An amazing run: Hope Center celebrates 5 years of making an eternal difference in women’s lives
On Nov. 1, 2016, a nonprofit ministry dedicated to helping women escape the commercial sex trade was born on the far eastside of Indianapolis.
What a remarkable ride the past five years – filled with joy and heartbreak, growth and transformation – has been for Hope Center Indy.
“I remember early on a woman stopped me in the hallway and said, ‘Pastor, I just want you to know, you saved my life,’ ’’Hubert Nolen, the center’s co-founder and executive director, said. “I told her, ‘if the Hope Center had been created only for you, it was worth it.’’ ’
One life saved, for now and for eternity, is indeed worth it. The Shepherd, after all, leaves the 99 to rescue the one. But, of course, far more than one life has been transformed as the Hope Center opened and rapidly grew into a multi-faceted ministry.
“We have tried from the start to raise awareness about human trafficking and to ask people to step forward to do something about it,” Nolen said. “We had our first community open house in July 2017 and a thousand people came to tour the campus. We were overwhelmed by such an outpouring.”
Nolen attributes a part of the ministry’s rapid expansion to use of the Entrepreneurial Operating System, a management tool that helps teams set and achieve goals.
But Nolen knows that the foundational reason for the center’s success runs much deeper than any human-centered endeavors.
“We’re a Christ-centered refuge,” he said. “We want people to understand who we are.”
The path to success rarely is easy or smooth, and the Nolen family and the entire Hope Center team were severely tested in the ministry’s early days. Hubert Nolen cofounded the ministry with his son, David, who held a deep passion and bold vision for the Hope Center’s mission.
In 2018, David was diagnosed with a birth defect in his aortic valve and underwent open heart surgery in May 2019. Two weeks later, David died from surgical complications. He was 28 years old.
“We were devastated and had to work through our despair,” Hubert Nolen said. “But we also felt loved, supported and encouraged by so many people. Ministry is at times difficult, but we have to persevere. Focusing on the hope we have in Christ got us through that time. The Hope Center is for everybody because we all go through hard times in our lives.”
Now, as the center prepares to celebrate its fifth anniversary, Nolen has three special requests.
The first is for anyone not familiar with the Hope Center to visit the campus and to learn firsthand about the ministry’s mission and services. Tours of the 25-acre campus are available at 5:30 p.m. Thursdays and 10:30 a.m. Saturdays. Private tours also are available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second request is for visitors to give an “air” high five (remember to social distance) to the center’s staff and volunteers – as a simple acknowledgment of the great work they do as well as what the Lord has done and is doing at Hope Center Indy. Donations also can be given in multiples of five ($55, for example) to celebrate five years of service.
And the third request is to consider giving to help the center meet its year-end goal of raising $300,000. Potential donors also are asked to pray about making a two-year commitment to help the Hope Center purchase its campus and buildings. More than $500,000 already has been raised to buy the site; another $2.5 million is needed to complete the purchase.
“One of the things business owners have told me over the years is that life is about so much more than making another sale,” Nolen said. “We want partners to step forward to work with us to serve the bruised, the battered, the broken, the least of these in a Kingdom way so that in 10 or 20 years, we can look back and say we worked together to make a lasting, eternal difference in people’s lives.”