The Address of Hope

by Ron Shank

Board of Directors 2017 (2)Joe Bailey in his book “A View From a Hearse” tells of the day his boy died of cancer. He had returned to the clinic to thank them for their kindness and care of his son. As he spoke to the receptionist, she motioned toward a woman whose son was playing quietly with toys in the waiting area. “He has the same cancer your son had” she said. “Why don’t you go over there and see if you can talk with her.”

Bailey went reluctantly over to sit next to the mother and they whispered just out of hearing of the boy. “It must be hard bringing him for the treatments,” he said, more a statement than a question. “Hard,” she turned with anguish in her eyes. “I die every time I have to bring him in. What makes it worse is that I know it’s not going to stop the cancer and he’s going to die.”

Uncomfortable, Bailey ventured: “Still it is some comfort to know that when that happens there is no more pain and suffering, and they go to a better place.”

With hardness in her voice the lady responded “No”. “When he dies I’m just going to bury him and the cemetery and never see him again.”

Bailey wanted to leave. It was uncomfortable to speak with this woman who obviously had no hope in any way. Then he spoke quietly, “I buried my son just yesterday, and I’ve only come today to thank the doctors and nurses for their kindness. I know what you’re feeling but I also know there is hope; a promise of a better life for my son now.” “How can you believe such a thing?,” she challenged. And then Joe Bailey told her about Jesus and the essence of real HOPE.

The hymn writer tells us:

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.                                    I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.                                   His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood.                            When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.                                 On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”

Job 3:15a says, “Though He slays me, yet will I hope in Him.” Now Job was a man who know what it was like to have his whole life fall apart – to lose everything and yet he still had hope. Millions of people are living without hope; I see this firsthand everyday.

And yet I would tell you this truth: THERE IS HOPE!

And this hope is found in God alone and in a relationship with Him.

When I became a Christian I began to memorize scriptures I was taught to memorize the content of the verse and its address – the place it was found. Today, I believe the address of hope is found in John 3:16.

John 3:!6 has been called the greatest verse in the entire Bible – the Gospel in a nutshell. It is one of the first verses learned by children in Sunday School or Vacation Bible School. This verse is often quoted in sermons and it is even hung over guard rails in many football stadiums. It is so familiar to so many that I fear we often quote it or read it without deeply thinking about its meaning and the promise it holds.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son (one and only son) that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

It has been summarized in the following way:

  • For God – the greatest One
  • So loved – the greatest degree
  • The world – the greatest amount of people
  • That He gave – the greatest generosity
  • His only begotten Son – the greatest uniqueness
  • That whosoever – the greatest invitation
  • Believeth in Him – the greatest simplicity
  • Should not – the greatest certainty
  • Perish – the greatest possible loss
  • But – the greatest difference
  • Have – the greatest possession
  • Eternal – the greatest length
  • Life – the greatest gift

I would say to you if you know nothing of the Bible start with this verse. If you know everything of the Bible, return to this verse often. This is the Hope Diamond of scripture! If there was ever a verse that could change the world – this would be the one.

I would like to break this verse down and examine the beautiful intricacies found within this verse and also discover the hope that this verse holds for all of mankind. From this one verse we can find at least four truths about the love of God which produces such hope.

WE HAVE HOPE BECAUSE THE LOVE OF GOD IS UNCONDITIONAL

“For God so loved the world.”

  • Because these words are true, it changes everything, doesn’t it? The Greek word for world, kosmos, is defined as all mankind; the total human race. This is the world that God loved. It doesn’t say that God loved all the good guys. Or that God loved all the Jews. Or that God loved all the saints. It says, “For God so loved the WORLD”
  • God’s love clearly isn’t based on our spiritual condition or our goodness. It isn’t based on our behavior or attitude towards him. Rather we see here that God’s love for humankind is universal and unconditional. He loves everyone one. And this is one of the things that sets Him apart from every other god held up by every other world religion.
  • There is no love that can exceed the depth, breadth, length, and height of God’s magnificent love for humankind. Whenever you begin to wonder if His love is sufficient for your problems, know that His love far exceeds any dimensions of the human mind.
  • The word for love used in this verse is a form of “agape” – an unconditional love – a love that is not given because of any excellence or worthiness in its object but a love that is an exercise of divine and deliberate choice.
  • C.S. Lewis has stated that “Christianity uniquely claims that God’s love comes free of charge, no strings attached. No other religion makes that claim.”
  • So we have hope that God’s love for us is unconditional. It is as Philip Yancey once wrote: “There is nothing we can do to make God love us more. There is nothing we can do to make God love us less.”

For God so love the world.

WE CAN HAVE HOPE BECAUSE THE LOVE OF GOD IS SACRIFICIAL AND VALUABLE

“that He gave His one and only Son…”

  • According to a footnote in the English Standard Version of the Bible an alternate translation to the first part of John 3:16 is as follows: “So this is how God so loved the world…” How did God love us? By giving, by serving, by sacrificing.
  • So here we learn something important about the nature of true love – God’s love
  • Some people think they love others because of what those people do for them or how they make them feel. But God shows us true love has nothing to do with what you can do for me, but everything to do with what I can do for you. Love is a deliberate choice!
  • Love – “agape” love is a verb. It has to be tangibly demonstrated. It has to be proven – lived out. The Bible says in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrated (proves) His own love for us in that while we were still in our sin Christ died for us.”
  • The power and passion of God’s love comes across through the length to which God was willing to go for the sake of the world – to give “His one and only Son.” This was not giving out of abundance for Jesus was Gods one and only Son. This is what makes the sacrifice so valuable.
  • That sounds strange to many people. Some say, “I don’t need anything from God. I’ve led a good life. I don’t need God to give His Son for me.” But the Bible tells us, “Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s standard.” (Romans 2:23). Our sin separates us from God. So if any of us are going to have a real relationship with our Creator, then it’s up to Him to reconcile us. That’s where Jesus’ death comes in. Jesus built the bridge between us and God with an old rugged cross. Jesus gave Himself. God gave Jesus, His Son, to bring salvation to the world through His Son’s death.
  • We have hope because God’s love was sacrificial and valuable.

WE HAVE HOPE BECAUSE GOD’S LOVE IS ACCESSIBLE

“that whoever believes in Him…”

  • The really good news about God’s love is that it is not limited to a select few. It is not available only to those who were born with the right color of skin or on the correct continent. Nor is it difficult to obtain. Jesus calls us to do one thing: believe!
  • Listen to what the Bible says: “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to be called children of God (John 1:12 NIV)
  • “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe in the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on Him.” (John 3:35 NKJV)
  • “I tell you the truth, whoever believes has eternal life.” (John 6:47 NCV)
  • “Then he brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” (Acts 16:31 NLT)
  • “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8 ESV)
  • What Jesus wants us to see is that it’s not because of what I’ve done, but because of who He is. It’s not because of who I am, but because of what He’s already done! And all He asks is for us to put our trust in Him, and Him alone!

WE HAVE HOPE BECAUSE GOD’S LOVE IS BENEFICIAL

“…should not perish but have everlasting life.”

  • God’s only desire in sending His Son was to show you and I His love and to draw us into a love relationship with Himself.
  • Jesus didn’t come into the world in order to rebuke you – He came to rescue you.
  • He didn’t come to criticize you – He came to cleanse you.
  • He didn’t come to punish you – He came to pardon you.
  • He didn’t come to destroy you – He came to deliver you.

The benefit of God’s love which produces hope:

  • Deliverance from coming judgement and punishment. “Perish” depicts death, destruction, total loss and excluded forever from God – giving the thought of total hopelessness.
  • Receiving of everlasting life – eternal life. Everlasting life is not just eternal existence but it is also having Jesus – Christ living in me – speaking of the quality of life now. A growing relationship – a life that is better than any other life that there is. An abundant life Jesus said.

There is HOPE!

John 3:16 is the address of hope. Aren’t you glad that John 3:16 is true?

God did love the world and that means that God loves you.

  • If you were the only person on earth, God would have still sent Jesus to die just for you. That’s how much He loves you.

God did give His Son to die for your sins.

  • The blood He shed on the cross is the only thing that can save you from your sins. Jesus was your substitute who paid the debt and penalty for sin that you deserved to pay.

And God’s salvation is for whosoever-

  • That means anybody. That means young and old; smart and average; educated and not; lower class to upper class; all have sinned and are in need of a savior.

And God’s offer of salvation is by grace through faith alone – not your church, or your religion, or your works, or how much penance you’ve done, or if you’ve been baptized or confirmed.

No, it’s like this: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

That is the HOPE for you, me and all of humankind.

 

Ron Shank is the Director of Pastoral Care Services at Brook Lane in Hagerstown. He is a graduate of Liberty University. He and his wife, Nancy, reside in Washington County and have two adult children. He is currently serving as the Secretary of the Board of Directors at The Hope Center.

 

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WashCo Gives: 1st Reason to Give

With Washington County Gives right around the corner, we’re taking this opportunity to give you 5 reasons why we’re asking for your online donation that day. Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting the other reasons but our ministry goes so far beyond these 5 reasons. To learn more about all of our ministries and programs in the community go to http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com.

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Please join the thousands of other people in our area who will give online on May 2nd from midnight to midnight to support the many nonprofits in Washington County. To donate on May 2nd go to https://washingtoncountygives.org/npo/the-hope-center-at-hagerstown-rescue-mission

The Good Shepherd Ministries: Joining the Fight Against Hunger

We’d like to say a big “thank you” to the awesome people from The Good Shepherd Ministries in Hagerstown!

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Recently, The Good Shepherd Ministries hosted a church-wide food drive to benefit The Hope Center.

Andrea Reaves, wife of Assistant Pastor Brad, and grand-daughter of The Hope Center founders Jim & Ellen Resh, organized the food drive for the church.

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The church provided approximately 460 pounds of non-perishable food for our food ministry! We are so thankful for their generous donation to help feed the needy in Hagerstown.

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Our food program is one of the most vital parts of our entire ministry for our guests. From food bags to multiple free meals throughout the day, our kitchen and pantry is always busy, and sometimes short on necessary items.

Food drives, like the one hosted by The Good Shepherd Ministries, are an important resource for our ministry. When you feed hundreds of people a week while also providing families with bags of groceries to supplement their own pantries, you can go through a lot of food. Food drives ensure that our pantry is always stocked and ready to meet the needs of our community.

Since everything we do at The Hope Center is free, and free from any tax money, we rely heavily on the generous support from churches, individuals, civic clubs, Scout programs and more to help keep our facility open, operational and free for anyone who is in need.

Thank you again to The Good Shepherd Ministries for partnering with us to help combat hunger in Hagerstown. If you’re currently looking for a church to attend, visit The Good Shepherd Ministries. For more info about this great body of Believers, go to http://www.mytgsm.com.

If you would like to host a food drive to benefit The Hope Center but just aren’t quite sure how to do so, contact us and we’ll gladly help you out. Call 301.739.1165 or email hagerstownrescue@verizon.net.

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And don’t forget that in April our 2nd Annual Rock the Run: A Race for Hope is taking place at Fairgrounds Park. On Saturday April 23rd, join fellow runners, joggers & walkers as we hit the streets to raise support and awareness for homelessness and hunger in Hagerstown. It’s a simple and fun way to make a difference in the community and help neighbors in need. Go to http://www.rocktherunhagerstown.com to learn more.

Our Pantry Needs You!

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” Matthew 25:35

Since our beginning in 1955, one of our missions was to make sure that the hungry in Hagerstown had a welcomed place to eat. As our society has changed and economic troubles have hurt families, our mission to feed the less fortunate has changed from not just serving a hot plate of food but also making sure that families had food in their own cupboards to help them get through the month.

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Our pantry is looking a little too similar to Old Mother Hubbard’s these days. To be honest, it’s becoming a little difficult to keep our food bags filled with a nice variety of food.

Please consider helping us keep our pantry full for all of our daily guests, our residents and all our neighbors who need food bags for their homes.

The next time you’re at the grocery store, why not pick up a few of these items and drop them off? Or your church, Sunday School class, workplace, school, civic club, Boy/Girl scout troop or neighborhood could host a food drive to collect some of these much needed items.

Please help us fight hunger and hopelessness in Hagerstown!

PANTRY ITEMS NEEDED:
  • Macaroni & cheese boxed dinners
  • Hamburger Helper or similar boxed dinners
  • Spaghettios, Ravioli, or similar heat & serve pasta
  • Creamy peanut butter (15-16 oz. jars please)
  • Cans of soup (all varieties and sizes – except no cream soup please)
  • Ramen Noodles
  • Tuna (5 oz. cans please)
  • Any canned meat (Spam, chicken, potted meat, etc.)
  • Rice A Roni (all varieties)
  • Pork ‘n Beans
  • Spaghetti (1 lb. pkg)
  • Spaghetti sauce (cans or jars 24-26 oz.)

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Thank you for helping us feed our city! We appreciate your commitment to following God’s call to help take care of the poor and less fortunate in our community. For more information about our food program or to talk to someone about food drives or other ways you can help, please call 301.739.1165 or email hagerstownrescue@verizon.net.

Where is Your Hope?

One of my favorite hymns, On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand, states in the first verse, “My HOPE is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” It states in the third verse, “When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my HOPE and stay.”

The ministry of the HOPE Center at Hagerstown Rescue Mission is reaching out to the many who have nowhere else to turn. They are not aware of the blessed HOPE that is Jesus Christ until they find their way to the Rescue Mission. Lives have been changed through the sharing of the HOPE of the Gospel. (Romans 8:24 & 25)

Hebrews 11:1 states: Now faith is the substance of things HOPED for, the evidence of things to come. As this message of HOPE is given to so many who are down and out and have no place else to turn, the love of God through His Son Jesus gives a whole new perspective. Not only are our sins forgiven, but Titus 2:13 tells us, Looking for that blessed HOPE and glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. We now know where we will spend eternity, and His return could happen today.

But are believers sharing this HOPE, the good news of our salvation? 1 Peter 3:15 says, But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the HOPE that is in you with meekness and fear.

I praise God for the ministry of the many Rescue Missions founded by my dear Uncle Jim Resh and the HOPE they have given to thousands over the years. As we are living in the end times when the rapture could happen at any moment, believers need to be ready to share the Gospel at every opportunity. We also need to give our support to ministries like The HOPE Center at Hagerstown Rescue Mission.

Lynette Brewer

Written by Lynette Brewer

Lynette Brewer lives in Westminster, Maryland, has been President of the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Westminster Rescue Mission and has recently become a member of their Board of Directors.

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

Congratulations Graduates!

On Wednesday, March 7th, the Hope Center held a spring graduation for two residents graduating from our Foundations program.

In order to graduate, the residents must accomplish various levels of achievement during their 13 months in the program.

We are so proud of our two graduates, Charles Mercier and Jose Obregon.

Charles and Jose may have lived two separate lives but both of them were on the same path. And fortunately for them, that path eventually led them to the Hope Center.

Charles, from Severna Park, had all but given up on himself…and life. He was living “a miserable life”. He had lost his house, his youngest son and the overall desire to care about his own well-being.

Charles really wasn’t too excited about coming to the Hope Center. Like most people, he wanted to stay closer to his family & friends. But God knew that Charles desperately needed a change. God knew the potential that Charles had and He wanted Charles to change.

Even after Charles enrolled in the program, he still had the desire to leave but he said that there was a small voice that kept telling him to “just sit, sit still for a while”.

Jose, originally from Puerto Rico, was living a life totally out of control. By age of 17 Jose had experience a life that most people couldn’t imagine.

Jose had dropped out of school, began drinking, and became totally rebellious. Finally feeling that life was pointless, Jose prayed to God for help.

Just a few weeks after, a friend invited Jose to church. It was there that he heard the Gospel and accepted Christ into his life.

But Jose’s life wasn’t improving and he fell into sin. He then made a move to the Bethesda Mission in Harrisburg, PA. He went through the program and graduated but still felt that he needed a new direction. After having trouble finding a job, the assistant director of the men’s program at Bethesda recommended that Jose try the program at the Hope Center.

Once Jose arrived and began the program, he finally felt at peace and had total relief knowing that this is where God wanted him.

We’d like to say congratulations to both of these men for persevering and achieving success in our program. Their accomplishment was celebrated at our graduation. Hope Center staff and residents, along with some members of the Board of Directors, family and local pastors and friends attend. Our graduation service is always open to anyone who would like to attend. The men are given the chance to share their testimony and give encouragement to the other residents still working through the program.

Following the ceremony, everyone is invited into the Hope Center dining area for a reception. This gives the graduates a chance to celebrate with everyone.

Please pray for Charles and Jose as they begin the process of readjusting into society, as new men. And remember to pray for the many men who come to the Hope Center seeking real change. These men have made the first, sometimes hardest, step by acknowledging that they desperately need help. Pray for their strength and focus to battle their addictions and give Christ the victory.

We’ve always said that the Hope Center isn’t here to put a new suit on the man but rather to put a new man in the suit. Thanks to your support, whether it be financial, prayer or in-kind gifts, we are able to help change lives, rebuild families and restore hope!

“For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.  Therefore whether we live or die we are the Lord’s.”  Romans 14:8