As 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!
Bruce L. “Sonny” Shank