05 May 2016

Lifting up my Prayers

     I wanted to share a snippet of my prayer life with you all.  In the evening, I pray for Open Door Mission staff, guests, donors, volunteers, and friends.  I start the morning that way, too!
     I pray for our Graduation Ceremonies, that they reflect the power and healing of God's work at Open Door Mission.  May HE be glorified as testimonies are shared.
     I pray for even the smallest of details that Open Door Mission staff take care of, from AV to thank you letters, to peeling potatoes.
     I pray for each of the students in our life-changing programs, that God will give them comfort, peace, and strength to continue through until Graduation.
     I pray for any who come to Open Door Mission (guests, donors, and volunteers alike) that may not know Christ as their Savior, that their eyes and ears would be opened, and that their hearts may be softened to acknowledge the need for Jesus in their lives.

Candace Gregory
President/CEO

04 May 2016

Middle Years Programme

     My niece Bailey has come several times to volunteer at Open Door Mission.  She chose to focus on Open Door Mission for her International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IB MYP) Personal Project at Millard North High School, and I wanted to share it with you all.
     The purpose was to inform people about the Mission through her art.  She also created a PowerPoint as part of this project.  I am so proud of her, and it was such an honor to know that volunteering at Open Door Mission inspired her to tell others about this ministry to our community.  

Laura Keen
Homeless Prevention Manager


03 May 2016

Changing Lives

     God is changing LIVES!
     When our guests at Open Door Mission walk through our doors, the words I hear them use to describe themselves are, “Hurting…broken…abandoned…lonely… lost…burdened…forgotten…”
     But, when our program graduates walk across the stage in cap and gown at graduation, they are Loved!  Cherished!  Free!  Found!  Accomplished!  Determined!
     Our guests at Open Door Mission find hope and faith in Christ! I know we as staff are all proud of our graduates for their dedication and perseverance.  And I am blessed to be able to hear the testimonies of these changed lives and shake the hands of the graduates.  I know I am forever changed because of them!

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

02 May 2016

Free of Charge!

     Often students in our life-changing programs share with me that they have tried other recovery programs and failed.  Sometimes they did not have the insurance or the cash to qualify for a recovery program.
     Praise God that Open Door Mission provides an incredibly successful, residential, Bible-based, 12 Step recovery program for our guests FREE OF CHARGE because of so many faithful supporters in the community.  People come to Open Door Mission because they are hungry for food, BUT they are Hungry for New Life, too!
     Thank you to all who allow these programs to exist—from donors to volunteers to staff to, of course, our Lord.  It’s exciting to see each day what God is doing in the lives of these men, women, and children.

Candace Gregory
President/CEO

29 April 2016

Families Reunited Through God's Love

     Recently this was shared on our Facebook wall, and I’d like to share it with you too:

My sister is a recent graduate of your WorkNet program. Before she came to Open Door Mission, I had been counseled to write her off as dead.  After learning what drug addiction does in most cases, I thought that was going to be the advice I must follow.  I figured my sister was gone, that the drugs had become who she was, and that wasn't anyone I knew or, frankly, anyone I wanted to know or to expose my kids to.
So, from a distance, I did the only thing I knew to do--I prayed!  I prayed for her life, soul, and safety. God answered my prayers through the staff at your organization!  You put your faith in my sister, teaching her how to put faith in Jesus, and eventually in herself!  Thank you for not only saving my sister's life, but for saving her Soul
She has given her life to our Lord and after being able to spend five days with her during her graduation week I can say, it is a blessing to have my sister back! It had been six long years since I had last seen her, and with tears in my eyes, I can honestly say that you are the best thing that could have ever happened to her!   There could never be enough money in the world to compensate you for what you do in so many peoples’ lives each day!  Thank you for doing the Lord’s work.  God Bless each and every one of you!

     This supportive sister actually sat in on our WorkNet class the day before our last graduation, and I was able to see the joy and relief in her eyes as she talked about her sister and how far she had come.  It is a blessing to be able to witness families being reunited through recovery and God's love!  I felt honored to share that moment, share some laughs, and see the Lord's work being done!

Gerry Ford
WorkNet Director

28 April 2016

A Personal Interview With Candace Gregory

     Recently, our own Candace Gregory was mentioned on an Open Door Mission volunteer’s blog!  Read the inside information Beaufield Berry-Fisher got from Candace:

     For over 60 years the Open Door Mission has been committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness and poverty.  They serve over 2,000 hot, nutritious meals every day. EVERY.  DAY.  Many of the people’s lives they change are veterans of the U.S. armed forces and survivors of abusive households.  The average age for a homeless child in America?  9 years old.
     I was invited to a Brunch and Learn at Open Door Mission a few weeks ago and came out with a very different perspective than I had going in.  Candace Gregory, the Mission President/CEO and fearless leader had ignited me.  She had absolutely broken my heart, filled it again and then set it on fire.  In a good way.  Hearing the FACTS about the nations homeless population and seeing her pure dedication and passion in doing the best work she can in OUR city-was tremendous.
     I looked over at my Mom and said, “I want THAT.”  Meaning, that illuminated drive and purpose she was sharing with all of us.  It was so palpable, I haven’t shaken it off.  I’ve absorbed part of her mission and have been working to spend some of my time and energy to do work for Open Door Mission and Lydia House as well (the Lydia House is the side of Open Door Mission that cares for women and children).  There are VERY many ways to donate and serve Open Door Mission, who takes no federal funding and operates from private donations.
     So it’s my pleasure to include Candace Gregory as my Woman Crush on this Wednesday.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?  My kids…..bahahaha….I actually do not require that much sleep so I am usually up and going at the crack of dawn.
What is your motto/mantra?  It is what it is….
Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life when it comes to what you do?  Next to Jesus, my parents have been the biggest influence on me and my life. Their faith, work ethic, and integrity.
What are your personal core values?  Faith, Trustworthy, Work Ethic, and Joy.
Why do you do what you do?  It’s my calling to serve others and I want to be obedient to God.
3 Things you can’t live without.  Dark Almond Chocolate milk, my kindle, and lobster.
What do you want people to know about your job?  It’s rewarding to see lives changed every day and to see God at work in people’s lives, but it’s overwhelming and discouraging at times, the amount of need that is going unmet.
 Who is your rock?  Next to God, my husband, Steve.
Working at a Non-Profit in Omaha is:  Awesome.
What is the biggest unfairness in your world?  Social Injustice
What is the biggest joy?  Several joys come to mind – Graduation day and hearing the inspirational stories of life change, volunteers that are faithful and serving, and the ocean.
Something you think but never say.  Seriously, are you out of your ever loving mind….
Quote that just “gets you.”  “If you cannot feed everyone, then feed one.”  --Mother Theresa
What is your theme song?  Overcomer by Mandisa
How can people be involved in your organization and why is it so important?  Open Door Mission could not do what they do without volunteers.  We love volunteers.  You are never too young or too old to make a difference.  Time changes lives.

To see the original blog post, please click here.

Beaufield Berry-Fisher
Open Door Mission Volunteer

27 April 2016

All Hard Work Brings a Profit

     Last week I met with one of the renters in the Permanent Supportive Housing building.  She has been looking for a job for quite some time, applying over and over.  She was telling me about her frustrations, but showing me that she is still continuing to apply.
     One application asked for three professional references, and she had troubles coming up with three.  We were brainstorming of solutions, but she felt discouraged.  I suggested that she go to her apartment, take a break, and come back to it later.  I encouraged her to not ruminate on it, but that maybe she would think of something later on. 
     She came back about 15 minutes later with the joy of the Lord in her eyes.  “I have to tell you what just happened,” she said.  “I was upstairs praying, saying, ‘Lord please help me know what to do.’  Then a few minutes later I got a call from Wal-Mart, a job I interviewed for last week, and they offered me the job!”  She was humbly praising the Lord!
All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.  --Proverbs 14:23
     This job did not drop out of the sky for her, she applied for many positions, and has made a profit through all her hard work.  Praise God who loves to bless His children!  This is just one of many stories that happen at Open Door Mission on a daily basis.  What an encouragement it is to work here to know that God is here, alive and working every day in our community! 

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

26 April 2016

KFC is Making a Difference!

     Korah, Teresa, and the entire team at KBP's Maple Street KFC Restaurant in Omaha are making a difference in the local community.  The team has raised over $1,200 in 8 days for Open Door Mission, a Gospel Rescue Mission dedicated to breaking the cycle of homelessness and poverty. 
     Each day, Open Door Mission's campus offers 816 safe, shelter beds to homeless men, women and children and serves over 2,000 hot, nutritious meals.
     Thank you, Team Omaha, for pitching in to help a wonderful charity!
     Click here to learn how to join in KFC's fundraising through the month of April!



KBP Foods
Open Door Mission Partner

25 April 2016

Shout Out From the Learning Center

     A huge shout-out to Open Door Mission’s IT man Travis for all his work in updating the Learning Center computers!  These computers are used by the Mission’s guests to work on resumes, search for jobs, finish their GEDs, complete homework for one of our life-changing programs, and so much more.
     These men and women are so grateful!  Thanks so much, Travis!  What a blessing it is to work on a team that truly is the Body of Christ.  We each have a role, and we work best together!

Anna Razamozova
Learning Center Director

22 April 2016

Chosen

     I was encouraged by this sermon, “Chosen” by Louie Giglio, and wanted to share some of it with you.
"Some may ask, ‘If God knows everything why should I preach the gospel or go to Nepal...God’s got it.  He's in charge.  The reason is God gave us this place in the world to be an extension of God’s heart of grace and mercy to the whole world.  For we are Gods workmanship--Ephesians 2:10. God invited us to be in the story for this opportunity.  For we are created for good works so we could walk in them.
God created us in the story and gave us this amazing opportunity.  We lift up Jesus and live lives of purpose.  We walk in validation but don't wait for the moment to give us validation!"
     I pray that we may walk FULLY in our calling to the Lord Jesus Christ.  God invited us in.  He didn't say, “Well, I guess you are here…”  Instead, He said, “I have called you to be an extension of my heart to show grace and mercy to the whole world!”
     We lift up Jesus in everything we do and we walk in the validation we already have: that we have been Chosen by God to do good works.  We don't wait for someone to say it, or a moment to prove it, as God has already given that to us.  We can walk in victory of who and Whose we are!
     I am thankful to work for a place where we put ministry first in all we do, and where I work alongside such Godly people who love Jesus!  May we continue to walk boldly and share the Gospel with others who don't know Jesus.  May we lift up Jesus in word, action, and everything we do.  May we walk in the calling the Lord has given us!  That is my prayer for us today and every day! 

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

21 April 2016

I'm So Thankful!

     I want to take this opportunity to express how grateful I am to work in Open Door Mission’s Lydia House!
     While working at the Lydia House, I’ve grown immensely.  I know that God isn’t just here with the guests and those in the program, but He’s also here with the staff and volunteers.  I've seen guests grow, change, and develop into a better people, but never did I imagine when I first came on staff that God would work through me in the same way.
     The Lord has helped me grow and develop so much because of each and every person I have interacted with.  Thanks to all of you!  I never guessed I'd be so blessed upon being here, and I truly know that God works in us, through us, and through the guests for us every single day we are here.
     Daily, each person at the Lydia House impacts me in ways you may never know.  I just want to fully express my appreciation for each and every one of you for the ways you've touched my heart and my life.  I cherish each day at Open Door Mission. 
     Each staff member at the Mission is incredibly important. They come into work every day not looking for a thank you, but to do God's work and to help those in need. I am so grateful for all the things you do, those I have met and those I have not. I have seen the impact of what each of you are doing on a daily basis in each guest here.
     Please join me in continuing to pray for each staff member, the Mission as a whole, and all the programs here. 

Tyler Johnson
Family Support Worker

20 April 2016

Discovering God's Purpose

     "I did not know what a luxury it was to have a good job, until I lost mine."
     Roxie’s story is one about America’s struggling economy.  It’s one of a hardworking single mother.  But Roxie’s story is also one of hope.
     For 16 years, Roxie held an office job in California that paid the bills, provided insurance, and had flexible hours for her to take care of her family.  Then one day, the company downsized their staff, cutting Roxie’s position.
    Having some money for emergencies, Roxie was able to provide for her family for a while; submitting as many applications as she could.  Although she picked up jobs here and there, a year and a half produced no full time jobs.
     Eventually the savings and the 401k ran out, and Roxie and her family were evicted from their apartment.  So the family of four moved into a friend’s house.  “This home was nice at first, but eventually became less welcoming,” said Roxie.
     One day, the host family told Roxie that she had to move her family out.  
     Roxie decided to sell everything and move out to Omaha, NE, closer to family for support and new opportunities.
     After landing in Omaha, the family took a taxi directly to the Lydia House.  During this short ride Roxie prayed, “It’s all on You, God.”  She knew that her Lord would provide for and protect them.
     The doors of the Lydia House were so welcoming.  God opened up the exact number of sleeping mats on the floor in the Overflow Section that Roxie and her family needed.
     “The staff said, ‘Sit here, relax.  You’re safe.’”
     Today, Roxie and her family have their own family unit at the Lydia House, and things are looking brighter than ever.  Roxie graduated from the career assessment and development program, known as WorkNet, at the Lydia House.  She now has a full time job and so does her oldest daughter.
     God has been Roxie’s rock through this whole process.  He has always been there.  She is thankful that He always kept their family together and that they never spent a night on the streets.
     Her relationships with other families in the Lydia House truly have changed her as well.  “We’re all human, we’re all on the same level…I’ve learned that women going through recovery are strong and compassionate.  They get that strength from each other and from the Lord…Here is a safe place for them.”
     Click here for more stories of HOPE.

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

18 March 2016

Congrats are in Order

     I want to take this moment to congratulate a recent WorkNet graduate Chris for getting hired recently at a pizza restaurant!
     Congrats also to current WorkNet student Kari for getting hired last week at a sandwich shop.  Kari actually set a WorkNet record, at least since I became the Director, by getting hired on just the third day of class!  What an inspiration this is for her fellow WorkNet students!
     More congrats are in order to Jeremiah for getting hired at a gas station.  We also have some graduates and students with upcoming interviews, or who are waiting to hear back from employers.  Please keep them all in your prayers, and praise be to God for His blessings!

Gerry Ford
WorkNet Director

17 March 2016

True Tradition of St. Patrick

     Today is St. Patrick’s Day!  A day of leprechauns, green clothes, four leaf clovers, and pinches (for those not wearing green).  It can also be a day of green beer and drunkenness for many, an excuse to drink in access.
     The true purpose of St. Patrick’s Day is to commemorate the death of Christian missionary, St. Patrick.  Born Maewyn Succat, St. Patrick was kidnapped by a band of pirates from his native and of Britain at the age of 16.  After six years of slavery, he escaped to what is modern day France.  There he devoted his life to the Lord as a Monk, taking the name of Patricus or Patrick.
     Following the Lord’s call, Patrick traveled to Ireland as a missionary to the island’s tribes.  His personality and love for the people helped to abolish their pagan rites and bring people to the Lord—having a greater impact than any before him.
     The three-leafed clover was St. Patrick’s metaphor to explain the concept of the Trinity (three in one—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).  His faith brought Christianity to the Irish, and brought fame to his name.
     So what if today, instead of indulging, we look to St. Patrick’s example?  He reached out to the friendless, those who had never accepted to Gospel.  He cared for them, cared about their salvation, and reached out.  Let us too, reach out to those who are less fortunate, to our neediest neighbors.  And in so doing, carry on the true tradition of St. Patrick.

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

16 March 2016

Joining Together for the Homeless

     Look what Don and his group of volunteers are making at Pacific Springs.  They have all decided to join as a team to make mats out of plastic bags for those living on the streets.  Some people are collecting the plastic bags, others are making plarn, and still others are crocheting.  They are all working together to make a difference for the homeless, giving them a bit of comfort and HOPE.
     What a great reminder that we are stronger together!  And our efforts are multiplied when we join as a team.  Thank you, Pacific Springs!

Candace Gregory
President/CEO

11 March 2016

You Are Not Disqualified

     Recently, I was meeting with a client during our weekly community interviews.  We were going over general rules and what it is like to live at the Lydia House.  As she asked her questions, she became intrigued when she learned how centered Open Door Mission is around Christ and God's word. 
     She asked, "So if I lived here would I be able to join a Bible study?"
     I responded by saying that of course we would love to see her do that. 
     She responded hesitantly, "Would I still be able to even though I have a disability?  I've been told I wouldn't be good at that since I have trouble learning and remembering."
     My heart instantly broke for her.  The shame she had in her voice as she explained her disability led me to so many emotions.
     I wish she could see herself as God sees her.  I wish she knew God's heart for the disabled.  I wish she knew how much God loves her, despite all the lies she believes about herself.  I wish she knew how He wrote the Gospel for her!  So many "wishes," but mainly my heart wanted her to know that she is not disqualified from knowing Christ and what he did for her.
     It led to a good conversation, and I prayed she would leave encouraged.
     Now flash forward to last week when this guest was moving into the Lydia House.  She stopped by my office, explaining that she was getting her stuffed moved in and quickly letting me know she still wanted to join a Bible study.  The gleam of hope that lit up her eyes was something I did not see the last time.  I was able to give her a Bible we had on hand.
     Today she talked with me again.  She said she got a list of different Bible studies she could join from her case manager.  I am thankful to work alongside godly people, thankful that I know her case manager will be guiding her patiently as she processes everything.
     I pray that this woman will see God intervening in her life, and that she will experience His love for her.  Will you join me in this prayer?

Lindsay Wyant
Leasing Specialist

10 March 2016

God's Vision for Community

Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Never lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another.  –Romans 12:9-16a
     At Open Door Mission, we are BLESSED to all be followers of Jesus!  To me, this verse encapsulates all that we are able to do as staff at the Mission.
     We are able to share with the Lord’s people who are in need.  We are able to encourage and honor one another.  We are able to work with zeal towards being the best follower of Jesus and the best worker we can be.  We are able to devote our lives to prayer, assuring that God reigns in this place.  We are able to love sincerely.  We are able to practice joy in hope and patience in affliction.
     Know that these verses are my heart for all connected with Open Door Mission--staff, volunteers, donors, guests, and friends.  God has brought us all together as one community, and this is His vision for what community is to look like.  Please join me in praying this over Open Door Mission.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

09 March 2016

You're Hired!

     One of Open Door Mission’s New Life Recovery Program students, Linda, was hired at a fast food restaurant last week!
     She is excited, but nervous about starting her position soon.  Please lift her up in prayer, asking that she will lean into the Lord when she feels anxiety or doubt creeping in.
     What a pleasure it is for us as staff to congratulate her and give her encouraging words!  This will be a great new chapter for her.  Progress like this in our guests’ lives is just the encouragement I need to continue investing and believing in our programs.
     I am positive that in the next few days, we will have more news of our guests being hired.  Praise God for His blessings and how He is working in these men and women's lives.  All the credit goes to Him!

Gerry Ford
Worknet Director

08 March 2016

Hope is Being Inspired

These are just a few of the many women whose lives
are being changed by safety, love, and encouragement
at Open Door Mission's Lydia House.
     I am not usually the one to share my experiences, but what happened last week is so encouraging that I have to share.
     I was meeting with a single woman applying for the Lydia House, and she shared a bit of her story with me as we filled out her application for a room (she was currently staying in our emergency shelter).  She expressed her deep love for Open Door Mission and everything we do for the community.
     This woman talked on and on about how she loves feeling SAFE, LOVED, and ENCOURAGED at the Mission!  Since coming to Open Door Mission, she has made so many awesome friends and has a deep trust in the Lydia House staff.  This is helping her feel like she can get back on her feet again—HOPE is being inspired.
     Let me shout out to the Lydia House staff for creating such a GREAT environment!  Thank you for caring for our guests unconditionally, as Christ would.

Adely Cooklin
Leasing Specialist

07 March 2016

GED Graduate

     Rejoice with us!  Your support not only provides basic needs like nutritious meals and safe shelter, but also inspires HOPE for lasting change!  All of Heather's hard work in the Learning Center paid off yesterday - YOU are looking at Open Door Mission's most recent GED graduate.  Opportunities lead to empowerment at Open Door Mission.
     Thank you, Heather, for allowing our team and volunteers to be encouraged by you!  She has worked very hard for this achievement, overcoming many challenges along the way, and it’ll be exciting to see what God has in store for her next.

Anna Razamozova
Learning Center Director

04 March 2016

Taking Turns to Volunteer

Open Door Mission is so grateful for our faithful kitchen
volunteers, who help us serve over 2,000 hot, nutritious
meals daily!
     After work last week, I decided to go over to the kitchen and spend time with some of our guests and volunteers.
     I met a girl from Utah named Halee who was volunteering.  As we were talking, she made this statement; "Coming to volunteer at Open Door Mission has really impacted my life, each time I look forward to coming to serve.  It has made me more thankful and has touched my heart." 
     Another volunteer told me, "It’s good to serve because it’s good to help others.  But it also warms our hearts." 
     The leader of this group said, "Our girls love serving at Open Door Mission so much that I always have to draw names for who can come." 
     WOW.  Now that’s pretty awesome!  These young ladies LOVE volunteering and serving at Open Door Mission so much that they have to take turns! That makes me super proud of the organization I am privileged to be a part of.

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

03 March 2016

Starting a Fire

     This past weekend, one of my lovely coworkers invited me to a 320 Passion Conference for teens and young adults at Glad Tidings Church.  I brought two teens from my conservative Baptist church, and they left that night on fire for Jesus.  You could feel the presence of God in the church and in the people.
     I ran into Jenny who is one of our most faithful kitchen volunteers, and she had brought some men from Open Door Mission to the conference.  Jenny shared with me that a couple of these men went up and got saved!  Praise the Lord!  Jenny was crying with joy, and it was very touching to see.
     God is good, and I just had to share.

Amy Buss
Human Resources Director

02 March 2016

God is Proud of Me

     One of our WorkNet Program graduates, Jason, recently accepted a job as Activity Manager at a senior center.  Jason feels God is calling him to work with people, making this a great opportunity for him!
     I spoke to him a little at lunch.  He had called me over to his table to tell me the good news, and he was so proud of himself.  This wasn’t toxic pride, but the glow of knowing God is proud of him.  Jason was proud because he was following his heart where he felt the Lord was leading him instead of chasing money or notoriety.
     It was very humbling to see his joy and hear his infectious speech.  It appears to me, that he continues to be changed daily.  I hope and pray that Jason continues on the awesome path that God is laying out before him.

Jennifer VanLaningham
Administrative Assistant

01 March 2016

The Story of Patrick...Part 2

     Patrick returned again, and this time he was belligerent.  He was muttering under his breath, and making all of us at the store nervous.  Also shopping in the Center was a woman and her children, so we did not feel comfortable with Patrick being around them.  My director took action, and with the help of a volunteer, compelled him to leave. He resisted, but eventually left.
     That was one of our moments since opening the Family Outreach Center.
     A couple of weeks ago, Patrick came in again.  He was looking for some dress clothes.  I was the only staff working at the time, which put me on guard, watching as he walked around the Center.  But then Patrick asked me for advice about what might match, and my heart softened.  He had picked a pair of pants, and I was able to help him find a nice shirt to go along with it.
     I asked Patrick what the suit was for, and he admitted that he had a court appearance the next day for possession of drugs.  He didn't know how he was even going to get to the courthouse.  As we talked further, Patrick apologized for his behavior the last time he had visited.  His humility opened the door for me to pray for him, for the whole situation. 
     Praise God for the way He changes hearts and minds.  Although this story doesn’t have a happy ending, I know there’s still more to come in Patrick’s story.  God is working on His heart.  Please don't forget to pray for Patrick, wherever he might be. 

John Michael Den Hartog
Homeless Prevention Manager

29 February 2016

The Story of Patrick...Part 1

     Let me tell you the story of a man.  His name is Patrick. 
     We met him in the first few weeks of opening Open Door Mission’s South Omaha Family Outreach Center.  At this point, we were still figuring out the best ways to run the center.  One day he came in and said he wanted a coat.  I was at the front and asked to see his ID.  He muttered his assent, but simply looked at the coats.  He asked another question: whether or not he had to pay for anything.  I responded that he didn't, but that he did need to fill out the paperwork and present his ID.  Again, I was ignored.  He started putting on a couple of the coats, one over the other, in layers.  Once more, I asked him for his ID and to fill out the papers.  And once more, he agreed but did nothing.  As he continued trying on coats, I went to take care of something on the other side of the Center, turned around, and saw him walking out the door.
     The next time he came in, I wasn't quite so lenient.  I told him that he needed to present his ID to get anything, and this time he agreed.  He pulled out his wallet, muttering an excuse for last time.  I learned his name was Patrick from his ID.  Though he gave us an address, it became quickly apparent that he was homeless.

John Michael Den Hartog
Homeless Prevention Manager

26 February 2016

Being Diligent

     It is such a pleasure serving the Lord at Open Door Mission, alongside all of my fellow staff members.  I have enjoyed every minute so far of pouring into the men and women in our WorkNet Program.  It is a true privilege to see God work miracle after miracle in the hearts and lives of so many people that have walked through our doors.   
     So I will continue praying fervently for the staff, donors, volunteers, and friends, as well as the unique people they serve and the issues they endure.  Most of the world has no idea...
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  –Ephesians 4:1-3

Tanya Franck
WorkNet Director

25 February 2016

Riverside Reflections

     I love, love, LOVE my job!  It is a privilege speaking to students, hopefully inspiring them to be more compassionate and caring.  These are reflections from Riverside High School students really touched my heart:

"The story that Maggie told us really hit home for me. Although I haven’t met the girl in the story, I felt like I did. Her life wasn’t the best, and she didn’t make great choices, but sometimes those choices were what she had to do, even though they weren’t the best choices."

"Our speaker from Open Door Mission, Maggie, really changed my perspective on homelessness.   Her stories shed light on stereotypes about homelessness; how people judge each other before they even get to know that person's story.  People have grown up or lived a different lifestyle from you and may not have had the same resources that you had.  Someone growing up in a middle to upper class family is not going to understand a family that is living in poverty, because they don’t have to live the same way. "

"Maggie from Open Door Mission brought up a lot of good points and changed a lot of our points of view about the homeless.  She helped us to realize that everyone has a story, and we can’t judge everyone based on their outward appearance.  The person she talked about looked like a slob, the state had taken away four out of her five children, and fed her infant soda.  While in reality she did not know any better.  She grew up that way; her mother taught her to do these things.  You can’t judge people by their outward appearances, and Maggie made that point clear when she spoke to the class."

"When Maggie from Open Door Mission came to speak to us, I didn't know what to expect.  When she started speaking, it was clear that she knows her stuff about homeless and poverty.  When she told us the story about that mom, you could tell how much Maggie loves what she does and she loves to help others.  I learned a lot about poverty from Maggie. It’s cool that she works for a great organization that helps many people every day."

Maggie Cope
Community Relations Coordinator

24 February 2016

Planting the Seed

     At my men's group last week, I recognized a young man as one of our former guests.  His name is Jesse.  I talked for him for a few minutes, and he told me that the last time he was staying at Open Door Mission, he was in pretty rough shape.  He wasn't that receptive to the hope for lasting change that was being offered to him.
     Since he left our facilities, Jesse has checked into another shelter, gotten sober, and is now living in Omaha in a sober living facility.  Praise God for transformations!
     He wanted to let me know how grateful he is for what we did for him.  I let him know that it is always great to see any of our guests turn things around, even if they do it after they leave the Mission.  It truly is a blessing to be reminded that sometimes we are simply planting seeds that won’t sprout until a later time.
     Jesse said that he might someday like to come back and speak with the men in Journey to Work and New Life Recovery Program about what God has done in his life, and what He can do in theirs.  So awesome to see His work be done!

Gerry Ford
WorkNet Director

23 February 2016

A Beautiful Moment

     I wanted to take time to share the beautiful moment captured in this photo.  This is Steve, our volunteer at Timberlake Outreach Center front desk, a loving and caring person.  We truly are blessed to have him on our team.
     Please thank our volunteers when you see them.  At the Timberlake Outreach Center, this love and compassion for the homeless and near homeless is what we staff and volunteers see on a daily basis.  The lady you see in this picture was so grateful and thankful for what she received today.
     This is why we are here to serve and love and to be Jesus.
     Let's not lose focus.  Focus on Jesus and keep building our relationship with Him on a daily basis.  Then we will be able to love as fully as He does.
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.  –1 Timothy 4:16

Evelyn Valdez
Timberlake Outreach Center Receptionist

22 February 2016

Rocker Pose...for Christ!

"I came here directly from prison.  The photo’s background is of the prison across the street.  It is to represent where I was, and where I am now.  I am so grateful for everything, everyone, and praise Jesus.  I will keep trudging this road of victory, and remain an overcomer with Jesus."
     This quote is from my friend, Michael, whose story and walk have been inspirational to me.  Another other crazy God thing in Michael’s story is that one day he asked me if bass guitars were ever donated.  He explained how he used to play the bass a lot before he went to prison.
     I just so happened to have a bass dropped off to my office the week prior.  Since I have worked at Open Door Mission, this was the first time that we had ever received a bass guitar donation.
     That’s the other element to this photo—the rocker pose!
     I was considering God’s provisions during my Financial Peace class the other day.  God calls us to be patient and not try to take our blessings or the things we want before He has given us permission.  We care called to trust that God has our backs.  When we do, God blesses our socks off!
     Let Him start working in you and be diligent to Him.  Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you.  God knows what we need before we do.

Joshua Smith
Gift in Kind Director

19 February 2016

Encouraging Words

     What a blessing it is to receive sweet notes of encouragement from our volunteers, donors, supporters, past guests, and friends.  This is a note I received in the mail last month:

     Dear Faithful Brothers and Sisters at Open Door Mission in Omaha,
     Thank you for all you do for those in need.  May our Lord bless you richly and use you mightily in 2016.
     I will continue to support you in prayer and send money when I can.
     Thank you,
     Troy

     It is notes like these that keep me going, that help me press forward, no matter what troubles lay ahead.  Thank you for each person who has encouraged, supported, and prayed for Open Door Mission and our staff.  Your words mean more than you will ever know.

Candace Gregory
President/CEO

18 February 2016

What God Sees

     I recently heard Jo Saxton speak at the IF: LOCAL Gathering in Papillion via LiveStream.
     She shared this (see image) with us and it was a beautiful reminder of how God sees us all.  
     At times, we feel we are unworthy and we put our identity in that.  But always remember that God does not see that in us—we have a new identity in Christ!
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.  Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.  For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.  -Colossians 3:1-3
     It's the same story with the guests we serve.  At times all they see is the negative and put their identity in that, but God has given us a new identity in Christ!  My prayer is that we would have eyes to see ourselves and others the way that God sees us!  May God use us to show people who their identity in Christ is, and may they be encouraged to walk that out on a daily basis!
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  –John 3:17

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

17 February 2016

Blessing to Blessing

     Years ago when I was a case manager, I served a young family at the Lydia House.  Twenty years later, the mother of this family, Joyce, organized a baby shower at her church to bless the homeless mothers and babies of the Lydia House.
     It was pure JOY visiting with her.  Reminiscing together about the old facilities and how God has blessed us both so much was a treat.  You just never know how God will use someone.  The Lydia House served Joyce 20 years ago, and now Joyce served the Lydia House. What a blessing!

Candace Gregory
President/CEO

16 February 2016

Taco Bell Suprise

     Last week I went to Taco Bell for dinner.  As I was paying for my meal, Francisco came up to talk to me.  He is one of our graduates from 2015.  We were able to catch up a little, and he said he was doing fine.  He is working at the Taco Bell and living in an apartment nearby.
     We had a very encouraging conversation about life transformation and his decision to stay clean and sober.  He wanted me to let everyone know that he is eternally grateful to each person who invested in him and those who made his time with us a possibility.
     As staff, we don't all get to be harvesters all the time.  But we know that God uses many of us and our actions to be planters and cultivators, allowing people to come to Christ.  I know that many people played a part in witnessing to and praying for Francisco.  Praise God for life transformation.

Jason Green
Director of IT and Facilities

15 February 2016

An Eye-Opening Tour

     I wanted to share this personal story of encouragement with you all.  Last week, my grandparents came for their first visit at the Lydia House, and I gave them a tour.  They were in awe of all of the amazing things Open Door Mission and the Lydia House do for guests and the community. They were previously unaware of half the services the Mission’s campus provides!
     As I sit reflecting on their visit, I am overwhelmed by how lucky I am to get to work where such amazing things happen each and every day.  It feels great to share all God does here with them, and even better is to share that Open Door Mission is supported by community donations, gathered throughout the year.  God truly is good!
Click here to schedule your tour today!

Danielle Howard
Case Manager

12 February 2016

Servant Leadership

     And may I present, the President and CEO of Open Door Mission (who will have my neck for sharing this picture!).
     What does she do on a Saturday night?  Mop.  Why?  Because it needed to get done.  This is our servant-leader and I'm so thrilled to follow her giant footsteps.  We have a gem in Mrs. Candace Gregory.  Our staff, guests, and community are so blessed to have you!

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

11 February 2016

Turned Into Good

     Sometimes our hearts just need to hear some awesome words of encouragement.  So please let me share some with you today!
     Take a moment to think of Jesus Christ on the cross.  As He sacrificed His life for us, Jesus endured the most difficult moments He has known.  But out of the cross came a place of restoration, redemption, and new life.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  –Genesis 50:20
     What men meant for evil, God turned into good.  He still does that today.  Be encouraged that He can make all things work for the good of those who follow Him!

Brian Springer
Head Chef

10 February 2016

Walking in the Snow...With Canes

     On the way to pick up graduation items with my assistant Jennifer, we saw an inspirational sight.  An old couple was being escorted across the street by a gentleman who had abandoned his car to help.  We drove over, and offered a ride to their appointment.
     As we drove, they shared their story.  Apparently, they have been married for 38 years, and were walking with their canes from their home in the 18 degree, snowy weather!
     What a GREAT way that was to start our day—seeing the kindness of a stranger, being able to help these senior citizens, and hearing their story of unfailing love.  God is all around, if you take the time to look!

Steve Frazee
Senior Program Director

09 February 2016

On the Other Side of the Street

     Last week, I was driving a young man to Metro to take his first GED test.  As we were turning onto the campus, he looked around and said that he used to live in that area across the street.  That was where he was in a gang for over 10 years and where he was shot and had to run for his life with the shot wound.  Now, on the other side of the street, he was taking his first GED test.  He said that he never imagined this would ever happen and that it was incredibly humbling.
     Fast forward through the two and a half hour test, and he PASSED!  When he heard the good news, he was beaming with JOY and beyond words!
     God showed me through this that He can take us to the place of our deepest pain and turn that into triumph, as long as we turn it all over to Him. 
     Please keep this young man in your prayers so that, with God's help, he can continue on this journey, grow in his relationship with Christ, and triumph over his pain.

Anna Razamazova
Learning Center Director

08 February 2016

Snow Day! Part 2

     Each morning that I spent with our guests during the two snow day overnights was spent with our students.  What a blessing to start the day by hearing them share what God was doing in their lives and seeing many willingly offering to pray.  It was humbling and encouraging seeing each of the students rise to expectations, take their assigned tasks seriously, and work.  It was wonderful being able to empower and encourage them.  They glowed each time Amy or I praised them for a job well done.  They walked taller, held their heads higher, and smiled.
     On snow days, no one is in a hurry and there is no place to go.  This meant our guests wanted to tell their stories, and we got to listen.  Some allowed us to pray for them individually.  While working with the students, many wanted my opinion or advice or insight.  In the end, these conversations always led back to a passage in scripture and God’s Word.
     I couldn’t help but remember that the typical homeless person goes for three days without anyone speaking to them, six days without anyone making eye contact with them, 11 days without an affirmation or encouraging word, and 21 days without a hug.  Let this not be typical for homeless guests seeking services at Open Door Mission.
     BE Jesus, SO people can SEE Jesus and want to KNOW Jesus.

Candace Gregory
President/CEO

05 February 2016

Snow Day! Part 1

     During the recent Blizzard Kayla, I spent two nights sleeping over at Open Door Mission’s Campus.  How was it?  It was an adventure that I loved.  What a reassurance to know that staff were safe at home and so were our guests.  This was only the second time that I can remember spending the night on campus in my more than 20 years at the Mission.  The only inconvenience was the windows in the Administration building rattling loudly due to high winds as I tried to sleep…That and being so close to the work on my desk, knowing that it was not getting done. 
     As I reflect on those two days, the experience makes me more determined than ever to serve our guests with quality services.  I want to serve them not half way, but all the way with respect, dignity, grace, and God's love.  I want to spend more time in God's word, pray more for our guests and staff, pay attention to even small details at the Mission, and listen.
     Having to bundle up in layers to walk three blocks between the Administration Building and the Garland Thompson Men’s Center in freezing cold, bitter wind, snow, and sleet was a powerful reminder of how blessed I am.  I am grateful to have a warm home and vehicle, but also extremely sad thinking that some people have no choice but to walk in this weather.  My biggest heartache is for the many homeless who are choosing to live outside in this weather.  Yes, mental illness and addiction are factors, but I also wonder what I (we) can do to be more inviting to them.  

Candace Gregory
President/CEO