“Those Frightened Eyes Still Haunt Me to This Day.”

By John Miller

JohnMiller (2)It happened 25 years ago. I was in my early 20’s. My wife sat on the kitchen floor looking up at me with tears because in anger I pushed her and she tripped over our young daughter. Those frightened eyes still haunt me to this day. I ran out of our small mobile home into the woods from sheer embarrassment at having abused my young wife. Now, she and our daughter were legitimately afraid of the one who was supposed to protect them from harm.

I found in the woods a huge log, sat down and wept. You see, I was full of rage and unreconciled pain from my childhood. My drug-addicted birth mother abandoned me when I was 9 months of age. She couldn’t handle being a mom and a drug addict so she made her choice and danced her “Woodstock Flower-girl” way into the sunset searching for her next “buzz”. Dad came home from work and found me in the crib with a wet diaper and an empty bottle. Dad was fighting his own demons of alcoholism and the next 14 years turbulently unfolded. We never did see “mom” again, to this day we don’t know where she ended up. Dad went through another bad marriage before he met his third wife and today I claim her as my “mother”.

But in my early 20’s, Dad was still trapped in the bottle and I was working through my own pain of feeling worthless, abandoned, and extremely inadequate to be a father and husband. I became a father at age 16. I did not grow up in church or in a Christian environment. When I met my girlfriend, now wife, we had no Biblical guidelines in our relationship. She stepped off the school bus in our Senior year of high school with tears and told me the news. Everyone pushed abortion but in our hearts we knew that was wrong and had our firstborn 9 months later, I had turned 17.

At age 19, after 2 years of a very troubled marriage, Melissa recovered her childhood Christian Faith and rededicated her life to Jesus Christ. I followed her to church one day and after listening to the Gospel for a few months and researching the evidence for the Bible, I asked Jesus to be my personal Savior and Lord! However, though I was truly saved, I had some inner wounds that needed healing.

That day in my early 20’s, as a young Christian sitting on that log in the woods near our home, I poured my heart out to the Lord. I said: “Lord, I know I’m saved, but I’m still struggling with how to control my tongue and my temper. I need your help Lord. I can’t do this alone. You have to help me. I want to be a better man.”

I had to walk back to that mobile home where a frightened mother and daughter waited for the angry monster to return. I walked in with swollen, moist eyes and announced my apology, stating that I am going to change. Well, those are nice words, but we’ll see. What about the next time I become angry? What then? What kind of hope can I give them in that moment to show that I am allowing the Lord to heal my pain and help me recover godly, gentle manhood to lead my family with love and in a safe environment?

I began to study verses of Scripture in the book of Proverbs about anger. I memorized verses like Proverbs 29:11, Proverbs 15:1, Proverbs 15:18, also Galatians 2:20, Philippians 1:21, Galatians 5:22, and Philippians 4:13. These verses became lodged in my heart and mind! God’s Word was bringing about transformation. I urge you to look at these verses that will help not just in areas of uncontrolled anger but any area of weakness and sin that trips you up!

Over a period of time and “proving”, the Holy Spirit had more of me. I didn’t get more of Him, He got more of me as I surrendered areas of my life over to Him and continue to do so every day of my life! You see, this old flesh is still in me! I need these truths every day if I want Jesus to be seen in me. He has brought healing, trust, and a feeling of safety to my marriage. We still have disagreements just like every marriage but now it’s “safe” to argue. And since those early days, my dad and stepmom have given their hearts to Jesus! I baptized them myself! God broke the addictions in their lives and has given them a beautiful marriage.

I don’t know where this blog finds you today but I want you to know there is hope. Hope is found in a personal relationship with the Lord and His Word. God’s Holy Spirit can heal and fill you to overflowing. You cannot do this alone. You need the Lord to give you the strength every day. Please, surrender to Him now and be diligent, intentional, and deliberate in knowing Him and His Word. Call the Hope Center and inquire about how you can learn more about this Hope. It’s the answer! HE is the Answer!

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.

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Goodbye, Sue! Enjoy Your Well-Deserved Retirement!

At the end of October we said farewell and see ya real soon to one of our staff members who was more like family than just a co-worker.

Sue Hosler retired this fall from The Hope Center. She started working with us in December of 2008. During her years as our Administrative Assistant, Sue talked with or came in contact with basically anyone and everyone who had anything to do with The Hope Center. She was the voice you heard when you called and the smile you saw when you dropped by.

We will definitely miss Sue for many reasons, but one major thing we could always count on Sue to do was to keep everything chugging away each day. Maintaining the office and all the various ministries can get pretty hectic and overwhelming, but Sue was able to always keep everything together and organized. During the busy holiday season Sue kept up with all the demands of the job including a phone that wouldn’t stop ringing and handling all the various donations of food and gifts from generous people during the season.

During Camp Wild Sue was always able to make sure parents’ needs were taken care of while various issues were sorted out. Every Monday of a new camp week was an adventure of sorts for Sue as she helped make sure all the concerns of parents were addressed and always kept up with questions about vans and pick up times.

For our Rock the Run 5K Sue made sure we had everything we needed and the event was efficient and fantastic. And the day of the event Sue was there helping to organize the food area for all of our participants and volunteers.

And those are just a few of the ways Sue really had a massive impact on the ministry at The Hope Center. But even beyond the paycheck Sue and her husband, Mark, pastor at Germantown Church of God, lived up to God’s calling by volunteering at various events at The Hope Center and hosting the men who are residents in our 13-month life recovery program, Foundations, each summer for a picnic just for them.

In addition to her job duties, Sue volunteered her time and services for our Party-in-the-Park events, Rock the Run 5K, Thanksgiving Day, Wildside Youth events, Christmas Day celebrations with our residents and community guests, and baking desserts for various activities and events at The Hope Center.

“I came to The Hope Center looking for a job – something to help pay the mortgage of a house we had left in another state and that we thought we had sold. Our tenant/buyers moved out leaving us with the house and the payments.

“What I found was a wonderful community of people who are sharing the Good News of the Gospel while trying to help some of the neediest people in our community. I considered it a joy to work with the Shanks, all my coworkers and faithful volunteers as we provided food, clothing, Godly counsel, shelter to men and activities to children. In everything that happens at The Hope Center the Gospel is presented – every day.

“I have been humbled many times those who I wished to bless by helping them turn around and blessed me.

“While I will no longer be answering the phone or greeting those who walk through the door every day, I will still be involved at The Hope Center. I will still volunteer at Wildside parties for the children. I will still show up at 6:30 AM on race day to volunteer. I will come with my church family to volunteer for evening chapel and the meal once a month. My husband and I will continue to support The Hope Center with our gifts and our prayers. Please consider joining us – pray, give, volunteer.”

Sue has been an incredible staff person, volunteer, and supporter of this ministry and we are so sad to say goodbye. She didn’t just come to do a job. She came to make a difference. And she did just that. Thank you, Sue, for your years of service at The Hope Center and for all the things you did and all the ways you helped reach thousands of people for Christ. We are so blessed to have been able to have you serve with us and we will certainly miss you each day!

 

Another Successful Thanksgiving Feast!

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is already a week ago! We hope each of you had as great a day as we did at The Hope Center celebrating our annual Great Hagerstown Thanksgiving Feast.

It was a bitter cold day in Hagerstown but inside the Trinity Center it was full of warmth, happiness, gratitude and love! We weren’t sure if the extremely cold temperatures would keep people away but, in fact, they may have brought even more people to our feast. The Trinity Center was packed and people kept coming even as we were ending the meal. We had so many guests joining us that we even started to run out of some of our food like the delicious sweet potatoes!

And speaking of sweet potatoes did you know that we use 18 #10 cans of sweet potatoes? Guess we’re gonna have to up that number next year. It takes a lot of food to feed everyone on Thanksgiving Day. We roasted 18 turkeys for about 300 pounds of the meat to serve. Along with the turkey and sweet potatoes we used 48 pounds of butter, 75 loaves of bread, 275 pounds of potatoes, 26 dozen eggs, and 24 pounds of brown sugar. That’s just a basic glimpse into our grocery list for the day!

But to have a feast the size that we did we cannot underestimate the importance of all the staff, volunteers, and donors who helped make it all possible. From days before Thanksgiving we had volunteers at The Hope Center helping with the turkeys, stuffing, delivering pies, and other activities. And our staff worked hard keeping all the day-to-day activities at The Hope Center running smoothly while also doing so much extra work to prepare for our celebration. And then Thanksgiving Day so many volunteers and staff showed up to make sure this year was the best yet. And they did a fantastic job!

We even had a rare opportunity to celebrate the birthday of Sharon Hughes on Thanksgiving. Sharon is the oldest child of Jim & Ellen Resh, the founders of The Hope Center. Sharon and her family are still actively involved in our ministry and you can often see her and her husband, Henry, volunteering at various activities. In fact, Sharon and Henry were at The Hope Center first thing in the morning to help in the kitchen. And it was Sharon’s sweet potatoes that quickly disappeared during the feast. But on Thanksgiving we were able to share in the birthday celebration of Sharon who was celebrating her 78th year on earth! We are so thankful to be able to celebrate Sharon and her family for all they do and have done throughout the years at The Hope Center. What an incredible testament to Jim & Ellen that their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are still involved in helping their neighbors in Hagerstown. Thank you, Sharon and all of the members of the Resh family who were on hand to help at Thanksgiving!

Again, we couldn’t have done this day without all of our fabulous volunteers who gave of their holiday with their families to be a part of our family for the day. Our Thanksgiving volunteers are always so friendly, happy, and hardworking and we appreciate each of them tremendously. While we did have first time volunteers, we were also excited to see all the returning volunteers who’ve made serving at Thanksgiving a holiday tradition for themselves! It’s always nice to see volunteers who’ve become more like family each year.

And lastly, none of this celebration would be possible without the generous support of our community. Through financial giving and food donations, each of you who gave this holiday and throughout the year are helping to feed thousands of hungry men, women, and children, provide essential necessities like medicine, baby products, groceries, blankets, clothing, and more, and giving housing to at-risk men in the area who are homeless or transient. Your support doesn’t just make Thanksgiving happen. It’s so much bigger than that one day. Your support makes sure that our facility is open every day of the year, during holidays and inclement weather, to help meet the most basic physical and emotional needs of people while also providing spiritual support to help people see the value in themselves exactly the way that God sees them. From providing a free summer camp to city kids, to food bags for families, to hot showers for men who have no where to go, your support makes each day Thanksgiving to thousands upon thousands of people who are often lost or forgotten in our society. And through your generous support we can do all we do without relying on any government money. No tax money is used at The Hope Center so our programs and services are 100% for the community paid for by loving people in the community. So from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for caring and sharing for the least, last and the lost in our community.

Thanksgiving is such a special time because we see the good in our world and we can thank God for His continued support each year. We hope each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and we hope this holiday season is a true blessing to you and your family. Thank you to everyone who helps make HOPE possible in the heart of Hagerstown! Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and may God give you a Happy New Year!

Another Happy Halloween at The Hope Center!

Thanksgiving is just two weeks away and Christmas will be here before you know it so before we get swept away in all the holiday buzz, we’re taking a quick look back at all the fun had at The Hope Center at Halloween!

Wildside Youth Ministries had a huge turnout of kids ready to celebrate their annual Fall-O-Ween party. On October 23rd, 74 kids dressed up in their favorite costumes and partied all evening long with Halloween themed carnival games, group activity games, ate some delicious food, and learned all about God’s light replacing sin while using a jack-o-lantern as an illustration! It was a great night to be a kid in Hagerstown.

Then on Halloween we hosted a surprise party for our Soup Line guests. We had a full house who came for some great food and thanks to Jeannie in our kitchen they got a wonderful meal. And to keep it festive we had Halloween themed treats along with prizes for random, lucky guests. But in the spirit of Halloween all of our guests took home a bag of Halloween candy! We love hosting special holiday parties at Soup Line with our community guests. After thanking us for the celebration, one guest said, “it was nice to feel like a kid again!”

Thanksgiving 1Now that Halloween is a thing of the past it’s time to look ahead at all the fun we’re having at The Hope Center in November. And of course the main thing we’re preparing for is our Great Hagerstown Thanksgiving Feast on Thanksgiving Day. Our buffet lunch begins at 11:30am in the Trinity Center with kids activities beginning at 11am. There’s plenty of parking located on our central lot off of Church Street between Walnut & Prospect Streets. And there’s always tons of food for our guests to enjoy so invite your whole family and all your neighbors!

And for the kids in your family don’t forget to bring  them to Wildside’s Thanksgiving Party on November 13th from 5-7pm at the Trinity IMG_9175Center. And they’re also welcome to come at 11am on Thanksgiving Day for kids activities prior to our Thanksgiving buffet. All Wildside activities are free. Register your kids by calling 301.739.1165 or emailing info@wildsideyouth.com. Learn more about Wildside activities by visiting http://www.wildsideyouth.com.

 

 

New to Hagerstown, BJ’s Restaurant is Making Their Mark in our Community

Earlier this year a new restaurant opened at The Valley Mall and has been the talk of the town – and you can tell by the constant wait times just to dine there.

BJ’s, located at 17318 Valley Mall Rd, has only been opened for a few months but is already making an impact in the community that they serve.

On October 29th, 11 employees from BJ’s in Hagerstown volunteered to serve lunchtime meals to our residents and Soup Line guests as a part of their TASC FORCE (Team Action to Support Communities).

But they didn’t just come to serve the food – they also brought the food. They served our residents and guests food from their own menu at the restaurant and prepared by their own chefs which included salad, pizza, chicken quinoa bowl, grilled chicken alfredo, and chocolate chip cookies! We’re hungry just thinking about all the great food they served!

We had a full house eating lunch that day and we can confidently say that all of our residents and guests enjoyed their lunch from BJ’s! We were so thankful for the crew from BJ’s, not just that they prepared and served lunch, but that they also mingled and interacted with our residents and guests and made their time with us feel like one big family meal.

So we want to say ‘thank you’ to BJ’s for all they did for our residents & guests and we will welcome them back any time they want to help out in the community again!

And if you haven’t been to BJ’s yet then you definitely need to go! If you’ve never heard of BJ’s before then check out http://www.bjsrestaurants.com to see their menu and get business hours.

Our guests and residents can openly attest to their delicious food but in addition to their incredible menu, including everyone’s favorite treat, Pizookie, they also have wonderful, kind employees and are an organization that is committed to giving back to their community and being involved by helping others.

Has BJ’s inspired you or your organization to get involved? If so call 301.739.1165 or email us at hagerstownrescue@verizon.net to talk to someone about how you can partner with us to help those in need. You can also learn more about our food services and other community programs by visiting http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com.

 

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!

 

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.