28 March 2017

It's the Little Things

     I work in the Maintenance Department and get to meet many of the men, women, and children that have come to Open Door Mission for one reason or another.  As I go about doing the repairs across campus, I’m reminded of the little things we all take for granted.  I get big thanks when I fix a clogged sink, or get a washer or dryer running again. 
     I also get a chance to talk with the guests here.  I hear how they are here because of an abusive relationship or they had just been released from jail and being here was terms of their release.  I see how small accomplishments are huge to them.  Getting a GED, graduating from one of the programs here, or even just getting promoted to the next level are all important steps. 
     Please keep our guests in your prayers as they are “the least of these.”

Gregory Crocker
Maintenance Department

27 March 2017

A Greater Impact Together

     I wanted to give a shout out to John Michael, our Homeless Prevention Manager at the South Omaha campus!  Every day, he is intentional about building a great relationship with our guests and our donors.
     One example is his relationship with Saving Grace, a perishable food rescue group.  Due to their generosity, South Omaha is stocked well in order to be a blessing for our shoppers!  With the right partnerships in our community, we can collectively make an even bigger impact for the hungry, homeless, and near homeless.





Joshua Smith
Gift In Kind Director

24 March 2017

The Gift of Vision

     First Monday of every month, Dr. Matthew Taylor comes to Open Door Mission’s Free Health & Healing Clinic and to see guests in need of glasses.  Once he has given them their diagnosis, we contact an organization in Iowa for a free glasses voucher. 
     This week I heard an extra special story about Dr. Taylor’s visit with a guest from the Lydia House.

I would just like to say thank you so much. I did not realize just how blind I was getting and how much I was missing out on seeing.  It's wonderful knowing that I will be able to see once again.  This wouldn't be possible for me without the Free Health & Healing Clinic and the generosity of Dr. Taylor.  I feel very blessed.  Thank You Again.  –Angela

     Praise God for the partnerships we have in the clinic to assist our guests in something a beautiful as seeing the new spring in bloom with clear vision!

Kate Fischer, LIMHP
Health & Healing Center Director

23 March 2017

The Panhandler's Plan


     Sometimes God’s plans are different from your own.  One evening a little while ago, my plan was to rest.  I’ve been getting over the flu, but the process is slow.  While my wife was at her appointment, my plan was to rest in the car until she had finished, and then go home and rest.
     On our way to the doctor’s office, we saw a panhandler and I knew God had a different plan.  After I dropped my wife off, I returned to our friend on the side of the street.
     Ricky is his name.  He is just back in Omaha after leaving four years ago.  He has a couple of light coats on in the bitter cold and a pair of sneakers that are too small.  I gave him a care bag that my church’s small group had made, which contains an Open Door Mission Compassion Card.  These cards let panhandlers know where they can get free food, shelter, and care.
If you would like free Compassion Cards to hand
out to panhandlers, please call Candace Gregory
at 402-422-1111.
     He began talking with me.  I told him all about Open Door Mission and every service we have to offer.  I suggested calling for a van to pick him up so he could get new shoes and a heavy coat, use the phone, and put his stuff in a locker so it would be safe.
     He almost said yes.  He kept saying, "I don't want to agree and then change my mind."  He had his own plan.
     Please pray for Ricky.  As my wife and I drove home later, I passed by Ricky’s corner to see he had left.  Although I wasn’t able to convince Ricky to come to the Mission, I did follow God’s nudging to be kind, give him helpful things, and let him know that Jesus cares.  We will see if one day Ricky alters his plan and comes to get help at Open Door Mission.
     I hope I don't have to wait until heaven to find out what happened to Ricky.  If I do though, I am okay with it because God is good and I can trust in Him!

Steve Frazee
Senior Program Director

22 March 2017

A Lenten Devotional...Part 2

Continued from Tuesday, 3/21.

     Usually when I get tired and worn out, it is because I'm focused on my works and actions rather than on Jesus!  The days when I’m too overwhelmed to keep working for God’s glory are when my priorities are out of whack.  If I am working for God's glory but do not have God's presence, what good is it?  Then I am like the Pharisee.  If on the outside I am doing my job, but my inside is not full of Jesus, then what good am I truly?
     The beauty of the Gospel is that we can come as we are to King Jesus.  We can come and fully surrender our ways to Him.  We can say, “Lord, let me be in Your presence.  Do a work inside of me so I can minister for You on the outside.”  We can ask to be humbled in order to submit to His authority.  We can repent of our hypocritical ways and Jesus ALWAYS is faithful to clean our insides and make us brand new.  When we do this, we are able with His Spirit to minister knowing that we are being made into Christ's image more and more every day!   I Love this prayer from Ann Voskamp:
Ann Voskamp is an influential Christian author and speaker.
By Grace, today I will fast from social media because unplugging tunes me to God.  Today I will be more focused on Good News than any other news.  We repent of having more time for Facebook than we do for Face in Your Book, for more closely following our social media streams instead of thirsting for Living Water and closely following You.  -Ann Voskamp
     Let's not be people who keep plugging away even though our inside is in need of refreshing that only Jesus can bring.  Let's be people who thirst for Living Water that satisfies and do not just get filled with temporary satisfaction.  Let's be people that come to the Lord when we know our inside needs Him desperately and let's let Him transform us to be more like Jesus every day.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

21 March 2017

A Lenten Devotional...Part 1

Lent is a season of prayer and fasting for the 40 days before Easter.
     During this time of Lent, I have been reading a special devotional every day in order to prepare my heart for Easter.  My prayer is that I would be able to grasp more fully what Jesus did for me.  A recent reading included Jesus’ words in Matthew:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.  You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”  —Matthew 23:23-26
     This morning I awoke already feeling weary and worn out (it's only Tuesday, by the way...) and I thought, “Lord, I really need to meet with you during my lunch break to get a fresh perspective.”  Reading this really convicted me.  I don't like to admit it but I can often relate to the Pharisee.

To be continued on Wednesday, 3/22.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

20 March 2017

Spa Day

     Last week, a group from the Veteran’s Association (or VA) came and provided a spa day for our Lydia House ladies in one of  our life-changing programs.  It was AMAZING!  The VA provided professional messages, hair wash/cut/color, make up, nails, new professional clothing, lunch, resume and interview advice, and fantastic fellowship!  Every one of these ladies was so encouraged by today!
     One woman shared with me that before her addiction took over, she never left the house without her makeup done and her hair curled.  As her addiction grew though, it took that from her and she has not worn make up or curled her hair in a very long time.  She had both done today and was nearly in tears trying to tell me how much it meant to her!
     THEN, as a bonus, a Bible study group from Westside Church put together little blessing bags for the ladies.  They ended up making exactly enough to give one to each of our program guests!
     Today I am thanking God for so many amazing blessings He poured out on these fantastic women!  And I am also so grateful for the volunteers and donors in our community who care enough about our guests to show them just how valued and beautiful they are.

Vickie Gregorio
Lydia House Director

17 March 2017

Seeing the Symptoms

     Two weeks ago, a gentleman came into the clinic looking for a knee brace.  I was concerned about the symptoms he shared with me, so I asked if he could hang around and speak with the doctor that was coming in later that day.
     Our volunteer, Dr. Agner, spoke with this man was also concerned about his symptoms, so helped him make an appointment at an office to get some tests done.  The man did this, had many tests, and was diagnosed with a tumor growing in his stomach.  
     Because this tumor was discovered now, this man’s doctors have worked out a treatment plan that will allow him to see his grandchildren graduate!  What a blessing to have such knowledgeable volunteer doctors that can see stomach cancer from a sprained knee visit.  Praise God!

Kate Fischer, LIMHP
Health & Healing Center Director

16 March 2017

Double Salvation

Our bunkhouse is open to men seeking safe shelter.
    Last week, God was surely moving in big ways at the Garland Thompson Men’s Center!  He touched two men’s lives as I spoke with them, and two men accepted Christ the same day!
     The first salvation came as I was doing Case Management with a young man named Kent.  While we talked, I was able to share the Gospel with him.  He prayed and asked Christ to be his Savior.
     Just before that, Pat, our Director of Men’s Ministry, had just walked into the office for a quick hello.  I shared with him that Kent and I were discussing the Gospel, and then Pat left the office.  I'm sure that as Pat walked away, he sent up a quick prayer to God for my conversation.  How wonderful to do ministry together!
     Later that day, I had the privilege of leading another man to Christ.  Meeting with these guys in the Emergency Shelter is an awesome privilege.  They are needy and Christ is there to meet their need.  Please pray for these two men as they begin their new life in Christ.  And pray that the other men in our shelters would be open to hearing the Good News as well.

Greg Johnston
Case Manager/Intake Coordinator

15 March 2017

Girl Scout Cookies!




     Children of homelessness don’t often have the opportunities that children of more affluent families have.  My children were blessed to be involved in scouting (Boys & Girls) and now my grandchildren, nieces, nephews and very special “adopted grandchildren” are involved too.
     When I heard that there was a Girl Scout Troop at Open Door Mission's Lydia House, I was thrilled to know that these very special girls would be able to enjoy all the fun and learning of Girl Scouts along with a sense of belonging to something bigger homelessness.

     Then I saw the newscast of their selling ability on the UNO campus!  The girls were great, organized, worked as a team, were polite, and sold cookies.  I knew I had to support them.  I let my friends know I had “connections” and could get Girl Scout Cookies for them, without them tramping all over town.  Of course, I bought a couple boxes of certain Girl Scout Cookies that I love.
     These girls need all the love, prayers, and encouragement we can give them so they can flourish.  Now I have to go find out if there are any cookies left…to fill my office cookie tin! 

Maggie Cope
Gift in Kind Coordinator

14 March 2017

Another Man in Blue

     Rejoice with us that Open Door Mission volunteer August was sworn in as a new Police Officer!  He is an invaluable volunteer as he helps at our special events as a Spanish and Arabic translator.
     Please pray for August and his family during this transition.  He has a huge heart for those we serve, so we are grateful to have an advocate in uniform.  It takes great courage to serve our city in this way!

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

13 March 2017

International Women's Day

     In honor of International Women’s Day last week, I wanted to share one of my favorite Bible stories of women friendship.
A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth.  At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.  Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?  When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.  You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”   – Luke 1:39-45
     What a beautiful friendship between women these verses describe.  It shows how we are to be in community with one another as women.  And here’s a quote from one of my favorite books on women discipleship that references this friendship:
When the Holy Spirit in one woman recognizes the Holy Spirit in another woman safe places become sacred places.  —“Giddy Up Eunice” by Sophie Hudson
     We all need each other as women in the body of Christ!  I pray you have women in your life that you are in community with and that imitates Mary and Elizabeth's sweet, deep, friendship focused on the Lord!
     I also pray that you would know you are loved, chosen, and valued as a woman of God!  Thank a woman in your life that has inspired you, that has discipled you, or that you disciple and let them know they are important in your life.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

10 March 2017

Salvation at Chapel!

     It was my privilege to share at chapel earlier this week.  For the past week or so I have had a certain passage weighing heavily on my heart, so I wanted to share it with our guests.
Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.  Live in peace with each other.  And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.   –1 Thessalonians 5:13-14
     God guided me to expand on these verses.  Afterwards, I spoke with a young man who is staying in our Men’s Emergency Center.  His name is Alan.  During the service, the Lord opened Alan’s eyes to see his need, and as we prayed together Alan accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior.
     Alan knows now that he is forgiven and has eternal life.  Praise our Savior!

Greg Johnston
Case Manager/Intake Coordinator

09 March 2017

Mr. Country

     “Mr. Country” is what we call him.  This is a man with great wisdom, strength, and gentleness in his eyes.  Mr. Country is a man we serve through our Streets of Omaha program.  We can usually find him close to a local church, passed out from a day of drinking.  The other day though, we had a much different encounter with Mr. Country.
     He was walking tall and sober-minded, with clean clothes on and a fresh smile across his face.  He greeted us with a hug.  I was surprised that he even knew who I was, given that we had only ever spoken while he was under the influence.  But he looked into my eyes and said, "Thank you for caring for me when I couldn't care for myself.  Thank you for taking time to show me love when I didn't love myself.  Today I got an apartment.  Today I am sober--two weeks sober, as a matter of fact!" 
     With great joy, my volunteer team and I talked with Mr. Country about his decision to stay sober and told him that God has a plan for him.  As we watched him walk away, we were reassured of one thing and that is that God sees all of us.  He hears us, knows our struggles, and He rejoices with us when we get it right.
     God is walking along side Mr. Country.  The Streets of Omaha volunteer team, including myself, is glad they got to be a part of his story!

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Program Coordinator

08 March 2017

Big Time Change

     My name is Francisco and in February 2016 I graduated from the New Life Recovery Program offered by Open Door Mission.
     I am so thankful to this place for so many blessings they provided and for saving my life.  I’m thankful that they support people who are battling addictions and help them to find their own way to survive through Christ.  I found Jesus in my journey and am eternally thankful for the staff who introduced me to the real Christianity.  My life has changed big time, and I have come a long way since first arriving at Open Door Mission.
     I’m looking forward to continuing attending recovery meetings, helping my fellow brothers in Christ stand strong, seeing my kids more, and moving up in my company.
     I just wanted to thank everyone at Open Door Mission who gave me this opportunity for new life and to all the staff who made this change possible.

Francisco
New Life Recovery Program Graduate

07 March 2017

Simple Act of Kindness

     I wanted to share a picture and a story that demonstrates how an act of kindness can really make someone’s day!
     A normal day for me consists of chasing three amazing and wild little girls to the car in the morning.  Last week, the snow and ice was heavy on my car one morning.  This day was also not the usual fun and crazy day.  My daughter's grandma had passed away a few days earlier, and my sweet seven-year-old girl’s emotions were all over the place as she grieved.  This made for a somewhat difficult start to the day.  At this point, I had gotten little to no sleep the last few days, was overly stressed and emotional, and seeing the snow outside my window was just too much.  I broke into tears.
    My coworker Mark had no idea of what was going on in my life that morning.  He did, however, let God lead him in this amazing act of kindness.  I walked out to my car to begin scraping, and Mark was already outside, scrapping off the ice and brushing off the snow.  He didn’t do this because he had to or because it’s a part of his job, but because God called him to do it!  He looked around at me and simply smiled and gave me a hug.
     This is the body of Christ in action!  A team member stepped out of his own schedule to help me out.  Because of Mark, on this very difficult morning, I didn’t have to stand in the cold or struggle to get my kids to sit in the car while I scrapped my car.
     This meant a lot to me and brings tears to my eyes when I think about it!  Thank you, Mark, for your kindness.  I am so grateful to be a part of a staff that feels like a family.

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Program Coordinator

06 March 2017

An Ongoing Partnership


     I had the privilege of speaking with the Nebraska Wesleyan nursing students several days ago, and it was a wonderful time.
     The nursing students’ instructor, Laura, invited me to speak with the class about Open Door Mission and our Free Health & Healing Clinic.  Soon the whole class will be coming down to the Mission for their clinical rotations.  They will assist our guests by taking their blood pressure, testing their blood sugar levels, assessing any illnesses/wounds they might have, and help the volunteer doctors who come to our clinic.
     This partnership has been ongoing for a while, and these students are always such a blessing to us.  It was an honor to go meet the new class and to share with them about what goes on at Open Door Mission and what a blessing they will be.  Thank You to Laura and Nebraska Wesleyan University for all you do!

Kate Fischer, LIMHP
Health & Healing Center Director

03 March 2017

Above and Beyond

Be sure to stop by the conveniently-located
Elkhorn Outreach Center!
     The Kitchen Director at Saint Wenceslaus School called me to say she really appreciated the interaction she had with our staff member, Greg, at the Elkhorn Family Outreach/Donation Center.   When she stopped by to drop off bread, Greg was able to pray with her about her recent knee surgery.  She was very thankful for the service that didn't make her get out of the car as well!  Way to go Greg, for serving our donors as Christ would!  Knowing Greg, this isn't anything out of the ordinary for him.  This is just who he is.
     I could send an email like this about each of my staff members as they are all doing things to go above and beyond each week.  I love watching true servants hearts in action!  Nothing is more inspirational to me.

Joshua Smith
Gift in Kind Director

02 March 2017

Abide in Me...Part 2

Continued from Wednesday, 3/1.

     What Jesus asks us is that we remain in him.  The Greek word for remain is meno which means abide, continue, dwell, remain.  This command is quite counter-culture to our instant culture.  What Jesus calls us to isn’t something you try for five minutes and then move on.  It requires us to slow down, take a deep breath, and dwell, abide, wait.  When I am remaining in Jesus throughout the day, I can see the fruit—abundantly more fruit that I could ask for.  When I rush through life, I don’t see the same results.  
     Lysa Terkeurst says, “Jesus doesn’t participate in the rat race.  He’s into the slower rhythms of life, like abiding, delighting, and dwelling—all words that require us to trust Him with our place and our pace.”
     What would it look like for us to trust God in our place and our pace?  What would it look like to ask Jesus into every part of our life?  You may ask yourself, “How do I bear fruit?  I go to church, do devotional time.”  But for abundant fruit, you must remain in Him.  Are you remaining in Jesus day after day or are you rushing to get everything done?  Are you slowing down your pace, truly listening to the message at church and applying it to your life?  Are you spending your devotional time remaining in Jesus, truly hearing from him or are simply doing it to check something off your to do list?
     When we slow down and ask God if He would speak to us, is when we see God show up!
     The Good News of the Gospel is that we can come to Jesus how we are.  Even if we know we have been moving through life way too quickly, we can come to Jesus and ask Him to slow us down.  We can devote spending more time in His presence.  We can come to Jesus just how we are and know that He will provide for us!  We can know that we are purpose-driven people who are intended to bear fruit.  This is how we show that we are Jesus’ disciples to the world.
     Would we be people that is not just satisfied with being your average Christian, but instead be people who are known by our fruit?  When others ask what satisfies us, would we be able to answer Jesus?  Would our life not be reflected by rushing but instead by quieting ourselves in the Lord’s presence?

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

01 March 2017

Abiding in Christ...Part 1

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”  –John 15:1-8

     In this parable Jesus is the vine, God our Father is the gardener, and we are the branches.  God desires to cut off dead branches that produce no fruit and prune areas of fruitfulness to make us even more fruitful
      The key part that sticks out to me in this passage is when Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”  I look back at the past year and can see where God used me in huge ways and moved mightily in areas where I know if I had been acting on my own strength, the results would not have been the same.  Constantly I need to be asking myself, “Is Jesus in this, or is this solely on Trudy?”
     The world likes to tell us we can still get everything we want by throwing Jesus out of the equation.  Our world has tried to replace Jesus with the “instant culture."  There is instant social media, instant electronics, instant phone call/text message, instant food, instant shopping, instant housing searches, instant everything.  What this shows me is that our world is just crying out for Jesus.  Instant does not satisfy, instant does not fix.  We can get sucked into the “instant” world without even knowing it.  Our world, the people who do not know the Lord are looking and seeking for something to fill them.  So they try fad after fad, always looking to what’s next.  Participating in these fads is not bad, but be sure to do a heart check of if Jesus or these fads are the Lord of your life.

To be continued Thursday, 3/2.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

28 February 2017

Grateful for Safe, Warm Shelter...Part 2

Continued from Monday, 2/27

     A pastor brought Mark to a church service, and he soon accepted Jesus Christ into his life.  Having only been to church twice as a kid, the Gospel was brand new to him, and was very welcome Good News!  Even with Christ by his side, Mark continued to struggle with his addictions.
     “Every now and then I would get sober, but my addictions always led me back to the streets,” said Mark.
     Mark overdosed twice within a couple of months, and the doctors considered it a suicide attempt.  So he was brought to Omaha in an ambulance and stayed in the hospital for seven days.
     He heard about Open Door Mission and decided to seek shelter there this past October.  After encouragement from the Men's Director, Mark joined the New Life Recovery Program, and his life has been changed ever since.
     “The classes, teaching, volunteers, and staff in the program are constantly bringing it all back to Jesus,” said Mark.  “And I’m finding out that Jesus is real.  Because of Him, I’m not alone anymore.”
     Mark is looking forward to graduating in a few months, and is excited to see where God will take him afterwards.  For now though, he is grateful for the safe, warm shelter at Open Door Mission.
     “Sleeping outside in the cold, I had to worry a lot about survival,” Mark said.  “I don’t have the worries no more.  I’m warm, I have clothes, I have food, and I’m working towards bettering myself.  I have goals.”

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

27 February 2017

Grateful for Safe, Warm Shelter...Part 1


     As the weather grew colder this year, Mark finally did not have to worry about staying warm outside.  After years of living on the streets, through summer and the bitter cold of winter, Mark has found HOPE for lasting change.
     Mark had a rough childhood, growing up in eastern Iowa.  At age 12, Mark bent to peer pressure and began drinking and smoking marijuana.
     This addiction grew to include meth, and Mark found himself in and out of prison.  Mark's troubles progressed and when his relationship with his son's mother dissolved, he really hit rock bottom.
     “I became so depressed, and just gave up on life,” he said.  “That’s when I first began to experience homelessness.”
     With nowhere to go, Mark began living on the streets in a tent city by the river.  He and five other people lived in makeshift shelters pieced together with items from dumpsters.  Mark’s “home” was made out of pallets and nails.  Years passed, each with bitterly cold winters, but Mark continued to feed his addictions.
     “The coldest I remember it being was -15°,” Mark said.  “When it’s that cold, there’s no getting warm anymore.  You just layer up with what you have, and run for town first thing in the morning.  The only way to sleep is to drink until you pass out.  It’s a hard, hard life.”

To be continued Tuesday, 2/28

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

24 February 2017

Morning Devos

     Every Thursday morning, it is a delight and privilege for me to lead devotions for the men at the Garland Thompson Men’s Center.  We all gather in the chapel to begin the day in God's presence.  Week after week, I see these men be so encouraged.  They are able to start their day on the right foot, knowing that God has a plan for their life and that they are not alone in their journey.
     These men are determined to do the right thing and to stay on track because they know that God is in control.  They know that God will see them through the thick and thin of life's joys and sorrows.  I love seeing the smiles on their faces as I share with them the Good News of Jesus Christ and that His love pours over them daily. 
     Some Scriptures I share with them consistently include:

"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

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  --Romans 8:28

     Both of these verses are sources of encouragement I love to share with the guys when we meet.  It’s important that they know how much God cares for them.
     I love seeing God work in the lives of the men at Open door Mission.  His light shines in the darkest, most troubling moments as well as the times of great joy.  I keep reminding the men that God DOES have a purpose and a plan for their lives, and that if they believe it, they CAN achieve it!

Rick Ziegler
Communications Coordinator

23 February 2017

Assurance of Salvation

We are blessed to see men and women accept Jesus Christ as
their savior at Open Door Mission!  This man is another who
recently accepted Christ's salvation!
     Nathan is a man is in Open Door Mission’s New Life Recovery Program.  We recently met together for a short period of time to go over some of the routine initial questions we ask our guests.
     During our conversation, Nathan communicated with me that since arriving at Open Door Mission, he has been open to the Lord Jesus Christ.  We talked about having assurance of his salvation, and he agreed to pray with me.  I shared what it means to believe in Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior.  He prayed and knew he did indeed have eternal life in Christ.
     Hallelujah!

Greg Johnston
Case Manager/Intake Coordinator

22 February 2017

We Value Our Guests

Another guest I was able to minister to while I
was out around the Open Door Mission campus.
     I LOVE the Open Door Mission team and working alongside staff that genuinely care for others!
     Earlier last week, I caught Greg from the Maintenance Department encouraging one of our Lydia House guests.  In the middle of a task, Greg didn't dominate the conversation or shrug this woman off when she came to speak with him.  Instead, he connected with her, listened intently, maintained eye contact, and wished her a great day.  He valued her.
     When I saw Greg later, I asked if it was a busy day.  He mentioned dealing with plumbing issues of which I'm not an expert, but I cannot imagine it was a fun task.
     But you wouldn't have known what Greg was dealing with from watching that interaction with our guest earlier or even his demeanor later.  E v e r y position is one of ministry at Open Door Mission.
     Have fun as you Be Jesus, so others can See Jesus, so that they may Know JESUS!

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

21 February 2017

Freedom Found in Christ's Love...Part 2

Continued from Monday, 2/20

     “I started a drug treatment program in prison, and it was amazing,” said Crystal.  “It helped me realize what I wanted to do, and that was to stay sober.”
     Two months before Crystal's release, her baby girl Emily was born.  Those two months were the most difficult, as Crystal wasn't able to take care of Emily until she was released.
     Once her sentence was over, Crystal was able to transfer straight to the Lydia House.  That first day when she stepped into the Mission was when her and her daughter were reunited.  The little family stayed on mats on the floor in the Lydia House’s Overflow Area for two and a half months before a room opened up.
     Crystal joined the New Life Recovery Program and looks to graduate this month.  It hasn’t been easy, but the Bible-based program and the loving staff helped her through it.
     “The staff treat you like family members, not just another client,” said Emily.  “They love you like Christ does.  That’s why Open Door Mission feels like our home.”
     At first, Crystal was very resistant to Christ, but being exposed to God’s Word daily, she found herself one day thirsting to know God more.  She accepted Christ as her Savior and was baptized this past October.
     Crystal is determined to stay sober, and is currently taking college classes to begin a career in medical coding.  Her and her little angel, Emily, have HOPE for new life thanks to Open Door Mission and your support.  Please pray for Crystal and Emily.

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

20 February 2017

Freedom Found in Christ's Love...Part 1

     Crystal and her ten month old baby, Emily, have a bright future ahead of them.  But the future didn’t always seem so bright to Crystal.
     When she was thirteen years old, Crystal’s parents got a divorce and her mother became very absent from her life.  A family member moved in to help care for the children.  Unfortunately, he sexually assaulted Crystal and four of her friends.  Although he was prosecuted and went to jail, the damage had been done.
     Pressured by her friends and unable to cope with all that she had been through, Crystal began using drugs at age fourteen.  Soon she was addicted to meth and various other drugs.  As a young adult, she spent all of her money on drugs and was unable to keep her car and home.  She stayed with friends, never in one spot too long, but her relationships kept falling apart.
     After 15 years in this cycle of addiction, Crystal was turned into the police by her former foster mom.  She was on the run from having missed court.  The police came to get her while she was asleep.
     “It hurt, having her turn me in,” said Crystal.  “But I’m glad she did because if she hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here.  I’d still be doing drugs and on the run.  It was the push I needed.”
     Crystal was sentenced to prison for 11 months and soon realized she was pregnant.  Despite her condition, she was treated like the rest of the inmates, and her time in prison was hard.  It did, however, allow her to get sober.

To be continued Tuesday, 2/21

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

17 February 2017

A Real Friend

     Is there a time in your life when you can remember being alone?  When you had no one to share your feelings, thoughts, joys, or sadness with?  Do you find it hard to think of a time when you were truly alone?  I know that I do, but for our friends living on the streets, being alone is something they are all too familiar with.
     One day last week, we met sweet B on the streets.  She was dressed in clothes too big for her body, wearing shoes that had holes in them, and using torn gloves.  She didn't want to look at our faces and didn't talk to us for very long, but what she said in the short time she spent with us changed all of our perspectives.
     "I spend most of my days alone,” said B.  “I don't see many people.  Not very many people want to talk to me, and I can’t remember the last time I had a real friend.”
     I couldn't help but cry and I realized quickly that I wasn't the only one touched and deeply saddened by this woman’s sad statement.
     One of our Streets of Omaha volunteers came to the front of the group.  She looked B in the eyes and said, “You have a friend in me today.”
     This simple statement put a huge smile on my face because it put a huge smile on B's face!  Our volunteers on the streets of Omaha team make such an impact on people’s lives every day!  B took some lunches and some gently used clothing items and shoes.  All she could say over and over was, “Wow.  Wow.  Wow.”
     Before jumping back in the van, we all hugged B.  We told her we are her friends and that we love her and want to talk to her.  Even more importantly, we told her that Jesus adores her!  We knew that B could finally feel the love of Jesus! 
     That is what our Streets of Omaha program is all about!  It’s about love, acceptance, relationships, and sharing Jesus with the hurting people of our community. 

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

16 February 2017

Troop 42


     I work out at the Council Bluffs Family Outreach/Donation Center, and I wanted to say a big, “Thank you!” to Boy Scout Troop 42.  These ten very nice young guys came down to the Outreach Center to help sort and organize donations, and they even helped clean our bathrooms!
     All of our four of our Outreach/Donation Centers depend so much on our faithful volunteers to keep them running.  So thank you to anyone who donates their time to helping prevent homelessness in our community!

Phillip Gronewold
Council Bluffs Family Outreach/Donation Center

15 February 2017

On The Air

     I love seeing media coverage on the important things in my life.  Often I see the media on Open Door Mission’s campus, but I don't always get to see those stories aired on the news.  But here are two AWESOME stories that aired over the weekend.  Jesus Christ made the news in a BOLD way!  Check out these two links below.  One is from KMTV about the Hearts of Hope Baby Shower, the other is from KETV about the Graduation Ceremony.


Taylor Clinch
Rebuilding Lives Center Director

14 February 2017

A Valentine's Weekend

     We had a fabulous Hearts of Hope Weekend, celebrating God's love for us in several ways.  Last Saturday, graduation was well attended and even covered by Channel 3!  Immediately afterwards, the Hearts of Hope Luncheon and Banquet the night before each had more than 100 volunteers serving.  Bakers donated the helium balloons and volunteers from Brookside Church made the table settings and place-mats.  Then on Sunday we had even more volunteers help set up the Hearts of Hope Baby Shower.  The number of gifts and attendees at that event was amazing.  More than 50 of our guests took a tour of the Lydia House that day.
     Also on Sunday, I spoke at Living Hope Church in Council Bluffs.  This little church with about 150 people on the outskirts of town has been faithful to God's work at Open Door Mission for many years.  We are on their missions and prayer wall, they do drives for urgent needs, they give monetarily, and they send volunteers out once a month.  This church is a great example of God using faithful people to meet HIS needs.
     Let me leave you with a couple of thoughts:
“One road leads home and a thousand roads lead into the wilderness.” - C S Lewis
“People don't  buy what you do, they buy why you do it. What you do simply proves what you believe.” - Simon Sinek

Candace Gregory
President/CEO

13 February 2017

Congratulations!

     Please join me in congratulating Ashley on obtaining her GED!  She passed all the tests in less than two months!
     Her baby is due any day now in February, and her goal was to obtain her GED by then.  And she did it!  Now, Ashley plans on going to college to further her education.  Join me in praying that God would continue to bless her.

Anna Razamazova
Learning Center Director

10 February 2017

Back for a Visit

     Before I was able to come on Open Door Mission’s staff as the Administration Receptionist, I worked at Seven Salon.  And this week I was able to go back for a visit to share about Open Door Mission.  Eager to help, Seven Salon is already thinking of ways to make a difference for our guests.  How can a speaker at your business or organization provide HOPE for lasting change?

Cynthia Mier
Receiptionist

09 February 2017

Good News at Open Door Mission

These are some other Chapel
Volunteers - we are so blessed by all
who come down to lead these life-changing
services for our men and women.
     It was my privilege to lead Open Door Mission’s nightly chapel last week.  After the service was over, a man who has been recently paroled to the Mission came up to speak with me.  We had a powerful conversation, and he shared that he knew he needed to get right with the Lord.  We talked about it and after a while he prayed and recommitted his life to Jesus Christ.
     Hallelujah!  I just wanted to share the Good News that God is changing lives at Open Door Mission!

Greg Johnston
Case Manager/Intake Coordinator

08 February 2017

Faithful Volunteer


     This is Branden, Open Door Mission’s faithful volunteer at the Council Bluffs Family Outreach/Donation Center.  Last year he served 325 volunteer hours and he is still going strong in 2017!  He recently got a part time job at a nearby restaurant, but he promises to continue coming to volunteer.  What would Open Door Mission do without our wonderful community of volunteers?  Branden is true a blessing!

Laura Keen
Council Bluffs Outreach Manager

07 February 2017

Sanctified by God's Truth

     These verses have been speaking to me all week and wanted to share.
My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.  Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.  As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify Myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.  My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in You.  May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.  –John 17:15-21
     I was studying this in my "She Reads Truth" study when it hit me that when Jesus was praying, He did not pray for God to take the disciples out of the world, but protect them from the evil one.  Jesus knew what this world was going to be, but saw purpose for His disciples to stay, even though Jesus knew His hour was coming.
     But when Jesus was about to die on a cross for our sins he didn't ask God to bring His disciples up to Heaven with Him, but instead to protect them from the evil one.  Why?  Because there was purpose for them staying.  Jesus knew His work was done, but there was still more for His disciples to do.
     He also asks God to sanctify (set apart) them by through God’s truth, which is His Word!  This shows us just how important it is to be in God's Word every day, even when we don't feel like it.  That is how God sets us apart in this world!  Jesus also prays, Just as You sent Me into this world, I have sent them.”  How powerful is that?  We are a sent and purpose-intended people!  And how humbling it is to be chosen, to be a part of God's plan!
     Jesus also prays for us to be one with other believers so that the world will believe the truth.  Just by seeing all the believers united!  How important is it to join together in God's Greatness!  How amazing is it that we can't do what God calls us to alone.  We need each other and we need Jesus!
     Would we be people that open God's Word even on the hard days?  Would we be people that don't just gloss over our Bible to check it off the list, but truly lean in to what God is speaking to us in that very moment?  Would we be encouraged to know the truth the Bible speaks to give us strength for those hard moments when we’re a part of His story.  Would we be encouraged that God is using us for His glory every single day.  We have an invitation every day to a full life with Christ.  We just need to accept this invitation and go forward in His strength, not our own.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

02 February 2017

Loving Intentionally

     Our Streets of Omaha volunteers from LifeGate Church get excited about what God is doing in the lives of the people we serve on the streets.
     LifeGate shows up on a consistent basis to serve the men and women that are hungry, hurting and just need some extra love.  They do this with smiles on their faces and joy in their hearts!
     Last week, I got to witness their love truly shining through.  As we were driving, we saw a woman walking through the mud who appeared to be cold, lost, and sad.  Two of our volunteers, Debbie and Mary, were instantly drawn to her.  They prayed with her and cleaned her shoes.  I watched Mary and Debbie take off this woman's shoes, wipe them off, and place them in a plastic bag.  They then put some dry, very warm, winter boots on the woman’s feet.
     They hugged her, prayed with her, and told her Jesus loved her and that she is important to Him.  The woman instantly started crying, and we learned that she had lost her family in a horrible accident.  Ever since then she has felt invisible.  Today however Mary and Debbie saw her and her hurting heart.
     As I stood back and watched how  tender, kind, and compassionate they were, I realized they were showing me what it means to be Christlike and to love intentionally!  God is changing lives and He uses our Streets of Omaha volunteers to do that.  What a blessing it is to have volunteers just like Mary and Debbie. 
  
Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

31 January 2017

Free in Christ

     There is a man staying in the Garland Thompson Men’s Center who recently joined the New Life Recovery Program.  I’ve been able to hear a bit of his story and have learned that he has only been to church twice in his life and has not read even one complete chapter in the Bible.  He has never met his real father, was adopted, and has spent several years in prison.
     As of last week, this man now is free IN CHRIST!  After years of captivity and living in darkness, he has accepted the One who can make him free indeed!

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free…” —Luke 4:18.

David Eischeid
Discipleship Counselor

30 January 2017

Turkey Bragging Rights

     Every year in November, Open Door Mission holds our Turkey ‘N’ Fixin’s drive at Hy-Vee to raise food for hungry and homeless men, women, and children during the holidays.  Staff members, board members, and volunteers are stationed at every Hy-Vee area store, and over the years it has become a friendly competition to see who can raise the most turkeys, Turkey ‘N’ Fixin’s Bags
     This year’s winners were announced at our annual staff party!  Take a look at their gorgeous trophies and congratulate them for this year’s bragging rights!  And thank you to every person who came out on our Turkey 'N' Fixin's day to support our neediest neighbors - we truly appreciate your donations!



Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development