Here’s to a Wonderful 2019!

We’re just hours away from not only a new year but a brand new decade! And with this new year comes another chance to celebrate a milestone: 65 years of The Hope Center at Hagerstown Rescue Mission! We’re so excited to celebrate another year of God’s miraculous work in Hagerstown and surrounding communities. We have some exciting changes in the works and 2020 is the perfect year to kick off a major project that will bless the lives of so many in the decades to come.

But before we jump into 2020,  we want to take the opportunity to thank God for all His continued blessings and faithfulness to this ministry and all the amazing things He did and provided in 2019. Each year He continues to amaze us and reminds us that we aren’t in this fight alone. We are truly blessed to have a God who loves us and cares so deeply for this ministry and the people we help each day of the year.

God shows His faithfulness in many ways but one of those ways is with the continued support of people like you. We want to thank each of you for partnering with us to bring the hope of God’s Word to so many people in many different ways. From our daily soup line, to our overnight homeless shelter, to the men in our rehabilitation/life recovery program, to all the precious children who’ve attended a Wildside Youth event, God has done amazing things in 2019 and each of you have been a part of this story.

We look forward to all the great things that God has planned for 2020 and beyond! As we mentioned, 2020 is a big year as we celebrate 65 years of continued hope for our community. But we do have some big news coming that we’ll be sharing with you in the near future. Until then, please continue to help us as we fight the good fight to bring healing to the broken, food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless, and love to all of God’s people.

To learn more about our programs and services, how to get involved, how to give, or how you can get help, please go to http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com.

And don’t forget to make plans to join us in April for our annual Rock the Run 5K: Pirates vs Princess! We kicked off this race back in 2015 to celebrate our 60th anniversary and here we are still going strong! The 5K is on Saturday, April 25th at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown. And we’re proud to announce that our Rock the Run 5K: Pirates vs Princess is once again sponsored by our good friends at Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe in Chambersburg. As you plan your New Year’s parties don’t forget to pick up some of their delicious potato rolls! To learn more about our upcoming 5K please visit http://www.rocktherunhagerstown.com.

So as we bid farewell to 2019, join us as we take a quick look back at all the beautiful faces who were a part of our amazing year. From staff, to guests, to volunteers, these smiling faces are what it’s all about! Thank you for helping us have another miraculous year of hope in Hagerstown!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

 

“The Best Gravy You’ve Ever Had!”

Another year hosting our Great Hagerstown Thanksgiving Feast is in the books!

Our annual holiday celebration, which is one of the oldest and longest continually running community Thanksgiving meal in the city, was another success as people from all over the area joined us to volunteer or enjoy the feast as guests.

Our kitchen was busy days before the feast preparing various dishes for the buffet including the roast turkey and our famous (and delicious) stuffing.

But as the sun rose on Thanksgiving our kitchen crew knew exactly what to do: prepare the best Thanksgiving buffet in town!

And they sure did! The feast this year was absolutely delicious. From the amazing stuffing made by Dorcas Black to the “best gravy you’ve ever had” by Diane Ellis, our guests, staff and volunteers sure did have a great spread to enjoy on Thanksgiving.

But before the meal was served , our guests were treated to a great message by Matt Sargent who was the former director of our Foundations Life Recovery program. Matt had a little fun with the crowd by presenting them with a plated preview of the Thanksgiving feast which turned out to be the meal Snoopy served to Charlie Brown. But then he came clean and presented everyone with an actual plate of the delicious food they were about to enjoy. He brought it all together to remind each of us that God has great things for our lives and that we shouldn’t just settle for the “Snoopy meal” of life when God is busy working to provide us with an amazing “Thanksgiving feast” in life.

Once the message was concluded and the meal was prayed over, our guests were eager to hit up the buffet line! Everyone enjoyed all the wonderful food and most had no problem going back for seconds.

We are so thankful for all of our volunteers and staff who helped to make this Thanksgiving successful. There are so many people who work behind the scenes in preparation to the feast, and so many wonderful volunteers who give up their holiday to serve others. We are beyond grateful for everyone who played a role in our Great Hagerstown Thanksgiving Feast. There are many names we’d like to mention – but more on that at a later time.

Our Great Hagerstown Thanksgiving Feast is a chance for us to celebrate all that we’ve been given throughout the year and to come together to give thanks to God for His continued blessings and faithfulness in our lives and at The Hope Center.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to come together to collectively give thanks to our great God. But we are always in a spirit of gratitude to God for all He does at The Hope Center throughout the year. From the men in our Foundations Life Recovery program whose lives have been changed and freed from the dangerous addictions and abuses that have caused so much physical, emotional, and spiritual pain, to the families who receive clothing assistance, to the kids who are learning and growing spiritually at Wildside Youth, to being able to provide safe overnight housing to homeless men and feeding thousands of hungry people each year, God continues to wow us with all His blessings and continued faithfulness to this ministry and our call to reach the least, the last, and the lost for Him.

And we can see God at work each and every day because of the faithful and generous people in our community who have partnered with us to keep our doors open for almost 65 years. And not only do we keep our doors open – we don’t charge our neighbors in need a dime to receive services. And even more amazing is that we receive no tax money from the government. Each day operating is a miracle because God continues to send all the right people to help provide all of our needs. And we can’t thank Him enough for each of you.

Each of you are having a profound impact on our community and in individuals lives whether you totally realize it or not. Every time you drop off a bag of clothing, buy a can of coffee, donate financially, volunteer an evening, you are helping to fight the good fight and bring HOPE back to thousands of people.

So thank you for your compassion and dedication to The Hope Center. Each life is precious and we are using the resources that you help to give to remind each person who comes to The Hope Center that they are important, they valuable, and they are loved – by a great God and His incredible people.

This Thanksgiving, and every Thanksgiving, we are so genuinely thankful for you! You’re making a difference. So again, thank you. We hope God blesses you this Christmas season.

 

 

“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.