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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Happy, Happy Birthday!!

Join us in wishing Dustin & Albert HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Dustin celebrated his birthday in July and Albert just celebrated his this week. Both men are in our Foundations Life Recovery Program. Each month we celebrate the birthdays of the men in our residential program – and of course we have cake! Our good friend Stormy bakes birthday cakes each month for our residents!

Dustin joined our Foundations program in January of this year. While here he made a profession of Christ in his life and is seeking to make positive changes in his life that will help him once he leaves the program. He is about halfway through the Foundations program so please continue to pray for him in his journey as he grows and faces the challenge of confronting the various things that have caused problems in his life.

Albert joined Foundations in September of 2017 after being released into our facility from prison. While in prison he made a profession of Christ which is what lead him to apply to our Foundations program at his release. He wanted a safe, Christian environment to help him grow and change his life patterns and to be in a place where he can build a positive bridge into his future. He quickly joined a local church in Hagerstown and has continued to grow spiritually which has helped him develop great relationships with others. He is very close to graduating from Foundations so continue to keep praying for Albert that he finishes strong and has the confidence to go boldly into his new life without fear. He’s excited about his opportunity to share his new life with others in the community who need to hear about the power of Christ just like he did.

Please continue to pray for all of the men who come in and out of our Foundations Life Recovery Program. It’s not easy for guys to acknowledge that they need to join the program and make necessary changes in their lives and it’s even harder for them to continue once they join. These men are facing serious challenges in their lives and they need all the prayer and support possible. Please continue to invest in their lives through prayer, volunteering, and donating to The Hope Center. Your donation of food, used clothing, shoes, housewares, furniture, etc, and your donation of time serving food, hosting a chapel service, painting or doing anything at The Hope Center are all part of helping these men rehabilitate their lives and giving them the recovery and victory they so desperately want and need. Your support truly does make a difference and God uses it to help them move forward in the face of personal issues. Thank you for helping us celebrate these men and their birthdays.

To learn more about volunteering or donating to The Hope Center or for more information about our Foundations Life Recovery Program for men please visit http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com or call 301.739.1165.

Our Easter Hope – Jesus’ Sacrifice Opened Heaven’s Door

By John Miller

JohnMiller (2)“And the angel said to them; ‘Fear not, I know you were looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen just as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord was laying.'”    -Mathew 28:5-6

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead means so many wonderful things to believers. One of the most blessed truths about His resurrection is that it gives us HOPE regarding our future resurrection. Death is not the end.

Jesus Christ is God come to us in human form. God loves us so much that He decided to willingly step into a body of flesh in order to feel the emotions, fears, temptations, and weaknesses of this flesh. Through Jesus, He overcame temptation and took a perfect sacrifice to the cross where He paid the sin debt for us! We could never pay sin’s debt so God paid it himself.

However, in order for this transaction to be complete there must be a resurrection. Remember when Cain and Abel offered sacrifices in Genesis chapter 4? The evidence of whether or not a sacrifice was accepted by God was a visible raising up of that sacrifice. The same was true with Elijah and the prophets of Baal in 1st Kings chapter 18. God showed by a fiery and dramatic “taking up” of Elijah’s sacrifice that Yahweh is the one true God!

When Jesus died on the cross and then was placed in the tomb, it looked as if everything had failed. Why did Jesus die on the cross after He had performed so many miraculous feats, even raising the dead? Why did God allow His Son to die? Will God accept the sacrifice of Jesus’ death on the cross as a sufficient payment for the sins of mankind?

Yes! Three days later the stone rolled away and Jesus walked out of that tomb! God said YES to the sacrifice and raised it up for all the world to see that Jesus Christ has made sufficient payment for our sins and opens the door to Heaven! What we call death is only a door to a believer! For the Christian, death is like walking from one room to another glorious room called Heaven.

Do you have peace with God today? Are you 100% for sure that your sins are forgiven and you are on your way to Heaven? The Bible says in 1 John 5:13, “These things I have written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

If you do have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ then rejoice in your eternal destination and know that His resurrection guarantees your resurrection to eternal life! If you do not have peace with God today, why not stop what you are doing right now and call upon Him for eternal life. Repent of sins and turn to Jesus. Call The Hope Center and let them know about your decision and how to know what to do next in your walk with the Lord.

Go ahead, call them now! They want to rejoice with you and encourage you in your new found faith!

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.

 

 

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.

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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

Our Loss is Heaven’s Gain

It is with profound sadness that we are writing this. Our friend, and former Thrift Store manager, AJ Imbach, went home to be with the Lord this past week.

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AJ and his wife, Jayne, were with us only briefly. AJ accepted the call to become the manager of our Hagerstown & Chambersburg stores in the summer of 2013.

He came with fresh ideas and an excitement for this new phase of ministry in his life. He was going to help bring some much needed change to our stores and would have the opportunity to build relationships with the men in our program who work at the stores.

AJ and Jayne were following God’s plan which brought them all the way across the country from Oregon. Both AJ & Jayne were a breathe of fresh air at The Hope Center.

AJ Imbach

Their joy of life and overall positive outlook showed the love of God in them. They were passionate about reaching others for Christ and doing their part to help bring real hope and change to broken and hurting lives.

Unfortunately in early fall AJ was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. They were hoping to stay at The Hope Center for a while as he dealt with his disease but it progressed much quicker than expected and the doctors suggested they might want to return to Oregon to be with family & friends.

Jayne helped AJ adjust to his condition and worked hard to make him comfortable as his body dealt with ALS. And through it all, both AJ & Jayne remained faithful to the Lord and confident in His will and plan.

AJ left his earthly life surrounded by his family. And as we weep here on earth for our loss, we can only imagine the magnificent celebration in heaven for their gain!

We wish we could see AJ’s big smile again, and we have confidence that we will see it as each of us are welcomed into eternity. We’re sure Jesus greeted AJ with a big ole, “well done”!

AJ & Jayne left a lasting impact on the staff and guests at The Hope Center. Their excitement and joy was contagious and their optimism and confidence in God’s perfect plan was inspiring.

We thank God for the opportunity to have met and worked with these two wonderful people. Our thoughts and prayers are for Jayne and the family & friends in Oregon who are left behind.

While we may not understand God’s plan through all of this, we know that His plan is perfect and greater than our minds can ever understand.

Please pray for Jayne as she begins a new chapter in her life. It’s going to be difficult but we know that she is an amazing woman who has a close and deep relationship with an amazing Savior. Please pray for her healing and her new journey.

And please remember to pray for the thousands of families across this nation who are dealing with loved ones suffering from ALS and other terrible diseases. Life is so precious and so many people are hurting and only God can provide the true peace and hope that we all need.

If you have any questions about AJ & Jayne, please call 301.739.1165, email hagerstownrescue@verizon.net or mail us at P.O. Box 685, Hagerstown, MD 21741.

If you don’t have the peace of Christ in your life and are desperate to experience the joy that AJ had, please contact us immediately so we can talk to you about the greatest relationship you will ever know with Jesus. As long as you’re still breathing, it’s never too late. God doesn’t care about your past, He is ready to change your future. Don’t wait to prepare for eternity.

 

 

Bowling Does Our Residents Good!

When a guy enters our Hope Center Life Recovery program, he’s making a commitment to getting his life back on track and becoming the man God designed him to be.

But it’s not an easy path for many of our residents. They struggle with many things including their addictions, their past, family and work issues and, often times, the lack of love and acceptance.

Once they join the program they begin to build relationships with other guys in the program and our staff. This bond is a very important part of their rehabilitation. When the men aren’t working or attending life recovery classes, they enjoy playing sports and hanging out in the McKinley Rec Center at The Hope Center.

Our staff knows the importance of leisure activities so they plan various outings during the year. From softball tournaments, to fishing, canoeing, picnics and other activities, our staff tries to build relationships with our guys to keep them pushing through the program.

Recently, our staff took the guys bowling. From the laid back atmosphere to the friendly competition, our guys really enjoyed bowling together!

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Here are some pics from the guys’ day at the bowling alley. While going to the bowling alley may just seem like a regular activity to most people, to our guys this is a very important part of rebuilding themselves. These outings are beneficial to their recovery in so many ways.

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DSC_1259DSC_1274DSC_1276DSC_1300-001When you donate, whether financially or through in-kind gifts, you are helping to provide our residents with these types of activities. Thank you for your continued support of this ministry and our residents! You may never truly know how important your gift was, but God knows. You’re helping to change lives for eternity!

Happy Birthday, Jeremy!

The first Friday of each month is our birthday celebration with our residents. Any resident in our Foundations program who has a birthday each month is celebrated with cake and more.

This month we only have one resident who is celebrating a birthday. So join us in wishing Jeremy a very happy birthday!

A fun fact about this birthday celebration is that it actually fell on Jeremy’s actual birthday!

While all of our birthday guys genuinely appreciate their birthday celebrations, Jeremy seemed very touched to be honored on his birthday. He remarked that he hasn’t had a birthday cake or anything else on his birthday in the past 5 years. So we are very happy to help celebrate with Jeremy this year!

Jeremy is a resident in Foundations and has been here since December 5, 2011.  He currently works in the sorting department and if you’ve dropped items off at our sorting lately there is a good chance that you’ve come in contact with Jeremy.

Thank you to Stormy for baking the birthday cake again for our residents!

And we want to thank you, our friends & supporters, for helping to make this birthday special for Jeremy and helping us to bring hope back to so many people in Hagerstown! A birthday celebration may not mean much to many people but it has been another step towards restoration in Jeremy’s life.

God has used you to help change a life and restore hope! Thank you for caring for men like Jeremy. Please continue to pray for Jeremy and our other residents as they fight the hard fight to change their lives.