13 October 2015

His Still, Small Voice

     Eight years ago I started my job at Open Door Mission.  Little did I know that it would be the best decision I have made, but also that it would be the toughest job I have ever had.
     God was calling me to get out of my boat.  At the time, my secure place was in Corporate America, making good money.  However, in this position I was asked to lie, and knew that God would not honor this continued sin.  I had to leave and trust in God’s plan for me.  It was not easy, but I knew what God wanted me to do.  I knew without a doubt that God wanted me to take a leap of faith and trust in Him.
     I am grateful that the leadership at Open Door Mission took a chance on me, and have been supportive of my journey for the past eight years.  I am grateful for the many friends I have made over the years.   I am grateful that in my walk with Jesus, I have grown in ways I never before imagined. I am blessed to be able to serve alongside amazing coworkers.  I am honored God called me to love on the hungry and hurting people in the Heartland.
     Today I would like to honor each staff member at Open Door Mission, as each one has played a huge part in my journey.  Thank you!
     Remember this: God is with us though the winds and the sea may rage.  His still, small voice is saying, “I know you’re afraid, but I love you.  Get out of the boat and come to Me.  I will hold you up when you begin to sink in the wind and the waves.  I will hold you up and bring you safely to shore.”
     Trust in that still, small voice.  When God leads you to take a leap of faith, listen to Him, trust in Him, and know that He is with you through every leap you take. 

Amy Buss
Human Resources Director

12 October 2015

Building a Stable Home

     Some of you may remember Shawn’s journey, which he shared in last December’s newsletter.  He grew up with an alcoholic father and a gambling mother, and spent the first part of his adult life addicted to meth and raising his children in a car.
     After years of attempts at recovery programs, custody battles, and moving all across the nation, Shawn moved his family into Open Door Mission.  Here, he learned that he is powerless to change without turning his whole life over to God.
     Today, we ask that you celebrate with us as Shawn has graduated from the New Life Recovery program received a donated car.  He is well on his way to building a stable home for him and his children, thanks to those who donate time and/or resources to Open Door Mission.
     “I really, honestly believe that [the Mission] touches everyone.  Even for those who only stay a short while, a foundation is being built.”
     Click here to read more Stories of HOPE.

Beatrice Krause
Marketing Coordinator

09 October 2015

What to do When you see a Pandhandler?

     A panhandler in Omaha recently stabbed a man who wouldn't give him money.  While the man escaped with only a small wound and didn't require stitches, the incident shines a light on Omaha's often over-looked panhandling problem.
     The Omaha Police Department is asking the Omaha City Council to toughen current panhandling ordinances with an aim to reduce aggressive panhandling.
     Under the proposal, several forms of panhandling would be illegal, including: asking for money within 15 feet of an ATM or other location where money is dispensed, following someone to ask them for money, repeatedly asking the same person for money, panhandling on private property, and panhandling in street traffic.
     However, is this the best route to take?  Candace Gregory, President and CEO of Open Door Mission, told WOWT 6 News she opposes the proposal.  She said, "I don't believe writing someone a ticket, putting them in jail, [or] putting them through the judicial system is really the solution."
     Instead, Gregory wants the city to focus on helping panhandlers find assistance and job training programs.  She also encourages generous people to think twice before giving money to panhandlers, many of whom she said may not even be homeless.  She said most are actually addicts who use hand-outs to feed their drug and alcohol habits.
     "You have to understand [that] this is their job,” she said.  “Panhandling is their job, and we're conditioning them.  We continue to give them that dollar, and they go out and can buy an open container and they can do that time after time and all day long."
     WOWT 6 News also spoke to Jeannine Harvey, a young woman who said she used to live and panhandle on Omaha streets.  She too doesn't agree with the proposal before the City Council.  She said, "If they're going to outlaw panhandling, then they need to come up with another idea to help homeless.  It doesn't have to be all big ideas, just get more people to come down and give them food so they're not panhandling."
     Rather than giving money, Open Door Mission encourages people to give panhandlers Compassion Cards which provide details on where to find free transportation to the Mission.  There, these people will receive hot, nutritious meals, safe shelter, and other forms of assistance and recovery help such as life-changing programs.

This story is adapted from WOWT’s Brandon Scott’s article Omaha Could Soon Crack Down on Panhandlers.  Click here to read the original story.

08 October 2015

Knowing on a Deeper Level

     I want to share one of the top reasons why I love working at Open Door Mission.
     Today as I was covering lunch in our Dining Hall, a woman from the Lydia House was eating at a table by herself.  It was obvious from watching her, that this woman was struggling mentally, not the charming lady I have spoken with several times.  She was in a bad place. 
     She was eating like there was no tomorrow, food crumbling in her fingers as she put it in her mouth, water splashing from her cup as she hurriedly drank.  She didn't speak to anyone.  Just as fast as she ate, she jumped up and exited out of the side door.  Gone.
     Food was all over the table, all over the floor.  She had four plates scattered on the table.
 I watched her leave, and said a prayer in my heart for her.  As I turned to go clean up her area, a guest from the Garland Thompson Men’s Center was already there.  He was cleaning up her mess.  As I began to thank him (after all, it wasn't his mess, no one asked him to clean it up, and he had been sitting two tables away), he replied with, "I just hate seeing people like that."
     It wasn't so much what he said, but rather how he said it.  It was as if he knew exactly what she was going through, as though he had walked a mile in her shoes, and thus felt it was his duty to have her back.
     We as staff can pray for each of our guests, and help however possible.  But the truth is that these guests know the work we do on a whole different level.  What a blessing to watch them taking care of each other. 
     I love working here because every day I am reminded of and thankful for God's grace.  Just as much as we help change these people's lives, they are changing mine.  And I love that.    

Jennifer VanLaningham
Administrative Assistant

07 October 2015

Away From My Desk

     My position at Open Door Mission is mostly a desk job, so I love it whenever I am able to get out of office to help with our community events.  This past weekend was double the fun!
     On Saturday, I worked alongside great volunteers to provide a super Community Picnic, complete with carnival games, music, picnic lunch, and a bonus day at the Timberlake Outreach Center.  Many families came out to enjoy the beautiful day and be blessed!
     Then Sunday, staff put on another event to thank volunteers and donors at our 60 Years of Serving Celebration.  We met on the Missouri River and enjoyed with River City STar riverboat rides, fellowship, and a picnic meal.  It was great to see all those that support the ministry of Open Door Mission.   
     Besides serving so many happy faces and the perfect weather, the weekend was made great by working alongside the dedicated staff of Open Door Mission’s Kitchen and Volunteer Department.  These teams’ organization, professionalism, and joyful hearts make every task fun and rewarding!
     I have to go back to my desk on Monday, but you can come down and have as much fun as I did this weekend with our Volunteer Department any day of the week.  Click here to view current volunteer opportunities.

Ronda Nelson
Admissions Director

06 October 2015

Love That Heals All Wounds

     Have you ever seen a child cry for his daddy when he gets hurt?  Maybe even your own child cried for you?  Your own heart breaks just a little, and you gather that baby up into your arms and love spills over like a healing balm.  You can't help but to think that if you could, you would take the pain for him.
     Recently, I got a glimpse of that kind of love from our Heavenly Father.  I had a conversation with a gentleman about his life’s journey through abandonment, abuse, drug addiction, felonious acts resulting in a prison term, and separation from his wife and children.  Now, he has turned away from the pain and lies, running head long into the arms of Jesus Christ.
     He is not just thinking about it.  He is not just peering in God’s direction.  He is not just timidly approaching Him.  No, this man is all in, sprinting with arms open wide and without shame!
     He has experienced true heartache and despair, all of which could also cause him to hang his head in defeat.  But that is not what he chooses.  When he hangs his head, it’s due to His greatest frustration of not always being able to hear Jesus speak to him!  For some time, this man has been praying for a word from God every day, and today he said he heard Jesus!
     I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to speak to him about the temporary status of everything, that we know and the true reality of Jesus and eternity.  As we prayed that night, I could feel Jesus' arms around us.  His love was spilling over this man, like a healing balm.  What a blessing to be used as a part of this man’s healing process. 

Teresa Leishman
Case Manager

05 October 2015

Ethiopia to America, I am Called to Serve

     My name is Lobuwa Lokupor and I am from a region in Ethiopia called South Omo.  I grew up in a pastoral community, helping to take care of our family’s livestock.  At the age of 14, I came to know the Lord through missionaries from Sweden and Canada who came to Ethiopia in the early 1970’s.  I moved to the United States in the winter of 2013.
     I now work as a Family Support Worker in Open Door Mission’s Garland Thompson Men’s Center.  I am happy that God lead me to work at the Mission alongside staff members that are humble and compassionate.  I love to help the diverse group of guests who come to the Men's Center seeking hot, nutritious meals and safe shelter.  I listen to them, learning from their stories every day.
     One person who stayed at the Mission for only three days told me that he has been a truck driver for 30 years, and used to donate money once a year to Open Door Mission. It is an eye opening experience for him to be able to receive and see firsthand the work Open Door Mission does.  He vows to work hard to get another job so as to double his donations.
     I use every opportunity the Lord gives me to talk about the Lord with these men, encouraging them to read the Bible and go to chapel.  I also let them know I am always available to read the Bible and pray with.  I love praying, and I pray for our clients whenever they share their stories with me during the intake process.  Sometimes I even get this opportunity while passing out medications.  There is laughter, crying, and hugging as I connect with the people.  It is also important to continue praying for the Mission.
     I work here because God has called me to serve others.  More importantly, I serve the Lord with my work.  Colossians 3:23 says
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
     As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I know if He was back on Earth, He would rather spend time with those who were neglected, rejected, blamed, ignored, destitute, hopeless, and homeless.  I know we are all homeless in this earth because our home is in Heaven.  So I do as my Lord would do.

Lobuwa Lokupor
Garland Thompson Men’s Center Support Worker

02 October 2015

Living the Life of Too Much

She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. –Proverbs 31: 20
     As I watched yet another tray of half-eaten food make its way into the trash, my heart sank.  It was enough food that could have been saved and would have been the perfect portion for another meal.
     I wanted to tell her that it was wasteful.  I wanted to tell her she was blessed with too much.  Instead I sat quietly and thought about what it is like to be hungry.
     You see, I know what it’s like to be hungry.  I remember watching longingly the food that people who had too much threw away carelessly.  For around a year when I was 18, I found myself in a position of not having even close to enough.  I found myself 30 pounds. lighter.  And I was hungry.  I not only longed for food, but I wanted a new life and could not find my way.  I longed for God to sweep me away from the trouble I’d fallen into, and I couldn’t hear Him over the growls of my stomach.
     We live in a country of “too much.”  Our homes are filled with items we don’t need, will never use, will never wear, and our tables hold a bounty, whether it’s a home-cooked meal or fast food.  However, what if we changed our wasteful mentalities and started to think about those who go without?  What if we physically pitched in to help others instead of just writing a check?
     Some things..

  • If you have extra food and do not want to save it then bring it to a neighbor or a homeless person. Whether you walk next door or take it downtown don’t put it in your trashcan. Even feeding it to your dog is better than throwing away perfectly good food.
  • Bring your clothes to a shelter. Or a children’s home. Even the local school typically accept a few items to use when a child cannot wear their own clothes (when they have an accident, etc.).
  • Go through your cabinets once a month and bring the items you thought you wanted when grocery shopping to a local outreach center.
  • Watch for opportunities to give to others with your time. How much time do you spend watching TV? Or on the internet? Dedicate a portion of that time, even if it’s only once a month, to helping others through your church or volunteer opportunities.

     When we live comfortably with “too much,” we lose the opportunity to bless others with the things we do not use.  That is a sin.
     We are told in many places in the Bible how we are to give to the poor:

  • Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor. (Proverbs 22:9)
  • And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” (John 6:12)
  • If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. (Isaiah 58:10)
  • And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” (Luke 3:11)
  • In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)
  • For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ (Deuteronomy 15:11)

     Don’t lose your opportunity to give to others.  Don’t allow yourself to become wasteful.  Don’t teach your children that it is okay to do this by your actions.  Remember that all you have is a blessing from God.  When you waste these things, it is throwing away a blessing from God.  If you could physically see Him and He gave you what you needed in person, would you then turn to your trash and throw it away?
     I’m thinking no.

This blog post is adapted from Angela DeRossett's own blogging website, Joy Comes in the Morning.  Click here to check it out!

Angela DeRossett
Case Manager

01 October 2015

A Journey Through God's Word

     One day I was at home, sitting at my dining table and reading the Bible.  It may not seem like it, but my seat at the dining table is a special place where God has spoken to me through His word countless times.
     I remember reading in Matthew 28:17-20 about the Great Commission that Jesus gave to His followers, and wanting to know more about Jesus teaching his disciples about His Father’s work.
     Another time I read John 4:1-26 about the Samaritan woman at the well.  Through this story God showed me that all of humanity is looking to fulfill their personal needs, but they don't know.  They continue looking in the wrong places like in people or material things, and they only find dissatisfaction.
     For us at Open Door Mission, the woman at the well represents all of the people that come to the Mission in need, but they don't know exactly what they need.  Some don’t know why they came to Open Door Mission or what to expect, but God has a plan in place.  The Mission is the water well, and we have to be ready and prepared for the moment when the Lord wants to use us for his glory.  As staff members, volunteers, and donors, all involved at Open Door Mission are seated at the water well to offer the Living Water.
     Prepare with me for the missionary work that God is calling us to do.  Give thanks with me for God continuing to provide the living waters.  Rejoice with me for the many  miracles  that God has done in people's lives.
     I know that each person who comes to Open Door Mission leaves as a living testimony of faith and love, and are not leaving empty.  I am thankful for all the men and women that open their hearts to God’s call by volunteering or donating to the Mission.  Thank you for your obedience.
     I picture it this way:  If each of us brings a good, solid brick to the wall, together we can built a strong building to bless many.

Luis Valdez
Maintenance Department

30 September 2015

The Mission Field

     My name is Sam Minturn, and I have the honor of working as a Daytime Support Worker at the Garland Thompson Men's Center.  I have been a part of the Open Door Mission team since January 2015, and have felt right at home since day one.  It's such a blessing to work with the men on a daily basis and to see how God works in each of their lives.
     My favorite part about the ministry field at the Mission is that I get to pray with each of the men on a daily basis, and share the hope that we have in Christ Jesus.  The Garland Thompson Men’s Center is such a special place to do ministry, because we get to see people at their lowest and most vulnerable points in their lives, then share the love of Christ in everything we do.
Sam gets to minister to men like Dalon each day, sharing Christ's love
and the truth of the Gospel with them.
     I have grown many great friendships with staff, volunteers, men in our life-changing programs, and guests that I will cherish for a lifetime, and have watched countless men dedicate their lives to Christ and be baptized.  I hope to continue to be a part of this ministry team for many years to come, because I truly feel fulfilled in the Spirit and blessed to be around such a dedicated, selfless, and passionate team.  I would like to end with a short passage that helps encourage me through some of the more difficult and challenging times in life:
"Being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might, so that you may have great patience and endurance, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of saints in the kingdom of light." –Colossians 1:11-12

Sam Minturn
Garland Thompson Men’s Center Support Worker

29 September 2015

Remembering Our Roots

     While on vacation over Labor Day, I was able to visit a sister rescue mission in Kearney NE: CrossRoads Rescue Mission.  As I toured the Mission, I couldn’t help but compare it to Open Door Mission.  It is a very nice Mission with lots of room to grow in many ways, and it is serving the Kearney area with a variety of services.  The staff members are clearly dedicated to their work to share the Gospel and serve the hungry and homeless with compassion.  However, I was struck by the size of this Mission, and the many programs Open Door Mission has that they are missing.  When I got back in the car to head home the Lord reminded me that this Mission has only been in Kearny for three and a half years, opening my eyes to a new and wonderful way to look at this fledgling mission…what was Open Door Mission 60 years ago?
     On November 1, 1954, Jerry Dunn and Garland Thompson started the Mission as a store front, targeting the men in need on the streets downtown.  They provide the Gospel message, food, and lots of coffee.  They soon had to move to a larger building downtown.  Hundreds of men began to come through their doors seeking nutritious meals, safe shelter, and hope. Within five years the need was so great that an auxiliary was formed to help coordinate holiday events, improve housekeeping, and raise financial support.
     Over these past 60 years, there have been ups and downs for Open Door Mission, but God has been, is, and will continue to be faithful.  He has blessed us with generous faithful donors, tireless volunteers, employees with a heart for the homeless, and guests…lots of guests seeking hope, seeking salvation, respect, and acceptance for how God sees them.  At Open Door Mission it all comes together on today’s growing campus, but it is important to remember that this all started with a small store front, compassion to help, and prayer.
     If we are rooted in God and Christ’s love, trust the Lord to provide stay in His will (not what we think His will is), and pray for daily guidance, this dream started 60 years by Dunn and Thompson will continue to flourish.  So my drive home that weekend was filled with prayers for Open Door Mission and CrossRoads Mission, that we may never lose sight of what God has called us to do.  Large or small, each person can be a blessing to those in need.

Maggie Cope
Community Relations Coordinator

28 September 2015

The Frustration of an Oyster

     I recently read this sermon on patience by Bryan Loritts of The Summit Church:
     One of the most troubling things that can happen to an oyster is to have lodged within its confines a tiny particle grain of sand.  Usually when this happens, the oyster is able to find and expel the sand.  There are times, however, when try as it might, the oyster struggles to get rid of this grain of sand.  When the oyster finds itself unable to change this situation, it feels frustrated and exacerbated.  At its wits end, the oyster does the only thing it can think to do: it locates the grain of sand and begins to coat it over and over with a fluid that eventually calcifies.  The result?  Something we pay top dollar for, a pearl.  So at the end of the day, a pearl is the fruit of a frustrated oyster.  Without grains of sand, without irritation, without frustration, without exacerbation, there would be no pearls.  God is relentlessly pursuing you, and He wants to make a pearl out of your life!
     Here at Open Door Mission, God is making pearls!  When we think of pearls, we often don't think of the work behind what it takes to create those beautiful jewels.  But the pearl is only created because of irritation, frustration and exacerbation.  Often God uses those moments in our lives to create pearls.  I see this all the time in our guests’ at the Permanent Supportive Housing lives.  They find themselves in a situation they cannot change themselves and often feel frustrated.  So God brings them here, they work hard, and (with God's help) create a pearl.  
     What a blessing it is to work at Open Door Mission and every day see our guests working to create pearls.  How great our God is that He cares about every detail in our lives.  Our God truly makes beautiful things.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  –Ecclesiastes 3:11

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

25 September 2015

Outrageous Generosity

     I enjoy working in Open Door Mission’s Lydia House.  The best part is hearing people’s stories and getting to grow alongside them as they overcome their circumstances.
     Most recently, I was stunned when one of our ladies just continued to ask if we needed help, which is not something a lot of our guests do.  Just the other day she out did herself: we had an intake we could not find new clothes for.  As we were searching for clothing, this woman went through her things and gave her some of her own clothes.  Later, she also offered up her other odds and ends, things that she did not want to keep anymore.  How amazing to watch her bless this woman she had just met!
     I just could not help but see Jesus in this woman as she, a homeless woman herself, gave away her own items to another person in need. It was one of the most beautiful things I have seen at the Mission in all my time working here.

Monica McBee
Family Support Worker

23 September 2015

Heal the Sick

Kate works side by side the Free Health & Healing
Clinic's many wonderful medical volunteers.
     Let me take a moment to highlight Open Door Mission’s new Free Health & Healing Clinic.  This is an facility on campus which provides preventative medical care for homeless men, women, and children.
     This clinic runs on volunteer service.  We are blessed to have community support from DocOn, local private practices, Clarkson Nurse Practitioners, the Visiting Nurses, and nursing student from many area colleges.
     Donations of medical supplies and over the counter medicines allow the clinic to provide complete care to patients all in one location.  To find out how you or your private practice (if you are a physician) can help please contact me at (402) 829-1541.
     Come see volunteers doing the work of our Savior Jesus Christ:
And when Jesus went out, He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.  – Matthew 14:14

Kate Fischer, LIMHP
Free Health & Healing Clinic Director

22 September 2015

El Grito Parade

Ten volunteers represented Open Door Mission in the El Grito Parade.
     This past weekend, Open Door Mission participated in the Nebraska Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s El Grito Parade.  I was blessed with the opportunity to drive an Open Door Mission van during the parade and work with volunteers who came to walk in the parade.
     We had ten volunteers participate in the parade, and each was so excited to represent the Mission.  For many, it was their first time walking in a parade.  We all had the opportunity to meet new people and make new connections.  Many spectators were interested in learning more about how Open Door Mission serves their community.
     This was a great opportunity to share with a new part of our community all about our mission, which is to provide basic needs and life-changing programs for the homeless and needy.

Alexandria Ewing
Director of Community Relations

21 September 2015

Inside Relapse Prevention

When guests are ready to put in the work and make changes in their
lives, amazing things happen.  Hope for lasting change is inspired.
     My job at Open Door Mission is to provide mental health and recovery services such as therapy and recovery classes for the men and women in our life-changing programs.  This is the practical outworking of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I have been doing this for sixteen years. 
     Working with people to help them recognize patterns of their choices and actions is at the heart of relapse prevention.  There was one guest I worked with, named Chris, who was determined to do things the right way.  Yet, he deceived himself by working so hard to do things right that he was unable to enjoy his successes.  This pressure and stress only set him up for relapse.  Chris needed to learn to process his emotions, which is a key factor in being able to experience the fullness of life. 
     Working with Chris on humility, honesty, and forgiveness of himself and others, meant addressing his fears, hurts, and shame.  This process is more than an intellectual exercise of labeling feelings and behaviors.  It takes repetition and working through the emotional baggage of the past.  It is dealing with the “conditioning effect,” where we automatically react to certain circumstances.  Relearning takes time and intentionality for healing and growth. 
     Please pray for the men and women in our programs, that they will apply the truths and skills presented in our classes each day.

John Lindsey
Care Coordinator

18 September 2015

New Brother in Christ

     A few days ago, one of the Rebuilding Lives Center guests offered to pray for me, and afterward told me that he had just asked Jesus into his heart.
     We have been discussing the differences between a relationship with Jesus verses believing in His existence for the past year, and each month his heart has grown softer and softer toward the Gospel.
     On his walk into town today, a stranger walked with him.  The stranger said the Holy Spirit wanted them to walk and talk together.  During this conversation, the stranger led my friend in a prayer to accept the Lord as his savior!
     Hallelujah!  Now we have a new brother in Christ!

Teresa Leishman
Case Manager

17 September 2015

From Broken to Happy

     Escaping verbal and mental abuse from her father, Angela ran away from home at age 15.  She dropped out of school at 16 and adopted a party lifestyle, addicted to meth, marijuana, and alcohol.  Her attitude sent her to  juvenile detention.  Soon she began a cycle of being in and out of juvenile detention centers, group homes, and eventually jail.  
     She would get a job, use drugs again, lose the job and her apartment, and live with relatives or friends.  In 2005, Angela met her fiancĂ©.  Today, they have three children together: ages eight, three, and one.  Her fiancĂ© is currently two years into serving a five-year prison sentence, so Angela is raising her family alone.
     Angela also sold drugs, which she sees as an addiction to the fast money.  Charged with possession, she ended up going to jail once again.  After leaving jail, she came to Open Door Mission while her two children stayed with her brother.  Her time was brief, however, as she left to live with her mother as she needed bed rest for her third pregnancy.  Her second stay at the Mission changed her life.  Angela is now in the New Life Recovery Program, pursuing her GED, and watching her children flourish.  
     “For me, I’ve been blessed in seeing my faith in God grow extremely.  In all I do I want to please my Father,” she said.  “I have that fear of the Lord.  The more I read the Bible, the more I change.”  Although it’s difficult balancing the day-long recovery program while caring for her children.  The program has taught Angela self-discipline, time management, and obedience to God.      
     As Angela nears graduation, her last step will focus on finding a job.  “For my family, I want my kids to see me succeed.  I’m going to have a career.  I’m going back to school and will strive for that career.”
When she asks her children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” she wants them to have a role model and dreams of their own careers.  Angela wants to one day own a house and settle down.  
     Chaotic, sad, and broken is how Angela describes her life before coming to Open Door Mission.  Today the word is happy.  “I feel happy,” she said.  “I never imagined saying that word.  It’s a real happiness.  It’s awkward to feel something you’ve never felt.”  She’s looking forward to sitting around the table this Thanksgiving, holding hands with her children.    
     For those needing help from Open Door Mission, she advises taking the first step.  “Right when you walk in you feel the Holy Spirit,” she said.  “Have an open heart and mind.  You won’t be disappointed.”

Ann Freestone
Open Door Mission Volunteer

16 September 2015

Baked Potato Soup

     Open Door Mission’s Ladle of Love Festival is fast approaching, along with the cold weather that is just around the corner; let me share a family favorite recipe.  This is sure to warm hearts, fill stomachs, and put a smile on faces!  And be sure to purchase your Ladle of Tickets soon!

4 large baking potatoes
2/3 cup margarine
2/3 cup flour
6 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped onions
12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 1/4 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
8 ounces sour cream

  1. Wash potatoes, prick with a fork, and bake at 400 for 1 hour, or until done.  Let potatoes cool.  Then peel them and cut in cubes.
  2. Melt margarine in heavy saucepan over low heat.
  3. Add flour, stirring until smooth.
  4. Add milk, stirring constantly until mixture is thick and bubbly.
  5. Add potato cubes, salt, pepper, onions, bacon, and cheese and cook until heated through.  Set aside some bacon and cheese for later.
  6. Stir in sour cream.
  7. Decorate each bowl of soup with the bacon and cheese reserved earlier.

Lynnette Walter
Development Associate

15 September 2015

Christ be all Around Us

     I love it when I receive emails reflecting Open Door Mission staff standing in the gap.  Even last night when I was leaving the Garland Thompson Men’s Center, I saw one of our Case Managers, Greg, with his hands on a couple's shoulders, praying with them.  All heads bowed. 
     God is at work in the lives of our team and those we serve.  He is always drawing us closer to Him. 
     A couple of days ago I was reading in Colossians 1:28:
"He [Christ] is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ."
     This verse comes near the end of a passage where the Apostle Paul has been describing the person and work of Jesus Christ.  He celebrates the power of Christ as creator and sustainer of all (Col 1:16-17), as greater than all human and supernatural powers (Col 1:16-17), as Redeemer from the penalty and power of sin (Col 1:21-23), and as the very image and fullness of God (Col 1:15, 19).  How should we respond to Christ’s supremacy?  Certainly with hands raised in praise, but also on our knees in surrender.  He who is Lord of all deserves to be Lord of all in us (Col 1:18).  Those who make Him Lord of all experience His sanctifying work, becoming fully mature in Christ (Col 1:28).
     This is my goal: to become fully mature in Christ so that I can impact others for Christ.  Thank you for your prayers and support as we begin this busy fall season.  Please pray that God will take our team to a new level of adoration and submission to the all-surpassing greatness of Christ.  In this way we can be used by God to serve Him and others.

Candace Gregory

14 September 2015

More Than Just a Job

What a blessing to do ministry alongside your friends!
     Not everyone is called to ministry, but employees at Open Door Mission are.  Daily, staff follow the call God has placed on their lives to minister to the hungry and homeless by going to work.  Open Door Mission cares for the Heartland’s neediest neighbors through meeting their basic needs, and sharing the Good News of Christ.  Each employee is considered to be in full-time ministry.
     If you are looking for more than just a job, join us at Open Door Mission and help minister to the hungry and homeless men, women and children here in the Heartland.
     Currently, Open Door Mission has over 100 employees.  We in the Human Resources Department care about the mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of our employees.  We invested in our employees, with the goal of seeing them grow spiritually and professionally.  Along with that, we care deeply about finding individuals who are just the right fit for these open positions.
     There are several job openings at this time.  Click here for more information about any of the following positions:

  • Bilingual Homeless Prevention Specialist  (40hrs/days)
  • Bilingual Guest Services Coordinator  (40hrs/days)
  • Lydia House Family Support Worker  (40hrs/evenings)
  • Garland Thompson Men’s Center Support Worker  (40hrs/split shift)
  • Receiving Clerk  (40hrs/days)
  • Senior Help Desk Support  (40hrs/days)

Amy Buss
Human Resources Director

11 September 2015

Doing Life Together

     I am a new member of the Open Door Mission community.  At the end of June, I joined a great team of Support Workers in the Garland Thompson Men’s Center, and over the last two months I have experienced a variety of new things.
     The verse that has stuck with me the most during these first few months has been this:
“Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well.”  --1 Thessalonians 2:8
     It has been exciting and challenging to explore what this means when serving one hundred men on a nightly basis.  The temptation can come to serve them out of duty of the Gospel or of my job, loving them in that way.  However, this lacks the joy and love that God desires for us when we serve our community.  So the blessing comes in actually getting to know these men, seeing them become more than just the people I work with.  They have become the men I get to share life with every evening.

Coby Fisher
Garland Thompson Men’s Center Support Worker

10 September 2015

Be a Burden Bearer

Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens…”
     What does it mean to bear one another’s burdens?
     As an overnight Family Support Worker in the Lydia House, I am given many opportunities by God to bear people’s burdens. 
     Some of the burdens our guests carry include separation from their children, trying to overcome addiction, struggling with overcoming, trying to find a job to support their families, dealing with mental illness that limits them in many areas of life, seeing a family member or friend active in their addiction, being powerless to help that friend, facing incarceration because of their choices, and etc. The list goes on and on and on.
Staff and residents find joy in community together.
     Sometimes it is very heartbreaking to see God’s children hurting so deeply and so badly. But as I sit with, pray for, and minister the love of Jesus to them, I am so thankful to God for this place where the hurting, lost, and broken can come and find rest for their souls.  Every day they are given the chance to come to know the One who has compassion on them and wants to meet them right where they are at!
     God lives in me, He is present in this place!  Because of His love, grace, mercy and compassion on these people, they can place their trust in Him and walk through their dark valleys knowing they are not alone.  He is walking with them to set them free and make them whole again.  Hallelujah!
     What an honor to serve the Lord in this place, in this capacity, for His honor and for His glory.
     So today, ask God whose burden you may bear, to bring relief to someone weighted down by sin or circumstances out of their control.  Be a light in their darkness so you can point them to the Cross and to the the One who is their Hope and Salvation.
     Be compassion in action for Jesus today!

Overnight Support Worker

09 September 2015

Hope and a Future

     What I know to be true is that God loves and values every single person.  I get to witness the outpouring of His love on every person who walks through Open Door Mission’s doors. Christ’s immeasurable love shines through each life story I hear, hugs I see between new found friends, happy looks in the children’s eyes as they play in the Bright Space, the glow in people’s faces after passing a GED test, and much more.
     As part of my job, I get to read the autobiographies of New Life Recovery Program members.  This is one of my favorite parts of working in the Learning Center!  Many people who go through this program have faced numerous obstacles in their lives, but it is their great resilience which has brought them this far.  Here is a little taste of the beautiful endings of autobiographies from some of the program participants that bring tears to my eyes, a smile to my face, and praise to our Lord Jesus Christ who makes it all possible:
Three of our Lydia House ladies, experiencing the Joslyn Art Museum.
     “Wherever God takes me at this point, I am ready to follow. Nobody is worried about me because I am here, I am safe.  For that, for the Lydia House, I will be eternally grateful.”
      “I am thankful the Lord has given me the ability with nothing in my hands, kind of like David and Goliath. All I know is his mercies are new every day.  That His grace is all I need.”
     “This is a beginning of a new life, my life.”
     “You are my Alpha in the morning and my Omega in the evening.  God, I could do nothing without You so I want to give You all the praise and glory that I can in this moment, that whomever reads this story will know that if it had not been for You coming to my lowest place in my life I would not be here today to give my testimony of Your grace and mercy. Thank You, Father God.”
      “Now in these chapters it is about becoming the best possible man I may become, and I am looking to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, to make that a possibility.  That is how I would like this part of my life to be remembered.”
     “But I was like the man by the pool everyone kept passing by.  Then God sent His Holy Spirit to talk to me, thank You Jesus.  This is where one day I just said I’m going to start living for God, Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ.”
     “I hope to have a family of my own, that happily-ever-after storybook finish. Who knows? Anything is possible with God.”
     “The End…A New Beginning.”
     These conclusions all have something in common…hope.  God turns chaos into order, mends broken relationships, uplifts, encourages, forgives, and restores.  He gives us a hope and a future.
     “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

Anna Razamazova
Learning Center Director

08 September 2015

Workings of the Holy Spirit

     To take a break on Labor Day, some staff and I from the Garland Thompson Men’s Center took 34 of our guys in programs to Calvary Christian Church to play dodgeball and basketball.  Little did we know the plans of the Holy Spirit.  Five of those men made a decision to be baptized right then.  His wonders never cease to amaze me.
     Please pray for these men, as they begin their journey towards knowing Christ.

Pat McKernan
Garland Thompson Men’s Center Director

04 September 2015

This is What it is ALL About!

     I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Open Door Mission has some of the best volunteers around!
     This past Saturday, we held our Back to School Bash event, and hundreds of families from the community came to receive gently used clothing, books, shoes, toys, housewares, bedding, and more.  It was such a great day because not only did we serve hundreds of families, but we also had hundreds of volunteers with servant’s hearts come to help!
     As I was greeting a new shift of volunteers during this event, I watched a young gentleman volunteer to carry an extremely FULL bag of items for some community guests.  He walked alongside a man and woman, and I could see they were chatting.  When they arrived at the vehicle, I saw the volunteer motion to the couple, and they kind of nodded and shrugged their shoulders a little.  After putting the bag in the back seat of the truck, and I saw the volunteer’s hands moving while he was talking to them.  The man and woman began nodding and set their stuff down on the ground.  Then this volunteer grabbed their hands and prayed for them!   This seriously brought tears to my eyes.
     Praise God for His good and faithful servants that come to love on others because Jesus loves us!  This volunteer happily carried items to these people's truck and then he did the best thing that any of us can do for anyone: he prayed for them.  Right there.  May we all be so filled with the Holy Spirit that it shines through like He does in this volunteer, and may we always be BOLD in telling others about Jesus!

Amy Harvey
Volunteer and Partner Director

03 September 2015

Back to School Bash a Success

     Thousands were served in the name of JESUS on Saturday, August 29!  Lines wrapped around campus before 6 a.m. for our Back to School Bash.  Thank you to all of our volunteers and supporters for helping prevent homelessness in the Heartland.  So many families received much needed items for their homes, and we couldn't have done it without YOU!  Our neediest neighbors were blessed in a huge way today!
     Please pray that our next community outreach event, the Community Picnic, will be just as much of a success.  If you are interested in coming to serve on Saturday, September 19, click here to sign up for your shift today!

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

02 September 2015

Gap Year Vagabond

Cooper checked out the Old Market for dinner, after serving at Open
Door Mission for the afternoon.
     We recently had the pleasure of having a volunteer come in from Southern California to serve at the Timberlake Outreach Center.  Well wishes, Cooper, on your journey to volunteer in every state in the country.  Thank you for serving at Open Door Mission!
     Here is a snippet of his story, and heart behind his adventure:

     I graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo this past May, and will be entering medical school in the fall of 2016.  During my Gap Year I want to do something meaningful.  I want an experience that will help grow me as a future doctor, as a man, and most importantly as an American.  So I decided to create - The Gap Year Vagabond.
     My goal is to volunteer in every state over the next half of a year.  I will be working with organizations that care for our neediest neighbors, such as homeless shelters, women’s shelters, clinics, whatever else I can find.  I wanted to try to do something that no one else has done. 
     I'm not sure if I am supposed to share all of my thoughts along the journey.  I also don’t know what the standard practice is for this type of thing, and I don't really want to look up how other people do it either. I figure doing that will cost whatever originality I have. 
     I don't think that my thoughts are important enough or wise enough to invade your screens.  I'm not a great photographer, and I have only an okay camera.  But I will work to bring you from your chair to the projects of the Dominican Republic, to the serenity of Walden Pond, to the misty sunrise on Going to the Sun Road, to the secluded waterfalls along the Columbia River Highway, to the Grand Canyon, to the construction sites of Habitat for Humanity, to women's shelters, and to medical tents.
     I will try my best to bring you with me.

This blog was adapted from Cooper, also known as the Gap Year Vagabond’s, Facebook page.  To read the original, click here.  To view his website, click here.

01 September 2015

Ladle of Love

     Thank you to the women at the Lydia House from the New Life Recovery Program for painting pictures that will decorate the walls for our upcoming Ladle of Love Festival.  We’ve been working on many different types of artwork for a few weeks now, and it is such a blessing to watch these women express their creativity.  These pieces truly are beautiful.
     Save the date for Sunday, October 18th, when you can come to see their beautiful artwork showcased all throughout the Garland Thompson Men's Center (2705 North 20th Street East, Omaha, NE).  And while you’re there, taste delicious soups and breads prepared by area Chefs, vote for your favorite “soup of the day,” and enjoy live Cajun-style music by the Prairie Gators.  Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door.
     Reserve your spot at the Ladle of Love Festival today! 

Celeste Norman
Events Coordinator

31 August 2015

This Moment is Yours

Sometimes the simplest of words, such as these from a
volunteer at All Nations Omaha Church college group
are exactly what people need to hear.
     When someone talks to you about something difficult in their life or something they are struggling with, usually we want to be able to give them an answer.  Sometimes I really want to be able to tell someone how to fix their situation, or say things to make them feel better.  However, I cannot do that; I don’t know any person that can.
     The thing is, people don’t always want to hear the answer.  It’s their journey to walk along, and maybe what they need at this moment is to pause and have someone listen.  Take the time to just listen to someone, get to know them as an individual.  The wonderful support that comes when someone deeply listens to you without judgment or correction can be very therapeutic.
     I’ve seen Christ open hearts as I simply listen in this way to guests at the Lydia House.  The other day I was helping a guest get some clothes, as she only had what she was wearing.  She told me she had just gotten out of jail, had nothing, and was trying to turn her life around.  I listened to her story as she told me about trying to get her daughter back.  She told me, “You can only fall if you allow yourself to fall, and I’m not allowing myself to fall anymore.”
     We continued to talk, and she apologized for bothering me with all of this.  I told her that I live in the moment, right now this moment was hers, it was not a bother at all, and that I was blessed to hear her story.
     I still do not know where those words came from, and I truly believe that after pausing to listen to this woman, God was able to help me say exactly what she needed to hear.  Holding back tears she said, “That’s nice to hear, because no one has said that to me in a long time.”

Tyler Johnson
Family Support Worker

28 August 2015

Beloved Bible Teacher

     They call her Miss Paulyne.
     At 91 years old, Paulyne Campbell is a combination of grace and iron will — and without apologies. 
Anyone attending her Bible class at Open Door Mission’s Lydia House will join hands in the prayer circle (including all visitors) because it is, after all, time to give thanks.
     And that is part of Campbell’s message: Have a grateful heart and a head filled with the Bible.  With that as your guide, you can persevere in life and in the grace of God.
     This month, she celebrates 18 years of volunteering as a Bible teacher at Open Door Mission.  In a moment of reminiscing, Miss Paulyne says her favorite story from all these years is when one of her students called her the meanest teacher she had ever had.
     She tells the story with a gentle chuckle. It was graduation day at the Mission, all graduates dressed in their caps and gowns. One woman rose and asked for “Miss Paulyne” to stand.
     “She said I was the meanest teacher she had ever had, but that she learned more from me than she had ever learned from anyone else,” Campbell recalls. “It was funny, but it was true.”
     “We don’t need to guess who we are, and whose we are,” Campbell said, citing this as her reason for being demanding.  As it turns out, her firm encouragement was worthwhile; the woman from this story later went on to open her own shelter for homeless women.
     Many other students from her class speak of Miss Paulyne with respect and affection.
     “She’s amazing, I’ve learned a lot from her,” said Makayla, who has been at the Lydia House for five months.  Secord said Campbell communicates by delivering a message of self-respect.
     “This is the way I want to live my life from now on,” Secord said.  “I hope to get a job where I can help kids who have been through what my kids have been through.”
     Campbell’s life is full of service work.  She cares for her sister, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to volunteering at Open Door Mission, Miss Paulyne is active at Pilgrim Baptist Church, editing quarterly study books for the Women’s Auxiliary of the National Baptist Convention.
     “Her life story shows how a strong faith allows you to keep rising,” said Reverend Cedric L. Perkins of Pilgrim Baptist.  Miss Paulyne, he said, is as quick with a kind word as she is with her expectations.
     “She has a caring heart and spirit ... she gives words of encouragement through notes and emails,” Perkins said.
     When Miss Paulyne first came to the Mission in July 1998, she knew was supposed to be a Bible teacher.
     “People need to know the word of God, that’s part of my purpose for being here. (At Open Door Mission) I can reach more people than anywhere else,” Campbell said.  “…Each time I go, it’s a rewarding experience because I love people, I love to help.  This is the best way that I can do that.”
     Open Door Mission is a Gospel Rescue Mission, meaning anyone can seek shelter there, but also available are recovery and life-skills programs offered for lasting change.  Members of these programs take a variety of classes, including faith-based classes, such as Campbell’s Bible study.  In line with the Mission’s vision, Campbell’s students memorize the books and verses of the Bible as well as its stories.
     Steve Frazee, Senior Program Director at Open Door Mission, said there’s a vision behind this old-school approach.  “(Miss Paulyne’s) big focus is on having people know how to navigate through the Bible,” Frazee said.  “It’s a road map, and it will help them figure out other things.”
     Clearly, Miss Paulyne is running straight into every opportunity to serve, and her fuel is her faith.
     “Each person has to do what he or she or can do to help someone walk the path of righteousness,” she said. “We can only do that by trying to be an example.”

This story has been adapted from Omaha World-Herald Staff Writer Nancy Gaarder’s story.  To view the full story, click here.