Letter from our Executive Director

Sonny Shank Executive DirectorAs friends and supporters of The Hope Center at Hagerstown Rescue Mission, I am sure you know that the doors of The Hope Center opened for the first time in May of 1955 on Jonathan Street in Hagerstown. We moved to our current location on North Prospect Street in 1957-58 and from that time on the doors of The Hope Center have remained open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year!

As I was thinking about how God has blessed the ministries of The Hope Center, and the impact The Hope Center has had on thousands of lives over the past 58 years, I imagined for a moment what it would be like if there had never been a Hagerstown Rescue Mission. I can tell you this – the lives of many people would have been extremely different.

Like Bill Crowe who, more than 50 years ago, was transformed by the power of the Gospel and was set free from the bondage of alcohol. Bill is the Director of the Martinsburg Rescue Mission and also pastors a local church. Or like Carl Black who was one of the first men paroled to the Mission. Carl’s life was radically changed when he gave his heart and life to Christ. Carl faithfully served God as a pastor and then as Superintendent of Hagerstown Rescue Mission until God called him home. And I remember Amos Rippeon who lost everything, including both legs, because of his addiction to alcohol. When he came to the Mission he was filled with hate and bitterness. But when Amos began a relationship with Jesus Christ, his life would never be the same! Amos spent the rest of his life here at The Hope Center smiling, singing and being a blessing to everyone he met.

Since those early days, The Hope Center has been God’s instrument for bringing the message of His redeeming love to countless persons. People like Eddie, Howard, Jose, Frank, Kevin, Donnie, Jack, and hundreds of others in bondage to alcohol and drugs have been set free and have gone on to live meaningful, productive lives.

For thousands of needy men, women and children, The Hope Center has been a source of help and encouragement. In their time of need they have come here and found food, shelter, clothing, and other kinds of needed care. So to imagine, even for a second, that The Hope Center never was is not a pleasant thought when you consider the positive impact this ministry has had on so many lives over the years.

I’d much rather picture The Hope Center continuing to serve God by serving others through a Christ-centered outreach of compassion to hurting people. Because of your support, that’s what we will keep on doing! Your involvement is vital to the future of The Hope Center. Thank you for all that you have done! I thank God for your friendship and for your heart of compassion. Please continue to be a part of our efforts to bring hope to the hopeless!

Gratefully your,

Bruce L. “Sonny” Shank

From the Darkness: Kevin’s Story of Hope

“Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt.
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart.

“Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You’re

“Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again.
Who am I, that the Voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me.

 “Not because of who I am
but because of what You done
not because of what I done
but because of who you are.”

Who Am I by Casting Crowns

These lyrics are powerful when thinking about our relationship with the Creator of the universe. But they become even more powerful when you hear the story of how Kevin was facing the darkness of death but was rescued by the God who cared about him in the midst of this crowded world.

If you’ve visited, volunteered or been a part of any outreach at The Hope Center in the past year, then chances are you’ve come in contact with Kevin.

Kevin Scott

Kevin really is a wonderful success story of God’s love and power to transform.

Kevin came to The Hope Center in May of 2011 after venturing to Hagerstown to visit his sister. It was during that visit, in fact it was the day he arrived in Hagerstown, that his sister would take the steps to get him the physical and spiritual help that he so desperately needed.

And now, two years later, Kevin is a different man. He’s alive, clean, sober and positive about the future because he now has his eyes fixed and focused on God, the One Who saved his life and changed his tomorrow.

Kevin grew up in Baltimore and began experimenting with tobacco and alcohol at an early age. By the age of 16 Kevin started using heroin. To support his addiction, Kevin started dealing drugs.

Like most people who are addicted, the drugs started to change who Kevin was. He became a stick up artist to steal from other pushers. These actions, naturally out of character for Kevin, proves how destructive and evil drug addictions can be. Unfortunately, the drugs had a hold of Kevin and he continued on the path of destruction. Kevin was shot twice and has a scar on his face from a bullet that grazed his cheek as a permanent reminder of his dangerous past.

All of the bad choices that Kevin had made caused him to lose everything of value in his life including his job and most importantly his family. He was married and had 3 sons but the drugs tore him away from the people who mattered.

Looking back at that dark time in his life, Kevin says, “I couldn’t take myself anymore. I was a liar, weak-minded, hopeless, and causing pain to those around me.” Completely enslaved to the drugs and a destructive frame of mind, Kevin attempted suicide twice. He went to numerous drug rehabilitation facilities that didn’t help him.

Fortunately for Kevin, his grandmother was a follower of Christ and consistently prayed for Kevin and would talk to him about the Lord.

Desperate to get away from his terrible circumstances in Baltimore, Kevin decided to visit his sister who lived in Hagerstown. The day he arrived in Hagerstown, his sister brought him to The Hope Center.

Kevin came to The Hope Center in May of 2011. Not long after being enrolled in our Foundations program, Kevin heard the Gospel in an evening chapel service. It was that night that would completely change his life for eternity. Originally Muslim, Kevin heard the life-altering story of Christ and gave his life to Jesus. Kevin says, “I saw death close up and I didn’t want to take any more chances. I wanted to be sure of going to Heaven when I die.”

God radically transformed Kevin’s life. He has a peace and joy that is evident to everyone he comes in contact with. The scar on Kevin’s cheek is a reminder of his dark past but the gigantic smile on his face is a sign of his bright future.

Kevin graduated from our Foundations program in July of 2012. He recently completed classes and is currently testing to receive his G.E.D.

Kevin with one of his sons

Kevin with one of his sons

Although he is still separated from his wife, he is working to restore the relationship that was broken. He’s worked hard to restore the relationships with his sons and is now enjoying his family again.

Kevin

Kevin was able to get his own apartment and is currently employed at The Hope Center. He also volunteers many hours each week as a cook’s assistant in our food services department.

When asked about his plans for the future Kevin says, “Anywhere God puts me, I’m there!”

Thank God for His never-ending love, compassion and patience. Kevin is a life that was lost but is now totally and completely restored and better than ever.

Kevin is thankful for his wife, sister and especially his grandmother for helping him get to a place like The Hope Center where he was able to find real hope & change in Christ!

We’re thankful for all of our staff, volunteers and faithful supporters who continue to help precious people like Kevin find the peace that only God can give. Each dollar given, every bag of used clothing donated, each jar of peanut butter provided is part of something bigger. These are the resources that God uses to change lives on earth and for eternity.

Thank you for being a part of God’s ministry to Kevin, and to the hundreds of other men, women, teens and kids who come to The Hope Center each month seeking help and hope in one way or another.

Please continue to pray for Kevin, his family and his future. And remember to keep the many unnamed people who are struggling with the same addictions and darkness that Kevin once dealt with. The only thing more powerful than fear is hope. And the only thing more powerful than sin’s grip is God’s love.

And that’s why The Hope Center exists.