18 August 2017

Celebrate Who You Are

      This morning, I was reading in Corinthians about the gifts that God has instilled in and promised to each one of us. As I thought about the scriptures I was reading, I began to wonder what may be inside of me that God is still developing. What gifts am I not aware of yet? At the same time, I thought about how easy it is for us to focus on what others have and what others are doing, while completely overlooking the potential in our own lives. 
     God has given each of us special gifts. There are special talents and gifts inside of us that are waiting to be developed. Think about where you were five years ago or even last year. You probably are not the same person, and of course, you will continue to grow as time goes on. We should not compare ourselves to others or think, “I don’t have the talent like that person does, so I’m not as important.” The truth is that we are all important, we all have a part to play in building His kingdom, and we need to learn to love who we are. 
     Remember that we are all growing and changing every single day. God has given each of us special gifts. Everyone carries tremendous value in this life. Get excited about seeing your life unfold! Celebrate who you are today, and who you are becoming in your future.

Dawn Lindsey
Communications Specialist

17 August 2017

Ability, Skill, and Craftsmanship

JR Vassar is a pastor at Church at the Cross in Texas.
     JR Vassar said the following in his “Work as Worship” sermon: "Is the spirit of God only concerned if you help teach the bible better, keeping your behavior in check, producing the fruit of Spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control)? Is the spirit of God only concerned about helping you tell others about the Gospel? Or may the Holy Spirit want to give you ability, intelligence, craftsmanship, skill? I think the Holy Spirit can give wisdom in solving problems to people in their workplace, make wise decisions to move the company forward, and can help you deal with crisis in work. In doing so, He can give you such wisdom and such excellence in your job that it elevates a person to a position of influence in their companies and in their domain. The Holy Spirit wants to give you skill, creativity, and problem solving abilities, and He wants to do this in such a way that you may be elevated to a position of influence. God wants to give skill to His people that they may actually do their jobs with excellence and not live in obscurity. We need to show people how valuable our work is and how we are doing it so the glory of God flourishes. All of life can bring glory and honor to God, but with that there must be increasing dependence on God to get to this point."
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. –Colossians 3:17
     I pray this will encourage you today.  Our work matters for the glory of God.  Whatever we do is worship to the Lord to show Him that our work matters.  When Jesus died for our sins and rose again, he sent the Holy Spirit as our helper.  We have the Holy Spirit daily, not just to study the Bible well, or share the gospel well, or to be "super-spiritual," but for everything we do!
     Whether it’s receiving a donation, giving a guest a toiletry item, typing up an expense report, typing monthly reports, sharing the Gospel, explaining a Bible verse, or giving wisdom to solve a crisis situation, all of this can show God's glory. God's glory is shown when we do this with excellence! We should not be working just to check things off our list, but do them well!
     I pray that we would know that we are given ability, skill, intelligence, and craftsmanship to do our ministry well.  Because when our individual ministries flourish, the Mission as a whole flourishes.  If you don't know what God has given you as ability, skill, intelligence, or craftsmanship, pray and ask Him.  Because God has given us all lots of things!  Our work here at Open Door Mission is a huge testimony of God's goodness to us, our coworkers, bosses, family, friends, and the world. We have major influence to those people that surround us, so let's use our influence to bring more into God's Kingdom!
     I pray that we would be people that do everything for the glory of God and know that doing the everyday tasks will change eternity forever!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

16 August 2017

Ready for What's Next

     I’ve just come back from a trip home, and I’m glad to be back – refreshed, renewed, and ready for what’s coming. I am truly excited about what God has in store for several areas of ministry this fall and winter. Those areas include:

- The intentional ministry direction of the Timberlake, Elkhorn, Council Bluffs, and South Omaha Family Outreach/Donation Centers
- Upcoming graduates and new students enrolling in The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI)
- The garden harvest this spring and summer along with possibilities for fall and winter with the greenhouse
- The revamping of Guest Services and the Receiving Area this fall at the Timberlake Outreach Center
- Spiritual growth and healthy community building activities for students in life changing programs
- Revamping of intentional ministry happening at the Lydia House
- The team that God continues to blend together one by one in every area of the Open Door Mission ministry. It is simply amazing and something that only God could orchestrate.

I could go on and on, but these were areas God brought to mind during my trip. What are you excited about seeing God at work in?

Thought:  The view from every ministry should be from the perspective of Christ on the Cross at Calvary. (Brian Murray)

Candace Gregory

15 August 2017

At the Eleventh Hour

Photo by Doug Walters on Unsplash.
     It ended up being one of those busy nights at the Garland Thompson Men's Center. I got things wrapped up and handed off to the night shift staff members, and was preparing to head home.
     That’s when Kyle comes in, at the literal eleventh hour. He sees me and tells me, "I'm ready to surrender my life to God, Grandpa.” He looked like he had been through the grinder. You could read discouragement all over his face. 
     What am I to do? I thought I was ready to go home, but turns out God had different plans! We went into my office and talked about what it means to surrender to God. I shared with him that God is a Holy God and we are wholly sinners. God will judge sin. But Christ took our place on the cross, and in doing so He took the weight of our judgment.
     I asked him if there was any reason he would not ask Christ to save him. He said, “There is not." He prayed and afterwards he knew he had eternal life in Christ. Hallelujah!
     Sometimes God’s timing isn’t convenient. His plans don’t fit into our plans. But it is so important to be open to what He’s calling you to, because the salvation of lives is on the line! I was willing to go an extra hour without sleep to be sure I’ll see Kyle in heaven for all eternity. Strive to be adaptable when God places opportunities in front of you.
     Keep Kyle in your prayers.

Greg Johnston
Health Care Case Manger

14 August 2017

"Why do You Care About Bums Like Us?"

     As we approached a group of gentlemen sitting on a couch in the middle of an empty lot, I instantly felt warmth in my heart for them. Their smiling faces and sincere thank yous came from somewhere deep down inside these men's hearts. It was almost as if they were telling us a story of their struggles through their tears.
     I couldn't take my eyes off of this one particular individual that they call Cuba. He ran up to our group and shook all of our hands very humbly. I looked over and saw a huge tree with a hand-made tree swing. Cuba noticed that I was looking at the swing and asked if I would try it out. I agreed to take a little swing, and as I did the laughter and joy coming from the group we were serving put a smile in my heart. 
     As I got off the swing, Cuba asked me, “Ms. Jessica, why do you care about bums like us? Why did you take the time to swing with us?”
     I instantly had tears running down my face and I said, "Cuba! You are not a bum, you are very special to me and to God! He sees your pain, He knows your struggle, and He sent us here to remind you of His perfect love for you. This alcohol will never love you back. It only destroys. Jesus is the cure.”
     I looked over my shoulder and saw a few others listening. We shook hands and as we got in the van, Cuba was pondering this conversation but He wasn't the only one. Many of our volunteers were touched by Cuba and found that they had compassion and love for a man they had just met.
     Cuba received food, water, some soap, and socks during our Streets of Omaha stop. But above everything, Cuba got to hear about our Father’s love for him and through us see the proof of that love. We were sent by God to remind Cuba how much he is cared for, that God sees him, and that God has never left him.
     The streets of Omaha volunteers get to do this every day. They get to remind people how precious they are to Jesus! We do this one sack lunch at a time. What a blessing it is! 

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Program Coordinator

11 August 2017

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

     YOU SHOULD BE HERE!  What kinds of things are you doing to keep busy this summer? Are you passing the time by having friends over or doing outside activities? Maybe it's going to the city pool for the day, just hanging out and enjoying the company of others.  
     Or are you wanting to step out of your comfort zone this summer? Why don’t you try volunteering for just two hours during one of your summer vacation days?  Open Door Mission is the place to be!
     There are many ways to volunteer and be the hands and feet of Jesus by blessing the hungry and homeless.  Did you know that Open Door Mission is donation driven?  Thousands of volunteers donate their time and talents all year and YOU can be a part of this great opportunity.  Open Door Mission offers a volunteer orientation every Thursday at 6:00 p.m. and every Saturday at 3:00 p.m.  Click here for more information.
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’. –Acts 20:35
     There is always room for more volunteers to work alongside our staff and bless the hungry and homeless.  With your help we can break the cycle of homelessness and poverty and give HOPE for a lasting change!

Rick Ziegler
Communications Coordinator

10 August 2017

Clean Towels

     I pulled some clean towels out of the dryer and started folding them. My four year old that was playing with Barbies and baby dolls next to me and obviously had other ideas. 
     Here is what I now know about clean towels, taught to me by my little girl:
     You can pile them up and jump into them (at least you can if you are the size of a small child). You can wear them like capes and run around. You can throw them on each other’s heads and play peek-a-boo. You can use them as blankets, pretend to go to sleep and then jump up and say, “Good morning!” You can hide small toys in them and then try to find them.
     Here is what I learned from this experience:
     We limit things with labels. If I label this rectangular piece of cloth material, then it serves one function. But when I let go of the label, it can be most anything at all. My prayer for all of us is that we let go of the labels and approach our experiences with an open mind and heart. 
     Recently I was reading the story of Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, and how Jesus picked him out of the crowd, from up in a tree, to be a guest at his house. Jesus knew he was a man many people despised and many labeled as a sinner. However, he was an example of Jesus’ mission to bring salvation to the lost, of seeing people for more than just their mistakes. Zacchaeus caught a glimpse of mercy and grace and had to make a choice.
     When our neighbor loses their job, home, car, other possessions, or even possibly their family, often we label them. Cast judgement on them. It is my prayer and desire that instead of labeling my neighbors, I be more like Jesus! I am thankful and blessed to be serving at Open Door Mission, to be a part of bringing salvation to the lost.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.’” – Mark 12:30-31

Dawn Lindsey
Communications Specialist

09 August 2017

Learning to Live for Christ...Part 2

Continued from Tuesday 8/8.

     “What really inspired me was the story of my parents,” said Matt. “There were two endings. My dad was in the program, but relapsed and then passed away young.  My mother stayed sober and living in Christ, and now has an amazing life.  It was right in front of me – two possible outcomes to my life.”
     Though the program wasn’t easy, it helped Matt realize his need for God’s overall control in his life.
     “It’s like I have this spiritual battery,” said Matt, “and throughout the day the life gets sapped from it. So I stay connected to God with little prayers. I’ve found a church where I can finally fit in. It feels like family.”
     Matt was a part of the New Life Recovery Program and is currently working towards furthering his education. His goal is to work in music production and sound engineering.
     “If it weren’t for Open Door Mission’s donors and volunteers, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn how to live for Christ,” Matt said. “I wouldn’t be who I am today.”
     Thank you for giving people like Matt a chance to find refreshment and new life in Christ.

Beatrice Jones
Marketing & Communications Coordinator

08 August 2017

Learning to Live for Christ...Part 1

     Matt knows what dark times look like. His spirit was thirsty for Living Water, but he looked for life in drugs, violence, and other religions. It wasn’t until he actually met God that Matt felt cherished and sustained.
     As a kid, Matt grew up in a broken household. Both of his parents struggled with substance abuse, and their family even lived in the Lydia House for a while. Matt never learned how to express himself and cope with his feelings. He became very angry.
     His first incident of violence was at the age of 12, and Matt went in and out of youth programs, drug programs, and prison ever since. But it was in prison that he truly met the Lord.
     Someone encouraged him to listen to Christian radio, and a Chris Tomlin song came on.  “Our God is greater, our God is stronger. God, You are higher than any other.”
Matt was undone, and gave his life to Christ in that moment. His troubled mind finally felt refreshed.
     The road to sobriety was still long, though. Matt was paroled to Open Door Mission, which he knew about from his parents’ time in the program. Despite his relapses, the Open Door Mission staff believed in him, and he was able to continue moving forward.

To be continued Wednesday, 8/9.

Beatrice Jones
Marketing & Communications Coordinator

07 August 2017

Wrestling With God

     You know how Jacob wrestled with God in Genesis 32? It was an all-night wrestling match. In the end, God touched Jacob’s hip socket and in the process also touched his life. No longer was Jacob the rascal he was before the wrestling match. God changed his name to Israel, and his people changed the history of mankind.
     Recently, I spent a few hours in my office with a man who reminded me of Jacob. He was determined to live his life to where one day he would be good enough for God. I kept sharing the promises of eternal life through Christ Jesus alone as answers to each of his excuses.
     He finally broke. He confessed his sins and called on God to save him. Hallelujah! Pray for Todd and on-going conversations with him. May he be as changed as Jacob was after his encounter with God.

Greg Johnston
Health Care Case Manager

04 August 2017

One Meal at a Time

     Sack lunches are a blessing for the men, women, and children at the Mission who may miss a meal time due to work, school, or personal appointments. These lunches are made in a mass quantity by volunteer teams to ensure we always have plenty.
     The Streets of Omaha ministry at Open Door Mission also delivers these sack lunches to the hungry and homeless. Each lunch includes a sandwich (lunch meat or peanut butter and jelly), a salty snack (chips or crackers) and a sweet snack (granola bar or cookies).  
     Volunteer teams are great when it comes to assembling sack lunches.  Over 1,000 are made and ready to deliver in just a two hour period.  I love watching this ministry grow every day and pour out the love of Jesus to everyone in need!  So, thank you to the wonderful volunteers for the work they do with this awesome ministry by providing one meal at a time.
     If you’re interested in volunteering, click here to learn more.

Rick Ziegler
Communications Coordinator

03 August 2017

Jessica's Testimony...Part 2

Continued from Wednesday, 8/2.

     I managed to get pregnant soon after that with our daughter. However, because my body wasn’t completely healed from the accident, my body couldn’t handle it. My water broke at 22 weeks, and I buried our second child on my birthday.
     I was told I couldn’t have children again, which killed me inside. I hated God and wanted nothing to do with Him. I was so angry with Him. I held that grudge for a long time. The next few years were a blur with a lot of sleepless nights.
     I had run-ins with the law and did my fair share of time in jail.
     In 2011 we got pregnant again! This time I carried our son to full term and gave birth to a beautiful little boy. However, I eventually lost my rights to him because I was so lost in my addiction and did not want to get clean. Things didn’t work out with his dad, but I am so thankful that his dad cleaned up and could get our son back. Mother’s Day of this year was the first time I’ve seen my son in four years; it was very emotional for me.
     In April of 2016, I found out I was pregnant but was still an active user. I quit drinking, but my pregnancy was rough since I was in and out of jail. September was my breaking point. I was sleeping in a car, six months pregnant, and asked myself, “Is this really how I want to bring an innocent child into the world?” I quit shooting up, but still continued smoking all day, every day.
     I begged God for forgiveness and asked for strength to do the right thing. On September 13, 2016, I showed up at the Lydia house broken, scared, and pregnant. It was the hardest yet smartest move I’ve ever made. I am grateful God pushed me to come here.
     Since I’ve graduated the program, I’ve received my GED, moved into Restored Hope, and strengthened my relationship with God. Along the way I’ve met so many women that have impacted my life in one way or another. Every one of them has a place in my heart.
     Thank you Jesus for a brand new life!

Open Door Mission Graduate

02 August 2017

Jessica's Testimony...Part 1

     I was born in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Growing up my life was pretty normal. Both of my parents had jobs, and they’re still married today. Around the age of 13, I started smoking cigarettes and weed and I hanging around with the wrong crowd. At age 14, I started dating guys who were mentally and emotionally damaging to me.
     When I was 17 years old, I had my first baby girl. I married her father, but after the marriage, he changed completely. He was no longer the man of my dreams. He turned into someone completely different overnight. I had no idea who that man was. He abused me in every way possible. I was divorced by the time I was 18.
     After the divorce I started using meth every now and then. It wasn’t consistent, but my drinking was out of control. There were many nights I can’t remember and several times I woke up not knowing where I was or how I got there.
     In 2005, I met my son’s dad. It was a roller coaster ride. I was with him for eight years and still love him today. Back then, we were both addicted to meth but able to maintain some kind of normalcy. In 2009, I was expecting to give birth to our first child, but that February while I was pregnant, I had a tragic accident that killed our son instantly. I buried him on Valentine’s Day.

To be continued Thursday, 8/3.

Open Door Mission Graduate

01 August 2017

First Day of School

     Do you remember your first day of the new school year as a child? I do. I remember the pencils sharpened perfectly, the array of brilliant colors in the new crayon box, and the stiff new backpack I wore proudly. I recall wearing my new outfit to start the year off fresh, the new socks, and the gleaming brand new tennis shoes that I was not allowed to wear until this much anticipated day. I can still remember how loud my heart pounded in my ears as I walked into my classroom on that first day.
     For the school aged children that are in need, however, this day can be very much the opposite. The instability that accompanies poverty puts stress on parents, spilling over to children. Instead of excitement, it is increased anxiety and pure panic that encompasses this day. Many of these students experience worry and fear. Not having the needed supplies for success can sometimes attribute to these children not fitting in, being targeted by bullies, and ridiculed by classmates. 
     This school year, Open Door Mission would like to give students a fresh start by sending them off to school with all the school supplies they need to help ease these fears. And it is a blessing to have enough for the whole school year. Would you please consider putting a smile on the faces of these children by donating back to school supplies?
     Click here to learn more, and together we can create HOPE and initiate a successful school year!

Dawn Lindsey
Communications Specialist

31 July 2017

Mark's Testimony

     I started using drugs at the age of 12 and have had problems with alcohol and drugs most of my life. It has kept me from having any kind of normal life and has gotten me arrested numerous times. I have been to prison four different times, and the last one was for conspiring to manufacture meth. 
     I ended up at Open Door Mission because I overdosed and was brought from Des Moines, Iowa, to Methodist Hospital in Omaha in the back of an ambulance. I have made a choice that I don’t want to live like that anymore, so I joined the New Life Recovery Program.
     My life has turned around. I go to church and attend The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) here at Open Door Mission. I also work in the Mission’s Summer of Hope Garden and have an awesome relationship with my higher power – Jesus Christ. Today, I try to do God’s will instead of my own, pray daily, and read the Bible. 
     I want to thank all the staff and volunteers at Open Door Mission, my brothers in Christ, and Jesus. Without Him, none of this would be possible in my life.

Open Door Mission Graduate

28 July 2017

State of Addiction: Opioid Abuse in Homeless Shelters

This article is taken from KETV Omaha.  To read the official article on its original site and watch the accompanying video, click here.

   Heroin and prescription drug abuse are complicating the challenges facing Omaha's homeless shelters.
     Heroin and prescription drug abuse are compounding the challenges facing Omaha's homeless shelters.
     A wave of younger people with a growing dependency on drugs is rolling in without a place to live. It's another example of the problems created by America's State of Addiction.
     "I've been flat-lined in the hospital three times," said Russell Janssen, a former heroin addict.
      Now a case manager at the Open Door Mission, Janssen knows all about the power of addiction.
     "You lose everything, but you don't care. That's the problem with it. You don't care what you lose because it becomes about the drug. It becomes about the love affair," said Janssen.
Janssen has been sober for 20 years. His addiction started with marijuana and led to heroin.
     "The problem with heroin is, eventually, you get to a point where you have to do so much heroin just to feel normal. And then if you want to get high, you have to go above that amount," said Janssen.
     He said the biggest change on the drug scene is younger men and women in the shelter, each walking the same path toward destruction.
     "Now, we see a lot more younger people coming to the program. I'm talking about 19, 20, 21, 25. It's getting worse," said Frank Bailey, program director for Siena/Francis House.
Bailey sees it too at the Siena/Francis House, the increased number of homeless adults addicted to opiates.
     "It just takes them over. And then in the process, they start losing things like house, employment, family," said Bailey.
     Omaha's homeless shelters have always dealt with drug abuse. But the challenge of how to treat those who are addicted, and still help those who are not, is as great a task as ever.
     "Our idea of sobriety is 24/7, 365," Steve Frazee, senior program director for Open Door Mission.
     Frazee said those who arrive high are kept away from the others.
     Additionally, prescribed medications are kept by staff members, under lock and key.
     The shelter is currently looking for better drug tests to use in screening, according to Frazee.
     "We sometimes get so that we have an issue of being able to detect what is something that they've been prescribed, and something that isn't," said Frazee.
      The Siena/Francis House offers more leniency. 
     Shelter is provided, and counseling is offered if clients will commit to the 120-day residential program.
     "Every person with an addiction is not a bad person. They kind of bond together," said Bailey.
     "I had a motorcycle accident." said Richard Moreno, another former addict.
     Moreno is among those benefiting from the Siena/Francis House's Miracles program .
He bears the scars of a heroin addiction that started decades ago when he was a teenager with prescribed painkillers.
     His wife died last year while he was in jail for drugs. 
     Moreno said the counseling is his lifeline.
     "I got a 12-year-old and my wife passed away in October of 2016 and I needed to fix myself," said Moreno.
     The biggest obstacle on the road to recovery -- a change of scenery.
     "You have to get them out of the environment that they're in because if you don't get them out of the environment they're in, they will constantly stay there and they'll continue to go back to what they know," said Janssen.
     For more information on the Siena/Francis House and its services, visit sienafrancis.org.
     For more information on the Open Door Mission and its services, visit opendoormission.org.

27 July 2017

Daily Life at the Mission

     Have you ever wondered what the men and women in Open Door Mission’s life-changing programs do on a daily basis? Well, each day is filled with activity for each of them. The Journey to Work Program provides hands on experience to prepare for their futures. Often this includes helping out around our campus.
     I love seeing the guys in the programs pitch in where they can. They take great pride in their work of making Open Door Mission a beautiful and welcoming campus. As the saying goes, "Many hands make light work." And these guys work together as a team to care for the campus that means so much to them.
     But they don’t only help with landscaping – there are many other projects that these men help with. God has blessed each man with a specific set of gifts, and many of them are eager for a chance to show the skills they have. It's their way of giving back in gratitude for what God has provided.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. – Mark 10:45

     God shines His light and His hand guides the men and women at the Mission. God's love is evident in more lives making His creation beautiful on the inside and outside.

Rick Ziegler
Communications Coordinator

26 July 2017

Three Baptisms

     I take some guys with me to Sojourn Baptist Church on Sundays. Last Sunday, two of them were baptized! These two men are growing in Christ and doing well in the program. Pray for Daniel and Jeff. There is always spiritual warfare when people make the right decisions for Christ.
     There is another man named Roger who is staying on the emergency side. He is a believer that struggles with drug abuse, but is doing well right now. Recently, he voiced that he wants to be a member of Sojourn Baptist. He is getting fed there and is viably encouraged.
     So I talked with him about baptism. Roger was baptized as a child, but did so for his parents. We talked about how baptism is a personal decision, born out of a relationship with Christ, and he decided to take that step of obedience to Christ and be baptized!
     We will be going over what the scriptures teach about baptism for the next couple of weeks, and then we will baptize him at Sojourn Baptist Church. Praise God for His encouragement and for the movement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of our guests!

Greg Johnston
Health Care Case Manager

21 July 2017

A Shoulder on the Streets to Cry On

Hidden among the streets are tents like these, where
the hungry and homeless seek shelter.
     She sat on a blanket made of leaves and dirt. She had tears running down her face and would barely look at me or any of the Streets of Omaha volunteers that day. So I put a bottle of water by her feet and told her Jesus loves her and we left.
     One week later, the same lady was at the same park, tears still running down her face. I walked over and sat in the grass with our volunteer named Kim. We did not say a word at first. We just sat and drank a bottle of water next to her. She seemed relieved and thankful that we sat in silence with her, and then she quietly laid her head on my shoulder and cried. She didn't say a word.  She just cried, and I let her. I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to just be still.
     Kim put her hand on this sweet lady’s back and whispered, “You can do it, one day at a time.” She whispered a few more words of affirmation to, and we said a quiet prayer over her. As we walked away she said in a gentle voice, "Thank you. I am thankful for love."
     We don't know what was wrong and we didn't need to. We do know that God was at work in her heart and that sometimes you just need to be still and let God do what He does best. On Streets of Omaha we get to do that every day. 

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Program Coordinator

20 July 2017

The Name we Carry

     We all have names that we carry. We have best friends, family, brands we like, coffee we drink, favorite foods we eat…the list goes on. The question is, what name are you carrying? Are you carrying the name of Jesus around or are you known more for brands you like, friends you keep, favorite foods you eat, or the coffee you drink? 
Louie Giglio is the pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, GA.
     Louie Giglio says, "At the end of the day, the most important name for you to carry is the name of Jesus. God is counting on you to carry the name of Jesus. At the end of the day, it's possible that your roommate, friend, family member, buddy will say, ‘I didn't know, I knew you were religious, I knew you were a Christian, but I didn't know about Jesus.’ But Christian doesn't mean Jesus to this world. I'm not knocking Christianity, but the word Christian was only mentioned twice in the whole Bible. I think a better word is Jesus—I follow Jesus, all my fountains are in Jesus, all my hope is in Jesus. The world is dying to hear His name above every name, the name that means healing, the name that means Savior and that is the name of Jesus."

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.  -Acts 9:10-19

     This story snippet of scripture is when Saul/Paul was being prepared to carry the name of Jesus, just like you and me. How much do many of our stories look this way? God came to Ananias and said, “I want you to lay hands on him so he may regain his sight.” Ananias doubted God, saying, “God do you know how evil this man is?” God replied, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name.”
     How often do we doubt God, do we ask God if He’s sure He wants us to share with this person because they are so hard hearted. God's response to us every time is that we are a chosen instrument to carry His name. 
     We are called to carry the name of Jesus, to tell our testimony, to share how God is constantly working through our life. I challenge us, is this the name we are carrying? Are we carrying this name with us every day at Open Door Mission? Are we carrying this name in our friendship circles, family, and homes?
     I say God brings people to Open Door Mission's doorstep because they need to know Jesus, whether or not the person realizes it when they arrive.  Some meet him here in a real way, some hearts are hardened, and some faith is renewed. But everyone comes to our doorstep because they are in need of healing and hearing about the name above all names—Jesus! 
     I pray that we would be people who would boldly carry the name of Jesus at Open Door Mission. I pray that we would not let fear or someone's hard heart hold us back. I pray we would know that even if someone rejects Jesus it is not about us, it is about them and Jesus, it's not personal.  I pray the reason we carry the name of Jesus is because that is the hope we have and that is at the bottom of our joy--Jesus!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

19 July 2017

A Graduate's Testimony

     I started this journey to sobriety in a treatment facility in Des Moines, Iowa, where I was kicked out for drinking. This led me to the emergency room, where I spent several days recovering.
     In January 2016, I arrived at Open Door Mission and joined the New Life Recovery Program in February. It was difficult for me at first, and in June I had to leave for 30 days because I could not quit smoking.
     I restarted the program last August, and stand before you today a graduate! For the next two years I will be a part of The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) program, which will give me a two year associate’s degree in Urban Ministry.  
     I have many favorite biblical passages, but would like to end with a quote from Micah 6:8 which reads
He has shown you O’ man what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
     Lastly, I would like to thank the staff and many volunteers at Open Door Mission. Your hard work and efforts have not gone unnoticed.
     Thank you and peace be with you all!

Dal S.
Open Door Mission Graduate

18 July 2017

Armor of God

     Every Thursday morning, it's a delight to lead a devotional time with the men at Garland Thompson Men's Center. One morning, we talked about putting on the Armor of God and how important it is to be on guard, standing your ground on what is good and true, and shutting out the evil one.  There are many parts that all come together to serve one purpose.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.  –Ephesians 6:10-20

     My hope, prayer, and encouragement for you today and going forth is to live your life shielded by the Armor of God.  

Rick Ziegler
Communications Coordinator

17 July 2017

God's Word

     Have you ever sat down to read the Bible and felt like you were trying to force something to happen? I have. I’ve opened my Bible before, closed my eyes, opened to a particular passage, and started reading, hoping it would be exactly what I needed to hear! But then, it usually ends up being something that has nothing to do with my circumstances. 
     We’ve all been there, trying so hard to make a connection with God and ending up frustrated. God doesn’t want His word to make us feel pressure; He wants His word to make us feel light and free. He doesn’t want us to come to Him feeling stressed; He wants us to come to Him feeling blessed, and knowing His word is making a difference in our lives beyond what we may feel in the moment. 
     God’s word is more than an instruction manual. It’s not just a list of do’s and don’ts. His word is a love letter. When we read it His love empowers us and deposits His strength into us. That is because His word is alive and will change your life. When we read scripture, we have to know that God is breathing His life into us. He is refreshing our spirits and directing our paths. Don’t run from the Bible, run to the Bible and receive His love because God wants to do something great in you!

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. –Hebrews 4:12

Dawn Lindsey
Communications Specialist

13 July 2017

An Encouraged Witness

     I have had the privilege to be part of the restructuring plan at Timberlake Outreach
Renovations at the Timberlake Outreach Center continue to
move along wonderfully!
Center. Through this project, I have been reminded of what God is doing in and through Open Door Mission.

     Our leaders have seen the talents and potential in our program men, and given them opportunities to give back. These men have found purpose and now I can see they actually feel alive again. God has a plan and future for all of them!
     I have witnessed men and women that have journeyed down the hard road, lost much if not everything, walked through healing in Jesus, and now are leaders at Open Door Mission!  They inspire me and give us all hope. It is a pleasure and honor to work beside them!
     I have met neighbors from our community that we have loved and cared for, given resources and spiritual direction to, and who are now working, living less dependent on hand outs and more on Him!
     It can be difficult to see day-to-day what God is doing in our hectic lives, however if we take a minute and step back, He will show us His plans and desires. I have been reminded that God’s desire is to capture our hearts, renew our minds, and teach us to rely on His strength.
     Our love for Jesus changes the landscape of our surroundings. Thank you to all wonderful staff members, volunteers, and donors that allow Him to flow in and through you into this place.
     We can trust Him in everything. God’s word promises that He is able to do more than we can ever imagine! He loves us all deeply!

Laura Keen
Homeless Prevention Manager

12 July 2017

A Personal Relationship

     Last night I met with Matthew. He grew up Catholic, as I did, so we had an instant connection.  He started sharing about his struggle to understand that just knowing about Jesus in our head was not the way to get to Heaven. I had this exact same struggle when I was younger.
     We were able to look at Scriptures together, and the Holy Spirit turned on the light for him.  As we read through John, Matthew realized that in John 1:12, 3:16, 5:24, and 14:6, Jesus was talking about having a personal relationship with the Father, one made possible through His death on the cross. Matthew came to know Jesus last night!
     Now he is a forgiven sinner, a new creation, and a new member in the greatest family on earth--OUR Family-- the Family of our Lord God.

David Eischeid
Discipleship Counselor

11 July 2017

Fun on the Fourth

     We had such a fun time on last week on the Fourth of July!  All of the residents at the Permanent Supportive Housing building got together for an indoor picnic, fellowship, and even a water balloon fight—right before it started raining.
     What a fun day it was for all that attended!  Praise God for developing community, friendships, and relationships at Permanent Supportive Housing.  I hope your Independence Day was just as blessed!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

10 July 2017

Second Men's Basketball Tournament

     Open Door Mission’s Second Men’s Basketball Tournament was held earlier this month. The first tournament was won by the staff team (aptly dubbed "White and Nerdy), so the competition was fierce on both sides this time, either to defend the title or to claim it for the first time!

     There’s a nice flat area between the Garland Thompson Men’s Center and the Lydia House, so we set up a court there.  This location worked much better than the Rebuilding Lives Center courtyard where the last tournament was held.  Being outside, we were able to have many more participants and spectators enjoy the wonderful competition.
     An Open Door Mission volunteer was able to get a basketball hoop donated so we could run a full court, double elimination tournament.  This enhanced the tournament as you wouldn't be out at just one loss. We had three referees, a volunteer, a staff member, and a resident, which kept things fair. 
     The competition was spicy, and the staff team was unable to defend their title.  The team that ended up winning was actually a group of non-typical looking ballers—two older men and a guy wearing boots!  It was truly good to see the friendly competition and fun being had by all!

Taylor Clinch
Rebuilding Lives Center Director

07 July 2017

Free Furniture and Fresh Food

     Due to store renovations, Open Door Mission is offering free furniture and free fresh vegetables, fruits, and breads at our Timberlake Outreach Center every Wednesday and Friday during July and August.
     It has been awesome to see what God can do through the inconvenience of this renovation.  We are still blessed with donations to give to working poor individuals and families, and we are still able to give these away freely in Jesus’ name!
     So check out these photos to see what these free furniture days have looked like.  And
please continue to pray for our renovations and for the new programs that will be implemented later this year to better serve our community.

Dawn Lindsey
Communications Specialist

06 July 2017

My Streets of Omaha Experience

     After ministering to the hungry and homeless during our Streets of Omaha ministry, I always ask our volunteers to share one thing they learned and one thing they loved about their experience.  Here are some answers I have gotten:

"I love that Open Door Mission, serves people not just inside their walls, but out in the community as well.  I am truly blessed by this organization’s love for people."

"I learned that people on the streets are generally very thankful and polite."

"I loved meeting Jay.  He was so kind and gentle. I loved that he talked freely to us and welcomed us into his life."

"I learned that even when they have next to nothing, people on the streets are so generous with what they do have.  I was touched by the kindness of our street friends."

"I love being able to be the hands and feet of Jesus, right here where I live."

     These are some comments made by volunteers on the Streets of Omaha team.  The experience is different every day, but one thing remains the same: people are being impacted and loved.  We strive to show the love of Jesus to people everywhere, and we do that one sack lunch at a time. 

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Program Coordinator

05 July 2017

Bragging Rights Go To...

     Yesterday was an exciting day at the Garland Thompson Men's Center!  We hosted a Spades Tournament, and there was some fierce competition.  Twenty four players duked it out at Spades in the cafeteria, including a couple staff members as well. 
     After four hours, Gooden and Charles walked away the victors.  Each won four consecutive games!  They won some sweet prizes, along with the coveted bragging rights.
     Happy Fourth of July to all of you!  I hope your community time was as sweet as ours.

Jeremy Settle
Case Manager

03 July 2017

Don't Waste Precious Energy

     Sometime last month, I sat down to do my devotions, which can be admittedly difficult with my daily list of priorities.  The last month has been difficult for me, and I have much to catch up on, many extras at home right now, medical things, financial things, family things, AND trying to finish The Urban Ministry Institute course.
     Now, I'm not organized by any standards, but I know where everything I need is and have been challenging myself to make my office neater.  Anyway, I always make sure, even in the midst of this crazy mess, to take time with the Lord.
     This was the beginning of one of my devotionals that really stuck with me, so I wanted to share it.  I hope you enjoy it, and maybe even have your mind blown!
Jesus Calling: June 19
I am the firm foundation on which you can dance and sing and celebrate My Presence.  This is My high and holy calling for you; receive it as a precious gift.  Glorifying and enjoying Me is a higher priority than maintaining a tidy, structured life.  Give up your striving to keep everything under control--an impossible task and a waste of precious energy.
     My guidance for each of My children is unique.  That's why listening to Me is so vital for your well-being.  Let me prepare you for the day that awaits you and point you in the right direction.  I am with you continually, so don't be intimidated by fear.  Thought it stalks you, it cannot harm you, as long as you cling to My hand.  Keep your eyes on Me, enjoying Peace in My Presence.
     “A waste of precious energy.”  What a thought-provoking phrase – that God desires our company far more than He desires a clean desk and tidy home.  May you find time to meet with Him today, so that you do not waste the energy He has given you.

Teresa Leishman
Case Manager

30 June 2017

Transforming Culture...Part 2

Continued from Thursday, 6/29

     But how hard is that?  Our natural default is to be negative.  The current tone in America is to be negative.  Many Christians have become like Babylonians, reflecting the culture around us instead of transforming the culture and setting a new tone a tone of positivity and justice.  God wants us to set a brand new tone. 
     We have to be people that hear and listen to the voice of God because the enemy will come after us. 
“We don’t really have an option to sit on the sidelines because generations after us need Jesus.  We need to invest our lives in things that matter and give life, the benefit will be there in our generation and generations to come and that’s what we get to be part of and why we need to be a pioneering people.”  —Aaron Coe, Passion City Church
     Some days I am so guilty of just biding my time, instead of building where I am planted.  I often have to ask myself, “God, am I building something here with what You have given me or am I wishing to be somewhere else?”
     It’s a good reminder that God has called us to be change agents.  He has called us to change the culture around us, not just conform to it.  We are to give people a reason to have hope in God!  And we are to be people that hear the voice of God and listen to it!
     Like in the verses of Jeremiah, God is calling us today to build and settle where He has us.  I pray that we would be people who set a new tone in our culture.  I pray that we would not get bogged down by our culture, but instead know that God has placed us in this moment to set a tone for positivity and justice.  Amen!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director