The Heart of Evangelism

by Lynn Harney

Lynn Harney“Sing to the Lord, all the Earth; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations; His wonders among all peoples. For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is also to be feared above all gods.” 1 Chronicles 16:23-25 NKJV

The above verses are a part of the first psalm David sang at the arrival of the ark of God in Jerusalem for the first time. In it I find both the mission and the heart of evangelism. We are told what to proclaim, when to proclaim it, where we should proclaim it, who we should be talking about and why.

What we are to proclaim is “His salvation”, that is the salvation He provided that we were unable to achieve on our own. More to the point, we would not even have come up with such a great plan on our own. The evidence of this is overwhelming, every other option for having a relationship with God is through our own good works. We are told in the New Testament in many ways that it is only through Jesus that we can come to the Father. “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 “There is no other name by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 “There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5 Just to name a few. This shows us this is His salvation, His idea on His terms.

Once we receive Christ we are to proclaim His glory and His wonders. Glory, now that is not a word we use in the every day world and we Christians might be at risk of taking it for granted. One of its meanings is to give an accurate opinion of a person or a thing. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the gift of God, is the most accurate description of God there could ever be. In it we see His love, mercy, holiness, and justice. Hebrews 1 tells us Jesus was “the express image of God” or the exact representation of Him. There is no more wonderful thing in life than that Christ would give His for mine that I could share His.

We are told to proclaim it, from day to day. Our lives are to be a continual proclamation of His salvation. Need I say more?

Where we are told to proclaim it. Among the nations to all the peoples. There are no cultural boundaries, racial or economic divides. It is for all people. Some claim the Gospel to be exclusionary and in one way it is that is, in its means or how one is saved. But who it is for, is everyone who is willing to come, on His terms. So we make the Gospel available to everyone all of the time.

Finally, we are told why. “For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised; He is also to be feared above all gods.” Once again the character of God becomes the focus. Mans’ need for a savior is not the focus, though implied, by God Himself. When people see what God is really like their need becomes obvious. Isaiah saw the LORD and fell on his face, “Woe is me, I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips.” So our lives should evidence the character of God.

David through this Psalm was rededicating his life focus to the person and work of God so that everyone would know how great is our God. We call ourselves The Hope Center not merely because people’s physical needs can be met but because our wonderous God can be met in their time of need.

 

Lynn Harney is the co-director of Foundations Life Recovery program at The Hope Center. He and his wife, Wanda, served with New Tribes Mission for 22 years among the Manjaku people as church planters in Senegal, Africa. They have four children, a daughter-in-law, and four grandchildren. 

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Spiritual Growth

by Jerry Cooper

JerryCooper (2)God has many purposes for The Hope Center. But I believe that first and foremost God desires that we preach the Gospel for the salvation of men, women, and children. In addition, God desires the spiritual growth of all who do trust Christ as Lord and Savior.

Through Peter, the Holy Spirit commands all believers to grow in their faith.

2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Spiritual growth is one of the reasons that The Hope Center offers a 13-month discipleship program for men. Sonny, Rick, Lynn, and other staff are always seeking and looking for the spiritual growth of the men in the residential program.

Sadly, not all who believe in Christ grow spiritually as God desires. Some follow poor examples as those described in Hebrews 5.

Hebrews 5:12-14, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

“By this time” means that these Christians had time to grow spiritually, but they were still immature. They needed “the basic principles of the oracles of God,” or spiritual “milk”. Each of them was a spiritual “child”.

This passage also teaches that the Word of God is essential for spiritual growth. Sadly these immature Christians were “unskilled in the word of righteousness.” Either they did not read the Scriptures and study them, or they did not listen when others taught the Scriptures.

Therefore, the Mission staff and churches preach and teach the Word of God at every opportunity. Men in the program memorize Scripture. They are urged to be active in a local church and study their Bibles.

Spiritual growth is also important because a Christian is useful to God when he is growing as God commands. The Holy Spirit spoke through Peter and explained who is effective and fruitful.

2 Peter 1:5-8, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

God is saying that every Christian should grow in spiritual character: virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. The word “increasing” means that these words are not static, they are growing. But if they are not increasing, then the Christian is “ineffective” and “unfruitful”.

Let’s always pray for ourselves, that we grow spiritually and not be “ineffective”. And let’s pray for the men in the program, that they will grow spiritually and be fruitful.

 

Jerry Cooper is the pastor at Virginia Avenue Baptist Church and an evening chaplain at The Hope Center. He and his wife, Barb, currently reside in Hagerstown. For more information on Virginia Avenue Baptist Church visit http://www.vabconline.org. To contact Jerry please email him at jtcooper51@gmail.com

 

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.

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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.

 

 

Join our Auxiliary!

Ladies of greater Hagerstown, are you looking for a way to use your creative talents and ideas in a way that helps the less fortunate in our community?

If so, we’ve got the perfect ministry for you.

We’re looking for some inspiring and excited women to join our Ladies’ Auxiliary!

Our Ladies’ Auxiliary is a very important part of The Hope Center. The women who are a part of this ministry help to raise much needed support for special projects for the many different outreach programs and ministries at The Hope Center.

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In addition to being fundraisers, our Ladies’ Auxiliary also hosts special events throughout the year. Some of the events are for the public and some are specially geared for our residents.

And we’re always looking for fresh ideas and new ways to reach the community. If you feel that you could help The Hope Center and want to be a part of our Auxiliary then please contact us immediately.

The Ladies’ Auxiliary meets the first Monday of each month at 7pm in the Administrative Offices at The Hope Center. The last meetings for 2013 will be held on November 4th and December 2nd.

Also, on November 9th, our Ladies’ Auxiliary will host the annual Christmas Bazaar in the Trinity Center from 9am-2pm. This is a wonderful opportunity for you and your friends to stop by, shop, eat and get to know some of the other ladies in our auxiliary.

So now’s the time to get involved! What are you waiting for? Invite some of your close friends or other women from your small groups or Sunday School classes to join you. Together we can make a difference in the lives of so many in our community.

To learn more, call our Auxiliary president, Dorothy Martin, at 301.790.3843 or email us at hagerstownrescue@verizon.net.

Camp Wild 2013 – Part 1

Camp Wild has come & gone. Fortunately, we’ve got plenty of pictures to share so you can relive the adventure of the summer for tons of kids in Hagerstown.

Camp Wild is the summer day camp ministry of Wildside Youth. Wildside Youth is proudly sponsored by The Hope Center.

For nearly 40 years, Camp Wild, formerly Conoco Camp, has been a local, free day camp for kids. This camp provides a fun & safe environment for many inner-city and at-risk kids ages 5-12. While there is plenty of adventure & excitement at Camp Wild, the main focus of each week is to introduce the campers to Jesus and have them learn about His love and their value to Him.

Even though Camp Wild is over for the year, there is still plenty of fun planned from Wildside Youth. Go to www.wildsideyouth.com for more details and information on various activities and programs.

But now, enjoy some pictures from Camp Wild 2013. And keep checking back for more pics from Camp Wild and updates about other activities taking place at The Hope Center!

Camp Wild Begins!

The time is finally here!

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Camp Wild 2013 begins today! After months of planning and preparations, Camp Wild is kicking off today for a summer full of adventure, excitement and spiritual enrichment for hundreds of kids in Hagerstown.

Camp Wild, our free day camp program, is a great opportunity for kids in the greater Hagerstown area to enjoy the great outdoors, experience various adventures and learn about the most important person to ever live, Jesus.

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We are so excited for all the great things in store for the hundreds of campers who will take part in Camp Wild this year.

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Please remember to pray for the campers this week and the following weeks. Pray that the kids have a fun and safe experience at Camp Wild. Pray that God will work in their hearts and that they will be receptive to hearing the truth of Christ’s immense love.

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Also pray for all the staff & volunteers who will be the building relationships with the campers and living out God’s command to reach the world for Him. Pray that the staff & volunteers allow God to work in them and pray that they have patience and wisdom in some of the more difficult situations that sometimes arise during camp.

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Pray for protection for everyone who will be a part of Camp Wild this year. From our office staff who will make sure that vans and other forms of transportation are working, to the staff who will answer phone calls and clear up any confusion, to the staff who will daily clean the buildings and prepare for the next day. There are many opportunities for Satan to attack and bring frustration & division but we know that prayer can be the buffer that will keep evil at bay.

Thanks to everyone who has helped to make Camp Wild 2013 possible! We appreciate your donations & support! Keep checking this blog to see pictures and hear stories of all the wonderful things happening at Camp Wild 2013.

If you’d like more detailed info about Camp Wild, please go to www.campwildusa.com.

Genesis Fellowship VBS Helps to Sow the Seeds

On Thursday, June 27th, a group from Genesis Fellowship spent the morning helping Wildside Youth make some final preparations for this year’s Camp Wild program.

Six adults and nine young people volunteered several hours of their day painting, cleaning and setting up three different stations & activity areas for Camp Wild.

But the VBS group from Genesis Fellowship didn’t come just to pitch in. They came to teach their students about the importance of helping ministries and missions groups who spread the Gospel all over the world, including right here in Hagerstown. Pastor Steve Fretz wanted the young people to learn to serve in their own backyard as well as learning to serve people overseas.

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Pastor Fretz says, “we recognize that our society has become very ‘self’ oriented – people spend their time pursuing what they like or want or desire, or what they think will make them more comfortable, etc. This has led to an entire generation of people and their children who care more for their own comforts and conveniences than they do for others. Genesis Fellowship has embraced the biblical ideal that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ calls His disciples to display His life and His Gospel in both word and deed … for the Father’s glory.”

 At Genesis Fellowship, they believe that their VBS ministry is a great opportunity to reach out to their own community and share the Gospel of Christ with the neighborhood children and their families.

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Since their VBS program is a “seed-planting” ministry in their neighborhood, they take time during their VBS to teach the children about the importance of sharing Jesus with others also. This year’s missions emphasis told the children about the millions of kids in India who are working as slaves. Booklets in their language were personalized by every child at VBS, and then sent to the children in India.

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But the leaders at Genesis Fellowship didn’t stop with just educating the kids about foreign missions. Pastor Fretz said that in addition to “recognizing the global need for evangelism and ministry, Genesis Fellowship also believes we live in a mission field that is close to home.” They wanted the children to understand that there is a world just outside of their own doors where children live each day without ever knowing of Christ or how much God loves them.

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The desire to teach the children about the need to reach the community is how Genesis Fellowship got involved with Camp Wild.

Camp Wild is a program that helps to “sow the seeds” in the hearts of hundreds of children in Hagerstown. Many of these kids are not exposed to the life-changing message of Jesus so this may be one of the only times that some of these kids hear the Gospel. But we all know that once a seed is planted, the Holy Spirit can do miraculous things!

So by helping Camp Wild, the students from Genesis Fellowships VBS program are helping to plant seeds in the hearts of so many local kids. This opportunity of service is not only beneficial for Camp Wild but also for the VBS students who learn that the world does not center around them and that God has called them to help reach the lost, even in their own backyard, for Him. This service to God can help impact their city which could ultimately help change the world.

We are so thankful for the students and leaders of Genesis Fellowship for volunteering at Camp Wild. But we’re not just thankful for their physical service to our youth ministry. We’re thankful that they have such a heart for people that they desire to teach the next generation the importance of winning people, whether old or young, to Christ. They understand the needs of local ministries and they see the mission field, here at home, so clearly.

We hope that the students who helped that day will continue to have a heart for children both here and overseas.

If you are looking for a church with a strong emphasis on missions, please check out Genesis Fellowship in Chambersburg, PA. To learn more about this church go to www.genesisfellowshipchurch.org.