30 July 2014

Blessing in Disguise

As I opened the door to my interview, I had no idea what to expect. Having never so much as stepped foot on the Open Door Mission campus, my knowledge was limited to my church’s clothing and food drives. When I heard that the Mission was hiring, I never even considered it. I was busy, I argued. Between school, volunteer work, and the National Guard, there was no way a full-time position would ever work.

Despite my qualms, I sent in a resume. I think on some level I was hoping that God would finally stop “nudging” me, it was getting  a little distracting. It couldn't hurt to apply, right? It wasn't until that interview that I really started to think about the implications. Having grown up in a family with strong fiscal convictions, I had concerns about working at a shelter I knew very little about. Many programs oriented toward the homeless tend to deal with the symptoms while exacerbating the root issues, and I wanted no part of that. My concerns proved groundless.

During the back-and-forth of my interview, I was impressed by the strategies employed to avoid “enabling” destructive habits. Every facet, every service provided seemed geared toward “breaking the cycle” of homelessness. My experience working as a coordinator in the Volunteer Department has borne this out. However, during the year or so I've worked here, I've noticed something interesting, something that clashes with the beliefs I originally held: Open Door exists to serve anyone in need. Sure, we have standards of behavior for our guests… but our mission is to serve those who need our help. Not just those with a burning determination to change, not just those who “deserve” it. Everyone.

I wrestled with this initially, and still do to some extent. Wouldn't it make more sense, I wondered, if we were a little more selective? Focused our attentions solely on the people who really “want it”, who are completely committed to changing? It was then that I realized the parallel. God’s grace doesn't differentiate. He meets us where we’re at, offering us his hand. All that’s required is that we take it.

Working at Open Door Mission has opened my eyes, not just to the real and present issues of urban poverty, but to the flaws and foibles in my own character. Working here has deepened my faith and deflated my self-righteous ego. I can think of no higher praise.

29 July 2014

Life Change!

When the Holy Spirit moves in a person who wants to change their life, the changes you start to see are amazing. First, it is the twinkle in their eyes, and then visible changes start happening. The hair is washed and combed, the head begins to look up, shoulders begin to straighten up, and the heart and mind begin to listen intently about how the Lord saves us….in Jesus’ name.


Diana Ward

28 July 2014

Every Day a Blessing


Every Day a Blessing

Working at Open Door Mission is a blessing every day. We have the wonderful opportunity to express our love for Jesus and more importantly His love for us all. We are free to speak with our guests, volunteers, donors, staff, and whoever comes to campus. It is a wonderful freedom that not many enjoy! Every week a number of guests of Open Door Mission (Garland Thompson Men’s Center, Lydia House, Rebuilding Lives Center, Permanent Supportive Housing, and Timberlake Outreach Center) have entered into a saving relationship that is the foundation of their life change. This has happened as part of the intake process, in conversation with staff, chapel teams, teachers, and with discipleship counselors.

Their commitment to Jesus is just the beginning for us to make a difference for eternity. We are able to pray for these new brothers and sisters. Many of their requests include healing from their past, commitment and strength to stay clean and sober, strength to deal with the everyday challenges of living. We also have the pleasure of answering questions about the Bible on our lives in Jesus.

This is wonderful enough, yet there is more. We are able to interact with people from all over the world. Since I have been here I have met people from Europe, Asia, North America, South America, and a Micronesia which is part of the Australian continent. That means I only have one more continent to go—Antarctica. Somehow I do not believe that part of the world will make a visit.

Please take the time and experience the world—right here in Omaha. Meet wonderful people who are overcoming the challenges of life, experience a smorgasbord of cultures, hear a cornucopia of languages. Enjoy life and make a difference.

Steve Frazee
Senior Program Director, Open Door Mission

25 July 2014

God Has All Power

While in college, I never planned to end up back in Omaha. I grew up in Bellevue, and went to college at Wayne State in Northeastern Nebraska. After moving away for college, I realized how much I love experiencing new places. I never really loved Omaha, so I had decided that I didn't want to move back here.

God changed my heart though, and I’m so glad he did! I've been working in the Volunteer Department at Open Door Mission for nearly two years now. I took the job initially because it was the only resume I had sent out so far, and it seemed silly to not take the offer. I have a BS in Human Service Counseling, and I wanted to work for a non-profit.

I knew who I would be working for when I took the job, but I didn't know who I would be working with. The people I encounter on a day to basis, whether it is volunteers, interns, staff, or leadership are incredible. Working with people can be challenging, but I always go home knowing that I am part of something bigger than myself. I go home remembering that in some small way, God has used me to bless someone else. I am so blessed to be able to say I belong in the team at Open Door Mission. 

22 July 2014

Why I love my job


 

I love being in ministry at the Open Door Mission’s serving God first in my daily tasks, meeting the needs of the diversity of people we serve, and working alongside awesome volunteers and donors​ makes Open Door Mission a special place to work.

 

 We do a great job sharing our story, letting as many that will listen know these things that I love about Open Door Mission, but I don't know if we talk much about the amazing teamwork among the Open Door Mission staff​....another reason that it is great to be in ministry here!

 

Working in Admissions, I work with most departments on campus and every day I am in awe at the quality of Christian men and women that God has called to serve.

​  

Not only do we work together to complete tasks and influence lives for Christ, we work together to encourage each other on hard days, comfort on the sick days, and admonish in truth as needed.

 

This team work is unique and I had not experienced in other jobs and am very thankful for this culture, for it allows me to server the homeless and needy as best I can, because I am not doing alone, I am working from God's leading and the support of a tremendous Open Door Mission Team. 

 

Ronda Nelson

Admissions Director

16 July 2014

Beat The Heat!


My name is Beatrice and I have worked in Open Door Mission’s Volunteer Department for just over a year.  Experiencing each month of the year at ODM has blessed me with a more comprehensive understanding of our clients’ and guests’ needs.

Along with the changing holidays and seasons, each month brings new difficulties.  I often take my ability to access solutions for granted.  When my apartment gets warm, I turn on the air conditioning.  When the humidity is unbearable, I drive instead of walk, with the AC cranked high.  When feel heat exhaustion setting in, I stay indoors and drink plenty of water.

Many people in Omaha do not have the money for air conditioning.  They do not have extra gas to drive short distances.  They cannot afford an extra bottle of water.  They have no place indoors to seek refreshment.

This is why the Beat the Heat drive is so vital during these blisteringly hot months.  The stress of the elements, added to already strenuous circumstances, is sometimes too much for our residents and clients to bear.  Their health and survival is dangerously at risk.

It is a joy to see donors bring cases of water and plenty of fans, to watch volunteers hand out fans at the Timberlake Outreach Center, to see the complete gratitude on people’s faces as volunteers place a bottle of cold water in their hands.  Thank you for all who have helped with this drive in any way.  Your impact is far greater than you may realize.  You bring refreshment and hope during the heat.

08 July 2014

What is God calling you to?


What is God Calling You To?

 

I once heard a sermon comparing the lives of Paul and Jonah.  Each of them had callings on their lives.  Paul surrendered wholeheartedly, once his eyes were “opened” to the truth, and passionately pursued God.  Jonah on the other hand, when God revealed his calling, did a complete 180, and hopped on a boat headed in the complete opposite direction!    He wanted nothing to do with it.  In fact he fled from God’s presence and because of it put several peoples’ lives in danger.  Paul willingly forsook all and at all costs (hunger, stoning, homelessness, shipwreck and imprisonment) desired to fulfill the purpose God had placed on his life.    Paul encountered the radical love of God and he was permanently changed.  His entire life was turned upside down and he embraced it.  Paul declares to the Corinthians in 1Cor 11:1, ‘Imitate me as I imitate Christ.’  This is my heart for the ladies I disciple in the New Life Recovery Program and the men and women I disciple in WorkNet.  I have undeservedly encountered the radical love and grace of Christ! I, like Paul, was radical changed and had to follow the call God had placed on my life.  I have no greater joy then being exactly where God desires me to be and watching Him work miracles in the hearts, minds and lives of the people I serve here at the ODM.  All for His GLORY!! 

 

Tanya Frank

WorkNet Director

07 July 2014

Keep your eyes and heart open


Hello!  My name is Joshua, I am the Gift In Kind Director. I am 26​years old, and have been with the Mission for a year and a half now.  When I first started​ I was blown away at the amount of ministering and life change that would take place every day in the Garland Thompson Men’s Center! 

​When I moved over to the donations receiving side of things it was a little different than I was used to.  Frankly​,​ I was missing the direct ministering I could do with the men.  But​​ the Lord is good and working in every area of the Mission!  I watched a mother struggling with her two kids get a little encouragement as one of the ladies talked to her about signing up her kids for the summer camp we offer. 

​I saw one of my staff (who was addicted to drugs for years) help lead a wandering drunk man to the Men’s Center​, sit him down and get him some food​,​ and introduce him to the ​Men's Center ​staff.  We have had countless opportunities to pray with donors in person ​or over the phone while they are dealing with a loss in the family, the stress of moving, battles with cancer, etc.

I have come to realize more and more that there are opportunities everywhere to share God’s love to people of all backgrounds!  The key is to keep your eyes and heart open and available, God does the rest!

 

Joshua Smith - Operations Administrator

06 July 2014

God’s word would not return to Him void


A couple of days ago when I came into work in the morning I did my usual routine of walking around the building deciding what produce needed to be brought out and what furniture to give away.  As I was doing that a thought came to my mind, it was a passage from the Bible. It was “My word will not return to me void….” Isa. 55:11.   I thought about that for a bit while I continued to work on the floor.

Later that day, as I was doing resource case management helping our shoppers  receive furniture.   I started working with a Latino family that did not speak English and I did not speak Spanish so I knew we both would have to work a little harder to communicate with each other.

As we were finishing up with the information I needed so they could receive their furniture I noticed the mother had taken a Spanish Bible from my book shelf and she said “Mine, Mine?”  I laughed and said, yes,  she could have the Bible and then took one of our Spanish “Step up to Life” tracts to give her.  As I was doing that her young daughter went to the book shelf and took out a children’s Bible and asked if she could have it.  I smiled and said yes of course you can.  I prayed with the family and then we all went out to get their furniture loaded up.

Later, as I reflected on what had happen that day I was reminded again of the passage I had thought of that morning.  God’s word would not return to Him void, and I was reminded that part of the work we do at the Timberlake Outreach Center is to share our faith(in many different ways), offer prayer, and gather hope, by helping people look up to God for their help. 

I am learning that even when we have a difficult time communicating with our guest we can trust that God is working to open hearts and continue His process of drawing people to Him. 

May God bless you for partnering with us to better serve the homeless and near homeless at the Open Door Mission.

 

Joyfully serving Jesus,

 

Judy Collins, Director of Timberlake Outreach Center

05 July 2014

A Simple Bouguet of Flowers

As a volunteer coordinator I work at the Timberlake Outreach Center quite a bit. It is impossible to know the needs of every single person that walks through our doors. The great thing is we serve a God who does know each and every need and struggle.
 
One of our volunteers was sorting and randomly found a bunch of beautiful fresh flowers. We begin passing them out up front. A lady came up for a bouquet. She begin to explain that she was wanting to go to the cemetery. However, she felt bad because she didn't have anything to put on her mom's grave until now. She left with so much joy. My response was, God knows needs.

I pray for many more encounters like this. I also pray that those we serve can see Christ through these intersections and through us. It is a privilege to serve with all of you.
 
Lindsay Wyant
Volunteer Coordinator

04 July 2014

Sometimes the Boat Rocks…




Sometimes the Boat Rocks…

I remember taking an afternoon sailing course near Santa Monica, CA. The instructors put us in a mini sailboat and told us to make figure 8’s to teach us how to handle the sailboat. If we were good enough, the instructors would take us into the harbor. This sounded fun, but also terrifying.

In the beginning, figure 8’s was hard—figuring out when to jibe or tack was only part of the problem. Some movements required weight shifts and calls that had to be made. It was terribly frustrating when you have absolutely no idea which side is starboard and where the stern is. I find this a similar situation to what many of our guests go through on a daily basis.

Our quests are in a new environment with people they have just met and expected to follow new guidelines which can be overwhelming. Men, women and children come to Open Door Mission for all sorts of reasons---living on the streets, living with an addiction, losing a job or housing, fleeing a domestic situation or lack of job skills. These individuals are searching for someone to calm the waters and show them what they need to do. Many have lost hope in God or do not know God.

After two sailboats capsized in our class of 30, the instructors looked frustrated and annoyed. Our hopes of sailing with the big boats evaporated quickly. Our faith in our ability to maneuver the sailboats evaporated quickly. We were without hope to progress to the next level because we were not comfortable with our surrounds, our peers, or ourselves.

Our guests experience many of these same feelings. It is our task as staff to help guide them on their way and show God’s love in our actions. In Ephesians 2: 12-13, Paul writes for the Jews to “remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and Foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” He is calling the Jews to remember that they are the same as the Gentiles but it is through Christ that they are the same.

The guests we serve day to day are no different than you or I. They are just at a different part of their life dealing with different hardships.  Needless to say, I did tip my boat and end up having to get help back to shore. Everyone needs to remember that while rocking the boat may unseat us and push us into deeper water that anticipated, the depth of the water is relative. What is deep to one person, who feels they are drowning, is only touching another person’s ankles. This in not just a job and the Mission is not just a shelter, this is a ministry where people find their feet again and find that God is with them, no matter how deep the water may rise.
 

03 July 2014

Growth and Change


Many of our guests are broken and need the love of God to help with their restoration process.  I find myself sharing with them the wisdom that I’ve acquired along my journey in life.  Growth is painful, change is painful, but nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong. God is preparing you for some new things, but you might need to let go of some old friends and habits. It may be difficult, but it will definitely be worth it.  It is such an awesome opportunity to speak real-ness and the word of God in the workplace. 

Don’t give up every storm runs out of rain!

Shawntel Scaife

Family Support Worker

02 July 2014

Confident of this...


“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

My name is Bethany and I work as the Guest Services Coordinator in the Timberlake Outreach Center.  One of the many preventative services offered here is a food pantry box that families can take home to help stretch their income.  This afternoon, an elderly woman came to shop and it was her first time.  She was amazed at what help was available and began showing me the different clothes and household items she had found, and explained why each were so perfect for her.  I then made up her food pantry box and helped her to her car.

As we talked, she began to open up about how she found out about our services through a friend of a friend who is another ODM staff member.  Her main reason for coming was to check it out for her friend with cancer.  She was very concerned for her friend and as she was talking, I already knew God was leading me to pray with her.  She said she had gone to different churches to ask for prayer and through that, was finding God.  She also opened up about abuse she had experienced when she was little but said she was beginning to feel free from the hurt and shame with that.  And it was in this conversation that she said God used this verse she had learned to encourage her, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).”

What a joy it was for me to agree with her about this verse in regards to her friend’s healing and for her own emotional healing.  She also shared that she found herself overwhelmed with how much God loves her and how He uses the little things to show it.  I am blessed to work and serve amidst people that God is drawing to Himself.  He lavishes His love in our brokenness, hurt, and pain and He really does use little things to show us His love. For this woman, finding the right clothing items for her was just one way God was showing her His love.  And God used our Timberlake Outreach Center to help speak to her as she is on her journey of knowing God more. 
Bethany Loux
Guest Services Coordinator, Timberlake Outreach Center, Open Door Mission

01 July 2014

What I've found working at Open Door Mission


Working at the Open Door Mission...

When I moved from the small town of Berkeley Springs, WV to Omaha, NE three years ago I would hear on the news, or on the radio about a place called the Open Door, or the Lydia House.  I would hear about all the great things that are happening there. I also loved the idea of how the community would help raise funds, or items to help the mission and the people that lived there.

My daughter and I decided that we wanted to help, even in a small way. We began to volunteer once a week in the kitchen helping to serve dinner to the guest. The more I volunteered the more GOD spoke to me and told me that I belonged there. I began to look for openings, and applied.

I had no idea of how wonderful it would be to work with the guests at The Open Door Mission. I have been so blessed to be part of something so wonderful. I meet people who have been so broken, but who have decided it’s time to give themselves to GOD. I have seen people blossom and shine. They have found ways to mend there broken hearts, conquer addictions, women have fought battles to get their children back, and have found the Lord and feel whole again.

I am honored to see the miracles that happen every day at the Open Door, and to be a part of a community where I can pray and worship and share my faith with my co-workers and guests as a normal part of my day.

Romans 5: 1-5

Therefore, since we have justified through faith, we have peace with GOD through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of GOD. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character: and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because GOD'S love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

GOD BLESS!

Tina Murray,

 Case Manager Lydia House

30 June 2014

Such A Blessing


 

As I look around this campus, I see lives being changed.  I see and feel the presence of the Lord at work in each individual.  Some of the things I see Him giving people are: peace, love, comfort, security, joy, and encouragement.  What a blessing it has been to serve these people.

 

Carla Habrich
Lydia House, Day Support Worker

27 June 2014

Freedom


Freedom

                When I think of why I work at Open Door Mission I think of the word freedom.  Recently the Lord gave my church a word.  It simply said, “You are free”.  It’s amazing how many of us live in bondage.  At the mission I have found the freedom I have never known at any workplace.  Just being able to share Christ with others is freeing.  At the job I was at before coming to the Mission we were not allowed to say Merry Christmas.  Being able to acknowledge Christ as our Savior is freeing.

                The Lord wants to set us free in all areas of our lives.   I remember when I was battling depression.  I was in bondage and didn’t see a way out.  When I turned to the Lord, He freed me.  I don’t live in bondage anymore.  I feel the same way about working at Open Door Mission. I don’t work in bondage anymore.  I’ve had opportunity to pray with guests, read the word with guests, praise the Lord with guests, cry tears of joy with guests, and laugh with guests.   The best thing is to be able to serve our guests.  It’s been an honor to serve others and see their lives changed. 

I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments. Psalms 119:45 NLT

 

Tracy Epps

Case Manager, Lydia House

26 June 2014

TIMING


TIMING

I play a sport called paintball.  Much of it is about angles and timing.  You have to get the angle to see the person to eliminate them. It is all easy if no one looks at you and you don’t have adversity.  But when someone sees you are “at work” and begins to act against you, timing becomes especially key.  You have to time shots right, you have to have the right timing to peek out of the bunker (while being shot at),  and shoot the other player without getting hit by their paintballs.

This is just how ministry (life for a Christian) always exists.  We so many times think we will make leaps and bounds forward, unopposed!  We work the angles under our own timing and strength and we “push, push, push. “  We forget that we are OPPOSED!  Then enemy seeks to “put us out of the game” any time he can.  We try for the angle, we “work our magic,” and strive to hit the enemy.

The angles we seek and the timing all comes from the same place, Our Father.  Our angles don’t work and we pound ourselves against the walls. Our timing is bad and we are constantly knocked down by the enemy.  Our God is who places us in the right place, then spurs our action at the right time.  Not of our own power, understanding, timing, or sight are we able to do this.

This rings so true when a new Christian declares their allegiance to Christ.  God’s timing for their dive in the Christian life is not the same as ours.  Through meetings, scripture, and time I was able to introduce a woman to Christ (God’s timing).  Knowing how much attack she would be under, I tried to connect her with a mentor right away.  I was discouraged as she was falling for the enemy’s  tricks and plans.  She bought into his lies and “pleasures.”  But then the timing of God came again in a meeting.  God gave me the right angle in the conversation (one I didn’t think of) and it was now his time to show the blessing of the church.  The connection was made!

Don’t let the enemy’s  attacks frustrate you into doing things on your own timing to get your own angles.  GOD has made the way and established time. Work his angles and operate in his timing and push the enemy BACK!
Taylor Clinch
Open Door Mission's Permanent Supportive Housing Director

24 June 2014

See Ya Later


See Ya Later

By Kat Swartzfeger                                                          June 24, 2014 Rescue Blog

 

She abruptly told me that she didn’t want to talk about it.

Something was going on with Debra, but she shut down. This was sad, because each morning, we would chat about the day before and the day ahead. She was a special lady that had just made her share of mistakes that – combined with the rest of her life’s journey- landed her in a shelter. She had a sense of dignity that was magnetic. Not everyone can maintain that in this environment. Today, there was no hug and I was concerned for her.

This change in Debra lasted for several days. It was so hard to watch someone who had been such a joy to serve suddenly seem gripped in the cruel hands of despair. I only saw her for a few minutes each shift, so it was difficult for me to help her to the level that I would like, but I prayed. I longed for her to know the hope and peace that I knew.

One day, Debra brightened in her countenance and stated that she had located housing and would be leaving soon. She was almost back to her prior self, and it was so good to see her happy! I wished her well, and tried to accept the fact that she was leaving and I may never see her again; definitely a tough assignment. I always hope for these ladies to grow their wings and fly, but it comes with a cost.

It was about a week later, that I noticed a familiar name on our census form. It was Debra. My heart sunk, as I tried to imagine the situation in which she found herself that required her to return. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before I saw her and found out that her housing had fallen through. The last thing her pride needed was a trip back to Lydia House- or so she thought.

This time was different. Debra gave account for things that were happening in her life that indicated to me that God did not just love her, He was PURSUING her. Day by day, she would report something new and good in her life. I finally asked her if she knew how to become a Christian? She said she didn’t, so I went over the same basic steps that I would do with children and adults alike. Debra didn’t even realize it, but she was a believer.

Today, Debra told me that on the way to and from work- she talked about God with perfect strangers. She has a light in her eyes, and emits a newly-found assurance in her life. She’s going to church today, and taking a friend.  It is such an encouragement to see this huge change and be able to cheer on a sister in Christ.

We will now never have to say good-bye again. No matter what happens in Debra’s life, we’ll only have to say…..

See ya later.

 

***Name has been changed to protect identity.

21 June 2014

Consider it pure joy!

I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.
~Psalm 119:10
I am blessed to work at the Open Door Mission.  God brings me divine appointments on a daily basis.  This Sunday I had the opportunity to talk with a guest.  She recently started to go to church as she wanted to make her life right before God and wanted to grow in relationship with Him.  She was dating a guy who was also attending church with her, but she came to find out that he wasn't being honest with her about things he was doing, and she realized the relationship had to end.  That Sunday's church message was about following God whole-heartedly and not just following Him a little bit or letting God in some parts, but truly surrendering her life to God.
 
She said through that trial of ending that relationship, she wants to commit to her life God,...she wants to live rightly for God.  I saw this precious woman asking questions what it looks like to live for God on a daily basis, what it looks like to walk out our faith in everyday life.  This woman has found Jesus and He has won her.  I see wonderful things from this woman, I don't see her settling anymore for what she's been told, but striving for what Jesus is calling her to be.  At the end of the conversation, this woman told me how blessed she was.  It's amazing how God is working through the hearts of the women here at the Lydia House.  And how many of them are grateful and full of joy at the end of the day...not wanting more, but overflowing out of the love God has given them. 
 
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
~James 1:2-4
 
Trudy Woodward
Case Manager

20 June 2014

Summer Memories...Thanks to You

For most of us summer has great memories attached to it like exciting outings, fun in the water, and a week of camp.  For many of the children and youth at the Open Door Mission, these have been hopes rather than memories.  Summer can be especially stressful for the homeless and near-homeless.  Parents find themselves without childcare or a guaranteed breakfast and lunch during the week.  This added stress can often push a family even deeper into poverty.

In response to this need and with the partnership of YOU and the community, we are sending our Kids to Kamp this summer.  Because of your generosity, children and youth will be able to experience a week of traditional summer camp as well as an entire summer at Boys and Girls Club.

Activities include hiking, camping, s’mores, canoeing, baseball games, tomato growing, and fieldtrips to the zoo, Children’s Museum, UNO Planetarium, and so much more.  Alongside these great activities, parents can rest easy knowing that their child will receive three, nutritious meals a day all week long. 

We hope your summer is full of beautiful memories, thanks for making our kids’ summer beautiful as well.
 
Rachel Fisher
Children & Youth Director

19 June 2014

Transformation...Graduation


Program promotions are coming up on June 28th. While there are lots of preparations happening to make sure it all goes smoothly it has also been a time of reflection on the last several months.

Spring Graduation 2014
I have had the opportunity the last couple of weeks to help students as they prepare the testimonials they will share at graduation. It has been so encouraging to see the life transformations that have occurred. As I work with the students day to day I tend to forget where they were when they started. I only see the strong, faithful, recovered students. Many of them have overcome challenges that seemed impossible to overcome when they first began.  With lots of prayer and a bit of guidance from staff, students that once were ready to give up because of one more failure are now preparing to celebrate a huge victory at graduation. I pray to always keep this fact in the front of my mind. We have new program students starting every week. I pray to remember that these hurting, desperate souls will very soon be sharing their own stories of a transformed life!

I am excited about the upcoming graduation.  I know that through God, these Graduates will do amazing things. I am also excited for the newest students that are just beginning this life transforming process.
Vickie Gregorio
Learning Center Director

18 June 2014

Well Done Good and Faithful Servant

My name is Diane Ward. I work in the Emergency Day room for the Garland Thompson Center.
 
One night in February 2014 I was in Atlantic Iowa working for a Home Health Company. I had pulled up to this house at 7:00 pm ,exhausted, tired, and I had 3 more patients to see, before I could even think about going home. This was not uncommon for this company to over book their nurses.  I had pulled up to this home. I stopped and I began to cry. I stated," JESUS you need to intervene NOW! " I no sooner got those word out of my mouth and Cheryl from the Lydia House called wanting to see me for an interview.
 
The next thing I knew I was working at The Open Door Mission's Garland Thompson Men's Center on the Emergency men's side. I was afraid at first ,but I began to see the men not the illness. I was able to use the resources that are provided to help a gentleman with schizophrenia.  He begin to talk to me. Then I made sure he got the proper medication he needed  and allow the medication to work. I helped guided him to call and fill out work applications. He was eligible for general assistance. He is now  in his own apartment working and is caring himself with confidence, and knows the Lord.
 
I believe the Lord would say, "Well done good and faith servant." to all the people at the Open Door Mission and all the supportive service.
 
In Jesus Arms,
Diane Ward

15 June 2014

Jenny...Called to Volunteer


Out of everyone working at the Open Door Mission... I have the best job. As a member of the Volunteer Department, it's my privilege to work alongside hundreds of volunteers from all over the Omaha area. Many visit the mission as part of a church group or activity, leaving tired, satisfied, and with a better understanding of the problems homelessness and addiction pose in our community. Some leave it at that. Some, like Jenny, leave determined to come back.

 Several years ago, a Filipino mother of 6 came several times to volunteer in our Timberlake Outreach Center. Life interfered, as it usually does, but that seed stayed planted. Last July, with all of her children grown, it bloomed. God answered Jenny’s prayers for direction with a simple instruction: to serve the homeless. She immediately thought of the Mission, and promptly showed up for orientation and a tour. On that tour she passed through the kitchen, and as far as I’m aware she hasn’t left yet. Showing up at 9:00am four or five days a week and seldom leaving before 6:00 or 7:00pm, Jenny spends more time serving here than many people do at their jobs. I am firmly convinced that she has made it her life’s mission to feed everyone she encounters until they can’t eat any more, then give them cookies.

 It’s volunteers like Jenny that allow us to make the kind of impact we do on the community, volunteers with a God-given heart for the homeless and an intentional commitment to serving in whatever capacity God calls. Without them, without the people who give of their time and their resources to support us, Open Door Mission would not exist.
 
 
 
 
 
 


Seth Hendrickson
Volunteer Department

14 June 2014

Just A Sack Lunch...And so much More

One of my favorite things about my job is participating in our Streets of Omaha program. For those of you who may not know about this program, let me briefly explain. Each Friday, we have groups of volunteers come to make 1,000 or more sack lunches. After making the lunches, a small group of volunteers deliver those sack lunches around the city.
 
 We have an ever-growing list of people struggling to make ends meet who have requested sack lunches, and we are able to get to each house about once a month. It's always an eye-opener for many volunteers, and even though I lead the group regularly, I always learn or notice something new. 
 
There's always a mix of new and regular volunteers who fill the van. Lisa Harrison is among the regulars. She has been doing the program for nearly 15 years, and it's simply inspiring to watch her work. She cares so much about the people living on the streets and knows most of them by name. She is always sure to pray for people and empathize with them. She's been doing this program for so long that she seems fearless. 
 
I was reminded this past week of how often I am more concerned with my to-do lists than caring for people. Thankfully, God meets me where I am, and his Spirit convicts me of the areas I need to grow further in. I thank Him for people like Lisa who are such beautiful examples of exactly the things I need to learn. 

--Erica Julsen
Volunteer Coordinator 

12 June 2014

If You Can't Take the Heat...PRAY!

It's been said, "If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen." Here at the Open Door Mission, I think the saying should be "If you can't walk by faith, stay out of the kitchen." 


Each new day brings a new opportunity to have our faith challenged and stretched. A great example that happened recently was coming in and realizing that we were out of canned fruit to serve our guests for dinner. I spoke the words to the team, “Hey guys, we’re out of fruit, so pray.” Later that day, Joe (our delivery guy) was making his normal pickups of donated goods. Without any communication to or from the kitchen, a manager at one of his stops asked him, “Hey, could you use some fruit?” Joe had no idea we were short on fruit, but wasn’t about to turn down a donation. 75 cans of fruit arrived on our loading dock just in time for dinner. Praise the Lord!

Serving up fruit!
 

God's timing is perfect!

Laura Keen
Kitchen Director

11 June 2014

Stuck in the Past or Moving Forward?

My role as Admissions Director is to ensure that we have all the right paper work in place to meet Open Door Mission needs and remain in compliance with our investors. But my job is not just paper, the Admissions department meets with all guests coming to live at Open Door Mission.  During the short time that we meet, we have opportunity to hear the guest's story and to offer God's encouragement and pray with them.  These meetings are the best part of my day.
And then there is the paper part of my day.  With so many files and reports, we always need to be aware of what we are keeping and how we are storing to be sure that all information is kept private, backed up, and securely stored in ways that make the information meaningful.  Until recently, I had not thought how this process of 'storing' can relate to our personal lives.  Two big events are occurring in my life that have have caused me to examine all that we hold onto and it's value.  I am super downsizing my life to a tiny apartment and my father is passing away. Over the last months, as I go through his belongings in South Dakota and my own here in Iowa. I see our stored stuff in two categories: memories and to-do projects.  When I realized this, I had that light bulb moment that this could be a reflection of life.  Our accumulation of life experiences can move us forward or they can get us stuck.  A life can be stuck in the past memories of long ago good times that will not be again or lives stuck from past memories of shame and hurt.  Lives can also be stuck from 'someday' thinking, 'Someday when ____ happens, I will do _____'.  Being stuck can rob the meaningfulness from a life.  

Stuck is the condition of most Open Door Mission guest's lives.  But just as I purge through my father's and my personal belongings, keeping the meaningful to pass on - tossing the old clutter, Open Door Mission's Life-Changing programs teach God's scriptures to release a person's heart and mind from the past, opening up opportunities to live each day fully in God's promises.  What a joyous way to live!
 
Ronda Nelson
Admissions Director

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2 (NIV)

30 May 2014

Change...the only constant

Open Door Mission -downtown
Thirteen years ago God led me to full time missions at Open Door Mission, my how things have changed and not changed.  I have seen the mission grow in not only number of buildings but even more in the number of life changing programs we offer.
Unfortunately the number of people needing help has grown almost exponentially and Open Door Mission now serves 37%to 56% more people (depends on the program) than just a few short years ago. We, as staff and administration, cannot do it alone.  Open Door Mission is blessed to have compassionate, caring and giving donors and volunteers that come along side to help those less fortunate.

Rebuilding Lives Center 2014
We often say the only constant at Open Door Mission is change…change in a very good way. People’s lives are being changed every day as they hear the gospel and find hope, not just food and shelter. Change as new donors and volunteers come to support the mission in so many ways. Change as new programs are developed to strengthen and help those seeking help and refuge for a life of hope not despair.  Change as we add more staff to meet growing needs. Those of us at Open Door Mission are blessed to work here. We all have stories to tell of God’s marvelous working in our lives, in the lives of those that we serve  and the lives of our donors and volunteers. Please read the Open Door Mission Blog and discover the greatness and goodness of God’s grace at the mission. Please come and share as together we change lives. ~maggie cope

06 May 2014

Showing Jesus Through Actions

I had the privilege of chaperoning 17 program men at the Creighton baseball game on Saturday night (Jays won 4-3 in 11 innings).  The weather was perfect and it was a special night as Creighton honored our U.S. military and especially those Nebraskans and Iowans--women and men--who have lost their lives in service to their country.  It was especially moving after the game when the stadium lights were turned off and a single military trumpeter--spotlighted on the field--played "Taps" as photos of the men and women were scrolled on the Jumbo-tron screen.

     Our program men exhibited excellent behavior throughout the night, were consistently making themselves accountable to their chaperone, and were returned to the Mission without incident.  Not only do I offer this report to say how well the men represented themselves, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Open Door Mission, but also to give thanks for the 5-7 minutes that these men stood together, removed their caps, and honored the fallen with sincere silence.  What a moment! 

     One additional blessing I received was the honor of observing and greeting a gentleman from the Garland Thompson Men's Center emergency side who was working at the stadium that night, cleaning up the concourse and the restrooms.  His smile, friendliness, and humble demeanor are a credit to Pat and all who serve at the Open Door Mission, restoring dignity to those who are willing to work and who call the Open Door Mission, for now, their place of residence.  Definitely a plus 1.

     It was a night I will long remember and be thankful for.

Another servant,

Scott Driscoll

14 April 2014

God's Not Dead

If you have not seen this movie then I would encourage you to go see it. I have been at Open Door Mission for 14 years now. I am so thankful that everyday I can see God's hand at work.

One of the things I get to teach class to our program men once a week. Recently we were talking about Prayer in class. It was awesome to hear men that I have known for a while say to me "I can talk to God anytime I want to." To hear the joy in their voices talk about having a relationship with a Living God, knowing He hears them and is always there for him blesses my heart.

It reminds me of a Hymn that we always would sing in Church growing up. "He Lives" The first verse and chorus goes like

"I serve a risen Savior, 
 He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living, Whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy; I hear His voice of cheer;
And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart."

It totally reminded me that We do serve a risen Savior and God is not Dead He is Alive!