25 November 2015

'Tis the Season!

     It is the Holiday Season.  With the holidays right around the corner,  this is a very busy time for Open Door Mission.  There are decorations to be hung, special programs to set up for. Drumsticks on Wheels has already come and gone, and next up is Project Santa.
     Although we are busy, it’s good to see the people we are helping.  The Mission helps many in the community have a Thanksgiving without the worry of where the meal is coming from.
     When you see Open Door Mission booths around town this season, please stop and say, “Hi.”  If you can help us this holiday, it will be appreciated.  You will be helping those less fortunate have a holiday without the worry of where the meal is coming from.
     Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and help.

Gregory Crocker

24 November 2015

Notes From the Thankful Box

     It took me a while to gather up the Thankful Box notes last week.  I am pleased to report that they have multiplied dramatically!  Here are two entire notes that I found to be truly inspiring:
     "I am thankful that God has not given up on me, knowing what I have deliberately done in my past, over and over again.  It makes me wonder why He has not turned His back on me. How could He love someone like me? Why has He given me not only few, but a hundred chances to start over?  Now, since coming to the Lydia House and joining the New Life Recovery Program, I see that to Him, I am perfect.  His love is so passionate and unconditional.  He leaves me speechless"
     "I am so grateful and thankful to God for giving me LIFE, because what I had before was not even living!  No matter the problems that I have been through, God has given me strength and He has delivered me from the hate that I kept in my heart.  I have been shown more love in the past few months at the Lydia House than I have been shown after years on the streets.  Most of all, God has given me that love that I cannot live without."
     As we enter this holiday of Thanksgiving, remember just how much there is to be thankful for!

Shelly McCullough
Day House Supervisor

23 November 2015

Thankful for Unicorns and Jackets

     This morning I grabbed the Thankful Box that we leave at the Lydia House’s front desk on Thursdays and started looking through all the notes that were left by guests.
     Our guests are always leave notes of gratitude for staff, their children, and second chances, but this time I noticed that numerous children had put in notes.  These truly touched me, so I thought I would share them!
1. I am thankful for the staff that has helped my mom and dad, so we have a place to stay.
2. I am thankful for my jacket, it's so warm.
3. I am thankful for unicorns!
4. I am thankful for this place.
5. I am thankful for my birthday present from staff and for finding a new house.
6. I am thankful for clean blankets.
     Another one that really touched me was, “I am thankful for difficult people, they teach me patience and forgiveness.”  Can I get an, “AMEN?”

Shelly McCullough
Day House Supervisor

20 November 2015

My Favorite Mission Memory

     Open Door Mission has been celebrating our birthday during the whole month of November.  From Open Door Mission Day on November 1, to an all-staff purple out, to last night’s 60 Years of Blessings A Diamond in the Rough Gala, it has been quite the celebration!
     It is amazing to know that God has worked through Open Door Mission for 60 years, and that He is not finished!  More is to come!  During my time serving at the Mission, I’ve had many life-changing experiences from hearing guests’ stories, seeing God always provide, and interacting with wonderful staff.
     One of my many favorite Open Door Mission memories was watching Candace "accidentally" start bulldozing the old Men's Center.  I know Candace’s favorite day in the fall of 1997, when Open Door Mission held our first Graduation ceremony for women and families with children!
     Whether you’ve been a friend of the Mission for decades or a few weeks, please take time to reflect on your favorite memory.  And please share it!  Can’t wait for what’s to come.

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

19 November 2015

Cancelled Wedding Leads to Banquet for the Homeless

     76 students in Open Door Mission’s Life Changing Programs recently attended the Mission's Sobriety Luncheon.  Each of them were celebrated for their progress towards lasting change.
     The banquet style luncheon at the D.C. Centre Banquet Facility was made possible due to a wedding cancellation.  This echoes other recent headlines of cancelled wedding celebrations being donated to the hungry and homeless.  What a beautiful way to turn a sad occasion around, to give back.
     While our hearts go out to the family during this very difficult time, we are honored to have been included.  These men and women have proven their determination and desire for a better life.  It is a blessing to see them served today.  We hope the family can take comfort in that.
     On a side note, we have a record-breaking 91 students enrolled in Open Door Mission’s Life Changing Programs.  I have goose bumps and tears of JOY.
     God is drawing people to Open Door Mission, so our staff is ready and open.  We will not miss our opportunity to BE Jesus, so people can SEE Jesus, so people can KNOW Jesus.  I know the best is yet to come at Open Door Mission.  God is not finished yet.

Candace Gregory

18 November 2015

Still Alive to Tell Their Stories

Open Door Mission is so grateful for every volunteer
who makes the Free Health and Healing Clinic
a success.
     I wanted to share two occasions from this past week that prove God is at work at Open Door Mission.  Last week, a guest came into the clinic with fuzzy vision in his right eye.  After one of our volunteers assessed him, she decided to take him to Emergency Room.  There, he was immediately taken in for laser eye surgery.  His retina was tearing in two places, and had he not come into the clinic, he may have completely lost his eyesight in that eye.
     A couple of days ago, a Garland Thompson Men’s Center guest came for a blood pressure check.  After talking with him, the man revealed that he had heaviness and a stabbing pain in his chest, and that his left arm was going numb.  The paramedics were called and an EKG was performed right in the clinic.  He was indeed having heart problems, and the paramedics immediately started medication, moved him onto the gurney, and took him to the hospital in the ambulance. 
     Had either of these men waited to come in, they may have different stories to tell today.  I am praising God for being in the right place to serve His people just as they need.  God is good, and He loves to care for His people.

Kate Fischer
Free Health and Healing Clinic Director

17 November 2015

The Tale of the Same Birthday

     Last week, as I was helping a guest fill out her Adopt A Guest Christmas form, I realized that we have the same birthdate, different years.  When I pointed it out to her, she asked me what year, and I told her.  She told me that on that exact date and year, as I was being born, she was beginning her sobriety! 
“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows”.  –Luke 12:7
     This woman was very encouraged by how God cares about every detail in our life.  My guest said, “As you were being born, I was being reborn into a Child of God.  I made the decision to give my life to Jesus and be sober!”
     She was encouraged what a beautiful picture that was, saying she felt we had a spiritual connection and that she felt empowered by me.  That is Jesus at work, my friends!  What is awesome is that even when I was being born, God knew that someday I would meet this woman.  Praise God for divine callings and divine appointments!  We have a good, good Father!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

16 November 2015

Humbled...Part 2

     The next stop for the morning was at Hy-Vee to pick up the 22 boutonnieres and three sheet cakes for Graduation.  At the floral department, I waited patiently, and was greeted by a young, beautiful girl who was very willing to help me (after all, it IS Hy-Vee and there IS a helpful smile in every aisle - including floral).
     She volunteered to help carry my purchases to the car, and as we are loading them in, she asked a lot of questions about graduation: what is it, who is graduating, where, etc.  Honestly, I was thinking, “What is the deal?  With SO many questions, why not just go online to check it out?”
Our graduates' stories of lasting change inspire
HOPE in all who hear them.
     But then I turned to look at her, and see her eyes begin to tear up.  She told me that this day (Graduation Day) was her 120th day of sobriety.  She was weak in that moment, revealing how her close friend was just killed and she was trying to contact her sponsor because she needs help, reassurance, and encouragement to stay sober.
     Wow.  My church talks about kairos moments, divine intersections, and for me, that was one.  This was no chance encounter.
     I invited her to come to Graduation.  What better motivation than to listen to the stories of men and women just like her who have walked her path, who can express their love for Jesus and strength in Him when they are weak?   She said firmly that she would be there, and I pray she was able to make it.
     If I had only kept to myself, just going through the motions, I would have missed these two beautiful encounters.  These encounters reinforced what I feel my purpose is in life: to love others.  I can’t help but wonder how many other moments I  have missed.  I don't want to miss out on divine intersections because they change me, they change that person, and God smiles down on us!  I wish I could have bottled up my emotions on Graduation Day, to hold onto those feelings forever.  They were amazing.
     My prayer for all of you is that you listen to our guests; listen to the Walmart checker, listen to the person in line next to you at the store.  Listen with your heart, and I promise it will change you.

Jennifer VanLaningham
Administrative Assistant

13 November 2015

Humbled...Part 1

22 Graduates wearing those 22 caps and gowns.
     I wish I could bottle up the emotions I felt while attending Graduation.  I truly believe that as each day ticks by, we miss precious moments.  Graduation was my reminder that I need to view the world through my heart, and not my eyes.  
     I remember feeling inconvenienced that morning, as I picked up the graduates’ cap and gowns.  On a normal occasion, I would have pulled up front, run in, grabbed the gowns, and head back to the Mission.  On the morning of Graduation Day, however I was told to go around to the back of the building.  Ugh!  Seriously?  I walked back to my car, waited for traffic to clear enough to turn around, and drove to the back of the building. 
     When I eventually found my spot, I was greeted by a disheveled man standing on the dock, with our rack of 22 graduate gowns.  I greeted him, and he helped load them into my car.  Then he turned to me, looked straight into my eyes, took my hand, and said, "Thank you.  Thank you for doing what you do.”  I knew it was me, personally, that he was thanking for doing what I do; it was all of us, it was Open Door Mission.  It was the look in his eyes that spoke to my heart.  He didn't express why he was thanking me, but I knew that at some point, somehow, someone he knew we must have helped.
     I left humbled and appreciative that I had to go around to the back.  

Jennifer VanLaningham
Administrative Assistant

12 November 2015

Holiday Hope

     MMM…the smell of turkey or ham baking fills the house, a variety of favorite side dishes wait for their time in the oven, and the tempting pies cool down in time for dessert.  Laughter and memories being exchanged, greeting new and old friends, and the love of family surrounds.  This is how the holidays are portrayed, and for many of us it is the way they are spent.
     Holidays are for going back home or welcoming others to your home, but what if you are homeless?
     For the homeless, holidays are often lonely and full of regrets and pain.  They are often estranged from family and are seeking ways to ease their physical, emotional, and spiritual pain.  The holidays are a special kind of hurt.  That is why Open Door Mission is truly an “open door” during the holidays.  All seeking a hot, nutritious meal and a warm bed are welcome here.
     However, without the help of those that can help, we could not be able to meet the needs of so many seeking help, seeking HOPE.  Thanks to awesome donors, tireless volunteers, and dedicated staff, Open Door Mission will provide 5,000 families in the community with a complete Thanksgiving meal to fix in their own home.  For 5,000 others, there will be a Thanksgiving brunch and traditional dinner.  Each guest living at the Mission will be “adopted” and given Christmas gifts.  For the 6,000 children in the community there will be a bag of gifts, including books, a blanket, a hat, a scarf, and gloves.  All of this can only be done because God’s people love, and love unconditionally those who need the most love.  This is the spirit of the holidays, to love and give as Christ did: unconditionally.
     So as the commercial once said, ”We’ll leave the light on for you”…the light of Jesus, showing the way to hope through Open Door Mission.

Maggie Cope
Community Relations Coordinator 

11 November 2015

Thousands of Families Helped This Thanksgiving

     It's been another record-breaking year for Open Door Mission's Turkey 'N' Fixin’s sign-up, as thousands of families lined up to get a little help for Thanksgiving.
     The line last Saturday morning wrapped around the facility, and some people showed up as early as 6 a.m.  Staff opened the doors about 30 minutes earlier than scheduled due to the line.
     Open Door Mission’s annual giveaway provides free turkeys and a box of traditional sides to families in need.  One working mom said there is absolutely no shame in getting a little assistance during the holiday season.
     "I don't make much money," said Angela.  "I mean I work a minimum wage job, I got four kids and I don't get help, so I figured I'd get all the extra help I could get."
     People like Angela are exactly who the Mission aims to help with the Turkey ‘N’ Fixin’s program.  "This empowers low-income families to be in their own homes at Thanksgiving so they don't have to come to Open Door Mission," said Open Door Mission’s President/CEO, Candace Gregory. "We will serve a Thanksgiving brunch and banquet, but it's so exciting to know that we're empowering families to be in their own homes."
     Hundreds of volunteers help make this possible each year by boxing up the food, and delivering it the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  Open Door Mission is still about 2,000 turkeys short, so donations are needed.  Click here if you'd like to help.

This blog is adapted from WOWT6 News’ article, “Line Winds Around Open Door Mission for Thanksgiving Meal Sign-Up.”  To read the original article or watch the video, click here.

09 November 2015

Being Jesus With Skin On

     I pray that we as Christians always remember to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
     As I was driving home from work the other day, I saw on the other side of the road a homeless man lying halfway in the road, halfway on the sidewalk.  This was in downtown Omaha, and I know people saw him.  Runners were just walking over him, and no one was stopping to help.
This story is the real-life version of the Good Samaritan.
     I parked a block away, got out of my car, called 911.  Then I went to the man, and could instantly tell that he was drunk and not very coherent.  I asked if he lived at any of the nearby shelters, but he shook his head.  So I bent down to his level, prayed for him, and told him I would stay until the paramedics came.  I let him know I cared for him and that God does too.
     No one else stopped to help us, it would have been impossible for people to not see us.  My heart broke at their apathy.  When the paramedics came, I explained that I worked at Open Door Mission and couldn't just drive by a man in need.  The paramedics thanked me, told me they know who he is, and said they would take him to the hospital.
     As I continued my drive home, I was in shock.  People just don't care for others nowadays, and I know it is because they themselves need Jesus.  I thank each staff, volunteer, and donor who cares enough to be Jesus to our guests.
     It's easy for the world to walk by and not care, but our eyes are more open than that.  We know that man is someone's son, uncle, nephew, or brother.  We know that if he was our family member, we would hope someone would stop to show him compassion and love.

Amy Buss
Human Resources Director

06 November 2015

Purple Out

     In case you missed it, November 1, 2015 was officially Open Door Mission Day.  Facebook pictures were purpled out, Chick Fil A handed out free chicken sandwiches in exchange for canned food donations, and the Woodmen Tower in downtown Omaha was lit up purple.  It was quite the occasion!  Our prayer is that all of our supporters, donors, volunteers, staff, and friends feel an attachment to Open Door Mission, almost like alumni to their high school.  That people enjoyed the opportunity to wear purple and represent all the Lord is doing at Open Door Mission.
     That was definitely the atmosphere among Open Door Mission’s staff this past week; just like Homecoming Spirit Week!  Staff were going great lengths to out-purple one another.  Attached is a snapshot of the many photos sent back and forth, showing purple pride.  Comments with the photos included, “Great runner up pictures,” "Still winning," and “Our purple beats yours.”
     It’s easy to get behind a cause that you truly believe in.  And Open Door Mission is definitely one of those causes. 

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

05 November 2015

The Value of Staff and Volunteers

     Whew!  We’ve had so many blessings in the Volunteer Department lately!
     On Halloween Day, we had 250 high school Juniors and Seniors in high school volunteer this morning with College Possible.
     My team of Erica, Corey, I were amazed by the teamwork of our amazing staff to make College Possible’s experience meaningful and productive!    We say, “THANK YOU” to all who helped in stepping up to host and work with volunteers in each of their areas.
     I was literally blown away by how much this group of volunteers accomplished across our campus in the short time that they were here.   AND, I was also blown away by this; as I was thanking students while they boarded their buses, I heard many talking about coming back to volunteer on their own.  What a blessing!
     THANK YOU to all staff who greet, thank, and talk with volunteers on our campus.  You ALL are making impacts in each of their lives.  Ultimately, that is what is going to get them back to Open Door Mission to impact the lives of the people we serve!
     THANK YOU also to all volunteers who come and show our guests that people care for them.  Open Door Mission's numerous programs could not run without the help of our volunteers.
     Let me share with you our motto among Open Door Mission staff, “Be JESUS, so people can see JESUS, so people can KNOW JESUS!”

Amy Harvey
Volunteer & Partner Director

30 October 2015

I Belong Here

     My name is Nyanhial Tot and I am a Family Support Worker at Open Door Mission’s Lydia House.  I work at Open Door Mission because I feel like I belong here.  We all know that feeling when something is the perfect fit for your life because you truly enjoy it.
     Open Door Mission has become a second home to me.  I worked in many fields before coming to the Mission, but never before have I enjoyed a job this much.  God brought me here to make a difference.  Colossians 3:23-24 says,
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
     God has a reason for allowing me to work at Open Door Mission, and I am looking to continuing to help others while working for the Lord at the same time.  It's such a great feeling when guests tell me, "Thank you for making a difference in my life."
     I also know my relationship with God is growing stronger and stronger each day as I work at the Mission, because I am learning about the Lord from all those around me; staff, volunteers, and guests alike.  May all the glory go to our Father in Heaven who makes all things possible. 

Nyanhial Tot
Evening Family Support Worker

29 October 2015


     In honor of Open Door Mission's Anniversary, we as staff have been going PURPLE all week.  I have learned two things about our staff this week.  One is that we LOVE Open Door Mission!  What better way to show our support than by dressing up in purple spirit.  Secondly, I’ve learned just how competitive we all are.  Keep an eye out next week, and I’ll post some pictures of just how far some of us will go to out-purple one another.
     But for now, I challenge YOU to go purple for Open Door Mission Day this Sunday, November 1.  All you have to do is go purple on your Facebook Profile Picture.  It’s very simple:

  1. Download and save this PNG file
  2. Open Microsoft PowerPoint
  3. Click “Insert Picture” and choose the file you just downloaded
  4. In the same PowerPoint document, Click “Insert Picture” and choose your Profile Picture
  5. Crop/Resize as necessary, be sure to send your Profile Picture to the Back
  6. Click and drag your cursor to select both pictures, or hold Control A to select all.
  7. Right click on the photo and choose “Save As Picture”
  8. Upload your new Purple Profile Picture to Facebook!  Be sure to crop the thumbnail correctly, so the words at the bottom are not cut off.
  9. Challenge three friends to do the same and #OpenDoorOmaha

     And for some extra Open Door Mission spirit, be sure to proudly wear as much purple as possible this next week.  We have even more ways to celebrate, too!  Click here to learn about them.

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

28 October 2015


The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.  --John 10:10
     The Greek word for abundant is perissos.  The adjective means more, greater, excessive, abundant, exceedingly, or vehemently.  The noun means preeminence or advantage.
     Jesus has come to give us ABUNDANT life.  With Jesus, our life is greater, exceedingly, and more.  This is the Word of the Lord!
     In Genesis, the serpent told Adam and Eve,
“You will not certainly die [from eating the fruit]…For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  --Genesis 3:4-5.
     The serpent told them a lie.  The truth is that God wants us to have that GREATER, EXCEEDINGLY, MORE life.  At times, we and our guests believe what the serpent told Adam and Eve, that God is holding out on them.  But that is not the truth.  God is our protector.
     I am praying for an abundant life.  Lord, let the guests we serve see our abundant life.  Let them experience that abundant life through us.  Let them see that God is our protector and so much more.  Let them choose Jesus instead of any other idol.  Let them not believe any lies. 

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

27 October 2015

An Amazing Place to Be

     I had the pleasure of picking up a young man from the local County Jail a little while ago to come join our New Life Recovery Program.  When we first walked into the Garland Thompson Men’s Center, I got called away for a moment.  I came back, and this is what I saw:  our friend from Isaiah 58:10 Ministries and our Events Coordinator praying with our new guest as he wept.  What a truly amazing place for each of us to be; staff, volunteers, and guests alike.
     I was blessed to see this example of the Lord leading HIS servants to the right people, at the right time and place.  Later, I was able to challenge this man to give his problems, cares, and concerns to Jesus, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  What a great promise He gives us.
     May Jesus keep using Open Door Mission to point people to Jesus.  I am so thankful for each staff member.  We all are making a kingdom difference.

Pat McKernan
Garland Thompson Men’s Center Director

26 October 2015

This Place IS Changing Lives

     Another of a long list of reasons why I love working at Open Door Mission is because of the courage our guests embody every day.  
     We recently had a night of encouragement and celebration for our men and women in programs.  I feel that had someone been standing outside of the Garland Thompson` Men’s Center Chapel that night, the building would have been glowing!
     As Steve, Open Door Mission’s Senior Program Director, called out the days, weeks, and months that our people had achieved in their sobriety, each one had the courage to stand up be recognized, and be exposed in front of a room filled with strangers.  The noise amplified, the excitement increased, and the ground trembled.  Men and women alike had HUGE smiles on their faces as everyone cheered them on.
     I sat behind a man who had earned the "Student of the Month," award and I noticed how many times he held that paper in his hand, just looking at it.  I wondered if this was the first time in his life that he had ever been recognized for doing something good?  I could sense his pride swelling!  If there were any new guests in attendance last night, my prayer is that it gave them insight as to the power of Christ.  If they didn't have the courage to enter the program before, I hope they do now. 
     This place IS changing lives.  
     I have never been as vulnerable as our guests.  It's just not “safe."  But to watch them bare it all, willing to be judged, challenged, and questioned reminds me of what I think my purpose is:  to love them.  It reminds me to not build my walls up too high, because I might miss the beauty.
     I feel that working here is almost a hidden secret.  People go through the motions every day, missing out on the small moments that make life truly worth living.  We as employees daily get to see amazing things happening.  As our guests’ lives are changing, so are ours.
     Driving home with my 12-year-old daughter after the night, I thanked the Lord for all my blessings.  It truly was a beautiful night.  As we rounded the corner of Abbott Drive, we saw downtown's beautifully lit skyline, and right in the middle stood the Woodman Tower, shining radiantly in purple.  It was as though God was shining on the city and declaring His love to the lost and broken.
Click here to find out the next time the Woodmen Tower will shine purple.

Jennifer VanLaningham
Administrative Assistant

22 October 2015

Celebrating With the Angels

      Promotions Night is held each month to celebrate the accomplishments of the men and women in Open Door Mission’s programs.  When they’ve finished a part of the program, they are promoted to the next level, and showered with encouragement for their accomplishments
      The following are staff reactions from October’s Promotions Night.  I pray that through these words, all readers will get a sense of how important our guests are.  We as staff celebrate with the Lord and His angels over these accomplishments, because we know lasting change is just around the corner.

     “There was an electricity in the air from start to finish- what an amazing celebration!”

     “Thank you to every staff member who attended and participated.  I really appreciate all the staff involved in making this night happen.  Thank you all.  It was great to see the joy in each guest’s face as their accomplishments were celebrated!”

     “This just gives me goosebumps...I can hardly wait until next month!”

At Open Door Mission, there is always plenty of God's
great works to celebrate.
     “It is awesome to be part of this with you all.  When I look at the men and women who are in the Programs, I see courageous people!  They admit that what they have done in the past hasn't worked, want to better their lives, and are ready for a change.  Only through the Gospel of Christ are they able to do that.  I am truly honored to be doing ministry with each any every person here at Open Door Mission.  To God be the glory, and God alone!”

     “It was an exciting and fun night. I can't wait for next Promotion Night!”

     “I was so glad that I attended Promotions Night last evening.  I had tears of joy in my eyes all the way home after seeing the men and women holding their awards and taking that next step in their journey.
     When I got home, I told my wife that this is why I am in full time ministry, sharing the Gospel with so many here at the Mission.  God has a plan for each of us and I was so thrilled to be a part of the journey to share the love of God, to be His hands and feet.
     This morning at devotions, I shared these Bible verse with the men:
Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  –Joshua 1:9
      I love seeing how God is working in their lives, and will continue to encourage them to stay with it, and not to give up. God has a plan for each of them, and He will be with them every step of the way!  I am so blessed to be a part of this ministry and to see daily how God is at work!”

     “Amen! What an amazing night of celebration! God is faithful!”

     “It was awesome to see so many people become revived in their goals!  They all have ownership in the Program, and that made all the difference.  Thanks to all who coordinated this event.  God showed up in full force!"

     “It was a blessing to see the Body of Christ build up each other in love, and our most holy faith.   This celebration could be the needed incentive for other men and women to commit to our Recovery Programs.”
     Please continue to pray for more breakthroughs, for more of God's work in our guests' lives, and for more lasting change.
If you'd like to celebrate with us, consider attending Graduation this Saturday, October 24 at 10 a.m.  Click here for more information.

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

21 October 2015

A True Testimony of Life Change

Daily, God is changing lives at Open Door Mission, just like
Gary (pictured) or the man whose testimony is shared here.
     I often receive the blessings of testimonies from people who have been impacted by Open Door Mission.  These are incredibly inspirational, reminding me that God is constantly at work, inspiring hope for lasting change.  Please read this testimony that was recently shared with me.  May the praises within it bless you as it blessed me.
     "I am thankful for Open Door Mission. I joined the Journey to Work Program in October 2013, and through God’s strength and the encouragement of staff and volunteers at Open Door Mission, I conquered poverty, drugs, depression, and the loss of custody of my daughter. Now I have full custody of my daughter, and I am engaged to the love of my life; we are getting married next April!
     I was facing five to seven years in prison last summer due to criminal activity from my past, but through God’s grace I am a free man, serving the Lord outside of prison walls!  My mentors were there for me and to this day continue to be a great support.  The men I met along the way will forever be my brothers.
     God works mightily, and He is working at Open Door Mission.  Seek it out if you’re in need of safe shelter or a hot, nutritious meal.  Their doors are open to help the neediest neighbors of the Heartland.
     Praise God for the Mission and thank you to all involved in providing the tools and support necessary to be a devout follower of Christ, a father to my daughter, a son, and now a future husband to a wonderful Christian woman."
     May these stories continue to prove God's great works.  Thank you to every staff member, donor, volunteer, and friend of the Mission.  You are making a difference.
Click here for more stories of HOPE.

Candace Gregory

20 October 2015

God's Moving at the GTMC

     My job at Open Door Mission is to walk each person who comes into the Garland Thompson Men’s Center through our intake process.  My favorite part of this process is the opportunity it provides for sharing the light of Christ.
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”  --1 John 1:5
So many of our guests find HOPE for lasting change in the
Word of God.
     This describes so much of my job at Open Door Mission.  Many of the people who come seeking shelter and food are in darkness, and do not know the light that Christ provides for all who believe in Him.  They do not know of Christ’s sacrifice for their sins.  And to be the one able to share these truths is such an honor.  At the end of the day, this is the main reason I love working at Open Door Mission.  
     One of my favorite things I get to be a part of at the Men’s Center is chapel.  Since we are blessed with so many volunteers, we are able to offer a chapel each night at for any guests who wish to attend.
     I enjoy hearing the stories of men who go to chapel “just because,” and return sometime later and tell me and other staff of how that chapel impacted them to read the Bible or join a Bible study.  Getting to hear of these stories and see how volunteers are willing to give up their night just to witness to men and women reminds me of how important our job is at Open Door Mission.

Daniel Jones
Intake Coordinator/Case Manager

19 October 2015

The Golden Ladle Goes To...

     Open Door Mission was blessed with a full house at yesterday’s Ladle of Love event.
     A huge shout out of thanks to: all staff who worked this event, the men from the life changing programs who set up tables and directed traffic, our Kitchen and Hospitality crew who kept the soup flowing, to each volunteer who pitched in to make the event a success, and to every attendee who supported Open Door Mission at this fun, fall festival!
     It was a great day with lots of smiling faces and full stomachs.  The Open Door Mission Chefs once again received Honorable Mention for receiving the most votes with their delicious Cheesy Smoked Pork Soup.  Let me tell you, it was good stuff!
     The Ladle of Love Awards went to:

Bronze Ladle – Charleston’s Midtown, Loaded Potato Soup
Silver Ladle – Nettie’s, Southwest Potato Corn Chowder
Gold Ladle – Upstream’s Smoked Gouda

     If you missed out this year, we hope to see you next time!  Click here for more photos of the event!

Celeste Norman
Events Coordinator

16 October 2015

Hope is Real

     On the way to work the other day, I saw these words posted on a church sign: "Hope Is Real."  I thought about it and (needless to say) agreed with the statement.  But as I pondered the simple little phrase, I realized that for many people hope is not real.  I believe that is one of the most important gifts we can give to another person: the gift of hope.
     You see, someone who is hopeless and alone usually cannot help themselves out of their situations.  They have a great sense of loss and helplessness.  We must come alongside and bring the Good News of Jesus Christ and all that He has to offer.
"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10
     One definition for hope is to look forward to with confidence or expectation.  We must bring the Word of God with all its hope to someone who does not know it is real.  When we bring hope, we bring life.  It is life changing for a person to finally believe.  It is more than just asking God for something we need; we must instead expect our miracle.  Somewhere in the midst of asking, believing, and expecting God to answer, we will find what we are looking for.
     It is an honor to work at Open Door Mission where we can come and spread hope in what seem to be hopeless situations. 
     I think the song “At the Foot of the Cross” by Kathryn Scott, which paints a beautiful picture of what it looks like to allow God to be the Lord of our lives. 
Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down at the foot of the cross
     My prayer each day is that I can help these wonderful people at Open Door Mission trade their “ashes in for beauty” and give them hope for the future!  

Adely Cooklin
Leasing Specialist

15 October 2015

That's Him--That's my Son!

     There are many reasons why I love working at Open Door Mission, but the number one reason is because I get a chance to meet people who otherwise I would never have been able to meet.
     One of my favorite guests is a woman who came to us completely broken.  She has been off her medication, using drugs, and not taking care of herself.  She is a 60-year-old woman living on the streets doing on God knows what.
     When she came to us there were many reasons to think she was a higher level of care: she heard voices, yelled inappropriate things in the hallway, urinated on herself, needing instructions to shower and change.  I remember the day God laid it on my heart not to give up on her.  He lead me to make one thousand phone calls and ask one thousand questions to see what resources or help were available for this woman.  With the help of a visiting nurse who was volunteering at the Lydia House, I was able to get this woman an appointment with her psychiatrist.  He prescribed the medication she had been missing.
     Over the next few weeks, the guest started to level out.  She began to take care of herself, started communicating without yelling, and showed that she wanted a better life.  She obtained her ID, which meant she could access the account that she was receiving Social Security Income from.  She was even able to use the Metro to get around town.
     One day, this woman randomly came into my office and asked for help finding her son.  Her mind had cleared enough for her to remember that she had children and even grandchildren.  She gave me her son’s name, and I googled him.  I hit the “Images” button, and the first picture that came up was him.  She said, "That’s him—that’s my son!"
     I was a little unsure of if she knew what she was saying, but the woman was very clear that the picture of the man was her son. I did some more research and was able to find out that her son was a life coach and had a website with a phone number.  Before I left for work that day, I gave her the phone number.  When I returned the next day, the woman said she had been able to talk to her son!  She was thrilled.
     He ended up driving two hours to visit with his mother and take her out to dinner.  Now we are working on finding her an apartment in his area so she can be close to family.
     How can that not be God working in her life and mine?  God has blessed me with this woman and with this position at the Mission to help her. 

Tina Murray
Case Manager

14 October 2015

Power of a Testimony

"My Story" is off Big Daddy Weave's album Beautiful Offerings.
“If I told you my story, you would hear victory of the enemy.
And if I told you my story, you would hear freedom that was won for me.
And if I told you my story, you would hear life overcome the grave.
If I should speak, then let it be, of the grace that was greater than all my sin.
Of when justice was served, and where mercy wins.
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in.
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him.”

     This song called "My Story" by Big Daddy Weave brings me to tears almost every time I hear it.  This is not because I am ashamed of where I came from, but rather because of where Jesus redeemed me from and what He has blessed me with.
     I cannot think of a better way to describe exactly what a testimony should entail than these lyrics.  Our testimonies are not about our accomplishments.  Instead, they tell a story of God’s grace and mercy in our lives, and that Jesus is alive and changing lives.  The Lord wants us to share our experiences with others as praises to Him and blessings for them.
     I remember the relief I felt when someone told me his story, and I remember thinking, “Maybe God isn’t going to strike me down for my failures.”  His story of salvation brought me so much hope.  Satan does not have power over my life!
     Revelation 12:11 says the devil was “…overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”  Living a life for Jesus means loving God above all things, loving all others, repenting of our sins, and sharing the story of how God rescued us from the dead.   We speak of our experiences without fear or shame.
     Although we have all fallen short of the Glory of God, He is using our story to help others in similar situations.  Our stories show that the road isn’t easy, but God’s redemption and blessings are beyond reproach.  So, just as the last line of the song goes, “To tell you my story is to tell of Him.”  We use our testimonies to show the world that our God is worthy of our praise.

Corey Jordan
Development Associate

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