Maranatha Brethren Makes the Holidays Happy With a Christmas Prayer

Last Friday our residents and guests were treated to a holiday performance and dinner hosted by the choir from Maranatha Brethren Church.

Every Christmas the choir from Maranatha performs their seasonal cantata in the Trinity Center for anyone and everyone in the community. This year the choir performed, ‘A Christmas Prayer’. Our guests enjoyed listening to Christmas music and were reminded about the true meaning and purpose of Christmas. The crowd enjoyed hearing a full choir plus various soloists perform as the Trinity Center was filled with Christmas spirit.

Following the performance the choir from Maranatha was joined by others from the church to serve a free dinner to everyone in attendance.

It was another bitterly cold night in Hagerstown but that didn’t stop people from coming out to hear the choir sing. We had over 100 people spend the evening celebrating the birth of Jesus with us!

We are so thankful for all the support and love that Maranatha has given our ministry and residents & guests over the years. Their Christmas cantata performance has become one of our new Christmas traditions and we are so thankful for the choir coming to perform and serve the community.

If you were unable to join us last Friday then why not stop by Maranatha Brethren Church this Sunday evening (12/16) for the full Christmas cantata, ‘A Christmas Prayer’, being performed by the choir in their church. For more information on the cantata performance please call 301.733.1717. Maranatha Brethren Church is located at 19835 Scott Hill Dr. just off of Jefferson Blvd. in Hagerstown.

To learn more about Maranatha Brethren Church please visit http://www.maranathagbc.net

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“We Just Wanted to Help”

Cuteness alert: The Turner kids may just be the sweetest thing in Hagerstown – which is good because they used that sweetness to bake some delicious foods for a bake sale that they recently hosted at their house.

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Cassie, age 11, Mae, age 9, Bethany, age 7, and Joshua, age 5, are little entrepreneurs who sold all sorts of homemade mouth-watering treats like chocolate chip cookies, brownies, rice krispie treats, oatmeal cookies, and lemonade.

They invited church friends and neighbors to stop by and support their bake sale. They had 37 customers ranging in age 2 – 96 years old!

But the Turner kids didn’t have a bake sale for personal profit: their goal was to raise money to help others by supporting various agencies in the area, including The Hope Center. So after their bake sale the kids, escorted by their parents, Joe & Katie, stopped by to drop off a check for $22.

“We just wanted to help”, one of the kids said as their mom was saying that they drive by The Hope Center often and felt and just wanted to give to our mission.

We are so thankful for the kind and generous spirit of this family, and especially these four incredible kids. It’s so awesome to see kids getting involved and making a difference in their community by supporting The Hope Center and other organizations in the area. The donation from their bake sale will help to feed people who stop by for food bags or a daily meal, or will help to provide shelter for a homeless man who would be sleeping on the streets. God can take a simple bake sale and use it to save lives and change lives. And how exciting is it to think that when these kids reach Heaven they will see the full extent of how God used lemonade and cookies to further His kingdom and reach people for eternity!

Thank you so much Cassie, Mae, Bethany, and Joshua for your generous heart to help others for Christ! And the next time you have a bake sale we’ll be sure to stop by to taste how sweet helping others truly is!

If you’d like to learn how you can donate and help others just like the Turner kids then please call us at 301.739.1165 or email us at hagerstownrescue@verizon.net. And to get a full scope of the programs and services we provide free-of-charge for our community please visit http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com.

Spiritual Growth

by Jerry Cooper

JerryCooper (2)God has many purposes for The Hope Center. But I believe that first and foremost God desires that we preach the Gospel for the salvation of men, women, and children. In addition, God desires the spiritual growth of all who do trust Christ as Lord and Savior.

Through Peter, the Holy Spirit commands all believers to grow in their faith.

2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Spiritual growth is one of the reasons that The Hope Center offers a 13-month discipleship program for men. Sonny, Rick, Lynn, and other staff are always seeking and looking for the spiritual growth of the men in the residential program.

Sadly, not all who believe in Christ grow spiritually as God desires. Some follow poor examples as those described in Hebrews 5.

Hebrews 5:12-14, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

“By this time” means that these Christians had time to grow spiritually, but they were still immature. They needed “the basic principles of the oracles of God,” or spiritual “milk”. Each of them was a spiritual “child”.

This passage also teaches that the Word of God is essential for spiritual growth. Sadly these immature Christians were “unskilled in the word of righteousness.” Either they did not read the Scriptures and study them, or they did not listen when others taught the Scriptures.

Therefore, the Mission staff and churches preach and teach the Word of God at every opportunity. Men in the program memorize Scripture. They are urged to be active in a local church and study their Bibles.

Spiritual growth is also important because a Christian is useful to God when he is growing as God commands. The Holy Spirit spoke through Peter and explained who is effective and fruitful.

2 Peter 1:5-8, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

God is saying that every Christian should grow in spiritual character: virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. The word “increasing” means that these words are not static, they are growing. But if they are not increasing, then the Christian is “ineffective” and “unfruitful”.

Let’s always pray for ourselves, that we grow spiritually and not be “ineffective”. And let’s pray for the men in the program, that they will grow spiritually and be fruitful.

 

Jerry Cooper is the pastor at Virginia Avenue Baptist Church and an evening chaplain at The Hope Center. He and his wife, Barb, currently reside in Hagerstown. For more information on Virginia Avenue Baptist Church visit http://www.vabconline.org. To contact Jerry please email him at jtcooper51@gmail.com

 

Congratulations Derek!

We are excited to announce the graduation of Derek from our Foundations Life Recovery program!

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Our Foundations Life Recovery program is a 13 month residential rehabilitation program, based on Biblical principles, for men dealing with various addictions that are destroying them. Our rehabilitation program is not designed to just break addictions or habits, but to also help the man change his heart & mind. It’s not just about putting a new suit on the man, it’s about putting a new man in the suit.

Men in our Foundations Life Recovery program attend many different classes that help them defeat the addictions that have destroyed them. They also attend classes where they learn the value of their life through God’s plan for them. They are given the opportunity to make the changes that will help them leave our program prepared to be a contributing part of society.

When Derek first arrived at The Hope Center, he was just many of the other teens in America: looking for love and acceptance in all the wrong areas.

Derek grew up in the church, taking part in AWANA’s and even attending a Christian school. But Derek’s home life was much different. While Derek’s mother was a Christian, his father was not. He and his dad never really got along, which lead to clashes and Derek’s feeling of insecurity and fear of messing up and not gaining the approval of his father.

Eventually, the issues with his father came to a boiling point and Derek dropped out of church and his Christian school. His life was in a freefall and Derek began wandering aimlessly through life. He moved from group home to group home, institution to institution, just living life without a purpose. His only interests at that time were women and pornography.

Derek arrived at The Hope Center, knowing that he needed a change from his addiction to pornography. Instead of taking this opportunity serious, Derek was actually just hoping to breeze through this program just like the many others he was a part of.

After a while in our Foundations Life Recovery program, Derek realized that he wasn’t able to just do whatever he wanted and get by. He found himself in trouble multiple times, even getting kicked out and put on restrictions.

But God never gave up on Derek, and Derek knew deep down that there was a better life for him. He continued in our program and one day he and God had that moment where it all clicked.

Derek finally hit the point where he was tired of wandering, tired of fighting the truth, and tired of being disciplined. With tears in his eyes he called out, “God, I know you want me to work with kids, so why do I keep falling for this addiction?”

God responded to Derek. He reminded Derek that the reason he is addicted and not able to break free is because “he lost his first love”. God told Derek that he was given a passion to work with children so he could help other kids not “do the same things” he did to find love and acceptance. Derek said God also told him to “be yourself, everyone else is taken”.

This conversation with God was exactly the push Derek needed to finish the program at The Hope Center. Derek began taking his classes seriously. He started attending a church and helping out around The Hope Center. He established accountability with two different area pastors who helped supplement his spiritual instruction at The Hope Center.

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Derek with Pastor Brad Nigh of Hagerstown Christian Church

Derek has achieved a monumental goal in his life: his life has been recovered and he is free from the chains of pornography. On his face he wears one of the biggest, brightest smiles in all of Maryland. That smile is a testament to the hard work, dedication, and perseverance of Derek’s character and his commitment to following God and living for Him.

As Derek begins a new chapter in his life, he’s excited about the new adventures which are to come. One change that makes him extremely excited: “living on his own for the first time!” Derek is also hoping to volunteer at Wildside Youth Ministries, the youth program for kids at The Hope Center, and other organizations where he can help kids who are heading down the same path he once chose.

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Derek proudly receiving his diploma from Sonny Shank, our Executive Director

In late September we hosted a graduation ceremony to celebrate Derek’s achievement. Residents currently in the Foundations Life Recovery program, staff, volunteers, and people from Derek’s church attended the graduation. Following the ceremony, everyone was invited to enjoy refreshments and fellowship.

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We are so proud of Derek and his accomplishment. Our joy is only a small reflection of the celebration that took place in Heaven. Derek is another life changed for God. Instead of becoming another dark statistic, Derek is walking boldly in the light.

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Derek celebrating his graduation with friends and supporters from his church

Please pray for Derek, and the other men in our Foundations Life Recovery program. The decision to clean up their lives is not an easy one, and the devil works overtime to ruin, defeat, and destroy these men. Pray that the men in the program will see the success of Derek and work to conquer the addictions that are separating them from God. And pray for Derek, and the many other graduates, as they embark on a new life of victory. The devil wants nothing more than to see God’s people be destroyed by their weaknesses. Pray that these men find strong spiritual support systems that help them live each day victoriously.

And continue to pray for the staff and volunteers at The Hope Center. The people who serve are on the front line of a very serious spiritual war. They are trying to help meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of so many. It’s not an easy situation to be in as the devil targets our staff and volunteers.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support of The Hope Center. Because of people like you, Derek was able to have a place to change his life. Your financial support, food and clothing donations, and prayers help to keep our facilities operational all day, every day. From helping addicts with no where to turn, to feeding families, providing shelter for the homeless, and giving kids a safe place to have fun, your support is reaching thousands of people and changing lives. Again we say thank you for partnering with us to help others.

If you’d like to start supporting The Hope Center, call 301.739.1165 or email hagerstownrescue@verizon.net. You can go to http://www.hagerstownrescue.org and click on the “Give to HRM” tab located in the red box on the left hand side of the page if you’d prefer using your debit/credit card online.

If you’d like to join the ranks of our faithful volunteers, go to http://www.volunteerhagerstown.com to learn about the various ways you can help change lives.

 

Wildside Winter Olympics

Each month Wildside Youth hosts a large, free party for any kids in the greater Hagerstown area between the ages of 5 & 12.

On Tuesday, January 22, the Trinity Center at The Hope Center came alive with the flurry of activity from Wildside’s Winter Olympics party!

This yearly event is a highlight of the winter for the kids who come. This year, over 50 kids braved the freezing temperatures to enjoy a night celebrating the winter games!

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The kids enjoyed some free time followed by a massive “snowball fight”. The snowballs were balloons and the object of the game is to get as many snowballs onto the opposing teams side of the room. The snowball fight was a battle between the boys & girls and the girls came out as the Olympic victors!

In addition to the snowball fight activity, the kids were able to enjoy some winter themed carnival games. The games included Olympic Ring Toss, Olympic Torch Relay, Snowflake Matching (a wintery twist on Old Maid) and Make a Goal, a hockey inspired game. The kids were able to win prizes at each event.

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Along with all the winter themed activities, the kids were also able enjoy other regular Wildside activities like the Marketplace, the Hollywood & Hawaiian game rooms and an area dedicated to art projects.

Following the game times, the kids came together to learn about one of the Wildside Core Values. In the fall the kids learned about respect. The lesson of the night focused on Proverbs 14:2 and the ‘Parable of the Sower’. The kids learned they should always do their best to live a life that shows respect for the Lord. At the end of the lesson three kids came forward during the altar call!

At the end of the lesson the kids were served a delicious dinner of fish sticks, green beans, rolls, cupcakes & more! Prizes were also distributed to lucky Olympians!

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All this fun is provided free of charge for kids ages 5-12. If you know of kids who would definitely love these types of action-packed events then please check out www.wildsideyouth.com for more info or call 301.739.1165.

Also, if you’re interested in volunteering at The Hope Center, including with Wildside, please call 301.739.1165 or email hagerstownrescue@verizon.net.

Even though Wildside only has large themed parties like this once a month, the Wildside fun continues every Sunday evening at Sunday Night Wild. Sunday Night Wild is a free activity for kids from 7-8pm. They sing, play games, learn about Jesus and eat some great snacks! This is a great event to invite unchurched kids or to supplement the Christian education that churched kids are already receiving. Go to www.wildsideyouth.com to learn more about Sunday Night Wild.

Hagerstown Korean Church Celebrates 9 Years!

This past Sunday we were happy to welcome the Hagerstown Korean Church to The Hope Center! This was their first visit and they sure made it fantastic.

The church, lead by pastor Yohan Chin, is celebrating their 9th anniversary this year. To celebrate this milestone, the church wanted to serve the homeless and hungry in the community.

One young woman in the group, Unhee Thacker, suggested coming to The Hope Center and serving a meal. The church was very excited about this opportunity and for many of them this was their first visit to The Hope Center.

And the meal that the Hagerstown Korean Church prepared did not disappoint! Our residents and guests were treated to egg rolls, rice, chicken, ice cream and watermelon!

The church had so much fun that they are already talking about returning again to host the entire service!

We want to thank the Hagerstown Korean Church for joining with us to help those in need! We hope to see this great group back again!

Hagerstown Korean Church meets at 1116 Mt Aetna Rd in Hagerstown.