For Our City: Bridge of Life Teens Serve God in Their Own Backyard

This summer a few teens from One Accord youth group at Bridge of Life Church in downtown Hagerstown took a missions trip. But this missions trip wasn’t to another country or even a different part of the USA – they ministered this summer in their own backyard by volunteering at Camp Wild!

During our second week of camp, 5 teens and youth pastor, Colt Shingler, helped all over the place at Camp Wild. From helping with the small groups, to serving lunches, playing games, riding hayrides, and building friendships with our campers, the teens spent their week changing lives in their own city!

We are so thankful to One Accord for coming to Camp Wild to help minister to the kids of Hagerstown. Teens are so important to connecting with kids in our Wildside Youth program so we’re thankful for each of these young people who happily served each day. And to be able to do a missions trip in your own town is such a fun opportunity and a way to connect the teens with the heart of this city.

If you are looking for a church to attend or a youth group for your teens then be sure to check out Bridge of Life Church in downtown Hagerstown. Visit http://www.bridgeoflife.org to learn more including service times and other ministries.

If your church or youth group would like to help at Camp Wild or any other events and activities at The Hope Center like our upcoming Thrift Store Day on Sept.14th then please give us a call at 301.739.1165 or email info@hagerstownhopecenter.com.

 

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VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!

Help us celebrate Thrift Store Day!

On September 14th we are hosting our 2nd annual Thrift Store Day at our Hagerstown Thrift Store.

Building off of what we started in 2018, we’ll be having special activities going throughout the day as the store is open. So we are looking for volunteers to help with the games, amusements, and other family activities that day.

Thrift Store Day 2019 1-001

While volunteer times are subject to change, we are asking for people to help from a 10am – 4pm time frame. There is a possibility of having two shifts of volunteers because we understand that each Saturday is precious in our busy lives. But any help would be ideal!

If you, your church/youth group, family, business, or civic groups would like to volunteer please let us know. Also, if you have any special skills like face painting, balloon animals or any fun type of entertainment activities please let us know!

Our Thrift Store Day is a way for us to thank all of our shoppers for supporting The Hope Center by shopping at our Thrift Stores. Many people don’t realize that proceeds from the sales at our Thrift Stores are a major component of funding for The Hope Center. This funding helps us continue to help thousands of people in our community for free – along with receiving no tax money from the government.

Please spread the word to your social circles, friends, church, clubs and anyone you meet!

To volunteer or learn more about volunteering for Thrift Store Day please call 301.739.1165 or email volunteer@hagerstownhopecenter.com.

Wildside Kick’s Off Another Summer of Adventure!

On May 14th Wildside hosted it’s annual Camp Wild Kick-Off Party! They had 54 kids join for an evening of Jesus, fun, games, and food.

Every month during the school year Wildside hosts themed parties for kids ages 5-12 in Hagerstown. The Camp Wild Kick-Off Party is the final party of the season, but obviously, a celebration of the upcoming summer camp season which starts in July!!

The Camp Wild Kick-Off Party is always a crowd favorite because it’s another sign that the school year is coming to an end and it builds the excitement for another summer of fun at Camp Wild!

The evening started off with one of the kids’ favorite activities: dodgeball!

Following the huge game of dodgeball, everyone came together to enjoy some music and an interactive Bible lesson. The lesson time started with a song that the Wildside kids love, “Take it All” by Hillsong Kids. Following the music everyone jumped right into the lesson “Livin’ the Good Life”. The lesson is part of a series teaching the kids how to resolve conflict and live peacefully with God and each other. The kids learned that in order to resolve their personal conflicts they must state the problem, listen to the other person, and look for the solution. They learned that our greatest problem is our sin, that we need to listen to Jesus, and that He is the solution to our sin problem.

After the message, one of the Wildside kids, Aleshia, wowed everyone by reciting 10 Bible verses she had memorized in school! This passage of scripture told the story of Thomas doubting and then believing in the resurrected Jesus. How awesome to see so much scripture memorized by such a young lady.

Following the lesson time, the kids were able to spend their Bear Bucks at the Marketplace, play one of our carnival-style games, and eat dinner. Each of the carnival games was themed after camp. This summer, campers will travel to Latin America and explore God’s diverse array of people, cultures, animals, and environments.

Wildside ended the evening with a small dodgeball competition. We had twenty kids join the competition to battle it out for the winning title and the prize. After awarding the winners with Hershey bars and certificates, we handed out some prizes for a few well behaved children who stood out to the staff.

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Even though Wildside has wrapped up their parties for this school year, there’s still so much more fun planned for 2019. The fun continues this summer at Camp Wild! Camp Wild is an exciting, free day camp for kids ages 5-12. Registration is now open so don’t wait to sign your kids up for Camp Wild 2019. To learn more go to http://www.campwildusa.com.

If you would like to help volunteer at Camp Wild this year please contact us as soon as possible by calling 301.739.1165 or emailing info@wildsideyouth.com.

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.

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.

 

Pantry Needs!

As you know, we feed hundreds upon hundreds of people a year. With that being said, we go through a lot of food. Food donations from the community play an important role in not only feeding hungry neighbors but also helping us to keep our operating expenses down so we can maximize our effectiveness to help as many people as possible in the community.

God has blessed us so much with a community who is constantly donating items and financially supporting us. We are so thankful for each of you who make it a priority to partner with us to take care of those in need.

We’ve made a list of items that we are in desperate need of for our food services programs. Any food donation is beneficial but if you’re at your favorite grocer and can think to pick up some of these items for us then you’d be helping us out in a huge way!

Once you have items to donate you can drop them by our offices Mon – Fri 8am -5pm. If you are unable drop off during that time then please call us at 301.739.1165 or send an email to hagerstownrescue@verizon.net so we can see what best works for you.

Thank you, again, for continually supporting this ministry! We value our community partners so much. Please spread the word to your family, friends, social media, church, school, workplace, civic club, scout troop, or anyone who will listen!

Pantry Needs List 2018

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.