H I S T O R Y
PROVIDING HOPE IN HAGERSTOWN
God called: A family answered
Our history of HOPE
In January of 1954 a small group of men and women began meeting for prayer at Christ Lutheran Church in Hagerstown. Armed with great faith, a burden for ministry and a calling from God, Jimmy Resh cast a vision for a Rescue Mission in Hagerstown – a ministry that Jimmy was certain was needed. In July of that same year the Mission was officially named “Hagerstown Union Mission” as the core group of believers continued to meet and pray about God’s plan for Hagerstown and for the Resh family.
That plan became evident on May 19, 1955 when the Hagerstown Union Mission officially opened its doors to the hurting within the community. Located at the corner of Jonathan Street and Jail Alley, the Mission property was a far cry from the comfort and security the Resh family had known in beautiful Pen Mar, Maryland.
Moving his wife and their four daughters and infant son into a second floor apartment on the Mission grounds was the beginning of a faith journey that Jimmy and the entire Resh family would walk out while the hurting and desperate walked in. They entered through the Mission’s open doors on that very first day – bolstering Jimmy’s confidence that God intended this community to have a Rescue Mission ministry.
As Jimmy embraced his work with the needy and lost in Hagerstown, he enhanced his knowledge by attending the Summer School of Alcohol Studies at Yale University in 1957. And it was that same year that the Hagerstown Union Mission moved to its current location at 125 North Prospect Street.
Because of his passion for souls and his desire to see lives changed, God greatly used the ministry of Jimmy Resh and the Hagerstown Union Mission to open Rescue Missions in Cumberland, Maryland; Westminster, Maryland; Frederick, Maryland; York, Pennsylvania; Martinsburg, West Virginia and Winchester, Virginia; as well as the Cedar Ridge Children’s Home, Four States Crusade for Christ, and the Good Samaritan Lodge. Thrift stores were also opened in Hancock, Maryland; Berkeley Springs, West Virginia; Waynesboro, Pennsylvania and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. As a result, the corporation of Four States Christian Missions, Inc. was established.
Over the next 60 years many changes would shape the Mission and the small but dedicated group of family and staff that have made Hagerstown Union Mission their life’s work. But through the years, one thing has remained unchanged. The purpose and focus that Jimmy and that small group prayed for decades ago is the same purpose and focus that the Mission stands for today: the life-changing message of hope that can be found through a relationship with Jesus Christ is available to all who will come. That is why in 2008 the name of the Hagerstown Union Mission was changed to The Hope Center at Hagerstown Rescue Mission – offering hope when there seems to be no hope. The words of Jesus in Luke 4:18 is the motivation and foundation for all programs and services at The Hope Center. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted; to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”
The inspiring words of Jesus that led Jimmy to step out in faith six decades ago still stand as the timeless message of hope for today. Illuminating the darkness with the light of Jesus – reaching out to a lost and dying world – that is The Hope Center at Hagerstown Rescue Mission.
Jim & Ellen Resh
The history of The Hope Center cannot be told without emphasizing the importance of two very faithful servants of Christ.
Jim & Ellen Resh had a heart for people and a willingness to follow God's call no matter what.
That call took them from their quiet life in Cascade into the roughest part of Hagerstown: Jail Alley.
Knowing that what they were doing looked crazy to human eyes, Jim & Ellen packed up their five children and started a new life in an old dance hall just off of Jonathan Street.
The Resh's knew that this was a rather dangerous area but neither feared that God would not provide protection and resources.
Jim had the task of getting support from churches to help fund this ministry while also spending time working with drunk and homeless men one-on-one. There were many days that Jim would drive around Hagerstown looking for a man who had stayed at the Mission but was on a drunken bender. Jim would pick up the man and bring him back to get sober and clean up. Jim's compassion for these hurting and addicted men would become his greatest spiritual legacy.
Ellen had the difficult task of not only creating a stable, safe home for her five children but also providing a stable, safe home for the men who began living at the Mission. Ellen knew the importance of a mother's love for the men who were throwing their life away. Her support and love became her strongest trait and she rightfully earned the title of "Mission Mother".
As the Mission grew, Jim & Ellen remained at the forefront of the ministry. They worked constantly to provide for their family while also providing for their mission family.
Jim was always thinking of new ways to reach people with the Gospel of Christ. From free books, to the Free Press (newspaper), to youth outreach, to soup line, and even radio & television programs, Jim took the call of God to reach the masses and he ran with it.
Ellen spent many of her years handling the Thrift Store and sorting operations. Making sure the stores were always stocked with gently used goods low prices for people on a budget, Ellen would eventually spend her years managing the sorting room, continuing to do it right up until her passing at the age of 93.
Jim & Ellen each worked tirelessly until the time came for God to welcome them into eternal retirement.
In March of 1996, God was able to say, "welcome home, My good & faithful servant" to Jim. At his death, Jim had served the Lord for 41 years of non-stop ministry at The Hagerstown Rescue Mission.
Ellen continued God's call of serving at the Mission until she was called home in November of 2009. Having just turned 93 days before her passing, Ellen had seen & done a lot for Christ, and now it was her turn to hear her Savior welcome her into eternity as a spiritual hero.
While we miss our founders, we know that they are in Heaven rejoicing with Jesus everytime one of our guests makes the decision to follow Christ.
The call that God placed in their hearts over 60 years ago is as alive now as it ever was. Their faithfulness, compassion, and spiritual leadership helped to create a ministry that has helped thousands upon thousands of people since 1955.
To Jim & Ellen, we say, 'thank you', for following God's call and loving people so much that you would sacrifice so much to reach them for Christ. We will continue to reach the least, the last, and the lost until God calls each of us Home.
Until then, we'll just "keep on keepin' on."
Sixty years ago Jimmy Resh answered God’s call and began a ministry of hope that still stands today. That ministry continues to exist because of the thousands of people who have sacrificed their time, talent and treasure to the least of our society. The calling to provide healing and offer hope to the lost and desperate still continues today. And because The Hope Center receives no state or federal government funding, all of the programs we deliver to our community rely on you. The Hope Center is a member in good standing with the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability so you can rest assured that now, and as we have the past 60 years, your gift of hope will be used to help thousands of neighbors in desperate need.
Thank you for caring & sharing and helping us reach the least, the last, and the lost for Christ! The past 60 years have been full of miracles, triumphs and countless lives saved for eternity. We look forward to the miraculous things God has in store for this ministry in the years to come.
"Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
Since 1955 we have been marveling at all of the miraculous things that God has done in the heart of Hagerstown. And since we're just getting started, we're excited to see all the amazing things He's got planned for the future!
Join us as we work together to bring HOPE to the homeless, hungry, hurting, helpless and hopeless in the Hub City.
Be apart of our future by helping to change someone elses.