“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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Santa Surprises our Soup Line Guests!

Christmas came and went in a flurry of activity. There’s always so much going on during the holiday season but it’s always worth it all.

Even though Christmas is now a thing of the past, that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about all the fun we had – like when Santa made a surprise visit to our Soup Line!

On December 20th, our Soup Line guests were a part of our surprise Christmas celebration. In addition to delicious holiday themed food and treats, our Soup Line guests were randomly chosen for Christmas prizes. But the favorite part for everyone was when our friend, Santa, stopped by to help spread Christmas cheer.

We love celebrating with our community guests who come to our Soup Line each day. Occasionally we host parties celebrating various holidays and other themed events.

Our Soup Line is free for anyone and everyone and takes place every day of the year including holidays and during inclement weather. Our Soup Line is a very important part of our ministry as we are dedicated to combating hunger and making sure everyone in our community has food to eat.

In fact, we are in the beginning stages of a total expansion and refurbishment of our kitchen, dining room, and food pantry. We’ll be moving forward in 2019 to raise funds and begin the expansion project so that we can have enough room to meet the rising numbers of guests coming for meals.

You can be a part of making sure we end hunger in Hagerstown. By hosting food drives, donating meals, and sponsoring our food services campaign, you will help us continue to make sure no one, young or old, is ever food insecure.

Learn more about Soup Line and our food services programs by visiting http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com/food-programs

 

Greencastle Youth Group Share Christmas Love…And Cookies

We were so excited to have the youth group from St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in Greencastle stop by to serve lunch to our residents and community guests on December 9th!

This was the first time the youth from the church served at The Hope Center and we hope it’s not the last. They served a delicious meal of homemade soup and sandwiches and even made homemade Christmas cookies for everyone.

The youth group at St. Mark the Evangelist meets a few times a month where the students, grades 8th – 12th, learn about their faith or partake in service projects, like serving at The Hope Center, and fun activities geared for them.

We love seeing young people serving their community. The future success of helping people depends on young people getting involved and actively participating in being the hands and feet of Christ in our community. A big thank you to Vicky, youth ministry coordinator, the parents who helped, and most importantly, the students who gave part of their weekend serving others!

For more information on St. Mark the Evangelist please visit http://www.stmarkstlukeparish.org

The 12 Gifts of Christmas: Day 5

For the 5th Gift of Christmas our neighbors gave to us Jars of Peanut Butter!

12 Gifts 2018 5-001

So jars of peanut butter aren’t exactly as flashy as 5 gold rings but they are just as valuable to us and the people in our community who are food insecure and need some assistance.

Peanut Butter is one of the main staples we include in our food bags that are given to families and individuals in need. Besides being so delicious and versatile, peanut butter adds protein and other health benefits for people of all ages and can quickly satisfy hunger as well as taste buds.

16 oz jars of peanut butter are preferred for their size in our food bags. Any brand or type of peanut butter is welcome. This is an item we are always in desperate need of so please spread the word to your social media contacts.

To donate just stop by our Administrative Office M-F between 8am – 5pm or call us at 301.739.1165 to work something else out if these hours don’t work with your schedule. Thank you for caring and sharing this Christmas season!

The 12 Gifts of Christmas: Days 3 & 4

We’re inching closer and closer to Christmas which means we’re moving right through our Christmas Wish List.

So here are the next two items from our 12 Gifts of Christmas 2018:

12 Gifts 2018 3-001Day 3 is basic necessity found in basically every home in America. Pain relievers aren’t usually something people think of when donating to The Hope Center but it’s something that we definitely need. We’ll accept any brand or any size bottles of ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

And Day 4 brings along one of the most overlooked and yet most important items on our Wish List: toilet paper. As you can imagine we go through a lot of toilet paper between all of our residents, overnight guests, and day guests. Any brand or amount of toilet paper will be a huge blessing to our ministry.

12 Gifts 2018 4-001

If you’d like to donate any of these items, or any of the other items on our 12 Gifts of Christmas List, then just stop by our Administrative Office Monday – Friday from 8am – 5pm. If those times don’t work for you then please call us at 301.739.1165 or email us at hagerstownrescue@verizon.net to arrange a more suitable time.

And to learn more about all the various programs and services at The Hope Center please be sure to visit http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com.

Maranatha Brethren Makes the Holidays Happy With a Christmas Prayer

Last Friday our residents and guests were treated to a holiday performance and dinner hosted by the choir from Maranatha Brethren Church.

Every Christmas the choir from Maranatha performs their seasonal cantata in the Trinity Center for anyone and everyone in the community. This year the choir performed, ‘A Christmas Prayer’. Our guests enjoyed listening to Christmas music and were reminded about the true meaning and purpose of Christmas. The crowd enjoyed hearing a full choir plus various soloists perform as the Trinity Center was filled with Christmas spirit.

Following the performance the choir from Maranatha was joined by others from the church to serve a free dinner to everyone in attendance.

It was another bitterly cold night in Hagerstown but that didn’t stop people from coming out to hear the choir sing. We had over 100 people spend the evening celebrating the birth of Jesus with us!

We are so thankful for all the support and love that Maranatha has given our ministry and residents & guests over the years. Their Christmas cantata performance has become one of our new Christmas traditions and we are so thankful for the choir coming to perform and serve the community.

If you were unable to join us last Friday then why not stop by Maranatha Brethren Church this Sunday evening (12/16) for the full Christmas cantata, ‘A Christmas Prayer’, being performed by the choir in their church. For more information on the cantata performance please call 301.733.1717. Maranatha Brethren Church is located at 19835 Scott Hill Dr. just off of Jefferson Blvd. in Hagerstown.

To learn more about Maranatha Brethren Church please visit http://www.maranathagbc.net

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.

12 Gifts 2018 2-001

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!