28 July 2008
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
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,
22 July 2008
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.
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
Community Relations Coordinator
21 July 2008
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
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
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!
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,
16 July 2008
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.)
15 July 2008
14 July 2008
We are able to also provide free transportation so men, women, and children can get to appointments and to work. We give out bus tickets to them so they can catch the bus either at the corner by the mission or we take them downtown to catch a bus there. This helps our guests to take care of needs such as doctor visits and getting to job sites.
I believe the greatest part of my job is the freedom to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Sharing with our clients about how much God truly loves and cares for them is a privilege.
In the evenings, I also enjoy the blessing of being able to assist the Chapel Teams. These are committed and dedicated groups, churches,and various Chrsitian ministries, who come each evening to minister the love of Christ. They give our clients more opportunity to hear the Good News.
I am indeed blessed to be on staff at the Open Door Mission.
I hope that you are enjoying the blogs form various Open Door Mission staff throughout the Campus, this summer. I have arrived in Canada and looking forward to enjoying a couple weeks with my family and friends. I just wrapped up spending the weekend at Beulah Family Camp in Browns Flat, New Brunswick. It was an awesome opportunity to share on homelessness and poverty and the Open Door Mission. This week, I will be catching the wind as I sail down the Bellisle river, waterski and tube on the Bellisle Bay and swim in the Atlantic ocean. I look forward to being physically refreshed and renewed for ministry. I plan on catching another kinda of wind, one that I am hoping you are familiar with and that's the Holy Spirit as I spend time in God's word and prayer. I will be praying for God's protection and provision for the ministry, the homeless and near homeless and lifting the the staff up by name.
Have a great day.
11 July 2008
Last Sunday I spoke briefly at Eastside Christian Church in Council Bluffs, IA. Their youth group has volunteered at Open Door Mission during the Back to School Bash. There is a collection box in their lobby to collect supplies for our upcoming Back to School Bash. One of their members visited with me after church. She works for Kohls. She shared that Kohls gives their employees an opportunity to volunteer at events—then Kohls make a contribution to the mission in honor of those volunteering.
Today I attended a staff meeting at Wal-Mart on 168th and Maple. They presented Open Door Mission with an annual donation. We have a long time relationship with many of the area Wal-Marts, but this morning I learned something new. If an employee of Wal-Mart volunteers 25 hours in a 6th month period, Wal-Mart will make a donation to the mission.
I am so thankful to organizations like Omaha Royals, Eastside Christian Church and Wal-Mart for their continued support in so many ways. You and/or your organization can get involved also. A representative of Open Door Mission would love the opportunity to speak at one of your events. We can place a collection box in at your organization to collect school supplies. The Back to School Bash is Saturday, August 16. We welcome volunteers from businesses, churches, civic groups, schools, families and individuals. There are many opportunities to volunteer. And of course we could not serve over 5,000 individuals and families without out your gifts of cash.
There are other businesses like Kohls and Wal-Mart that will match your cash donations or make a donation when an employee volunteers. When you come to volunteer, please check with your employer to see if they have an incentive plan that will also donate to Open Door Mission on your behalf. It is kinda like double-dipping.
Please check our website at www.opendoormission.org for more opportunities. I would love to give you a tour and show you the “best kept secret” in Omaha. I have heard that phrase many times over the years at Open Door Mission. Please contact me at (402)829-1518 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your continued support.
Director of Advancement
10 July 2008
I walk through the men’s sleeping area, listening to the contented snores of the 130 men. What are the hopes and dreams of these men? How many will turn their lives over to the Lord? There are men trickling in until 3:00AM. I greet them all with a smile and find a place for them to lay their heads.
At 3:00 AM I walk around the campus. Checking to make sure the locks are locked. Across the street by the side of the road a man is lying there. I go over and make sure he is breathing. He seems alright, he just did not make it to our door. I wake him up and invite him to spend the night. He comes in and gets a sack lunch with his mat. He looks at me and says, “God Bless You." Of course, a warm and fuzzy feeling comes over me. In the morning, like every morning, it’s a madhouse. Men wanting toiletries, or to do their laundry, to sign up to use the computers, make phone calls, or sign up to go to the clinic. After breakfast it starts to calm down a little. A man knocks on my door wanting to talk. I make the time to see what he has to say. He’s in a wheelchair and is on his way Ohio. He’s been here about a week and just wanted to tell me that this was the best mission he’s been to. He’s been working his way from California. He said that he has been to many missions and that this one had great food and treated homeless people with respect. He just wanted to thank me. I gave him a Bible for his journey and told him to not to thank me but to thank the Lord.
04 July 2008
BY CAROL BICAK
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
If passers-by thought they saw the Easter Bunny cavorting near 45th and Spencer Streets on Tuesday, their eyes weren't deceiving them.
It was "Easter in July," an annual event held by the Open Door Mission's Summer Bible Day Camp. About 150 children ages 6 to 12 got to hunt for eggs, stuffed bunnies and chickens, and other toys.
The Rev. Tyrone Charleston said the eggs, which he named "Resurrection" eggs, contained candy and Bible verses.
Easter in July at Turning Point, part of the Open Door Mission's Summer Bible Day Camp; the Rev. Tyrone Charleston quiets kids before the "Resurrection" egg hunt.
Although the Easter Bunny takes part, the festivities are part of teaching the true meaning of Easter, Charleston said. After the egg hunt, there was Bible storytelling.
But the emphasis definitely was on fun.
"I think it's pretty awesome," said Jaden Thomas, 7, who was holding a basket of treats.
The camp is held at the Turning Point campus, which houses programs designed to assist urban churches and meet the needs of young people.
Kids hunt for "Resurrection" eggs at Easter in July at Turning Point, part of the Open Door Mission's Summer Bible Day Camp.
The Bible day camp is aimed at kids who are living in poverty or are homeless, said Charity Watts, Lydia House director.
"It's a preventative program, to help parents - and kids - make it through the summer," she said.
Charleston said the camp is free to the children, with sponsors covering the cost of about $100 a week per child.
Eight teens from St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church were on hand Tuesday to help out. They are part of Youth Serve, a program of the Omaha Archdiocese.
"It gives them a greater appreciation for what they have," said coordinator Jennifer Varner.
"I just like helping people," said Sarah Ervin, 14.
Naomi Hageman, 13, said helping others is "helping me feel better about myself."
Although there is a staff of 20 at the day camp, which continues through Aug. 8, Watts said youth groups are welcome to volunteer with the program. Interested parties should contact Chris Morris at 829-1504
02 July 2008
Albert Einstein once said:
“The example of great and pure characters is the only thing that can produce
fine ideas and noble deeds.”
We are highly favored at Open Door Mission to be able to witness daily the blessings that are being poured out over our city, and the people that are hungry and hurting in it.
Though I work alongside many “characters”, their Character is steadfast. Our purpose is certain. To tell others about the love of Jesus Christ.
Our work is great, and could not be accomplished without the help of donors and volunteers just like you.
Our deeds are noble and far more than can be imagined because the victory belongs to the Lord.
Though we are in the business of serving others, we witness first hand the salvation of those who have been prayed over for many years, young children who here the salvation message for the first time. We are a part of families that succeed by breaking cycles of abuse, neglect, and poverty.
Each day we serve over 1,000 hot nutritious meals, we provide over 300 safe shelter beds to men, women and children.
I count it all joy to be a part of this amazing team as the IT manager at Open Door Mission for the last three years. I look forward to continuing to work with amazing characters filled with the fruits of the spirit in the work that God has called us to. I hope you can find away to become a part of what God is doing right here in Omaha. We pray for our donors and volunteers daily, please keep us in your prayers as well.
PS we do have a part-time position available for IT help here at the Mission. Let me know if you are interested. email