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!

 

Advertisements

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.

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

Maranatha Choir Celebrates the Christmas Season

On December 19th, the joint Christmas choir from Maranatha Brethren Church and Valley Grace Brethren hosted their Christmas Cantata, A Christmas Prayer, for our residents and community guests.

Maranatha Christmas (3)

The show was full of Christmas spirit as the choir celebrated the birth of Jesus with beautiful songs and a story about restoring family bonds through the power of prayer.

In addition to a narrator, the show featured several solos as well as a quartet.

Maranatha Christmas (2)

Maranatha Christmas (7) Maranatha Christmas (8) Maranatha Christmas (9) Maranatha Christmas (5)

Following the concert, the choir became dinner servers for all the guests in attendance. A full dinner along with an assortment of Christmas cookies was provided.

Maranatha Christmas (6) Maranatha Christmas (10) Maranatha Christmas (13) Maranatha Christmas (16) Maranatha Christmas (4)

It was a beautiful night of Christmas celebration for all of our guests. We’re so thankful that the Christmas choir from Maranatha Brethren and Valley Grace Brethren Churches perform their Christmas cantata every year for our guests. It’s a beautiful way to celebrate the season and remind each of us of why we really celebrate Christmas.

Maranatha Christmas (17)

To learn more about Maranatha Brethren Church go to http://www.maranathagbc.net or call 301.733.1717. Maranatha Brethren is located at 19835 Scott Hill Drive in Hagerstown.

For more info about Valley Grace Brethren visit valleygrace.net or call 301.582.0155. Valley Grace Brethren is located at 17310 Gay Street in Hagerstown.

Happy Independence Day, America!

There’s just something about Independence Day that just makes you feel down right good.

USA 2

Whether it’s the cookouts with the family, basking in the warm summer sun, jumping into a refreshing pool, or gazing into a sky glittered with dazzling fireworks, the Fourth of July is the crown jewel of the summer break.

statue of liberty

And while it’s a great day to celebrate all that is summer, Independence Day is one to be remembered as a the day that God sparked a fire inside the hearts of brave men & women to stand up and chart their own destiny.

The Fourth of July is a celebration of rebellion against tyranny, oppression and a victory of the rights of man. Our founding fathers put their lives on the line so that their children and future generations of Americans would be able to live free and successfully without an oppressive government controlling every detail of their lives.

Today we celebrate all that it means to be free, to be American. We have been given the opportunity, within reason, to choose our own path and be whomever we want to be.

But on this day of celebration against tyranny, we can’t forget that the real fight is not yet over. This is not the fight against man, it’s the fight against spiritual tyranny.

So many of our fellow Americans are not free because of various opportunities or choices made. They are bound by seriously destructive sins. They are being controlled by a tyrant of epic proportions whose whole goal is their destruction.

And that’s why we’re here. The Hope Center values freedom. We want people to be free spiritually to be all that God intended them to be. Whether their choices left them addicted, homeless, broke, hungry, angry, alone, scared, desperate or confused, we’re here to tell them about true freedom, freedom in Christ.

We want them to know that God has written, for them, a Declaration of Independence and signed it in the blood of Christ. They’re already free from sin. God already fought the enemy and won the victory. All they need to do is choose.

At The Hope Center we help them understand that they are not alone. We want them to know that mistakes, bad choices, unfortunate circumstances don’t dictate their spiritual freedom for eternity. We don’t force anyone to choose, but we don’t hide the truth from them. Just like our Founding Fathers wanted, they are free to make their own decisions, and we are here to help them choose wisely.

As you join with your family & friends to celebrate America’s independence, remember to pray for those who are still battling for their own independence from sin. Pray that Satan will lose his grip on their hearts and minds. Pray that our staff & volunteers will show them the love, compassion and understanding that is needed to win this fight.

Thank you for helping us help others. Through your prayers, donations, financial support, and volunteer hours you have helped us continue to fight the good fight and encourage, help and heal those who are hopeless and lost. We appreciate and value your contributions to The Hope Center and all the various ways that your generous heart has helped us change lives for Christ!

July-4th

Enjoy your holiday with those who are important to you! Thank God for your freedom! And pray for those still searching for their own day of independence!

Happy Birthday!

July can be a busy month. With all the summer activities for the residents mixed with all the preparation and excitement of Camp Wild, there are many things that take place in July.

Birthdays take place in July! And one of our new residents celebrated his birthday with us on the first Friday of the month.

Walter, whose birthday is July 3, celebrated his big day with his Hope Center family on July 6.

Walter joined the program in April and has been working hard to get his life back on track. Walter is originally from Annapolis and is ready to hand his life over to God to help him be the man that God intended him to be.

Join us in saying “Happy Birthday” to Walter! We also don’t want to forget to thank Stormy for baking another delicious birthday cake for our residents!