23 December 2008

Papillion Sanitation

A great big thank you to Papillion Sanitation for collecting 150 turkeys and 100 hams that Open Door Mission will use over the next few weeks to serve to over 1,900 hungry and homleess men. women, and children on a daily basis this holiday season.

94.1 Diaper Drive

I great big thank you to 94.1 and all their listeners that came out supporting Open Door Mission's Lydia House and the annual Diaper Drive. With your help 94.1 rasie over 440,000 diapers and over $8,100 that will go towards the purchase of even more diapers. Here are some pictures below of our wonderful volunteers unloading the diapers.















19 December 2008

Omaha Food Bank Blesses the Open Door Mission


The Omaha Food Bank delievers 1,600 turkeys to the Open Door Mission on Friday just before Open Door Mission serves over 4,200 children with Christmas. This means that every family that comees to the mission to get toys for thier chidlrne will be able to receive a turkey to have on Christmas morning.

15 December 2008

God is in the Details!


It's not too late to drop off your toys for Operation Santa! Gary Saddlemeyer from KFAB and I had a busy day on Saturday doing a toy remote at the Omaha Credit Union, and we still need fleece blankets, hot wheels, baby dolls, sports balls and board games.

Before that, and in the midst of all the busy-ness, I was on a personal mission last Thursday. I needed to find two pairs of insulated coveralls for two of our program men who are helping in our receiving area as part-time seasonal staff. Todd and Will have been closing each night, putting in long hours with volunteers and running the forklifts in the bitter cold weather.

I had several errands today, so I looked for Carharts where ever I went, and also asked staff to call different places. We called or visited Pamida, Bass Pro, Canfields, Tractor Supply, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Cabela's, just to name a few. I was heartbroken that at the end of the business day around 5 PM, I still had not located the right size for Todd. Will's had been easy to find. Finally, I found something to fit at Canfield's, and James started out to pick them up.

Shortly after James left the building, Dan Applegate from the Timberlake Outreach Center called me to say he was coming up to my office to show me something. Dan and Todd just walked through the door. Todd was wearing insulated Carhart Bibs and carrying a matching hood. A donor had just dropped the set off in our receiving area.

I was shocked, and at a loss for words. You can ask Dan...I was speechless.

I cannot tell you adequately what a direct personal message from God this was to me. It happened several days ago and I am still so full of joy at God's goodness. Because I saw how my God will provide not just the big things, like food, shelter and 21 million dollars...but also a pair of insulated Carharts in just the right size.

This was such an "aha!" experience for me and I know it contained a great message to me from God; much greater than the right size of Carharts. I hope you can relate.

Blessings ONYA cause they sure are on me, and all over Open Door Mission!

Candace!

12 December 2008

The Need Is Great

Copy from a recent news article

The Open Door Mission in Nebraska served 1,933 meals to the needy on one day alone last month, and the organization reports record high demand for services.

“We are experiencing a 46% increase in demand for services this fall because of the economy,” says Candace Gregory, president and CEO of the nonprofit. While the organization's revenue grew 13% between January and September, Gregory is concerned about how the organization will continue to meet the demand for services, which has grown at a faster pace.

Nonprofit organizations providing the needy with food, shelter and ser­vices have experienced an increase in demand as unemployment, foreclosure and inflation rates have risen in recent months. While giving doesn't appear to have dropped, many of these organizations are putting an extra push behind their outreach efforts to try to keep up with demand.

The Open Door Mission is addressing the issue with the idea that donat­ing two hours a month can make a difference. “Although people may not have $10 or $15 to give this year, they do have time,” Gregory says.

According to Columbia, MD-based agency Merkle, fundraising is down this year for nonprofits in general, but was up in the double-digit range for social services groups through the end of the summer. Fundraising for nonprofits providing social services “tends to do well in a down economy because the story they are telling is truer and more dramatic than ever,” says Jeff Brooks, creative director at Merkle.

One strategy for fundraising suc­cess in these difficult economic times is to keep the messaging relevant, says Lori Burns, EVP at Russ Reid. “Social services organizations have to go to donors and say, ‘The need for services is growing because of what's happening in the economy and we aren't keeping up with demand,'” she says, adding that those nonprofits which continue to talk about business as usual are suffering.

Being relevant, however, can be challenging for nonprofits, which tend to print direct mail months in advance in order to keep prices down. One way nonprofits are getting around this issue is by being more active online. E-mail blasts, social networking, robust Web sites and e-newsletters are all becoming increasingly popular strategies.

The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty bolstered its online market­ing program this summer and now has a more robust Web site, a bigger Facebook presence and an e-mail program using Convio's platform.

“Facebook helps us reach younger people for volunteering and for dona­tions,” says Rachel Wizenfeld, communications coordinator at the Metro­politan Council. “We're not looking for big money from Facebook, but we want to cultivate this group.”

Emergency appeals are another way around the long production cycle for fundraising campaigns. These one-page letters arrive in a brightly hued envelope printed with “urgent” or “emergency” on the front. Inside, the letter boldly states the organization's need and asks for a donation. They are usually sent to an organization's most loyal donors.

In recent years, such appeals have been reserved for natural disasters such as hurricanes, Burns reports. However, Russ Reid put together several this fall, including one for the New York City Rescue Mission in November. “When there is an income shortfall and the demand for services is going up, we feel it is appropriate,” says Burns.

The Open Door Mission's Gregory says that one of her biggest hurdles is educating the public on the chal­lenges facing the organization and the community. “Keeping the doors open during these difficult times requires juggling so many different plates — fundraising, services and volunteers,” she says.  

OPERATION: WARM HEART

Letter from the community

Back in 2007, I was one of the individuals who had the pleasure of volunteering at the Open Door Mission with a project that Jim Stolze initiated. This year, as one of the team leader's ofDiversity at work, I decided that I should start a project with some other members of our Diversity Team. I called upon Arleen Brace, Patty Pribyl and Tim Gray to join my team in providing Winter Apparel to the Open Door Mission.

We decided to tour the Open Door Mission during one of our lunch periods to better understand what they do, who they serve and what they provide to those less fortunate. Upon arriving we met their Communications Coordinator, Maggie Cope, who is quite an extraordinary individual with an unbelievable amount of compassion and an enormous heart. Once inside, Maggie gave us about a 45 minute tour of some of the facilities. She spoke ofthe 1300 meals a day that they provide, she showed us the kitchen and the bread pantry. She took us to a giant warehouse that was filled with all types of food, canned, boxed, etc. She advised that without donations from others, that pantry would be depleted within about 3-4 days which absolutely overwhelmed the team. Then we toured the Timberlake Outreach Center which is a Center in which they provide all types of services. The Center offers GED & Life Skills Classes, Computer Classes, BiLingual Services, Church Services, Personal Hygiene Classes, Cooking Classes, Nutrition Classes, Food Pantries, Diapers, Clothing, Toys, Furniture and Appliances. King's Kloset which is part of the Center offers bedding, small household items, clothing and families are able to shop once a month and best of all, they pay nothing. In addition, they have a Senior's day, where Senior citizens who are on a fixed income and cannot afford too many extras in life, come in and shop.

Walking through the facilities, Maggie questioned the team on what we thought the average age of a homeless person was. We all guessed in the double digits and was completely shocked when Maggie said Age 9. She also indicated that a majority of these children have become the parents as the parents/adults have mental issues, dependency issues and/or lack of education and they are there to allow the child to learn and still be a child and enjoy some of those things in life, they may have missed out on otherwise. She took us to a playroom where parent's who have lost their children can have visitation and where some of the other's play. She was also very proud ofthat fact that they were in the process ofbuilding a new play area inside a courtyard where the children would be safe and protected from those trying to harm them. Maggie said most ofthe time it is a parent trying to get even with another parent and so they harm the innocent child.
Maggie also told us of a man who's wife became very ill with cancer. It took all they had to try to pay the medical expenses and he ended up there for shelter upon her passing. She also indicated that she did not fear walking around the grounds even at midnight because the homeless would protect her. The team noticed that Maggie spoke to everyone throughout the facility and that individuals would go out of their way just to say Good Afternoon Maggie. Maggie indicated that a lot of people just want someone to talk to, and that a please and thank-you and respect goes a long way in the facilities.

Toward the end of our tour, Maggie took us to some small lockers and asked us ifwe were out of money, had 24 hours to vacate our premises and had no vehicle or family, what we would take with us and it could only be those items that we could carry. She then advised that the contents of those lockers were what individuals held most dear and took from their premises. She also took us to their washing facility and anyone can wash their clothes or bedding there with no charge, they provide the soap etc. and they have individuals who wash 7 days a week and that they always provide a clean blanket for those to sleep with.

Upon the team leaving the facility, it was a definite eye opener, our own problems disappeared and we drove away with a Warm Heart.

Thank You for your support - Open Door Mission Team

11 December 2008

Adopt A Family Benefits from ABWA!

American Business Women's Association loves a challenge, but Adopt a Family was an easy one for this group of caring and competent women!

Open Door Mission's Adopt a Family program encourages sponsors from the community to "adopt" a needy family for Christmas. Sponsors shop, purchase, wrap and tag gifts for all the family members, then deliver the gifts to Open Door Mission just before Christmas.

No small task for most of us, but ABWA attacked the project head-on and had a great time providing for their own "adopted" family.

Many thanks to ABWA for a job well done! We're certain that their "adopted" family will be blessed this Christmas.

10 December 2008

Thanksgiving Thank You's!



We LOVE our mail at Open Door Mission!

Drumstick on Wheels already seems like a decade ago, but for the recipients, the good lingers on.

Yesterday our mailman brought us this wonderful little gift:

"THANK YOU FOR THE THANKSGIVING BOX!

The lady and child who delivered it were SO KIND!

I will remember you all when I get back on my feet!

-Karen"
(not her real name)

What a blessing to know that Drumstick on Wheels made a difference in the lives of so many...recipients as well as volunteers and staff.

Thanks again to all who participated.

04 December 2008

Omaha Cosmopolitan Club does it Again!


The Omaha Cosmos Club recently brought a semi trailer packed with 6,000 lbs of gently used clothing to Open Door Mission. They initiated the clothing drive (as they do every year at this time) and parked a semi trailer provided by Batten Trailer Leasing in the Omaha Truck Center. Numerous pickups were made to more than eleven locations of CBSHOME Real Estate, Sandoz Elementary School and other locations.

Jerry Nelson serves as the spokesperson for the Cosmos Club, and was on hand to present the goods to the Mission. "People in the Omaha area are generous and want to give to others who are in need," he said. "Our club has a big heart for Open Door Mission & Lydia House. We are proud of the work they do for the homeless and needy. This is one way we can have a part in that good work."

Thanks to Jerry and the club members, plus all the organizations who worked together to make it happen!

02 December 2008

TE@M Students Participate in Service Learning

 team group
 Team glove

Thank You to A group of MCC TE@M students who recently completed a service learning project at the Open Door Mission. The students developed, prepared and implemented a glove project for children living at the shelter. The children used their creative talents to paint a pair of gloves. The children were also able to color, make a turkey craft and connect with the future teachers of the TE@M program.

“It was wonderful to see the artistic abilities and ownership the children took in creating their gloves,” said Carri Dyer, adjunct instructor. Click here to see the original article online

25 November 2008

Mail Call!

Mail at Open Door Mission is never predictable, always exciting, and often brings great joy to our hearts.

Here's a sample of yesterday's mail call...

"Candace, Like I told you on the phone, I saw your commercial Nov. 20th about needing turkeys for poor people on Thanksgiving, just as I was leaving the house to play Turkey Bingo at my church.

"On my way, I prayed, 'God, please let me win a turkey tonight. If I win one, I will donate it to Open Door Mission'.

"Well, God let me win...not just one, but TWO! So I got to keep one turkey for myself, and donate one to you!"

Love, Amy (not her real name)

Another letter caught our eye...

"To Staff of Open Door Mission,

"This is a very simple thank you note to all of the staff members at the Mission for saving my life one week ago today.

"It is impossible to express everything I would like to say in a short note, so I hope you all will understand that the depth of my gratitude to all of you goes far deeper than the few words written here.

"With the opportunity that you and God granted me to make changes in my life, I pray that one day I will be able to repay you in some way for your help.

Sincerely, Joe (not his real name)

Christian Coaching Opportunity

Christian Business Women's Fellowship is partnering with the Center for the Advancement of Christian Coaching (CACC) to offer the Essential Coach Training course in Omaha. This Biblical training is designed for business women and men, church pastors and leaders, academic professors or anyone else who wants to incorporate the Christian coaching values-base and skill-set into their current leadership sphere and/or who desires to take the first course towards becoming a certified professional coach.  Workshops will be held January 8 and 9 and March 19 and 20, with 10 teleclasses every Thursday inbetween from 12:00 - 1:15 p.m.  Cost is only $1,025, plus about $400 for coach consultations.  Contact Debbie Blank at CBWF, 431-0002 ext. 6 or dblank@cbwf.org or visit www.caccoaching.com.  Space is limited.  Deadline is December 15.

20 November 2008

From a Volunteer...

I just wanted to tell you thank you for all that you do, both by helping the Omaha Metro community, and by educating us.

I teach 5th grade in the area, and last night some of my students dropped off blankets and turkeys for a student council project with their Star Council leader. Today, when they came into class, they shared with the rest of the students everything they had seen and heard and all the hard work that the Open Door Mission and Lydia House are doing. I was impressed, not only by how informed they were, but also on how affected they were. They came back and encouraged the other students in my class to find a way to help.

Many years ago, my church youth group volunteered at Lydia House, so I was aware of all the great work that was being done there, but I want to thank you and everyone there for doing something else for me.

Thank you for opening up your doors to educate my students about your cause.
Thank you for giving them something to care about, a cause to believe in, when it seems like so much today encourages them to be apathetic towards the world around them.
Thank you so much for making an impact. I honestly don’t think I could put into words how much such a small act has meant to me today.

Thank you again.

Sincerely,
Kara Garcia

04 November 2008

Trans Siberian Orchestra

Thank You to the Trans Siberian Orchestra KQBW & KGOR for your generosity to the Hungry and Homeless in our community


  

27 October 2008

Treat Streat

Treat street was a huge success this year, we gave away thousands of American flag bags compliments of Oriental Trading Company full of good things.

There was a sea of "Jesus Loves You" balloon's engulfing the entire MAC

it was beautiful, if you missed it, you should have been there!

21 October 2008

Open Door Mission's Blessing of the Day

Open Door Mission is blessed to have so many faithful volunteers that come and serve at Open Door Mission and we just want to say thank you.

A great big thank you to Westside Fishes and Loaves team. They are here helping the pantry and kitchen. They helped prepare and serve the hot nutritious meal to many hungry and homeless men, women, and children in the community.

Joe is here tonight volunteering in the learning center. He is helping the men and women on the New Life recovery with their homework at they work towards their GED.

If you would like to know how you can have a volunteer opportunity please visit http://www.opendoormission.org/ or give Cris a call at 829-1504

Mission Breaks Ground On New Lydia House

Original article posted
Posted: 5:10 PM Oct 16, 2008
Last Updated: 5:10 PM Oct 16, 2008
Reporter: Jeff Sabin
Email Address: sixonline.com

The Open Door Mission broke ground Thursday morning on its new

Lydia House for women and children. The new building will be just north of the current men’s facility near Eppley Airfield.

The need for emergency shelters in Omaha continues to grow. Every night the Lydia House turns away 140 families and 90 single women simply because there isn't enough room. The new Lydia House will have room for 300 people.

Open Door Mission president Candace Gregory says this is just the first phase of the multi-million dollar project. "We each night sleep between 150-180 men on the floor on mats,” Gregory says. “We want to give them respect and dignity. So, we're actually going to renovate our men's center and bring those men up off the floor and into a bed."

The Mission still needs to raise another $3 million to complete the project.

To see the original article and associated video click here

Homeless Children Need Extra Care

Living In Shelter Provides Challenges For Children. originally by Julie Cornell, KETV

...“I was a teacher for 27 years in the Omaha Public Schools,” said tutor Elouise Froese. She jokes that her last name, pronounced “Fray-zee” rhymes with lazy. But her commitment to homeless children couldn’t be more energetic and devoted.

Froese stepped out of retirement eight years ago when the mission opened the tutoring lab to give children like Ford support and encouragement in a difficult environment....

Click here to get the full story and watch the video.

http://www.ketv.com/juliesdiary/17728648/detail.html?taf=oma


20 October 2008

Open Door Mission kicks off Hope for the Hungry Food Drive

Open Door Mission will provide more than 63,000 hot nutritious meals to many hungry and homeless men, women, and children in the Heartland this Holiday Season. Please join Open Door Mission this whole week for our Hope for the Hungry Food Drive. Drop off your food items at your local 1st National Bank or call Maggie at 422-1111 to start your own food drive today.

A great big thank you to the Northwestern College students that came all the way from Orange City, IA on Saturday to help at the Timberlake Outreach Center. They helped sort clothes, organize and stock the shelves to get the Timberlake Outreach Center ready for Monday morning so the staff can be ready so the staff can help the 250 working poor families and individuals that look to Open Door Mission to help supplement their income.

Tom and his group from Southwest Church of the Nazarene are here tonight to minister in chapel to the many hurting single men in the Men’s Emergency Services area.

13 October 2008

Volunteer wins award to help support Open Door Mission

Congratulations!
To this week’s Hello Tomorrow Fund Winner

Mimi Hannor
Omaha, Nebraska

Tran “Mimi” Hannor, 40, has been selected to win the weekly $5,000 Avon Hello Tomorrow Fund award for October 14, 2008. Mimi will use her winnings to support the tri-annual Career Workshop that she helped create for residents of the Lydia House, a program through the Open Door Mission for displaced women who are trying to escape lives of domestic violence, addiction, prostitution, or homelessness. The award will help to pay for CD’s for the resumes, supplies such as ink, paper, pens, and folders, leather portfolios for each resident to hold their resumes, clothing for the Career Boutique in varying sizes, as well as a laptop and printer specifically for the program.

Mimi works full-time as a product sales specialist but her most meaningful work is through Open Door Mission where she has been an active volunteer since moving from California in 2006. She has instilled the same sense of community work in her two young sons, who she brings to the Open Door Mission once a month to serve meals to the homeless men and women in the area.

When Mimi launched the Career Workshop for the residents of Lydia House last April, they had seven volunteers. Now, a little more than a year later, the program has grown with an outpouring of community support. Lydia House just completed their third workshop with 20 volunteers and a dozen local stores in the area who donated products, including Evette Nicksich, the local Avon Representative who suggested that Mimi apply for the Hello Tomorrow Fund award.

Thanks to her Avon Hello Tomorrow Fund award, Mimi will be able to continue to help women build a new life for themselves by arming them with the important skills they need to obtain a job, and a new outlook on life. Congratulations, Mimi!

10 October 2008

What A Blessing Volunteers are to Open Door Mission

A great big thank you to Wil and his Group from Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity who come faithfully every Friday evening to work in the pantry and kitchen. They help prepare and serve the dinner meal to many hungry and homeless men, women, and children in our community. Open Door Mission is serving 46% more hungry and homeless than ever before. We need your support to provide Hope for the Hungry.

Randy and His team from Westside Church are here tonight ministering in Chapel to the many hurting men that live in Open Door Mission’s Men’s Emergency Services area

Please visit Open Door Mission’s website at opendoormission.org to see how you can have a life changing volunteer opportunity today.

09 October 2008

Article from the Omaha World Herald

LINCOLN - Duffel bags filled with essential cold-weather survival items will be available this winter to homeless families across Nebraska, officials announced Tuesday.The Lincoln-based Center for People in Need is putting together 2,000 kits, which will be distributed to agencies in Omaha and Lincoln and around the state.Beatty Brasch, the center's director, said the kits are intended as a last resort for families who have run out of options. She said she hopes the kits won't be needed, but they will be ready just in case."A crisis is looming," she said. "Times are hard. Cold weather is coming. We need to be prepared to provide the bare minimum that will help them survive until they can find adequate shelter."The red-and-black duffel bags contain items such as tents, sleeping bags, sweatshirts, personal care items, emergency rations and cuddly stuffed dogs. The center obtained items from companies across the nation that have donated to charity.Brasch said the needs are growing, along with the nation's economic problems."Here at the Center for Peo-ple in Need, we are getting frantic calls every day from families who can't pay their rent or pay their utility bills or get gas to go get a job," she said. "They have tried everywhere. They have no place to turn."Omaha agency officials have seen similar increases in needs this year.The 211 phone line run by United Way of the Midlands received 36,877 calls during the first nine months of this year, compared with 29,664 calls during the same period in 2007, said Vice President Jamie Moore.She said paying rent and utilities is the main concern of most callers.Candace Gregory, chief executive officer of the Open Door Mission and Lydia House in Omaha, said she has seen a 46 percent increase in services in the current quarter. The mission served an all-time high of 1,933 meals one day last week."We've seen people we've never seen before, and that tells me something," Gregory said. "I've never felt more stretched."While more working-poor families are seeking assistance, contributions from economically stressed middle-class families are flat, creating a squeeze, she said.Shelters for men and for women and children are full, with 180 men sleeping on mats at night, she said. About 140 families are turned away each month, Gregory added.Susan Eustice, a spokeswoman for the Salvation Army in Omaha, said her organization is also looking at an increase in "first-time" people who will need help.Demand at the Salvation Army's food pantry is already up 30 percent from a year ago."We're needing donations, but donors are also having a hard time with the economy," Eustice said.

Volunteers are a blessing.. Thank you

Thank you to Molly and Lewis that spent the day volunteering at the Timberlake Outreach Center. They spent their time sorting clothes, stocking and organizing the shelves to help the staff better serve the many work poor families and individuals that are coming to King’s Kloset.

A great big thank you to Amy and her Fishes & Loaves Team from Salem United Methodist Church who are here tonight working in the pantry and kitchen. They helped prepare and serve the dinner meal to many hungry and homeless men, women, and children in our community. Open Door Mission is serving 46% more hungry and homeless than ever before. We need your support to provide Hope for the Hungry.

Praise The Lord!!!

I would like to share something very special with you. Yesterday during our weekly Bible club, one of our girls Larriana, age 8, made a decision for Christ. During our 1 on 1 today, she praised God for Christ being her Savior. I thank the Lord for the opportunity of sharing Christ with the children and youth at the mission. So far, all of the girls have made decisions for Christ and they are growing in their faith. 

Janice Loud

08 October 2008

We are Blessed

Thank you to Skutt High students that spent the day volunteering at the Timberlake Outreach Center. They spent their time sorting clothes, stocking and organizing the shelves to help the staff better serve the many work poor families and individuals that are coming to King’s Kloset.

A great big thank you to Vince and his group from Prudential who are here tonight working in the pantry and kitchen. They helped prepare and serve the dinner meal to many hungry and homeless men, women, and children in our community. Open Door Mission is serving 46% more hungry and homeless than ever before. We need your support to provide Hope for the Hungry.

06 October 2008

We have been blessed...

· The trees are gone and the ground is getting ready for us to dig a hole. Please join us on October 16th at 11 Am as Open Door Mission breaks ground on a brand new Lydia House Building.

· Thank you to Young people that came all the way from Hope E Free Church in Dubuque, IA that spent Saturday morning at the Timberlake Outreach Center sorting clothes, organizing and stocking shelves to get the Timberlake Outreach ready for Monday morning.

· A great big thank you to Mark, Trevor, and Terril who are here tonight working in the pantry and kitchen. They helped prepare and serve the dinner meal to many hungry and homeless men, women, and children in our community. Open Door Mission is serving 46% more hungry and homeless than ever before. We need your support to provide Hope for the Hungry.

· Lloyd and his group from Good Shepherd Baptist Church are here tonight to minister in chapel to the many hurting men in the Men’s Emergency Services area.

03 October 2008

Open Door Mission Grieves a Loss

May 1954 - October 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008
Today Open Door Mission staff and clients are feeling a tremendous loss. 54 year old Mission resident Marshall Nelson passed away earlier today.

Candace said, "Marshall had been a part of the Mission family since 1994. Unable to live independently and without any known family, Marshall was a regular fixture at our facility. He helped us with many tasks, and was loved by so many. He volunteered four days a week in the Mission's Development Department where he received and offered love and encouragement."

Police were called when staff were notified that Marshall was having a medical emergency. Although Police reports have indicated that Marshall was "combative", those who knew him believe this was caused by a medical condition, possibly a severe diabetic reaction.

"The Marshall we knew was gentle-spirited man,"she added. "We are going to miss him."

Services for Marshall are pending. Open Door Mission staff and clients will be listed among his next of kin.

You may contact Candace Gregory at (402) 968-5892 or cgregory@opendoormission.org for more information about Marshall.

15 September 2008

Four Year Old Child Makes A Big Difference!


By Steve Lund, Volunteer Associate at Open Door Mission

I was privileged enough to talk to one of our finest volunteers today; a very nice lady who comes in about every week with a great attitude and does a very good job in our kitchen.Anyway, as we got into discussing life, spirituality and relationships, she mentioned the value of always looking for the good in people and in situations.

Now, as much I realize the importance of this, I'm not sure I'm as faithful in putting it into practice -- a shame, because it really is vital to our character and our relationships with others! I consider myself a bit of a realist -- I won't ignore a bad situation and pretend my problems don't exist in order to remain positive -- but there's a difference between foolish optimism and DECIDING to see the things that are good in people or in your life despite what may be bad. Because the truth is that there are a lot of good people in the world and there are a lot of good things that happen.

Just this last week I was a witness to an extraordinary act of genuine kindness..A mother and her four-year-old daughter came in to the Open Door Mission to donate several brand new toys and items for the kids and families -- quite a blessing in itself! However, while talking with them both about why they decided to bring these new items in we discovered much more to the story, and much more beneath the surface of a timid and shy four-year-old girl.

Apparently, mom had been in a situation earlier in her life that had put her near homelessness, and being able to identify with that sort of helpless situation, had instilled in her daughter, Abigail, the values of helping those in need and sharing with those who have less.

Abigail decided all on her own that she wanted to help homeless children, and give them the kinds of brand new toys that she wanted herself. So she collected her parents' old soda cans for about a year and a half, in addition to the neighbors, turning them in for money, and sold lemonade at a garage sale. She ended up raising well over $300 that she and her mom used to buy enough brand new items and toys to fill up their SUV!

It is absolutely incredible to witness the compassion and kindness that we alone are not capable of, but only a loving God working through us! It's encouraging, uplifting, and even inspiring -- it makes us all want to do a better job. It's only when we realize how much we are loved, that we are empowered to truly love others.

Thank you mom; thank you little Abigail!

10 September 2008

Kellogg Employees make "Beat the Heat" drive a success

Thank You Kellogg Employees for your compassion toward the hungry and homeless at Open Door Mission. Your faithful support has been a blessing to many people and an inspiration to our staff.

Employees make "Beat the Heat" drive a success

"There’s more than cereal happening at Kellogg in Omaha, Nebraska,” was the message broadcast by radio station K-LOVE in recognition of plant employees.

A truck stopped by each of the three shifts to collect items for the “Beat the Heat” drive from plant employees.

BettyLynn Conley, mill operator, said a lot of employees participated in the event, adding that one person even brought four fans.

“There was a lot of participation and cooperation,” she said.  “it was a really good thing and we were happy with how it turned out.”

Employees donated eight fans, 10 cases of bottled water and three pounds of house ware items.  The items were donated to the Open Door Mission.

Each day, Open Door Mission Ministries provides 320 men, women and children with safe shelter beds, serves more than 1,300 hot nutritious meals and provides preventative measures to 203 families living in poverty.

Candace L. Gregory, president / CEO Open Door Mission, thanked Kellogg for taking part in the “beat the Heat” drive to help the homeless and near homeless of the community.

“The generosity of Kellogg employees will make a difference and help change lives,” she said.

Gregory said the Open Door Mission appreciates the leadership of major corporations that encourage their employees to reach out to their community in an effort to make life better for everyone.

“We look forward to partnering with Kellogg in the future to provide hope to those needing a helping hand in our community,” she said.

Conley said it is possible the plant may choose to participate in similar events for upcoming holidays.

“I’m proud of everybody for stepping up and doing what was needed.” – BettyLynn Conley

04 September 2008

A Volunteer Experience

This is an e-mail that Open Door Misson recieved from a recent volunteer group that spent their day on the Open Door Mission campus.

Cris,

This was a wonderful day for us. We sorted the Christmas presents, built our team, worked for the good of the community, and got a good taste of the tremendous needs that we can help fill right in our own back yard. We had a great time! Thanks for the experience!

Rhonda



The volunteer group from Physicians Mutual


Sorting Toys for Christmas

My hands are full of toys!

You also could have your own volunteer experience. Please visit Open Door Missions Website at www.opendoormission.org or contact Cris Morris at cmorris@opendoormission.org


01 September 2008

United Day of Caring

On Thursday August 28th more than 200 volunteers from various businesses in the community spent their work day on Open Door Mission's campus for the annual "United Day of Caring". They painted parts of the main building, helped replace some of the siding around the main building, sorted toys to get ready for Christmas, stuffed envelopes for a mailing, and other things. We just wanted to say a big thank you. We could not do it without you. Below are some of the great volunteers that we had here.



Here are volunteers from UPS




Here are volunteers from Blue Cross/Blue Shield

You could have your own Day of Caring volunteer opportuntiy. Please visit http://www.opendoormission.org/ to find out more or contact Cris Morris at 829-1504 or cmorris@opendoormission.org



20 August 2008

Wow! I never knew “communications” could be so fun. This past week I had the honor and privilege of accompanying the children from Open Door Mission to shop at Target for school clothes. (I love to shop.) The Target employees were wonderful-they provided the funds for all the children’s new shoes and school clothes. The children had a great experience-so great in fact that during a pizza dinner at CiCi’s they kept talking about what fun they had had shopping. Then this past Saturday I was blessed to serve at the Back-to-School Bash. To see the children’s faces as they got backpacks full of supplies, to hear the parents’ thank yous for helping making the first day of school a positive experience and the hot dogs and chips that HyVee provided to fill our tummies, all of this has made working at Open Door Mission a blessing.

This week it is a blessing to continue to serve as parents call in hoping we might have some backpacks left. In some cases they didn’t realize that Open Door Mission could help out, for others it is a lack of transportation on the weekends (no bus service), and for some families it is the fear that they weren’t deserving of God’s bounty. It is such a blessing to tell someone that yes we can help them, yes we can make their children feel like all the other children with a new backpack and yes God’s people truly do care for all people-no matter social, economic or ethnic group. So for the inner city church trying to encourage their 50 young people to stay in school or the family looking for a better education and life for their children here in America and all the others Open Door Mission served this past week, a big thanks to you that donated all the backpacks, the notebooks, pencils and other supplies, you have made a difference in children’s lives because you cared. Not only did so many donate, but so many helped “stuff” the backpacks before Saturday, some handed out hot dogs and chips at the party, and some did lots of “laps” gathering backpacks for the waiting families.

Thank you to all that donated, volunteered and prayed so that the children would know God’s love, would know that others cared and would know they were worthy to be loved and blessed.

Thank you for letting me serve,
Maggie Cope Communications Coordinator-Open Door Mission

19 August 2008

Back to School Bash is helped by Raytheon


Darren Timberlake stopped by Raytheon the other day to pick up school supplies and back packs collected by employees of Raytheon, a technology leader specializing in defense, homeland security, and other government markets throughout the world.


Raytheon employees held contests against one another to see what departments did the best. For Open Door Mission, the outcome was clear: needy children were the winners!!


Thank you, Raytheon, for partnering with Open Door Mission to help prepare children for a great start to a new school year!

18 August 2008

Breakfast of Champions

Good morning!!
I just had to share what a blessing it was to come into the kitchen and find pancakes with home-made blueberry compote for breakfast! Clauzell always does such a great job making things work for breakfast and lunch, no matter what’s in (or missing from) the pantry. It was great to see the extra effort that was put in making the kids’ first day of school an ultra-special one. Way to go!!
Blessings,

Connie C.

Homeless Children Get Ready To Go Back To School

Excerpt taken from action 3 news. - http://www.action3news.com/global/story.asp?s=8847715

Omaha, NE- Most of us take the little things for granted, like a new outfit or a fresh haircut. But that's not the case for many right here in Omaha. There's a program with the Open Door Mission called "Summer of Hope", getting homeless kids ready to go back to school.

The kids don't always get to go to a salon for a fresh haircut. The stylists at Turning Heads Salon were more than happy to pick up their shears to create special dos for the special kids, for free. Darlene Nanfito says, "I feel we're getting so much more than what we're giving. It's a really good feeling. It makes us feel good."

The almost two dozen children are homeless and the haircuts help them get ready to go back to school. Open Door Mission President Candace Gregory says, "Many are fearful of going to school and people finding out they're homeless. Today, they'll be like every other child in Omaha and get ready for school."Remember, when you head back to school, you need a new outfit. That's where Target Stores step in, giving the kids news shoes and more than one ensemble for school. There are even more smiles, as these kids are used to having hand me downs. Gregory says, "At the Open Door Mission, we want to stress staying in school and to not do drugs and we believe education is the key to bringing homelessness to an end."

An end that could start when they walk into classroom-- with their new looks! At the Lydia House, there are 60-100 children, from infants to age 18. Open Door Mission is always looking for volunteers and donations. Call 402-422-1111. Reported by Michelle Bandur; michelle@action3news.com

Thank You Target, and Turning Heads Salon for your support of Open Door Mission.

Summer Almost Over Already?

Hi, I'm Ronda Nelson, the Lydia House Assistant Director. I cannot believe that it is already time for school to start--summers always go so fast!

These past few weeks I have been busy working with the parents of children living at Open Door Mission's Lydia House, helping them prepare for a return to school. My job is easier because of you and other people like you who care.

OPS's Title One office does a great job in arranging transportation for the children to attend their own schools, and assist our new children in finding a school to attend. All we have to do is let them know who our new children are.

Volunteers and donors blessed the children with a fun outing last week--getting new hair styles and shopping at Target for back to school outfits! Yesterday each child received a brand new book back filled with new supplies. The kids were so excited that I'm not sure they slept too well!

While all the excitement surrounds the children and getting back to school, I am also providing services to our single women in the Emergeny Shelter. Today was a hard day working with these women. Sixteen live in a dorm-type setting, and from time to time they don't get along too well. Today was one of those days. But what looked like impending disaster turned out to be a great opportunity to talk with them about Biblical principles concerning love for one another, showing kindness, being a good neighbor, etc. They are learning not to gossip, and are really trying to see each other as Jesus would. It is an amazing moment when two women come together and apologize...then later to see them laughing and hanging out. Only Jesus can bring about that kind of healing!

I am looking forward to next week. I have three volunteers scheduled to help me during the day. Jean provides office assistance on Tuesdays, Rose Marie is starting this Tuesday to assist our women and families as they receive clothing from our Timberlake Outreach Center, and Ed is coming in on Monday to inspect our areas so that he can begin providing weekly maintenance support.

I would LOVE to invite you to the Lydia House to spend a day with us. Currently there are many volunteer opportunities available, such as providing child care for pre-schoolers during the day, organizing and filling our supply closets, answering the hot-line phone, sorting donated items and supervising our Computer Lab/Learning Center.

Are you interested? Please call Cris at (402)829-1504 today and tell her you'd like to volunteer at the Lydia House. She'll make it happen, and I'll be even happier!

Thank you for praying for us,

Ronda

14 August 2008

Boundries from the program side

Hi, my name is John E Lindsey, and I am the Program Counselor for the men’s longer-term programs – the New Life Recovery and Journey To Work. Most of the men are homeless, addicted and afflicted. My job as a servant of Christ is to labor in the power of Spirit to engage and equip these men to live life on life’s terms.

One of the men I have been working with, I will call him Nick (not his real name) has been experiencing a real revelation – that it is okay to have boundaries with people. He described that throughout his life, he never knew what boundaries were, and therefore never really had clear limits and expectations in his relationships with wife, family, and friends. Even though he had some good values, like – a desire to get along with others; a value to not cause conflict; his summary of his lifestyle was that he always became confused, then frustrated, and eventually stop caring and would return to a life of drugs.

Through classes and individual therapy, Nick began to gain understanding how he would fall into this cyclical pattern of self-defeating behaviors. As we worked together he began to unravel his self-defeating patterns. It is time consuming. There are moments of temptation, to simply moralize for the purpose of having an answer to the problem. Life change is not simply having the “right answer.”

Life change as a Christian is about transformation, and not mere conformity (Romans 12:2). So I counseled with Nick, training him how to renew his mind – applying grace, truth and time to the heart issues of his life, in such a way that Nick began to see the person God re-created him to be.

Now Nick has a greater understanding about his limits and preferences. So that he can rightly, healthily, and biblically esteem other people more highly than himself (Romans 12:3). Highly esteeming others is never accomplished by belittling ourselves. Only as we experientially grow in our understanding of the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2Peter 3:18) will we be able to believe and then obey God’s command to love others as ourselves.

12 August 2008

Your donated Gifts Making a Difference

Hi my name is Judy Collins and I work at the Timberlake Outreach Center of the Open Door Mission. I would like to share with you the joy and privilege I have to serve our clients and to pray with them. Each morning I meet with co-workers to pray for our mission, staff, donors and volunteers. We ask the Lord to meet the needs of our clients and bring encouragement and hope back into their lives. Through the years I have been amazed to see how God has met those needs though people like you.

The other day a man was grateful because we were able to give him a crib for his baby. A mother was excited that she could finely feed her children at the kitchen table she received. Can you imagine the thrill of the mother of five who received a washer and dryer and will no longer need to wash her kid’s clothes in the bath tub or have to take her washing over to a family member’s home.

Because of your gifts many of our clients have been able to furnish their homes, cloth their families, diaper their babies and have a bed to lay their tired bodies on at night. Thank you for your kindness for without you we would not be able to serve our community the way we do.
Our staff also has the privilege of praying for each client. I have seen God work in some of our client’s lives to soften their hearts, bring hope for their future, provide for their needs and change their lives. Every now and then some will come back to tell us how God answered their prayers. It blesses our hearts as I hope it blesses yours. We can’t do this ministry without you, so thank you for your kindness and gifts to those in need.

Joyfully serving Jesus,

Judy Collins, Open Door Mission Assistant Director of the Timberlake Outreach Center

Kids Know the Difference

Anna and Caleb visited Open Door Mission for the first time yesterday (Monday).

It seems mom and dad had a garage sale on Saturday. Anna and Caleb decided to take advantage of the extra neighborhood traffic, so they set up a lemonade stand. It was a hot weekend, and they brought in a whopping $22 plus some change.

Both wanted to donate the cash to Open Door Mission. So, bright and early Monday morning, mom brought her two entrepreneurs to the Mission. Anna and Caleb saw individuals and families who live here because they have no home of their own. They saw Open Door Mission's Bright Space, a wonderful play room designed just for kids.

They smelled good food cooking in the kitchen, and understood that Open Door Mission is a place that provides food for the hungry, and shelter for the homeless.

They knew that they'd given their money to the right place.

You can experience the same thing that Anna and Caleb did. Come to Open Door Mission, take a tour, and see for yourself. Just like the kids, you'll understand the difference.

Trudi Bils
Public Relations Director



11 August 2008

Hope Begins With a Meal

Praise The Lord Everyone

I had this great experience working with this group from Gretna, Ne..The name of their Church is Good Shepherd Lutheran there were fifty five of them ranging in age from five to seventy five and they were the most pleasant group of people I have ever met.And that’s saying something because I have been blessed to meet some wonderful people from all over the world.

I really am glad and happy that we have Cris, Open Door Mission's Volunteer and Partner Director spear heading our hospitality team. She was right in the mist of stuff with me mixing it up with our volunteers it was simply a wonderful experience to have them work with us. They prepared the meal out side on Grills then brought it in to serve online in our dining area. Everyone really enjoyed themselves and had a great time of fellowship on a very hot day.

Then to top it off Cris' soul mate Scot came in to help setup our new office look and it looks great what a blessed person I am to witness all of this at once.

Regards, Jim Briggs Hospitality Supervisor.

Staff Being Jesus with Skin On

Hi Everyone,

I wanted to give an update from yesterday's Homeless Count. Joy and I went back to the Park in the afternoon. We took clothing items, blankets and lunches to the tent community members we met in the morning. We also took Heartland housing applications and coached the families how to fill them out. In addition, several people expressed an interest in having a Bible which Joy was able to provide. We spent about an hour ministering in practical helps and spiritual matters to the families. During that time, we were able to learn more about their stories which is fascinating in that one man stated he knew a staff's employee from his childhood (what’s that about God?). They responded to us so graciously by offering us lunch and drinks (we told them we had already eaten).
What a blessing it was to see our prayers for divine appointments play out right before us!
Blessings
Laurie and Joy

08 August 2008

Partners In Action

Darren Timberlake,Open Door Mission's Community Relations Director, accepts 500 pounds of books for children and adults along with a cash gift, from Woodmen of the World.

Above and Beyond

Hello again- it’s my day to write a blog. My name is Amy Buss and I am the Human Resources Director at the Open Door Mission.

I read the stories on the blog everyday and think what amazing co-workers I have. Everyone truly has a servant heart and I am so blessed to work here.

I thought about what should I write and then it came to me, I should write about an employee who makes a difference and goes above and beyond. I started making a list and every employee made the list.

My co-workers are all amazing. I see servant hearts, warm smiles, encouraging words and team work everyday. I know my co-workers are not only here to “get the job done”, but they are here because they want to be here and are called to be here. Every employee has a story about why they work here and every one of the stories begins with God called me here or God lead me here.

I am so humbled and blessed to work at a “job” that I happily go to everyday and where I know I will see the heart of Jesus in my co-workers.

07 August 2008

A Message from Darren Timberlake

What a fun day! I have been very busy delivering boxes to all the Omaha area Hy-Vee stores, and Qdoba Mexican Grill locations. Tomorrow, I will enjoy the same fun work, delivering more boxes to all the Great Western Bank locations in the area. These boxes will be used to collect donations of new school supplies, backpacks, etc... for use in our annual Back to School Bash, on August 16th.It was so much fun to literally circle the entire metro area, stopping over 15 times to go in and deliver these boxes. Every single person I met with was smiling! I know that they must have been busy... I was often there during a busy time in their day, but they each took the time to stop and assist me, and were very cordial and pleasant to do business with.I know that I am privileged to work for a wonderful organization, and that it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with my personal merits. God is working at, and on behalf of Open Door Mission. The community's perception of what we do is very positive, and I know that is because of our great leadership, and God's protection of our public image.If you ever start to wonder where this world is going. If you are feeling depressed and negative towards the depravity of mankind. I suggest you get out and volunteer with a good organization, and make time in your life for God to show you that HE is still very much at work in this world. Of course, I have one such organization to suggest... and not because it is my job to do so. I love working at Open Door Mission because we get to see lives changed every single day. What an awesome blessing God has given to me and my fellow co-servants.

04 August 2008

A Message from Open Door Mission's Director of Community Services

Another day in the life, some people like to use the old saying “another day, another dollar.” at the Timberlake Outreach Center it’s more than that. Hi, my name is Dan Applegate. I am Director of Community Services at the Open Door Mission. Sounds like a pretty important title but I look as myself as a humble servant. It’s never another day or dollar at the Mission. In all actuality it is another opportunity to share Christ with people. What more do you want out of an 8 hour shift. I could talk about 98 degree heat with 75 % humidity or families with no fans or air conditioning in their homes. Or I could talk about $4 a gallon gas and milk. Or I could talk about mom and dads trying to choose between paying the rent or buying school clothes and supplies for the kids. But, who wants to hear boring stories of other people’s daily struggles. Well if you’re like me, you do. So what more do you need to know. It’s tough out there. I see families and mothers with young children everyday and I see their struggles. People of all kinds come into the Timberlake Outreach Center daily. People that have been laid off from their jobs. People that have been extremely ill. People that have endured one disaster after another. For many there seems to be no hope. That’s when I say another day another dollar. Not hardly. That’s a chance to share Jesus. To let people know that God loves them and he is still in control. Sometimes things do look bleak. But, with Jesus there’s always hope. Thanks for reading and may God bless you and your family for supporting the Open Door Mission.

01 August 2008

Candace's Favourite Volunteer Receipe

INGREDIENTS


• 1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
• 3 eggs
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1/4 cup cocoa powder
• 1 pinch salt
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3/4 cup white sugar
• 1 teaspoon instant coffee (optional)
• 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (optional)


DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8x8 square baking dish.
2. Combine the black beans, eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract, sugar, and instant coffee in a blender; blend until smooth; pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the mixture.
3. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes

28 July 2008

A day in the life of a Bible Day Camp Child

Hi, my name is Bobby and I am in 3rd grade. I get to go to Open Door Mission's Bible Day Camp. I have been coming all summer long and it has been lots of fun. I get dropped off at Bible Day Camp and after I check in I get to have breakfast. Today we are having french toast and milk and it was really yummy. After breakfast we have big group, this is where Pastor Tyrome give us our schedule for the day and lets us know any important information. We sing a few songs and we pledge allegiance to the Flag.

After our big group time my class goes to game time. Today we got to play kick ball and red rover. I like those games. After we play games we get a drink and use the bathroom before going to our Bible lesson time. Ms. Janice is teaching us about the Fruit of the Spirit this summer. This week we are talking about Gentleness. We are memorizing a different Bible Verse each week. This week we are learning Matthew 11:29 "Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest" After we learn our Memory Verse we go to craft time where we get to write out our verse and color it to make it really pretty. That way I can put it on my wall at home and learn it this week.

Then comes lunch time. Today we had Chicken patties, carrots, pineapples and milk. It really tasted good. After lunch we go on a field trip. Today we went to the Benson Library where there was a lady who showed us all these different bugs and we learned about each of them. We even go to have popcorn. It is the end of the day and I am really tired out. But I can't wait until tomorrow. Camp is really fun.

25 July 2008

Timberlake Outreach Center

I have been reflecting a lot on the past and on what God has done in my life, and I have to tell you I am so thankful for all of the “storms” that I went through and all of the refining He has done to get me where I am today!

Three years ago, I had a whole different view of God, myself and where my life was headed, but today, the sky is the limit, and that is all because of God and the work He has done on me and in my life.

I have been working at the Open Door Mission for about 2 years now and I am so blessed to be around other staff here that provide support and accountability for each other as well as clients and I am so blessed to be able to see God working in people’s lives everyday!

I guess that I just want people to know that your donations of time, finances, energy and everything else are all put to good use and are all for the glory of God!

If you have gently used clothing or furniture you do not need anymore, we would love if you could bring it down to our receiving area so we could get it to some people who could really use it! If you have heard about the Mission, but have never been here, we would love to give you a tour and show you what goes on here, just give us a call at 422-1111. PLUS, we have Back To School Bash coming up August 16th and we can always use school supplies and backpacks as well as volunteers to help us hand those things out to children for their first day of school!

Have a blessed day,
Amy Springer

22 July 2008

It's Good To Do Good!

I have been very busy delivering boxes to all the Omaha area Hy-Vee stores, Great Western Bank, and Qdoba Mexican Grill locations. These boxes will be used to collect donations of new school supplies, backpacks, etc... for use in our annual Back to School Bash, on August 16th.

It was so much fun to literally circle the entire metro area, stopping over 36 times to go in and deliver these boxes. Every single person I met with was smiling! I know that they must have been busy... I was often there during a busy time in their day, but they each took the time to stop and assist me, and were very cordial and pleasant to do business with.

I know that I am privileged to work for a wonderful organization, and that it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with my personal merits. God is working at, and on behalf of Open Door Mission. The community's perception of what we do is very positive, and I know that is because of our great leadership, and God's protection of our public image.

If you ever start to wonder where this world is going. If you are feeling depressed and negative towards the depravity of mankind. I suggest you get out and volunteer with a good organization, and make time in your life for God to show you that HE is still very much at work in this world. Of course, I have one such organization to suggest... and not because it is my job to do so. I love working at Open Door Mission because we get to see lives changed every single day. What an awesome blessing God has given to me and my fellow co-servants.

Galatians 6:9
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Darren Timberlake
Community Relations Coordinator

21 July 2008

A Message from the Men's Program Counselor

Hi, my name is John E Lindsey, and I am the Program Counselor for the men’s longer-term programs – the New Life Recovery and Journey To Work. Most of the men are homeless, addicted and afflicted. My job as a servant of Christ is to labor in the power of Spirit to engage and equip these men to live life on life’s terms.
A song from the Sixties, came to my mind as I write this Blog. “All we need is love”. Often I think about my ministry at the Open Door Mission, and I see a lot of need for love. Yet what do I mean when I sense this need for love? How can I minister the love of Jesus to the men in our programs?
Biblically, Jesus gave us a “new commandment” that we “love another as He has loved us.” Peter wrote in his first Epistle, that “love covers a multitude of sins;” John wrote in his first Epistle, that love is supreme, because “God is love”; and Paul has a famous chapter in First Corinthians 13, that gives great depth to the characteristics of what love looks like in our daily interactions. Lastly, I often reflect on the practice of love, that it requires times of a tender or nurturing love (1 Thess.2:7-11), while other times love must be tough or disciplining (Hebrews 12:4-11)
So why are some of my love interventions fruitless? Obviously, in order to fully love, I must let God work through me. And often I do pray and am conscious of my need for God to love through me, and yet my expressions of love seem to fall flat. What I am learning is that I am too willing to attribute “good” intentions to my “loving actions” and too quick to attribute “bad” intentions to other’s responses. Have you ever considered that you know your intentions, and you can see how the other person is acting, so I know what the are intending by their responses?
This is a blind spot. And I am finding that it is one that is hard to catch. It’s all too easy to be convinced of my “good” intentions, and to feel justified in attributing “negative” intentions to the wrong or inappropriate responses of others. Some of my justification can be theological, “Well they are sinners, what can I expect?” Yet am I not equally afflicted with the tendency to sin; so why am I placing my “good” intentions above other’s “negative” actions?
Romans 12:3 is sandwiched in between Paul’s exhortation for us to practice being a “living sacrifice” and his instructions on the exercise of our spiritual gifts. Paul expresses challenges us, out of grace, that we STOP or INTERRUPT our tendency to think “more highly of ourselves than of others.” I am convicted, that this tendency to attribute good intentions to my actions and attitudes, while attributing evil intentions to others, ultimately results in “thinking more highly of myself than of others.”
Therefore, if I am to practice loving others, I will need to be more discerning, first of my tendency to think more highly of myself than I ought, and secondly, I will need to take the time to consider the context or circumstances surrounding the other person’s behaviors or attitudes. Only then will my next response to them be out of LOVE – truly seeking the other person’s highest good. Then I will be more judicious when to express gently caring for them, and when to be firm and disciplining. Also, I will be less likely to “take offense” at how they come across to me!

18 July 2008

Timberake Outreach Center

One of my favorite Bible scriptures is found in Nehemiah 6:3, which says in part: “...I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down….” Nehemiah was troubled because the walls and gates around the “home” of his fathers was destroyed and lay in waste, a reminder of unfinished business. God called Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem and undertake the great task of repairing the walls and gates, and Nehemiah eagerly accepted this calling.

Summer has arrived at the Timberlake Outreach Center and while the heat additionally taxes us and our client’s strength, comfort and needs, it is not a reason to stop what we are called to do. Like Nehemiah, we find ways to do the task before us, which is stocking and re-stocking goods and supplies, and sharing the Good News! Serving is not always easy, but God sends us co-workers, program staff, donors, volunteers, friends, cooks, discipleship counselors, drivers, a great CEO and her administrative staff, and the hungry, homeless and needy. He gives us both task and tools!

At Open Door Mission we are chosen, called out from different places in life and come here to serve as rebuilder’s of fallen walls and gates. Like Nehemiah, we say “no” to things which interfere with our mission, and we do so prayerfully, boldly and thankfully. God and his Word are the mortar and brick in which each and every life is touched. Walls re-joined and made stronger withstand those who will call asking us to leave our posts and come join them. The Book of Nehemiah is a short but powerful lesson worth reading, learning and sharing; it is about the strength and faith it takes to weather all conditions.

God Bless You,
Kelli Young, Community Case manager, Timberlake Outreach Center

17 July 2008

Men's Ministry Recovery Services

This blog is my attempt at something new. You could take my last blog and turn it into a book, it was probably long enough. Someone once said, “If you want to be seen, stand up, If you want to be heard, speak up, If you want to be appreciated, shut up!” So I will attempt to be concise, having learned that if I say too much, I usually end up saying something that gets me into trouble. Hey, as Christians, when should we shut up? We are so heavily trained (and rightfully so) to be ready to always give an answer, that we are not so effectively trained to be quiet at the appropriate times. This last Sunday I taught at my church about the problem of pain, evil, and suffering in the world and especially in the lives of God’s beloved ones. Here at the mission we certainly see a lot of that and do our best to relieve what we can. But what about that which we cannot relieve? (Oh the guilt!) How do we, as believers explain this to the world and deal with it in a healthy way in our own lives? In church, we decided that this is not in fact, the best of all possible worlds, if it is, we are really in trouble. However, God can and will do better, therefore, this must be the best of all possible ways to get to the best of all possible worlds (and it is), but we have to believe that and deal with that. Well, I am not going to try to resolve the problem of evil, too many books have been written on that, but I would like to share some wisdom I learned in dealing with the suffering which is caused by evil in the lives of too many people.

Several years ago, I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Norm Wright speak at a seminar. You know, that profound Christian psychologist who has authored something like 50 books. Well he shared many things, but one that particularly stuck with me. While I was waiting to gain something brilliant to say to those in pain, he said, “Sometimes the best thing you can do is shut up, if you speak long enough, you will say something stupid, so just say you’re sorry for what happened to them and shut up!” Well, even I can do that. That was such good news. You mean, I don’t have to have something to say to cure every dilemma? I don’t have to take the stress and pressure of being everyone’s cure? Dr. Wright stated that often the best thing for people is us just “being there”. Just being with them. Just our presence helps. Cry with them if they cry, but just be there. Sometimes, having faith means that we have to leave the rest of the work to God!

Stan

1 year down

On the 23rd of this month I will have completed my first year at the Open Door Mission, and what a year it has been. I have gradually arrived at a few observations that I would like to offer…

I spent almost 4 years as a jail chaplain, working with men for a relatively short period of time within the rigid structure and requirements of a correctional facility. Without question, my greatest struggle involved seeing men come to faith in the Lord Jesus only to have a brief time period to “disciple” them before they were gone. They would be released or sent on to a state or federal prison in a matter of weeks or months.

I became convinced that it was virtually impossible to make disciples in a county jail. To make converts was no challenge at all, because men who are locked up are often desperately looking for hope and something, SOMEONE, to believe in. Many men came to a genuine, saving faith in the Lord and many only engaged in another round of “jail house religion”. The truth is that only God Himself ultimately knows who came to believe what. He knows them intimately even if they had only the slightest understanding of what it means to have a relationship with their Creator and Redeemer. I liked to think that this was God’s problem, not mine, except that I didn’t believe it for a minute.

In fact I began to experience my own personal, self-imposed sorrow because I had an investment in these men. They were my true sons in the faith, and I had no way to be involved in their lives as believers maturing in Christ. In a sense, it seemed like leaving a precious new-born with someone only to wonder what would become of my child. (I even had a Scriptural basis for this in that Jesus told us to make “disciples”, not merely converts!) To be honest, I wasn’t convinced that the Someone I had left them with would take the kind of care with them that I would. While I gave lip-service to my trust in the Lord, I really didn’t believe that God would be there for these men, because what they really needed was someone with “skin on them”, i.e., me. While I was loath to admit this to anyone, including myself, I secretly thought that I was indispensible to their growth as sons of God. This was my own, private arrogance, my deeply held need to be needed.

The wonderfully painful thing is that God has His own, gracious way of burning this pride out of me once I have owned it. “Toast, anyone?” My co-workers here at ODM recognized it almost immediately, and the huge potential for problems that it posed. I needed to understand that we are working in a program facility, not a county jail, and there is a big difference
This presented a very real challenge to my co-laborers: how do you inform a lovable, friendly fuzzball (me again) that his private motives are seriously screwed up? And how will he respond to being confronted with something that is apparent to everyone except him? This is a risky business. Someone might get hurt. Someone doesn’t like getting hurt.

As you might imagine, some of our meetings over the past year have been stressful and painful for everyone involved. And while it has not been easy or pleasant, I thank God for placing me in the midst of a ministry that is committed to seeing the staff grow in grace as well as the clients. Blessings on the staff at Men’s Ministry/ Lydia House for their willingness to speak the truth in love! Thank you, my brothers, for bearing with me. I am honored to be numbered among you!
I have been told that it often takes one or two years on the job before you really have a sense of what you were hired to do. I don’t mind admitting that, even now, I’m sometimes at a loss to know what I am supposed to do in a given situation. However, I am glad to admit that, by the grace of God and the help of my true friends and brothers in Christ, I am gradually becoming the kind of man God has called me to be. And that’s only after one year! I’ll get back to you with my next progress report in the summer of hope, 2009! Blessings on you all.
Your brother in Jesus,

Dick Arant

16 July 2008

Healing the Hurting

“When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’” (John 5:6)

When a friend of mine finished reading Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski, he said, “My first instinct is to scold the church for clearly not being Christ in the world. Our desire to love people in the name of Jesus should override our desire to be comfortable and in control...My prayer is that we won’t scold, but that we boldly will step out of our country club church mentality and dare each other to love the way Christ loves.”

At the AGRM annual convention in Dallas, I had the chance to meet and spend time with Mike. The most telling thing about the experiences that he shared was the way that God’s people treated him. It wasn’t so much that they treated him badly—just that they treated him as a non-person, walking right past him. People were careful not to make eye contact with or talk to him.

This is nothing new. The beggar sat by the pool of Bethesda for 38 years, looking for someone to help him. Finally, Jesus confronted him and asked if he wanted to be healed.

May rescue missions be the catalyst to help the church in the twenty-first century become more of a trauma center for those suffering from the bumps and bruises of life and less of a trophy case attempting to show the world all we have and who we are.

Contributed by Tom Meradith, Open Door Mission (Omaha, Neb.)