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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Wildside’s Birthday Bash Kicks Off the Party Season!

Imagine one giant party to celebrate everyone’s birthday. Sounds kinda wild, doesn’t it? Well Wildside Youth Ministries likes to do things a little different so they kicked off their school year party season with a huge birthday party celebration!

All the kids who attended the Birthday Bash on September 25th were able to celebrate their birthday. Each month was given a celebration and no one was left out of the fun! 52 kids ages 5-12 attended the first Wildside party of the season where they played birthday themed carnival games, painted faces, made crafts and enjoyed some great food.

But the most important part of the evening was learning about having the most important birthday: a spiritual birthday. The kids in attendance learned all about the importance of being born again and following Jesus.

Wildside is the youth ministry at The Hope Center. In addition to monthly large event parties during the school year, Wildside hosts Sunday Night Wild on select Sunday evenings during the school year as well as The Crew which is the student leadership development program for older kids in the program. And each summer Wildside hosts Camp Wild, a free day camp for kids in July & August. All Wildside activities are free for kids ages 5-12. Learn more about Wildside and upcoming events by visiting http://www.wildsideyouth.com.

Your financial donations to The Hope Center help fund these important activities for kids in Hagerstown. We are able to keep Wildside and our other programs and services for free for our guests because of generous and faithful supporters in our community. Thank you for your support of The Hope Center as we continue to reach everyone in our community – even kids – for Christ!

Want to learn more about donating or volunteering at The Hope Center? Go to http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com to get all the info you need on how to become a partner with us.

Wildside’s Birthday Bash!

Who doesn’t like a great birthday party?? Wildside is kicking off their party season with a mega birthday party!!

20183 Birthday Invite BKids are invited to celebrate with Wildside on Tuesday, September 25th from 5-7pm at the Trinity Center at The Hope Center.

There will be plenty of fun for all party guests including carnival games, prizes, dodge ball, basketball, and food!

And did we mention this event is free??!!!! That’s right – it’s free for any kid ages 5-12. Please just call or email to register. Complimentary transportation is provided but limited so don’t delay registering especially if transportation is necessary.

Call 301.739.1165 or email info@wildsideyouth.com to register. To learn more about Wildside Youth and all activities throughout the year visit http://www.wildsideyouth.com.

Youth for Christ Club Serves Christmas Cheer!

On Saturday, December 9th some students from the Youth for Christ Club at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts provided a dinner and service for our evening guests!

The students brought chicken, provided by Brownsville Church of the Brethren and Bonnie’s at the Red Byrd. In addition to the chicken, the students had mac & cheese and delicious desserts for all of our community guests. The incredible folks at Brownsville Church of the Brethren also made goodie bags for the students to hand out to all the evening guests.

During the evening service the students led music for our guests and Bethany Norris gave a message. Following the service the students served the food they prepared and spent the evening interacting with the dinner guests.

The student volunteers had such a good time serving that several of them even commented that they couldn’t think of a better way to spend their Saturday evening. They’re hoping, and we are too, that they will be able to return in February to serve again.

If you remember, the Youth for Christ Club at BISFA hosted a benefit concert for The Hope Center back in the fall. They raised financial support for our ministry and then they followed that up with an evening of service to others. What an incredible group of young people who are showing God’s love in so many ways and using their talents and gifts to help better our community! We are just so thankful for these young people and all they’re doing to make a positive difference in our community!

Thank you Youth for Christ Club at BISFA, Brownsville Church of the Brethren, and everyone else who helped to make this a great evening for our guests!

To learn more about Brownsville Church of the Brethren visit http://www.brownsvillecob.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

Congrats Graduates!

Earlier this summer we were able to celebrate with our residents as three of them graduated from our Foundations Life Recovery program.

Our Foundations Life Recovery program is a free 13-month addiction and life rehabilitation program that helps men conquer the sins that destroy their bodies, relationships and lives. During the 13-months in the program, the men attend classes, Bible studies, and participate in work programs. These classes and programs help to educate the men about their true identity and purpose that God has for them in this life.

Some of the men who join the program have been raised in the church or Christian homes while others are brand new to the life-changing message of Christ. All of the men are dealing with addictions of some sort whether they are alcohol, drugs and pornography. The majority of the guys who come seeking help are trying desperately to stop the destruction of themselves, having already lost jobs, houses, and most importantly, relationships with family & friends.

While in our program, the guys live in our dorm and are fed, clothed and counseled for free, thanks to the generous support of our neighbors, friends, churches and other organizations in the community who fund The Hope Center. Many of the men have nothing left when they walk in the door. But they leave having gained so much for so little!

We are so thankful for the staff, volunteers and churches who help to bring the message of God’s love into the hearts of these men who Satan has enjoyed destroying. For the staff at The Hope Center, to be able to watch our residents graduate is a deeply emotional and incredibly exciting moment. Knowing how dark their lives once were and to see them glowing with the happiness of Christ, it’s a feeling that words can barely describe. Each one of these men was once a forgotten soul that Satan had thought he devoured. But God saw them for their potential in all of their sin and He had something great planned for them.

The men in our Foundations Life Recovery program have a lot of obstacles to conquer. From breaking the addictions, to learning who they can trust, to rebuilding their self value, to dealing with personal demons, there are many roadblocks in the path to recovery but these men who graduated fought the good fight and gave the other guys in the program the courage to continue their own fight to sobriety and salvation.

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So join us in congratulating the three men who got the victory this summer. Frank Shortt, Troy Robinson and Bill Rice all completed the Foundations Life Recovery program and were honored at a moving ceremony for them. Staff, family, friends and volunteers were invited to join in the celebratory ceremony where guest speaker, Matt Sargent, spoke. Following the ceremony, graduates, residents, staff and guests all gathered together for a time of fellowship in our dining room.

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We’ve asked each of the three men to give us a brief testimony of their journey towards recovery. Here is what they said:

Frank Shortt

Frank Shortt 2015I came to The Hope Center in September of 2013 out of desperation and loss of hope. Since coming here, God has done something in my life that I, and my loved ones, would never had thought possible.

God has, and is, changing this heart that was hardened and broken. Among many other things, He has given hope where there was no hope.

For now, my future plans consist of building my relationship with God, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, along with my two biological sons.

Troy Robinson

Troy RobinsonWhen I came to The Hope Center in January of 2013 I was lost, scrambling to gain meaningful sobriety. Not just drinking and drugging, which I had succumbed to, but being able to live purposefully.

While in the program, God taught me that Jesus is the only way. He is the truth. He is the life. The hopeless can find hope in the Almighty. There is victory in Jesus.

My future plans are to finish well, rejoicing in the Lord always. “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

Bill Rice

William Rice 2015I am 55 years old and I have struggled with alcoholism both as an unbeliever and a believer. Before coming to The Hope Center I attended Bible College but I succumbed to my addiction and fell away from the Lord. So in 2007 I enrolled in the Foundations Life Recovery program and progressed well until I blew it and was released from the program. I attribute my failure to spiritual pride because I had a knowledge of the Word that other members of the program did not.

In 2014 I knew I had to get help and asked to return to the program at The Hope Center. I finished the program and remained sober the whole time. God has dealt a lot with me in the spiritual pride area but He is still working on me.

It is my desire someday to be in ministry, but I find as a graduate that I struggle with handling freedom. I would appreciate your prayers that I would give God total control of every area of my life.

 

Please continue to pray for these men as they venture out on their own, back into the world where Satan has plenty of temptations waiting for them. Pray that they continue to fight the fight and stay strong in the Lord.

And thank you, to each of you who has invested in the lives of these men and everyone else who has come to The Hope Center seeking help in some form. From prayers, to volunteering, to hosting a chapel service, to donating food, shopping in our Thrift Stores and financially supporting us so we can continue to provide this ministry for free, God has used you to help change a life. You may not realize it or even think about it but these three men, and the countless other individuals and families helped at The Hope Center, are because of faithful friends like you who God has called to help change this city and win it for Christ.

Thank you for partnering with us as we celebrate 60 years and thousands upon thousands of lives changed in Hagerstown!

Maranatha Choir Celebrates the Christmas Season

On December 19th, the joint Christmas choir from Maranatha Brethren Church and Valley Grace Brethren hosted their Christmas Cantata, A Christmas Prayer, for our residents and community guests.

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The show was full of Christmas spirit as the choir celebrated the birth of Jesus with beautiful songs and a story about restoring family bonds through the power of prayer.

In addition to a narrator, the show featured several solos as well as a quartet.

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Following the concert, the choir became dinner servers for all the guests in attendance. A full dinner along with an assortment of Christmas cookies was provided.

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It was a beautiful night of Christmas celebration for all of our guests. We’re so thankful that the Christmas choir from Maranatha Brethren and Valley Grace Brethren Churches perform their Christmas cantata every year for our guests. It’s a beautiful way to celebrate the season and remind each of us of why we really celebrate Christmas.

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To learn more about Maranatha Brethren Church go to http://www.maranathagbc.net or call 301.733.1717. Maranatha Brethren is located at 19835 Scott Hill Drive in Hagerstown.

For more info about Valley Grace Brethren visit valleygrace.net or call 301.582.0155. Valley Grace Brethren is located at 17310 Gay Street in Hagerstown.