A Sunday School Lesson Brought to Life

Last week our good friend, Amanda, dropped off about 30 goodie bags for our guests at The Hope Center. Inside the bags were a bottle of water, crackers, cookies and fruit snacks.

IMG_7097But Amanda didn’t make these all on her own. In fact, she was just dropping them off on behalf of the children at New Life Christian Ministries. One Sunday morning the kids created these bags as a part of the lesson they were learning about Jesus. They were being taught that Jesus is for everyone – including people in our society who are sometimes overlooked or forgotten about. They created the bags for The Hope Center for us to give out to people so that they don’t feel overlooked but included and loved by God.
We want to say a huge thank you to the kids at New Life Christian Ministries for making the goodie bags for our guests. We handed them out to people who came to our daily Soup Line. The guests who received the bags were so grateful and happy to get the treats to take home!

We also want to thank Amanda and the other children’s ministry leaders at New Life Christian Ministries. What a wonderful way to not only teach the importance of showing God’s love to everyone but also getting the kids involved in a works project for those in need!

We say this often but it never gets old: we’re so thankful for our community! People, like those at New Life Christian Ministries, are helping to make a difference in Hagerstown – even if it’s just simply a bag of treats. And they’re helping to raise a generation who will continue to fight the good fight and show love and compassion to all people . Thank you to New Life Christian Ministries and all the other churches, businesses, civic clubs, organizations, families and individuals in our community who support us in various ways all throughout the year! We truly thank God for each of you and your commitment to taking care of your neighbors in need!

To learn more about The Hope Center and all the ways we help the community or to learn how you can get more involved and partner with us to reach Hagerstown then visit http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com.

Looking for a church in the Hagerstown area? Why not check out New Life Christian Ministries? New Life Christian Ministries is located at 12031 Hopewell Road in Hagerstown. To learn more about the church, including the service times, various ministries, and upcoming events please go to http://www.nlcm.org.

A Little Winter Weather Didn’t Hold Back our Busy February!

February may be the shortest month but it’s always packed with activities and yet somehow always seems like the longest month to get through.

We had a very busy, productive February. Between the snow, ice, warm days and cold days we were able weather all the ups & downs with just some minor cancellations.

As we noted in a previous post, we were able to celebrate Valentine’s Day with our Soup Line guests. Everyone had a great time – especially the lucky guests who walked away with some Valentine’s themed prizes!

The kids who attend Wildside parties had a great Valentine’s celebration – also just a week, late thanks to another winter storm. But even with the delayed event, over 50 excited kids decked in red & pink swarmed the Trinity Center for an evening of games, food, prizes and socializing. Adrian, Director of Wildside, also presented the kids with a great interactive lesson about conflict resolution and dealing with problems in a Godly way. At the end of the night, the kids wearing the most red & pink all won special prizes plus one lucky gal won a giant Kit Kat!!

Wildside hosts large themed parties like this each month during the school year. In addition to these events, Wildside Youth hosts Sunday Night Wild a couple times a month plus each summer they host Camp Wild which is a four week day camp for kids in Hagerstown to attend for free! Learn more about Wildside Youth by visiting http://www.wildsideyouth.com.

One new thing that happened in February was our first in a series of meetings with some local pastors. On the 19th we had about 10 pastors join us for lunch and a tour of our facility. Several of our employees joined us to talk about their respective ministries at The Hope Center and give our pastors a deeper understanding of the various programs and services we offer the public. Following the lunch we took the pastors on a tour of our buildings where they could see the ministry at work.

We were so thankful for the pastors who joined us and got a connection with our ministry. The local church is our strongest support system in so many ways, but many people in the community, including church leaders, don’t totally know or understand how much we do each day for the community. And as churches donate financially or through other donations like food or gently used items, we wanted the leaders to see what their contributions to our ministry are doing. After talking with the pastors we are so encouraged by the renewed commitment from churches in the area to partner with us to do God’s work of reaching the least, the last, and the lost.

We will be having more meetings like this throughout the year with many more pastors. If you’re interested in seeing or knowing more about our ministry, please contact us. It’s one thing to read about what we do or even glance at a picture here or there. It’s a totally different experience to actually see it in motion. To get basic info about The Hope Center and all our programs and services please visit http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com. If you’d like to talk to someone about seeing the ministry first hand please call 301.739.1165 or email us at hagerstownrescue@verizon.net.

Clover Bowl InviteWe hope your February was as wonderful as ours! And as this month comes to an end we are excited about all the upcoming activities planned for the spring, like Wildside’s St. Patrick’s Day party on March 5th from 5-7pm in the Trinity Center. This event is free for kids ages 5-12 so call 301.739.1165 or email info@wildsideyouth.com to register.

Another big event we’re excited about is our upcoming Rock the Run: Pirates vs Princess 5K on April 27th at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown. This is a great event for people of all ages and athletic levels. Whether you RTR Pirate Princessare a seasoned runner or someone who just likes a good stroll, our 5K is perfect for you, your entire family, friends, church, civic group or coworkers. We have a kids One Mile Fun Run that takes place prior to the 5K plus activities for kids during the 5K so bring the whole family! Go to http://www.rocktherunhagerstown.com to register and learn more about the event. And don’t forget to grab your hook and eye patch or your favorite princess outfit for our race! Embrace your inner pirate or princess and join us for a fun activity to race support for The Hope Center!

 

The 12 Gifts of Christmas: Day Two

The second gift on our list is one that is universally beloved by all: spaghetti sauce! There’s nothing better than sitting down to dinner with a plate filled with hot spaghetti topped off with that delicious sauce.

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We are always in need of spaghetti sauce, especially for our food bag program. In every food bag we put simple, easy, and delicious foods that are generally loved by everyone. And spaghetti easily falls into that category. Spaghetti is a quick but nourishing meal that busy families, or families with limited cooking background, can make without a lot of fuss or time.

But our kitchen also loves using spaghetti sauce for various meals for our residents and community guests so we go through spaghetti sauce quite frequently.

Any donation of spaghetti sauce is welcome but we do ask for 24 oz jars so they can easily fit into a food bag. No matter the brand or the flavoring of the sauce – we’ll use it! And if you’re feeling extra Italian at the grocery store and want to pick up some boxes of spaghetti then we most certainly will gladly accept those as well!

To donate please call 301.739.1165 or email hagerstownrescue@verizon.net. Or just swing by and drop off any donations to our office between 8am – 5pm M-F. And please help us by spreading our Christmas wish list to all your friends, family, co-workers, church, civic group or scout troops.

Thank you and Merry Christmas!

Our Easter Hope – Jesus’ Sacrifice Opened Heaven’s Door

By John Miller

JohnMiller (2)“And the angel said to them; ‘Fear not, I know you were looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen just as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord was laying.'”    -Mathew 28:5-6

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead means so many wonderful things to believers. One of the most blessed truths about His resurrection is that it gives us HOPE regarding our future resurrection. Death is not the end.

Jesus Christ is God come to us in human form. God loves us so much that He decided to willingly step into a body of flesh in order to feel the emotions, fears, temptations, and weaknesses of this flesh. Through Jesus, He overcame temptation and took a perfect sacrifice to the cross where He paid the sin debt for us! We could never pay sin’s debt so God paid it himself.

However, in order for this transaction to be complete there must be a resurrection. Remember when Cain and Abel offered sacrifices in Genesis chapter 4? The evidence of whether or not a sacrifice was accepted by God was a visible raising up of that sacrifice. The same was true with Elijah and the prophets of Baal in 1st Kings chapter 18. God showed by a fiery and dramatic “taking up” of Elijah’s sacrifice that Yahweh is the one true God!

When Jesus died on the cross and then was placed in the tomb, it looked as if everything had failed. Why did Jesus die on the cross after He had performed so many miraculous feats, even raising the dead? Why did God allow His Son to die? Will God accept the sacrifice of Jesus’ death on the cross as a sufficient payment for the sins of mankind?

Yes! Three days later the stone rolled away and Jesus walked out of that tomb! God said YES to the sacrifice and raised it up for all the world to see that Jesus Christ has made sufficient payment for our sins and opens the door to Heaven! What we call death is only a door to a believer! For the Christian, death is like walking from one room to another glorious room called Heaven.

Do you have peace with God today? Are you 100% for sure that your sins are forgiven and you are on your way to Heaven? The Bible says in 1 John 5:13, “These things I have written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

If you do have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ then rejoice in your eternal destination and know that His resurrection guarantees your resurrection to eternal life! If you do not have peace with God today, why not stop what you are doing right now and call upon Him for eternal life. Repent of sins and turn to Jesus. Call The Hope Center and let them know about your decision and how to know what to do next in your walk with the Lord.

Go ahead, call them now! They want to rejoice with you and encourage you in your new found faith!

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.

 

 

Camp Wild 2015: Gallery of Smiles

Camp Wild 2015 was an incredible summer for both our campers and staff! We had over 230 kids experience all the action & adventure of our free summer day camp. There are plenty of activities for our campers to get involved in each day. From learning about Jesus, to building relationships, to creating art, hiking, swimming, exploring and playing, campers at Camp Wild are never lacking for anything exciting to do each day.

Since Camp Wild is free for any kid ages 5-12, we rely on the generous support of all of our donors in the area. We want to say thank you to all the individuals, churches, civic clubs, businesses and other organizations who helped to underwrite the cost of Camp Wild 2015. We appreciate your support and your commitment to reaching these precious kids for Christ and giving them a summer experience they will always remember.

For more information about Camp Wild go to http://www.campwildusa.com. To learn more about our youth ministry, Wildside Youth, go to http://www.wildsideyouth.com.

Congrats Graduates!

Earlier this summer we were able to celebrate with our residents as three of them graduated from our Foundations Life Recovery program.

Our Foundations Life Recovery program is a free 13-month addiction and life rehabilitation program that helps men conquer the sins that destroy their bodies, relationships and lives. During the 13-months in the program, the men attend classes, Bible studies, and participate in work programs. These classes and programs help to educate the men about their true identity and purpose that God has for them in this life.

Some of the men who join the program have been raised in the church or Christian homes while others are brand new to the life-changing message of Christ. All of the men are dealing with addictions of some sort whether they are alcohol, drugs and pornography. The majority of the guys who come seeking help are trying desperately to stop the destruction of themselves, having already lost jobs, houses, and most importantly, relationships with family & friends.

While in our program, the guys live in our dorm and are fed, clothed and counseled for free, thanks to the generous support of our neighbors, friends, churches and other organizations in the community who fund The Hope Center. Many of the men have nothing left when they walk in the door. But they leave having gained so much for so little!

We are so thankful for the staff, volunteers and churches who help to bring the message of God’s love into the hearts of these men who Satan has enjoyed destroying. For the staff at The Hope Center, to be able to watch our residents graduate is a deeply emotional and incredibly exciting moment. Knowing how dark their lives once were and to see them glowing with the happiness of Christ, it’s a feeling that words can barely describe. Each one of these men was once a forgotten soul that Satan had thought he devoured. But God saw them for their potential in all of their sin and He had something great planned for them.

The men in our Foundations Life Recovery program have a lot of obstacles to conquer. From breaking the addictions, to learning who they can trust, to rebuilding their self value, to dealing with personal demons, there are many roadblocks in the path to recovery but these men who graduated fought the good fight and gave the other guys in the program the courage to continue their own fight to sobriety and salvation.

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So join us in congratulating the three men who got the victory this summer. Frank Shortt, Troy Robinson and Bill Rice all completed the Foundations Life Recovery program and were honored at a moving ceremony for them. Staff, family, friends and volunteers were invited to join in the celebratory ceremony where guest speaker, Matt Sargent, spoke. Following the ceremony, graduates, residents, staff and guests all gathered together for a time of fellowship in our dining room.

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We’ve asked each of the three men to give us a brief testimony of their journey towards recovery. Here is what they said:

Frank Shortt

Frank Shortt 2015I came to The Hope Center in September of 2013 out of desperation and loss of hope. Since coming here, God has done something in my life that I, and my loved ones, would never had thought possible.

God has, and is, changing this heart that was hardened and broken. Among many other things, He has given hope where there was no hope.

For now, my future plans consist of building my relationship with God, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, along with my two biological sons.

Troy Robinson

Troy RobinsonWhen I came to The Hope Center in January of 2013 I was lost, scrambling to gain meaningful sobriety. Not just drinking and drugging, which I had succumbed to, but being able to live purposefully.

While in the program, God taught me that Jesus is the only way. He is the truth. He is the life. The hopeless can find hope in the Almighty. There is victory in Jesus.

My future plans are to finish well, rejoicing in the Lord always. “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

Bill Rice

William Rice 2015I am 55 years old and I have struggled with alcoholism both as an unbeliever and a believer. Before coming to The Hope Center I attended Bible College but I succumbed to my addiction and fell away from the Lord. So in 2007 I enrolled in the Foundations Life Recovery program and progressed well until I blew it and was released from the program. I attribute my failure to spiritual pride because I had a knowledge of the Word that other members of the program did not.

In 2014 I knew I had to get help and asked to return to the program at The Hope Center. I finished the program and remained sober the whole time. God has dealt a lot with me in the spiritual pride area but He is still working on me.

It is my desire someday to be in ministry, but I find as a graduate that I struggle with handling freedom. I would appreciate your prayers that I would give God total control of every area of my life.

 

Please continue to pray for these men as they venture out on their own, back into the world where Satan has plenty of temptations waiting for them. Pray that they continue to fight the fight and stay strong in the Lord.

And thank you, to each of you who has invested in the lives of these men and everyone else who has come to The Hope Center seeking help in some form. From prayers, to volunteering, to hosting a chapel service, to donating food, shopping in our Thrift Stores and financially supporting us so we can continue to provide this ministry for free, God has used you to help change a life. You may not realize it or even think about it but these three men, and the countless other individuals and families helped at The Hope Center, are because of faithful friends like you who God has called to help change this city and win it for Christ.

Thank you for partnering with us as we celebrate 60 years and thousands upon thousands of lives changed in Hagerstown!

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