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!

 

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Wildside’s Birthday Bash Kicks Off the Party Season!

Imagine one giant party to celebrate everyone’s birthday. Sounds kinda wild, doesn’t it? Well Wildside Youth Ministries likes to do things a little different so they kicked off their school year party season with a huge birthday party celebration!

All the kids who attended the Birthday Bash on September 25th were able to celebrate their birthday. Each month was given a celebration and no one was left out of the fun! 52 kids ages 5-12 attended the first Wildside party of the season where they played birthday themed carnival games, painted faces, made crafts and enjoyed some great food.

But the most important part of the evening was learning about having the most important birthday: a spiritual birthday. The kids in attendance learned all about the importance of being born again and following Jesus.

Wildside is the youth ministry at The Hope Center. In addition to monthly large event parties during the school year, Wildside hosts Sunday Night Wild on select Sunday evenings during the school year as well as The Crew which is the student leadership development program for older kids in the program. And each summer Wildside hosts Camp Wild, a free day camp for kids in July & August. All Wildside activities are free for kids ages 5-12. Learn more about Wildside and upcoming events by visiting http://www.wildsideyouth.com.

Your financial donations to The Hope Center help fund these important activities for kids in Hagerstown. We are able to keep Wildside and our other programs and services for free for our guests because of generous and faithful supporters in our community. Thank you for your support of The Hope Center as we continue to reach everyone in our community – even kids – for Christ!

Want to learn more about donating or volunteering at The Hope Center? Go to http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com to get all the info you need on how to become a partner with us.

Wildside’s Birthday Bash!

Who doesn’t like a great birthday party?? Wildside is kicking off their party season with a mega birthday party!!

20183 Birthday Invite BKids are invited to celebrate with Wildside on Tuesday, September 25th from 5-7pm at the Trinity Center at The Hope Center.

There will be plenty of fun for all party guests including carnival games, prizes, dodge ball, basketball, and food!

And did we mention this event is free??!!!! That’s right – it’s free for any kid ages 5-12. Please just call or email to register. Complimentary transportation is provided but limited so don’t delay registering especially if transportation is necessary.

Call 301.739.1165 or email info@wildsideyouth.com to register. To learn more about Wildside Youth and all activities throughout the year visit http://www.wildsideyouth.com.

Youth for Christ Club Serves Christmas Cheer!

On Saturday, December 9th some students from the Youth for Christ Club at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts provided a dinner and service for our evening guests!

The students brought chicken, provided by Brownsville Church of the Brethren and Bonnie’s at the Red Byrd. In addition to the chicken, the students had mac & cheese and delicious desserts for all of our community guests. The incredible folks at Brownsville Church of the Brethren also made goodie bags for the students to hand out to all the evening guests.

During the evening service the students led music for our guests and Bethany Norris gave a message. Following the service the students served the food they prepared and spent the evening interacting with the dinner guests.

The student volunteers had such a good time serving that several of them even commented that they couldn’t think of a better way to spend their Saturday evening. They’re hoping, and we are too, that they will be able to return in February to serve again.

If you remember, the Youth for Christ Club at BISFA hosted a benefit concert for The Hope Center back in the fall. They raised financial support for our ministry and then they followed that up with an evening of service to others. What an incredible group of young people who are showing God’s love in so many ways and using their talents and gifts to help better our community! We are just so thankful for these young people and all they’re doing to make a positive difference in our community!

Thank you Youth for Christ Club at BISFA, Brownsville Church of the Brethren, and everyone else who helped to make this a great evening for our guests!

To learn more about Brownsville Church of the Brethren visit http://www.brownsvillecob.org.

“Bring Hope” by John Miller

JohnMiller (2)My wife and I organize and facilitate missions teams around the world. Each trip is designed to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ in practical deeds and the spoken word. We build bridges to people groups in many countries in order to share the love of God. While preparing for a mission trip to a certain location here in the United States we called our contact in that particular area and asked this question: “Besides bringing people and resources to complete a week of ministry in your area, what is the most important thing we can bring with us?” She answered: “Bring hope”.

Many people live without hope. Their lives have taken them down a path they didn’t plan on or didn’t ask for. Some people suffer because of wrong decisions that accumulate over time, destroying marriages, jobs, health, and affecting children.  But some people suffer not as a result of poor decisions but simply where they “showed up” in the world. Perhaps they were born into a very poor family living in a depressed area of the world that offers little hope for advancement in education or trade skills. Their “lot in life” was determined before they arrived on the scene and every day is survival for them.

Hope is something people can’t live without, at least not truly “live” without. Hope defined means “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” It’s the optimistic desire for circumstances to become better and life to be easier. Life can be very draining on the single parent trying to do “double duty” or the well intentioned father who simply cannot find a job to help “make ends meet”. It seems that no matter how hard some people try, difficulties continue to assail them year after year. The effects of this constant barrage of trials in life slowly whittle away at a person’s hope, creating pessimism and despair. Whether they go through trials due to their own poor choices or they’re simply “in the way” of poor choices of another person, hope can go down the drain like dirty dishwater. The eyes reveal the emptiness and the face lacks a smile.

People need hope. When they’ve lost theirs, perhaps they can share some of yours. When our contact said: “Bring hope”, we knew exactly where the greatest hope is to be found and how to bring it. In Romans 15:13 we read, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope,  through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

As long as there is a God, there is hope! God is eternal and will always be God, therefore anyone can have hope! God is described in the verse as “the God of hope”. The word hope used in this verse is a Greek word that means “to anticipate, to expect, to have confidence”. God’s promises offer us a way to climb out of devastating circumstances and even in the midst of them we can still maintain a sense of anticipation that things will eventually get better and our confidence will be restored!

But we have to do something, according to this verse. Did you see it? “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope,  through the power of the Holy Ghost.” We must believe. It can be difficult to believe when that addiction has kept one in chains for so long. It’s not easy to believe when it seems it’s always “one thing after another”. A common thing we hear today is: “It is what it is”. Often, this phrase is verbal indication that a person has pretty much given up hope and is in “autopilot” mode. Faith must be restored by a deliberate choice to believe in the God of hope and His ability to restore, deliver, and make new.

Have you lost hope in a situation or a person? Do you know someone who needs to have their hope restored? Let’s be the bearers of good news that the God of hope is alive and well today! He can do anything! He specializes in the impossible and wants you to keep hope alive for your own circumstance and help others recover their hope too!

 

The Millers are familiar faces around The Hope Center. As the former pastor of Faith Christian Fellowship, John and 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 johnandmelissamiller.com or visit churchesinmissions.org. 

Happy Fathers Day!

Celebrating our parents or being celebrated as a parent is a special thing. God gave us the miracle to bring life into the world and the huge responsibility of raising those lives.

Unfortunately sin has a way of damaging and destroying lives which often results in so many broken relationships. But throughout all of our failures and familial problems, God has the opportunity to change lives and bring people back together.

At The Hope Center, Father’s Day is a day of many feelings: sadness, fondness, thankfulness, regret, and hope. Many of the guys who are in our Foundations Life Recovery program and those who’ve been a part of it in the past have had to deal with broken relationships with their parents and even estrangement from their own children.

By the time most of the guys who come to The Hope Center to break their addictions and deadly habits they have already lost everything: their homes, their jobs, and unfortunately, their families. Some of the guys who come are fathers themselves and have lost all contact with their children. Other guys who come have been abandoned by their own fathers and left with a void in their lives. Others have fathers who care so deeply for their sons and hurt as they watch them destroy themselves.

But the purpose of Foundations, the 13-month life rehabilitation program at The Hope Center, is to help these men start a relationship with God and allow Him to create a new man out of the old.

The men who are a part of our program are not just working to break the addictions that have caused so many issues, they’re also striving towards the goal of reconciling with their families and being the father, husband and son God created them to be.

Fathers Day Pic (2)

From L-R: Sonny Shank (Executive Director), Wade, Dominic, Darrell, Justin, Howard and Louis

We talked to a few of our residents about their relationships with their fathers, and for those who are fathers themselves, about their relationships with their own children. Here’s what they had to say:

WADE

Wade joined Foundations in January of this year. He is the father of three daughters and grandfather to seven. For two years, Wade did not have any relationships with his daughters and he, himself, has no relationship with his father. At one point, Wade found himself in a depression that was so deep he became suicidal. One of his daughters, who lives in Maryland, bought him a one-way ticket to Hagerstown and he enrolled in Foundations at the beginning of the year.

Since coming to The Hope Center Wade said his depression is gone, his health is being restored and he has reconnected with his family and now has a good relationship with his daughters. At 54 years old, he feels healthier and more energetic and is able to focus his attention on his relationship with his daughters.

DOMINIC

Dominic is brand new to Foundations, having enrolled at the beginning of June. He is the father of a daughter in Carroll County and has one granddaughter. When talking about Father’s Day, Dominic recalls that he never really had a good relationship with his father who is now passed away.

Dominic came to The Hope Center because he knew he was making poor choices and wanted to get his life right with God. His hope this Father’s Day is to learn and grow so that he can be a better example to his daughter so that she will have a desire to honor him as her father.

DARRELL

Darrell joined Foundations in October of 2016. For Darrell, Father’s Day is a day of celebration and also mourning as he lost both his grandfather and father at an early age in life. His grandfather died when he was seven and then only three years later his father died when he was ten. For a young boy to lose two role models in his life wasn’t easy.

This Father’s Day it’s his desire that through all he’s learning and how he’s growing spiritually in the Foundations program that he will be the man God wants him to be to honor his late father and grandfather.

LOUIS

Louis is in the final stages of his time in our Foundations Life Recovery program. Having enrolled in May of 2016, Louis is a gold level resident and is quickly approaching completion and graduation from the program!

For Louis, Father’s Day as a kid wasn’t ideal because he had a broken relationship with his father because his mother would not allow his dad any visitation. In fact, he didn’t really know much about his dad until he was 12 or 13 years old. At the age of 16, his father was awarded custody of him because he was being physically abused by his mother.

Since then, he and his dad have built a good relationship and he’s learned a lot from his father. His dad is currently 72 years old and is recovering from a stroke but is very happy and thankful that Louis is enrolled in the Foundations program at The Hope Center.

JUSTIN

Justin enrolled in Foundations in mid-April. While his father is still a part of his life he says that he has a broken relationship with him. His father, who doesn’t know the Lord, is dealing with addictions too. Justin says, “I don’t blame my father for my addiction. My choices are my own.” And while Justin is working hard to conquer his addictions and clean up his life, he’s also hopeful that in the process he can rebuild his relationship with his dad.

Since being at The Hope Center, Justin believes that there is hope that God can bring reconciliation to his relationship with his dad because of his own relationship with God.

HOWARD

Howard is a 2013 graduate of Foundations and is now an employee at our Hagerstown Thrift Store.

Thinking back on his life, Howard recalls that his “second” father adopted him when he was 15 years old. But as he got older they went their separate ways for several years. It wasn’t until he enrolled in Foundations in 2012 that he reunited with his father.

While in the 13-month program, his father asked him to come live with him. But Howard, understanding the value of the program and having a deep desire to complete it, told him that he would stay and finish at The Hope Center instead.

Since graduating, Howard has a very close relationship with his dad. They work together in their church, and they are working together to help homeless people. Howard says, “I love my dad and I thank God that we have an excellent relationship.”

This Fathers Day we celebrate the men who were men by acknowledging their addictions and entered our program to start a life lasting change. Please join us in celebrating these guys as they fight the good fight to be the incredible men God already sees.

Continue to pray for the men who are currently enrolled, have graduated or moved on, and for those who will come in the future seeking victory and reconciliation. Your support in all ways has helped to bring these men to Christ, conquered their addictions and restored their families. Thank you for caring and sharing for each precious life who seeks help at The Hope Center

Oh, What a Year!

60th-HiResIt’s always amazing how quickly one year can go by. It seems like just yesterday we were finishing plans for our first 60th Anniversary event in the spring.

And now, here we are at the end of 2015 looking back at what a fantastic year of celebration it has been.

In 1955, God called Jim & Ellen Resh to take a leap of faith and move their young family from Cascade, Maryland to downtown Hagerstown to help reach people in need for Christ.

They packed up their family and belongings and started an adventure backed by faith and never looked back.

Now, 60 years later, thousands of lives have been changed thanks to the faith, dedication and hard work of those who have helped keep the vision of hope alive.

We are so thankful for being able to celebrate 60 years of hope in Hagerstown. We are able to do everything that we do without any financial help from the government. Because God has been so faithful by providing for us through the generosity of our community, we’ve been able to help reunite families, mend broken relationships, restore a life destroyed by substance abuse, provide housing for the homeless, give food to the hungry and reach the young generation with the hope of Jesus.

To everyone who has supported us, helped us, prayed with us and worked with us, we want to say a very sincere and genuine, “Thank You”. God has used you to reach people and change lives in a way that none of us will know until we get to Heaven.

These past 60 years are a testament to the people of this community who put others before themselves and share the gifts that God has provided with those in need.

We thank God for the opportunity to be the oldest, continually operational homeless facility in Hagerstown. We’re here to help the least, the last and the lost. We’ve been doing this for 60 years and we don’t plan on stopping any time soon!

Now as the clocks signify the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, we look forward to partnering with you in the future to continue the battle against homelessness, hunger and hopelessness.

Thank you for making 2015, and the past 60 years, so memorable!

Happy New Year! May God bless you and your family in great ways during 2016!

If you’re interested in stepping back in time once more or want to see some of the exciting things that happened during our 60th Anniversary Year of Celebration then go to http://www.hopecenter60.com. Our anniversary website has plenty of pictures, stories and information about The Hope Center and everything that we’ve done in the past 60 years.