By Becca Eis | Echo
Hope - it's something we all need, and Brian Blevins, general manager of Joe on the Go, brings it to the Blackford County community through his ministry called Hope House.
Every Sunday at 6 p.m., around 50-75 people come together at Grace United Methodist Church (UMC) in Hartford City, Indiana, to build healthy relationships through Jesus Christ.
"You know that you're going to come in and you're going to eat a meal and get to sit down with people and have people love on you no matter where you are - no matter if you're a lawyer or if you're a drug addict straight out of rehab," Blevins said.
Formerly a drug addict, Blevins desires to steward the time God has given him to share Christ's love with others. In April 2016, he recognized that those struggling with addiction had a place to go every night except Sunday, so he set out to fill that gap.
With roots in programs like Narcotics Anonymous and Celebrate Recovery, Hope House meetings consist of a meal, worship, prayer and testimonies. Blevins wants the meetings to be about Jesus and his message of hope.
"When they get out of rehab, most people burn every single bridge and have nowhere to go," Blevins said. "You don't just give up on those people because those people need hope, so it's so important that a community comes together and meets people's needs that aren't being met."
He and a friend approached Grace UMC and soon began hosting meetings in a house next to the church. Blevins and his partner sat down to establish a name for the ministry, and that same day the leaders in the church met to do the same, both landing on the same result - Hope House.
The first meeting had 25 people, but this number quickly grew, forcing Blevins to approach the church to let them inside. They soon moved to the basement of the church, but before they knew it, they were filling the sanctuary.
Since its founding, Hope House has partnered with area churches to provide meals each week. Blevins always insists on having a meal at the start of every meeting. He feels that this is instrumental to building relationships, which leads to vulnerability and the opportunity to talk to people about Jesus.
"Initially, (Hope House) allowed me to be around healthy people and re-establish relationships that I had broken, and also its important to me because a lot of my friends have been able to come and see the results that I have experienced," said Matt Lillard, a regular Hope House attendee. "It is very rewarding for me to not only receive the blessing myself from other people's testimonies and grow, but also to see my friends or familiar faces from the town bring their life to God."
Hope House has developed a leadership team and has recently received their 501(c)3, allowing them to collect donations and enabling them to further their ministry.
As the director of Hope House, Blevins has been invited to model his ministry in Crawfordsville, Indiana, an opportunity he is excited to take advantage of. The next steps for the ministry also involve developing transitional housing, something he hopes to get Taylor University's help with. Blevins also invites Taylor students to invest in their community and get involved.
"However they want to help - time, talent and treasures, and I'm seeking them all for the Hope House. . . . Come and be a part of it," Blevins said.