of me. I didn’t get more of Him, He got more of me as I surrendered areas of my life over to Him and continue to do so every day of my life! You see, this old flesh is still in me! I need these truths every day if I want Jesus to be seen in me. He has brought healing, trust, and a feeling of safety to my marriage. We still have disagreements just like every marriage but now it’s “safe” to argue. And since those early days, my dad and stepmom have given their hearts to Jesus! I baptized them myself! God broke the addictions in their lives and has given them a beautiful marriage.

I don’t know where this blog finds you today but I want you to know there is hope. Hope is found in a personal relationship with the Lord and His Word. God’s Holy Spirit can heal and fill you to overflowing. You cannot do this alone. You need the Lord to give you the strength every day. Please, surrender to Him now and be diligent, intentional, and deliberate in knowing Him and His Word. Call the Hope Center and inquire about how you can learn more about this Hope. It’s the answer! HE is the Answer!

To talk to someone at The Hope Center please call us at 301.739.1165 or email us at hagerstownrescue@verizon.net. Learn more about The Hope Center and all the programs & services we offer the community free of charge by visiting http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com.

John & Melissa Miller are familiar faces around The Hope Center. As former pastor at Faith Christian Fellowship, John & Melissa would help with evening chapel services and have both ministered in various ways to our residents and guests at The Hope Center in the past. Currently they are the V.P. of Operations/Missionaries for Churches in Missions. To learn more about the Millers go to http://www.johnandmelissamiller.com or visit http://www.churchesinmissions.org.

Another Successful Thanksgiving Feast!

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is already a week ago! We hope each of you had as great a day as we did at The Hope Center celebrating our annual Great Hagerstown Thanksgiving Feast.

It was a bitter cold day in Hagerstown but inside the Trinity Center it was full of warmth, happiness, gratitude and love! We weren’t sure if the extremely cold temperatures would keep people away but, in fact, they may have brought even more people to our feast. The Trinity Center was packed and people kept coming even as we were ending the meal. We had so many guests joining us that we even started to run out of some of our food like the delicious sweet potatoes!

And speaking of sweet potatoes did you know that we use 18 #10 cans of sweet potatoes? Guess we’re gonna have to up that number next year. It takes a lot of food to feed everyone on Thanksgiving Day. We roasted 18 turkeys for about 300 pounds of the meat to serve. Along with the turkey and sweet potatoes we used 48 pounds of butter, 75 loaves of bread, 275 pounds of potatoes, 26 dozen eggs, and 24 pounds of brown sugar. That’s just a basic glimpse into our grocery list for the day!

But to have a feast the size that we did we cannot underestimate the importance of all the staff, volunteers, and donors who helped make it all possible. From days before Thanksgiving we had volunteers at The Hope Center helping with the turkeys, stuffing, delivering pies, and other activities. And our staff worked hard keeping all the day-to-day activities at The Hope Center running smoothly while also doing so much extra work to prepare for our celebration. And then Thanksgiving Day so many volunteers and staff showed up to make sure this year was the best yet. And they did a fantastic job!

We even had a rare opportunity to celebrate the birthday of Sharon Hughes on Thanksgiving. Sharon is the oldest child of Jim & Ellen Resh, the founders of The Hope Center. Sharon and her family are still actively involved in our ministry and you can often see her and her husband, Henry, volunteering at various activities. In fact, Sharon and Henry were at The Hope Center first thing in the morning to help in the kitchen. And it was Sharon’s sweet potatoes that quickly disappeared during the feast. But on Thanksgiving we were able to share in the birthday celebration of Sharon who was celebrating her 78th year on earth! We are so thankful to be able to celebrate Sharon and her family for all they do and have done throughout the years at The Hope Center. What an incredible testament to Jim & Ellen that their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are still involved in helping their neighbors in Hagerstown. Thank you, Sharon and all of the members of the Resh family who were on hand to help at Thanksgiving!

Again, we couldn’t have done this day without all of our fabulous volunteers who gave of their holiday with their families to be a part of our family for the day. Our Thanksgiving volunteers are always so friendly, happy, and hardworking and we appreciate each of them tremendously. While we did have first time volunteers, we were also excited to see all the returning volunteers who’ve made serving at Thanksgiving a holiday tradition for themselves! It’s always nice to see volunteers who’ve become more like family each year.

And lastly, none of this celebration would be possible without the generous support of our community. Through financial giving and food donations, each of you who gave this holiday and throughout the year are helping to feed thousands of hungry men, women, and children, provide essential necessities like medicine, baby products, groceries, blankets, clothing, and more, and giving housing to at-risk men in the area who are homeless or transient. Your support doesn’t just make Thanksgiving happen. It’s so much bigger than that one day. Your support makes sure that our facility is open every day of the year, during holidays and inclement weather, to help meet the most basic physical and emotional needs of people while also providing spiritual support to help people see the value in themselves exactly the way that God sees them. From providing a free summer camp to city kids, to food bags for families, to hot showers for men who have no where to go, your support makes each day Thanksgiving to thousands upon thousands of people who are often lost or forgotten in our society. And through your generous support we can do all we do without relying on any government money. No tax money is used at The Hope Center so our programs and services are 100% for the community paid for by loving people in the community. So from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for caring and sharing for the least, last and the lost in our community.

Thanksgiving is such a special time because we see the good in our world and we can thank God for His continued support each year. We hope each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and we hope this holiday season is a true blessing to you and your family. Thank you to everyone who helps make HOPE possible in the heart of Hagerstown! Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and may God give you a Happy New Year!

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!