God Called: A Family Answered
In January 1954, a small group of men and women began meeting for prayer at Christ Lutheran Church in Hagerstown. Jimmy and Ellen Resh cast a vision for a rescue mission in Hagerstown. In July 1954, the mission was officially named “Hagerstown Union Mission” and on May 19, 1955, it officially opened its doors to the Hagerstown, MD community. The mission was initially located on Jonathan Street and Jail Alley, and in 1957 moved to its current location at 125 North Prospect Street.
God greatly used the ministry of Jimmy Resh and the Hagerstown Union Mission to open other 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. Because of its far reach, Four States Christian Missions, Inc. was established.
Throughout the years, all of Jimmy and Ellen’s children served in some capacity at the mission. Sharon, the oldest daughter, served as manager of the Thrift Stores. Dorcas served as Children’s Director, and her husband Carl was Superintendent. Becky served in the office along with her sister Laurel. And Jim Resh, Jr. has served many years on the Board of Directors. Even today the family, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-nieces and nephews continue to follow God’s calling.
After serving faithfully since 1955, Jimmy Resh retired from his role as Executive Director of the rescue mission. In 1995, Sonny Shank became Executive Director, and his wife Becky became the Director of Development for the rescue mission. As the fourth child of Jimmy and Ellen Resh, Becky had spent much of her life at the rescue mission. The call from God continued to be answered by a family ready to serve Him.
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.”
After 27 years of faithfully serving the Lord, The Hope Center, and the Hagerstown community, Sonny and Becky Shank retired.
In August 2022, Aimee Izer became the Administrator of the Hope Center, and her husband, Terry, became the Superintendent of Facilities and Men’s Programs. Aimee is the great-niece of Jimmy and Ellen Resh. Even today, the legacy of the Resh family continues in the work at The Hope Center. God called… and family continues to answer!
Jim & Ellen Resh
Jimmy and Ellen Resh had a heart for people and a willingness to follow God's call. They left their quiet life in Cascade, packed up their five children, and started a rescue mission in the roughest part of Hagerstown: Jail Alley.
There were many days that Jimmy would drive around Hagerstown looking for a man who had stayed at the Mission but was drunk again. He would pick up the man and bring him back to get sober and cleaned up. Jimmy Resh's compassion for these hurting and addicted men would become his greatest spiritual legacy.
Ellen knew the importance of a mother's love, not just for her own children, but for the men who were caught in addiction. Her support and love became her strongest trait and she rightfully earned the title of "Mission Mother".
Jimmy 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 and television programs.
In March of 1996, God was able to say, "Welcome home, My good & faithful servant" to Jimmy Resh. 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 and done a lot for Christ, and now it was her turn to hear her Savior welcome her into eternity.
To Jimmy and Ellen, we say, 'Thank you', for following God's call and loving people that you would sacrifice so much to reach them for Christ. As the staff of The Hope Center, we will continue to reach the least, the last, and the lost until God calls each of us Home.
Until then, quoting one of Jimmy Resh's favorite phrases, we'll just "Keep on keepin' on."
For more details on Jimmy and Ellen Resh, CLICK HERE.
"Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
Jimmy and Ellen Resh's spirit lives on at The Hope Center through the dedication of members of the Resh family, who are an integral part of this ministry and work daily to keep their legacy alive. The ministry of The Hope Center is more than just a job. It's a passion and a heritage of service. God didn't just call Jimmy and Ellen Resh - God called a family. And that family is still following the call to this day!
For a more detailed History of The Hope Center, CLICK HERE.