27 October 2016

A Psalm A Day

     I have been reading a Psalm a day, along with my regular devotions, for several weeks now. Today, I was in Chapter 77 where the author wonders if God is still merciful and loving.  He even questions whether God is as compassionate as He once believed Him to be.  The author is in complete anguish, confused about why he is going through his trials.  Doubt is creeping in, and he wonders if God is changing.
     But then the Lord reminds him of the previous miracles and good works that He has done in this man’s life.  God lifts the author out of his doubt.
     So how can I apply this to my life today?  I am battling a cold, which turned into strep throat, and that turned into bronchitis.  God convicted me that I was burning the candle at both ends.  History always repeats itself when I get run down emotionally, physically and spiritually.  I need to trust God that HE has it under control—EVERYTHING.  I need to trust others whom God has entrusted, too.  Trust in God the one who promises to give us life abundantly.  Who is your trust in, today?
     As we go into the busy Holiday Season, do not let Satan distract you from the opportunity to share the Gospel with others.  BE Jesus, so others can SEE Jesus and want to KNOW Jesus.

Candace Gregory

26 October 2016

Microwave Message

     One of our Men’s Emergency Center staff members, Jim, does a wonderful job of connecting with the homeless men who come through the Mission’s doors.  He shares a wonderful, unintimidating "Microwave Message" devotional with these guys.
     In only 15 minutes, he shares a passage, asks questions, and invites questions.  By the end of those 15 minutes, these men are connecting the Word, Jim, and each other.
     Jim embodies what our ultimate goal at Open Door Mission is: Be Jesus, so people can See Jesus, so people can Know Jesus.

Steve Frazee
Senior Program Director

25 October 2016

And the Gold Ladle Goes To...

 This past weekend we had our Annual Ladle of Love event, and I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who helped make it such a success!
     Alexandria and Rick helped to coordinate pickups, Josh and Scott helped haul tables, Pat and his team helped prepare the Dining Room, men and women in our programs helped bus tables, and the kitchen staff helped make sure all the soups were hot and ready to eat.  That’s not all!  I’m grateful for all staff that attended our event on their day off with their families!
     We had a record-breaking 27 soups from very generous chefs across the area.  The competition for the bronze, silver, and gold Ladle of Love Awards was fierce!
     If you were unable to attend this year, be sure not to miss this fun afternoon next year!

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

24 October 2016

HOPE for Lasting Change

     I had a gentleman come to the Men’s Emergency Center tonight who is originally from Council Bluffs.  He has quite a story of emotional abuse, and admitted that he had recently quit taking care of himself.  At that time did not want to live due to his home situation which was leaving him feeling worthless.
     It's always amazing to see how God can lead someone to the right place and right person at just the right time.  As he continued his story, the man talked about how he had visited the Council Bluffs Family Outreach/Donation Center, and that one particular staff member there was so kind to him.  He was amazed to be treated kindly, to receive free clothes and food, and to be treated like a person who matters.
     This encounter gave him the courage to come to Open Door Mission’s main campus, seeking lasting change.  At this time he, is considering joining the New Life Recovery Program to gain skills for getting out of and staying away from his current self-destructive lifestyle.  Please pray that he chooses to stay and that the Lord continues to work on his heart!

Daniel Jones
Intake Coordinator/Case Manager

21 October 2016

Mindy C. and her GED

     Please join me in congratulating Mindy for obtaining her GED!  She has worked hard on it since starting the New Life Recovery Program in February.  After months of preparation and studying, she took the last three tests (back to back, yesterday and today) and passed them all with amazing scores!
     Mindy was in the most recent Graduation Ceremony, with a GED certificate in one hand and a New Life Recovery Program certificate in the other!  Please keep her in your prayers for God's continued guidance in her life.  Thank you!

Anna Razamazova
Learning Center Director

20 October 2016

Seeing More Clearly

     Dr. Matthew Taylor from Ideal Eye Care in Council Bluffs has been volunteering at Open Door Mission’s Free Health & Healing Clinic.  He works with our guests to help them see more clearly, and boy is it a blessing!  Dr. Taylor does an eye exam and gives them the prescription for their glasses.  Then, Prevent Blindness works with our guests to help them get their glasses.  It's a great partnership that helps our guests see clearer so they can SEE clearer. 
     Oh, and a side note: a couple of weeks ago, after spending the morning in the clinic, Dr. Taylor dashed out to the golf course for the A United Golf Tournament! What a guy!

Kate Fischer, LIMHP
Free Health & Healing Clinic Director

19 October 2016

The Strength God Provides...Part 2

     We should also ask while serving, “Do I serve with the strength God provides?”  For if we serve out of our own strength, we will grow tired and weary, eventually burning out.  But if we serve with the strength God provides, we will be rejuvenated, refreshed, and pouring over with the love of Christ. 
     The overall theme I have learned is that living for the Lord requires a stance of humility.  I can say these verses, but if my heart is prideful, I am not apt to listen.  Conversely, if I humble myself and say, “Okay God: I humble myself because you know better,” then I will see God show up every time.
     My prayer is that in this approaching busy holiday season at Open Door Mission, our words be the words of God.  That we would make time and room for God!  That we would stop and praise the Lord, even if we have a to-do list a mile long.  That we would serve in God's strength.  That we would humble ourselves and say, “Lord, may You have Your way.  And would You help me to serve in Your strength, not my own! I need less of me, Lord.”
     I am praying that we would have testimonies to share with each other how God has shown up, and that we will point more people to Jesus in all situations!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

18 October 2016

The Strength God Provides...Part 1

     I was reading this last week and found it encouraging!
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.  If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.  Amen.  –1 Peter 4:10-11
     What stuck out in this passage to me is that we are to use whatever gifts we have received to serve others.  We should not envy gifts others have been given, but be grateful for those God has given us and grateful that they can be used to serve others.  Through this attitude, we are being faithful stewards!
     Also, verse 11 talks a lot about humility.  God calls us to humble ourselves and ask honestly, "Would our words be the words of God?"  Pray that we would speak the word of God.

To be continued tomorrow, 10/19.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

17 October 2016

Do not be Afraid

     As I walked to meet a man standing on the side of the road with a sign in his hand, something about his eyes touched my soul.  I could see brokenness, despair, and defeat in his eyes.
     A volunteer from Lifegate Church named Jim must have seen the same look.  He instantly gravitated to the man, and within minutes they had begun sharing stories of life together.  They soon came to find out that Jim and this man had similar stories.
     As Jim spoke with our new found friend, I could hear the compassion, understanding, and love in his voice.  I stood back and watched the two men converse for roughly thirty minutes.  Jim reached out his hand, asking if he could pray, and in response the men reached into his pocket and pulled out a medallion that said "Do not be afraid for I am with you always."  They both smiled and together we prayed. 
    The man told us that he knew God is always watching over him because whenever he reached a time in his life where he felt alone, God sent someone or something into his life as a reminder that he is never alone!
     As Jim and I walked back to the van, we prayed for our new friend again.  God has a perfect plan for this man.  We may not know what it is and we may never know or understand it.  But we will continue to be the facilitators of God’s grace and love.
     We would love to have you come and be a part of Open Door Mission’s Streets of Omaha team where you can share the healing love of Jesus to the broken. 

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

14 October 2016

Cooking With Marilyn

     A couple of evenings ago, a volunteer named Marilyn came to the Permanent Supportive Housing Building for a fun night!  She taught some of our tenants how to make an easy soup recipe, and afterwards we were all able to enjoy the finished product!
     Our volunteers are amazing at Open Door Mission!  It is so fun to have fellowship with others, learn something new, and see volunteers use their unique gifts to bless others.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

13 October 2016

Busy in Council Bluffs

     Recently I stopped by to visit Open Door Mission’s Council Bluffs Family Outreach & Donation Center and found a lot happening!  The parking lot was full, there were six needy families shopping for essentials inside, and there was a volunteer sorting through donations in the back.
     On top of all of that, our wonderful staff member Phil was helping several more ladies at the front desk, checking them in so that they could go shopping as well.  Way to go Phil!  What a blessing this is to see our newest Outreach Center so full of life, a vibrant place where the Gospel is being shared.

Steve Frazee
Senior Programs Director

12 October 2016

Nine Years...Part 2

     Every job at Open Door Mission is part of the hands and feet of Jesus.  Thank you to all staff members for your servant hearts, hard work, and love for Jesus and the Mission’s guests.  Open Door Mission is blessed to have YOU be a part of this amazing team.
     Thank you for being a part of my journey these past nine years.  If you have worked for one month or nine years, each one of you has been a blessing to me.  I am looking forward to what God has in store for us over the next nine years at the Mission.
     Let me say this: hold on to your hats because God is on the move!  Have you seen what He has done just in the years since I have been here?  This is just the beginning of what God is doing at Open Door Mission!
     This photo is a bit of Mission history.  During construction of the Permanent Supportive Housing Building, we had to walk through Fleet Pride’s back gate to get to the Administration Building.  It was during the rainy season, making the gravel road very muddy.  So I wore these cute boots almost every day!  Just a reminder of how much God has done. 

Amy Buss
Human Resources Director

11 October 2016

Nine Years...Part 1

     I love this quote, "When God nudges our heart beyond what we can manage and manipulate on our own, we have an opportunity to act on the faith that we profess to believe.
     God can handle every situation we face.  He is the very essence and definition of what is good.  He will always do what is right and we can trust Him to ultimately not let us fall or fail.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  –Hebrews 11:6
     Nine years ago, I took a leap of faith.  I was asked to lie by my old employers, so I left my job without having another one.  But God provided for me.  He had a plan for me.  I doubted Him for months, but when I finally laid my life down at His feet in complete trust, He gave me a job in full time ministry.

To be continued tomorrow, 10/12.

Amy Buss
Human Resources Director

10 October 2016

Ready for the Winter

     The weather hasn’t turned very cold yet.  Because of that, it would be easy for us as Open Door Mission staff to only think about what we need right now.  But, just as Joseph was placed by God in a position of power in Egypt to help save many lives during the unforeseen famine, God has used an AWESOME donor to drop off boots for this winter!
     Look at this photo!  It’s only one of several sections of boots.  Nearly all of these boots are new, sized together, paired, and organized neatly and ready for homeless men this winter.  To my knowledge, Open Door Mission has never had a blessing like this before the winter season even begins!
     I have seen sizes 9.5 to 13, but there are probably many more I haven’t seen yet.  Please lift up a praise to our God for covering us from HEAD TO TOE!  He always provides, and He sure is smart!

Taylor Clinch
Rebuilding Lives Center Director

07 October 2016

Vessel for the Lord

  Take a look at this beautiful sight!
  Jennifer, our Programs Administrative Assistant, was helping this young man who lives in Open Door Mission’s Permanent Supportive Housing building with his homework one night after work hours.  I hid around the corner listening to her speak patiently, calmly, and with so much love.
     It is such a joy to work in a place where we can just love on people.  Jennifer does that so well, and she is a perfect example of what it means to be a vessel for the Lord.  Despite the late hour and her pile of work, Jennifer took the time to just love on this young guy!
      Thank you Jennifer for being a great servant leader, and thank you to all other staff who love our guests so well!

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

06 October 2016

Two Right Decisions

We must trust God's perfect timing!
     Recently, a gentleman who I’ve gotten to know during his time at Open Door Mission over the last two years has made two right decisions.
     First decision: to join our New Life Recovery Program and finally find lasting change.
     Second decision: even better than the first is that he decided to ask Christ into his heart!  Now he has begun a whole new life journey.
     Praise the Lord for His grace and how He waits patiently, so that "...none will perish, but all will come to repentance".
     It is hard to see a man come in for help and leave, multiple times.  But this moment we are in is not eternity.  The One who holds Eternity in His hand, also holds each of our guests.  In our frustration, God gives us patience in assuring that He knows the moment when each guest will be ready to step into life change.

David Eischeid
Discipleship Counselor

05 October 2016

Another Hire!

     WorkNet graduate Stacy was hired by a local motel chain!  She will start in the next few days.  Stacy is paroled here and will be returning to her hometown in November where she has been offered her old job back, but it’s exciting for her to be able to work until that time.
     Stacy has mentioned to me that she has built some great relationships during her stay at Open Door Mission, and is so grateful that our programs are Christ-centered.
     I'm happy for her and love to see in Stacy that what we do as a team, from floor support to senior leadership, has a positive effect on the people we serve!  Her life is forever changed since coming to Open Door Mission, praise God!

Gerry Ford
Worknet Director

04 October 2016

Little Lights of Christ

     Last week, Christ Community Church’s first through fifth grade students donated 260 pounds of bottled water and granola bars.  Each was hand-wrapped in memory verses, each verse picked for its message of hope and life.
     Thank you to Christ Community Church’s young students for their love and concern for homeless men, women, and children.  These granola bars and bottles of water will be handed out to people on the streets living in great darkness.  May each verse be a little light of Christ.

Jason Green
Director of IT and Facilities

03 October 2016

Prayer Request

     The Streets of Omaha team has been serving a young lady who lives on streets for a few weeks now.  Whenever our van encounters her, we hand out sack lunches and water, prayer for her, love on her, and make sure she knows that Open Door Mission is here for her when she is ready to come.
     This woman is also pregnant, and last week I was surprised to see her come into the Mission’s Free Health & Healing Clinic.  Apparently she has been having some difficulties in her pregnancy, and is worried about having a miscarriage.  She has never been to Open Door Mission before, or to any other for that matter, so this was a big step for her.
     The volunteers at the Clinic decided she should be taken to the hospital to get some much needed care.  Please pray for her and her child.
     Before they took her to the hospital, she said this to me, “I can't do this anymore.  I can't be homeless.  I need help."
     So also please praying she decides to stay at the Lydia House.  She seemed scared, but we know that she is in God’s hands. Please pray for this precious young girl.

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

30 September 2016

Bacon Cheeseburgers and God's Presence

     Those of you that did not make it to the Community Picnic last week to get a bacon cheeseburger, you really missed out!
     Our Community Picnic Outreach was fantastic this year due to many of our staff and faithful volunteers working together to make it happen.   There is no way the Volunteer Department alone could handle a bonus day at the Timberlake Outreach Center, making 1,500 bacon cheeseburgers at the kitchen, serving all those bacon cheeseburgers, and running carnival games!
     God continues to show His presence at our events and make no mistake that people are drawn to participate in our events for this reason.   We were blessed to be able to work side by side with almost every department in one way or another for this event, and because of our unity, we were able to smoothly serve every person that Jesus sent to us today!
     THANK YOU to everyone that helped out, we appreciate you and want you to know that you are AMAZING!
     My favorite picture of the day is captured in this photo.  This gentleman stood alone in front of the dock at the kitchen (as others were walking by, eating, talking, playing, etc) and just stood, looking at our volunteers Dave and Amber as they sang worship songs.  This man stood and listened intently to the words Dave sang for two full songs.
     As Dave sang words about forgiveness, this gentleman just began nodding and continued to soak in the words and music.  Just thinking about it still gives me goosebumps!  I feel privileged to have seen this interaction and know that God is at work.  God is so good and we are so blessed!

Amy Harvey
Volunteer & Partner Director

29 September 2016

Cowboy Party for Homeless Men

     Two volunteers at the Rebuilding Lives Center know how to throw a party!  Last week they threw a party for our men that was Western-themed.
     They taught line dances, had a hay bale cake, cowboy games, and individual gifts and cakes for each man with a birthday in September.
     Each cake was personally made and decorated by Sherri.  Gena works with her church and local vendors to get gifts for each man.  The cakes and gifts are personalized for each man based off a questionnaire the men fill out, which includes questions about favorite themes, icing, kind of cake (or pie), etc.  In short, this party is real blessing to our men.  It is very special.
     The coolest thing about connecting with volunteers is their passion for our guests, and their drive to always kick it up a notch.  With their excitement and connections, volunteers and donors can bring a level of care and love to our guests that we staff wouldn’t be able to bring without them.

Taylor Clinch
Rebuilding Lives Center Director

28 September 2016

Chosen in Love

     I found this to be very encouraging, and wanted to share it with all of my Open Door Mission friends.
     J.D. Greear said, "What is important is that you live with the assurance that God chose you, in love, before the foundation of the world.  And that if He chose you before the world began, He will never give up on you for any reason.  He is working His good plan even in your darkest moments.  And you can boldly proclaim the Gospel to those around you because God determined those are the means in which He will save souls."
J.D. Greear is the Lead Pastor of  The Summit Church of
Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina.
     What a great encouragement this is, to stay the course no matter what!  There will be times when we as humans will fail, when we feel like giving up, but God will NEVER give up on us.  He chose us specifically, and that should inspire great hope within us.
     Ephesians 1:4-10 says, “For he chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love, He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will— to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us.  With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”
     Take heart, my fellow workers!  God has called us to a higher purpose, and He is using us to save souls.  What better calling could there be?

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

27 September 2016

Packages of Diapers

     This is James.  He is in a community service program at Lakeside Hospital, and a recent assignment was to choose a non-profit in the area to support in some way.  We are so blessed that James chose Open Door Mission’s Lydia House, and donated 15 packages of diapers!  These will be used for homeless babies staying at the Mission, and provide great relief to their mothers.
     Daily, we are reminded of how generous a community we live in and how much God blesses us with His favor.

Shelly McCullough
Day House Supervisor

23 September 2016

A Tale of Faithfulness

     I recently was able to witness a volunteer bless a woman who was staying at the Lydia House. 
     Early in the week, this woman was accepted for an apartment that she loved, but the complex required a $180 administration fee that she couldn't pay.  This woman had already faced SO many setbacks in securing housing, and was beginning to lose hope.  Her assistance was on the edge of expiration, pending on if she signed a lease, but she couldn't sign until the fee was paid
     The next day, this woman and some other ladies from the Lydia House were praying into this situation during lunch when a volunteer came over and asked what they were praying for.  They explained the story to him, and the volunteer graciously decided to pay the fee for her.  She signed the lease the following morning!
     Each time this woman had faced a setback in her search for housing, her first response had been to pray and trust God.  It was amazing to see her faithfulness, this volunteer’s faithfulness, and (of course) God’s faithfulness!

Ashley Carlson
Lydia House Case Manager

22 September 2016


     Shwin lives at the Lydia House with her children and has been such a hard worker since the day she moved in.  Last week, Shwin obtained her GED!  This is such an exciting and well-deserved accomplishment!
     Shwin studied in the evenings after work and on the weekends in the Library.  Her persistence and dedication payed off when she passed her last test!
     Please join me in congratulating her!  With her dedication and hard work, I am confident that God will continue to bless Shwin’s efforts to provide for her family. 

Anna Razamazova
Learning Center Director

21 September 2016

Day of Caring

     Last month the Volunteer was able to be a part of the United Way Day of Caring!  This is an annual event where different businesses and individuals sign up through United Way to volunteer throughout the day at different agencies, showing their support for the community.
     We are so grateful for each volunteer that stopped by that day, dressed in their Day of Caring shirts!  Our hope and prayer is that these volunteers loved their experience and LOVE what we do here at Open Door Mission, so they will tell others about it and return (with friends!).  Hopefully this was accomplished.
     Additionally, THANK YOU to the staff who worked with the Day of Caring volunteers!  Many amazing staff members stepped up alongside our Volunteer Department to make this day a success.  
     We are thankful for the opportunity to tell others about what God is doing here at Open Door Mission and to have such a supportive team of co-workers that are willing to jump in when needed and lend a hand in spreading that message!  Don’t miss out on next year’s United Way Day of Caring!

Amy Harvey
Volunteer & Partner Director

20 September 2016

Desperate for Hope

     I wanted to share this story from a few days ago and ask for prayers.
     At our Administration Building’s front desk, I received a call from a man begging for prayer.  He quoted scripture accurately as he described his desperate need of help.  I prayed with him and his wife over the phone, reminding them both that God loves them and wants the best for them in all situations.  Then I encouraged them to continue praising God even when faced with troubles and to cast all of their cares on the Lord.
     This conversation stuck with me into the night, and I kept thinking of this man and woman.  They are living in a motel room, far from home, and desperate for affordable shelter as they face many medical difficulties.
     I started feeling an overwhelming sensation of thankfulness.  It is so easy to forget where I have been, but moments like these remind me of how good God is, no matter what.
     Would you please keep this couple in your prayers?  Ask that they would find appropriate housing for their situation and they would rely upon the Lord.

Cynthia Mier

19 September 2016

The Pain of Hunger...Part 2

Continued from Friday, 9/16.

     We packed his back pack full of bottled water and sack lunches.  I talked to him about seeking shelter and gave him Open Door Mission’s number.  His eyes were full of tears as he gave a final hug, and I asked once more if I could call Open Door Mission to come pick him up.  He assured me he had a plan for his night and would be fine. 
     This boy didn't say much or tell us much about his life story.  He did teach us about being full of thankfulness, that life is precious, and that sometimes all you need is a hug and to know that someone truly cares about you. 
     He left knowing that he was loved, cared for, prayed for, and (most importantly) he left hearing that there is a Man named Jesus Who came to this earth, died on a cross for him, and Who loves him more than he can imagine.  This boy left knowing that God sends people like our Open Door mission Streets of Omaha Volunteers to show love, acceptance, and grace to those we meet.  That is the overflow of the same that has been shown to us.
     Yes it started with a sack lunch and water but it ended with this hungry boy feeling full, accepted, and LOVED!

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

16 September 2016

The Pain of Hunger...Part 1

     You know that feeling you get when you haven't eaten all day?  You get a low grumble in your stomach that eventually turns into a slight cramping pain.  The thought of that feeling came to my mind as I spoke to a young 18 year old boy who shared with me that he hadn't eaten in days.
     Of course, our Streets of Omaha volunteer team handed him a sack lunch, but then this boy just sat still, looking at the sandwich he had pulled out of the lunch.  After a moment, I asked him why he didn't want to take a bite.  His response stabbed my heart like a knife as he said, "I am trying to decide how much I should eat.  I know I will be hungry later."
     As I tried to fight back tears, one of our volunteers asked him if we could hug and pray for him.  He agreed, and we each gave him a hug.  It was one of the tightest hugs I think I have ever received.

To be continued on Monday, 9/19.

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

15 September 2016

Labor Day Cookout

     Our Permanent Supportive Housing family had a Labor Day cook out last weekend, and it was such a wonderful time of fellowship!  It is awesome to gather together as a community, to support one another and hear how God is working in each other’s lives.  We did have to eat inside because it was so humid, though!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

14 September 2016

God is at Work

     I got to throw a PARTY in the elevator last week.  One of our New Life Recovery Program graduates and long- time tenants at the Rebuilding Lives Center got a full time job!
     It has been a long road for him, but now he will be working two different jobs.  His financial picture has completely shifted, and he is so grateful!  Praise God for His provision in each of our lives, always at just the right time. 
When it seems hopeless for those we serve, God is at work. 
When everything is at a stall, God is at work.
When we have done all we can do, God is at work. 
When .... Ever, God is at work.
     Remember to celebrate God's work with and for those we serve!

Taylor Clinch
Rebuilding Lives Center Director

09 September 2016

United in Prayer

     Last week, we had a prayer meeting of many men of all ages and from all parts of the United States and abroad.  We all came together for a powerful time of prayer before the Cornhusker AA Roundup.
     This truly was a joy to see people from all backgrounds praying together.  There is nothing quite like the Body of Christ living as true disciples of Christ.  Not only was this a beautiful sight to see and a special time to be a part of, but it was a great reminder of how God is changing lives and destinies!

Pat McKernan
Garland Thompson Men’s Center Director

08 September 2016

A Fresh Start

     "There are no strangers to me, Jessica.  There are only friends I haven't met yet."
     These words were spoken to me, followed by a big hug full of gratitude, by a man we met on the streets.  The volunteers and I listened to his story which he told with conviction and pain in his eyes.  What was the most touching was when he told us about his new found relationship with Jesus and his plan to change his life. 
     I will never forget the look he gave me when he said, "Thank you, ladies, for showing love to me today.  It is a reminder of Christ’s love for me."  The look in his eyes spoke to me more than the words out of his mouth.  His eyes told his story.
     "I am hurting, and I am hungry but I am not ALONE,” he said.  “I am a new creation, I am set apart for a bigger purpose, I am child of God.  He protects me, loves me, and changes me every day.  I am loved!"
     We spent 45 minutes talking to our new friend. In those minutes, we laughed, cried, prayed, and hugged our new friend and brother in Christ.
     Two days later, we were on our way to another Streets of Omaha location when I heard someone shouting my name.  I looked over and there was our friend, getting ready to get on a bus heading to his fresh start.  I got out of the van and gave him a big hug.  We prayed again and said farewell as he boarded his bus.
     These moments will never be forgotten.  To think it all started with a lunch. 

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

07 September 2016

Thirsting for Something More...Part 2

Continued from Tuesday, 9/6.

     People encouraged him to come down to Open Door Mission to get help, which he did reluctantly.  After weeks of debating of whether or not to join the New Life Recovery program, Dillon recalls the day he looked up to the cross in Open Door Mission’s chapel. At that moment, he sought Christ with his whole heart and  became a born-again Christian. The hurt he felt was gone. He learned to let go of the anger and bitterness.
     Dillon did join the New Life Recovery Program and graduated in January. Dillon now has a restored relationship with God and an understanding of who Jesus Christ is. He draws from that cup every day, inviting the Holy Spirit into his life. Dillon says, "If I don't call on the Holy Spirit daily, I will be prideful and destroy myself." He has learned to ask the Holy Spirit to be inside of him and help him make life-giving choices. 
     He now works at a local recovery center where he gets to serve others. Daily, he sees reflections of his former self full of anger and emptiness walk through the doors in need of help. He is thankful for Open Door Mission as he has found that missing piece, Jesus Christ. With Jesus at the center of his life, Dillon has rebuilt his relationship with his daughter, goes to work every day, prays and believes in God.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

06 September 2016

Thirsting for Something More...Part 1

     Following the divorce of his parents at the tender age of three, Dillon bounced from foster home to foster home enduring years of pain and physical abuse. He attempted to live with each parent but living with either a violent father or a drug-addicted mother didn't make safe alternatives for a child.
     He recalls his father jumping from girlfriend to girlfriend all the while abusing him and his sister. On the other hand, his attempt at living with his mother and step-father resulted in Dillon selling drugs in middle school. At age 13, he was placed in a youth correctional facility. 
     Dillon's rebellious life continued into adulthood. His daughter was born when he was 32 and he realized he couldn't live a double life of dealing drugs and raising a family. The time had come to pick one. He got clean and sober for three years but there was still a piece that was missing that led him back to drugs and alcohol.
     He started his own tree company and kept busy with work but thirsted for so much more. He felt a tremendous void in his life, one that in the past was filled with drugs and alcohol.  Dillon’s negative thoughts were consuming him and his life was falling apart.

To be continued Wednesday, 9/7.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

02 September 2016

Bingo Night

     Once a month I hold a Bingo Night for my tenants at the Permanent Supportive Housing
building, and they LOVE it!  Our most recent Bingo Night was a little different in a HUGE way.
     One of my tenants found out some horrible news about his brother, and he was devastated.  This man and his wife asked if we would be willing to pray for his brother, and I said yes.  We took a break from bingo, and everyone and held hands in a circle.  Together as a family, we stood in agreement in the power of prayer.  I started us off, but many others prayed in between, feeling called to pray in that moment. 
     About 25 of us took a small moment to powerfully stand together and pray for this precious family.  We stood together as a community in Christ's love.  It was a beautiful scene; one of such beauty that a photo could not capture!  Praise God for unexpected prayer meetings, community with other believers, and the spiritual maturity of our tenant at the Permanent Supportive Housing building.  My heart is exploding!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

01 September 2016

Sharing the Gift of Salvation

The Water's Edge is one of many churches who join Open Door
Mission in helping hungry and homeless men, women,
and children.
     I was homeless for about a year and a half, travelling through many different cities across Iowa and Nebraska.  Please allow me to share a little about my experience.
     One major thing I learned is that is no way for a Christian organization to force homeless men and women into finding Christ.  They simply need to be there as a shoulder to lean on in the darkest of days for these hurting people.
     Now the beauty of God's grace is that He led me to Open Door Mission, where God is truly working and where they have figured out that forcing Jesus doesn’t work.  My life was forever changed at this place, and I now have my daughter, a full time job, and a wife that I love with all my heart.  I have a great church and an ongoing relationship with the men who helped me at the Mission.  My mentor was actually the one who officiated our wedding.
     The reason Open Door Mission worked is because they have the support of multiple churches that don't only contribute financially, but also volunteer their time and extend helping hands to build personal relationships.  These relationships are what help men and woman make conscious decisions to follow Christ willingly.
     Religion isn't forced upon as a condition to stay at Open Door Mission.  Christ is openly and frequently mentioned, but not in a mandatory manner.
     The churches affiliated with the Mission that I have attended are selflessly devoting their time and efforts towards helping the hungry and homeless.  Now, by the grace of God, I'm here today and can say that the journey was all worth all I’ve learned.  It’s a privilege to be an example of how God can work on you, taking you from depths of the valley to the highest of mountains, and truly change your heart.
     I hope that this blesses anyone who reads it, from volunteers to donors to church partners to any seeking help.  I felt it was necessary to share my personal experience, and I hope it provides a better understanding of what needs to happen so that more men, women, and children can have and share in the gift of salvation.

Open Door Mission Guest

31 August 2016

Being Jesus With Skin On

     I wanted to say a huge, “Thank you!” to Brian Springer, Open Door Mission’s head chef.  He showed up a couple of weeks ago to mow my daughter and son-in-law’s grass, despite the the horrible heat and humidity!
     My daughter and her husband are brand new parents, their baby is just days old.  So they're still trying to figure out how to juggle everything.  Knowing this, Brian reached out and was such a blessing to them!  Not only did he mow the lawn, but he went above and beyond with trimming and everything.
     Open Door Mission is blessed to have staff who live selfless lives, both at the Mission and in their everyday lives.  Thank you, Brian, for being such a blessing and Jesus with skin on to people you don’t even know.

Teresa Brown
Open Door Mission Volunteer

30 August 2016

Angry No More...Part 2

Continued from Monday, 8/29.

     Finally Trudy’s brother brought her to Open Door Mission’s Lydia House.  For months she had resisted this center, knowing their programs are Christ-centered.  She was convinced that after all that had happened in her life, God must hate her.  “I came here really angry at God, and I was not going to change my mind,” said Trudy.
     That all changed one night, when inspired by the Scripture on the walls, Trudy began reading her Bible.  She started with Psalm 6, went on to 7, 8, and countless more.  “I felt then,” Trudy said, “like God was the only one who could save me.  I said, ‘Look God, I’m really mad at You, but I really need You.  So I just have to trust that You’re going to be good to me, and that You’re going to help me through this, because I am lost without You.’”
     It soon became a dream come true.  She joined the worship team, and now has the truths of those songs and Scripture in her heart.  “Who knew I could worship Him in the most natural thing that comes to me?”  Trudy said.  “Music is a God-given blessing.”
     The Open Door Mission staff have also been a blessing to Trudy, taking time for her and putting their energy and love into this place.  Trudy’s dream is to one day help other addicts, especially those with multiple diagnoses like Trudy has.  She now has custody of her youngest, and is close to getting her other son back.
    “Once they brought God into it, my recovery became possible,” Trudy said.  “Before I had all the need and all the reason in the world to get clean, but until I had opened my heart to Jesus, I had no will.  Now a huge burden has been lifted off my heart.”

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

29 August 2016

Angry No More...Part 1

     Trudy spent most of her life angry at God.  It wasn’t until she had hit rock bottom that she began trusting Him, that she experienced true lasting change.
     Her childhood was difficult to say the least.  She watched her parents get divorced, lived with her drug addicted mother, and stayed in abandoned houses and cars.  After years of this lifestyle, Trudy’s mother was sent to prison, so Trudy went to live with her father.  In time, Trudy was a functioning alcoholic.
     Trudy’s older brother taught her how to play guitar.  This became a way to escape the harsh realities of life, and soon she got into music full time.  She joined a band and played bars each night, which added to her alcoholism and introduced her to cocaine.
     Trapped in a nightmare of addiction, Trudy welcomed three children into this tumultuous life.  She recalls life on the snowy streets while pregnant, struggling to survive; having a son who was born with illness; living in her car; and recovering from a car accident.
     Eventually this downward spiral led to losing custody of her children and unbearable heartache.  She knew life needed to change, and began a journey to sobriety last November.

To be continued on Tuesday, 8/30.

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

26 August 2016

New Wheels

     One of our Journey to Work Program graduates just receive some new wheels!  God truly is taking care of Yusufu!
     He shared with me that he recently got a job downtown, and his shifts end very late at night.  As he rides back to Open Door Mission on his bike, drunk people often throw beer bottles as well as insults at him.
     Now has safe passage to and from work, and a way to transport his young children.  This was what Yusufu was most excited about, as now he can take them to church with him!
      Praise God for His goodness!

Joshua Smith
Gift in Kind Director

25 August 2016

I Need Your Prayers

     We get the privilege here at Open Door Mission to stand back and watch God work in the lives of the people we serve.  I had one of those God moments with our Streets of Omaha volunteers today.  Their names are Heather and Lashawnda. 
     We pulled up to a corner lot where two individuals were sitting on the grass.  Lashawnda and Heather handed out bottles of water, packets of hygiene items, and sack lunches to these sweet folks.
     As I was walking back to the van, I heard a soft voice say, "I need your prayers."  I turned around and witnessed this beautiful sight: Lashawnda was praying over these two beautiful people.  Her powerful prayer asked for hope, love, protection, and God's guidance over them.  Tears rolled down everyone's face.
     As we said amen and hugged each other, the woman said, "I just knew today was the day that someone would come to care for us."  As we were getting in the van, one of the volunteers looked at me and said, "This right here is why I do this.  Everyone needs to know how much they are loved. Thank you, Jesus, for bringing us to these people today." 
     What an absolute blessing it is to be the hands and feet of Jesus. 
Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

24 August 2016

Smile, You Work for Jesus!

     Recently in our Administration Building, the air conditioning on the fourth floor (where my office is located) went out.  It was a rough week!
     As I think back on our level of discomfort in dealing with the heat, I can't help but think of those we serve...those that live with no air-conditioning, struggling to make it by paycheck to paycheck ...or are roaming the streets with no refuge from the sun or the elements.
     Please say a special prayer for our friends in need. This week without air conditioning has definitely given me a deeper appreciation for the things we tend to take for granted.
     One of my coworkers pointed out that as I pass out pay stubs to my department, I have become notorious for saying, "Smile you work for Jesus."  But it's true!  I have friends around the world that can only afford short-term trips and so long to be in full-time ministry.  I know others that are state-side and volunteer all the time, but hate where they work. Neither get paid to be in full-time ministry, doing what we do. 
  I guess this week has been one of reminders to be grateful for all God has blessed me with, from air conditioning to working in full time ministry!  

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

23 August 2016

Missionaries Where We're Planted

I wonder what would happen if we all lifted our eyes and imagined as living intentionally exactly where we are.  What if we looked at where we are called to serve through the eyes of missionaries.  What if God has placed us exactly where we are, that we are sent people.  Sent to this world, not to stand in judgment of it, or be separate in our safe Christian confines, but be for it, to be representatives of Jesus, to bear the Good News wherever we go.  Who has God placed around you that you could love.  What can we do to show you are welcome with me, you are safe with me.  It could change the way we are able to share the Gospel in our generation.  --"Pulling the Thread" by Jen Hatmaker

     I was listening to this sermon last week, and it spoke to me in such a HUGE way.  What would it take for me to be more intentional on a daily basis?  We are placed and planted where we are for a purpose: to love and welcome people into the Kingdom!

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.  For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.  And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.  So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.  --2 Corinthians 5:18-21

     We are Christ's ambassadors!  The definition of an ambassador is a respected official acting as a representative of a nation.  Verse 18 states that God has given us the task of reconciling people to Him, just as Christ reconciled the world to himself (verse 19).  So as Christ's ambassadors, using that definition, we act as representatives of God, sharing the Good News.  We are an acting official acting as a representative of Christ.  We speak for Christ when we plead with our lost brothers and sisters to turn to God, so that all could be made right with Him.  How the Lord loves all of His children!
     I pray this encourages you today, and that we may fully live in the calling the Lord has given us!  I pray we have testimonies we are able to share with each other on how God is moving at Open Door Mission, in us, through us, and through the people we serve.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director