31 July 2014

Unexpected Surprise

I came home from work the other day and was welcomed by an unexpected surprise. My window air-conditioner had frozen up sometime during the day, and my apartment was like a furnace when walked in. I decided to go with the “old school” solution for cooling down a room – turned the fans on, ran the shower cold for an hour to get cool air circulating, and opened the windows.  I was so thankful that there was a little breeze on that hot night.
Sitting there I was so grateful for my fans, and it made me think of how wonderful it is that Open Door Mission gives fans to those in need.  For me this was an annoyance, for others it is life-threatening. 
I am very blessed to have a landlord who immediately replaced my unit.  All too many guests that we serve here at Open Door Mission have horrible stories of landlords not fixing things, creating unsafe homes that they have to move from without recourse for deposits, resulting in homelessness.

Count your blessings!

30 July 2014

Blessing in Disguise

As I opened the door to my interview, I had no idea what to expect. Having never so much as stepped foot on the Open Door Mission campus, my knowledge was limited to my church’s clothing and food drives. When I heard that the Mission was hiring, I never even considered it. I was busy, I argued. Between school, volunteer work, and the National Guard, there was no way a full-time position would ever work.

Despite my qualms, I sent in a resume. I think on some level I was hoping that God would finally stop “nudging” me, it was getting  a little distracting. It couldn't hurt to apply, right? It wasn't until that interview that I really started to think about the implications. Having grown up in a family with strong fiscal convictions, I had concerns about working at a shelter I knew very little about. Many programs oriented toward the homeless tend to deal with the symptoms while exacerbating the root issues, and I wanted no part of that. My concerns proved groundless.

During the back-and-forth of my interview, I was impressed by the strategies employed to avoid “enabling” destructive habits. Every facet, every service provided seemed geared toward “breaking the cycle” of homelessness. My experience working as a coordinator in the Volunteer Department has borne this out. However, during the year or so I've worked here, I've noticed something interesting, something that clashes with the beliefs I originally held: Open Door exists to serve anyone in need. Sure, we have standards of behavior for our guests… but our mission is to serve those who need our help. Not just those with a burning determination to change, not just those who “deserve” it. Everyone.

I wrestled with this initially, and still do to some extent. Wouldn't it make more sense, I wondered, if we were a little more selective? Focused our attentions solely on the people who really “want it”, who are completely committed to changing? It was then that I realized the parallel. God’s grace doesn't differentiate. He meets us where we’re at, offering us his hand. All that’s required is that we take it.

Working at Open Door Mission has opened my eyes, not just to the real and present issues of urban poverty, but to the flaws and foibles in my own character. Working here has deepened my faith and deflated my self-righteous ego. I can think of no higher praise.

29 July 2014

Life Change!

When the Holy Spirit moves in a person who wants to change their life, the changes you start to see are amazing. First, it is the twinkle in their eyes, and then visible changes start happening. The hair is washed and combed, the head begins to look up, shoulders begin to straighten up, and the heart and mind begin to listen intently about how the Lord saves us….in Jesus’ name.


Diana Ward

28 July 2014

Every Day a Blessing


Every Day a Blessing

Working at Open Door Mission is a blessing every day. We have the wonderful opportunity to express our love for Jesus and more importantly His love for us all. We are free to speak with our guests, volunteers, donors, staff, and whoever comes to campus. It is a wonderful freedom that not many enjoy! Every week a number of guests of Open Door Mission (Garland Thompson Men’s Center, Lydia House, Rebuilding Lives Center, Permanent Supportive Housing, and Timberlake Outreach Center) have entered into a saving relationship that is the foundation of their life change. This has happened as part of the intake process, in conversation with staff, chapel teams, teachers, and with discipleship counselors.

Their commitment to Jesus is just the beginning for us to make a difference for eternity. We are able to pray for these new brothers and sisters. Many of their requests include healing from their past, commitment and strength to stay clean and sober, strength to deal with the everyday challenges of living. We also have the pleasure of answering questions about the Bible on our lives in Jesus.

This is wonderful enough, yet there is more. We are able to interact with people from all over the world. Since I have been here I have met people from Europe, Asia, North America, South America, and a Micronesia which is part of the Australian continent. That means I only have one more continent to go—Antarctica. Somehow I do not believe that part of the world will make a visit.

Please take the time and experience the world—right here in Omaha. Meet wonderful people who are overcoming the challenges of life, experience a smorgasbord of cultures, hear a cornucopia of languages. Enjoy life and make a difference.

Steve Frazee
Senior Program Director, Open Door Mission

25 July 2014

God Has All Power

While in college, I never planned to end up back in Omaha. I grew up in Bellevue, and went to college at Wayne State in Northeastern Nebraska. After moving away for college, I realized how much I love experiencing new places. I never really loved Omaha, so I had decided that I didn't want to move back here.

God changed my heart though, and I’m so glad he did! I've been working in the Volunteer Department at Open Door Mission for nearly two years now. I took the job initially because it was the only resume I had sent out so far, and it seemed silly to not take the offer. I have a BS in Human Service Counseling, and I wanted to work for a non-profit.

I knew who I would be working for when I took the job, but I didn't know who I would be working with. The people I encounter on a day to basis, whether it is volunteers, interns, staff, or leadership are incredible. Working with people can be challenging, but I always go home knowing that I am part of something bigger than myself. I go home remembering that in some small way, God has used me to bless someone else. I am so blessed to be able to say I belong in the team at Open Door Mission. 

22 July 2014

Why I love my job


 

I love being in ministry at the Open Door Mission’s serving God first in my daily tasks, meeting the needs of the diversity of people we serve, and working alongside awesome volunteers and donors​ makes Open Door Mission a special place to work.

 

 We do a great job sharing our story, letting as many that will listen know these things that I love about Open Door Mission, but I don't know if we talk much about the amazing teamwork among the Open Door Mission staff​....another reason that it is great to be in ministry here!

 

Working in Admissions, I work with most departments on campus and every day I am in awe at the quality of Christian men and women that God has called to serve.

​  

Not only do we work together to complete tasks and influence lives for Christ, we work together to encourage each other on hard days, comfort on the sick days, and admonish in truth as needed.

 

This team work is unique and I had not experienced in other jobs and am very thankful for this culture, for it allows me to server the homeless and needy as best I can, because I am not doing alone, I am working from God's leading and the support of a tremendous Open Door Mission Team. 

 

Ronda Nelson

Admissions Director

16 July 2014

Beat The Heat!


My name is Beatrice and I have worked in Open Door Mission’s Volunteer Department for just over a year.  Experiencing each month of the year at ODM has blessed me with a more comprehensive understanding of our clients’ and guests’ needs.

Along with the changing holidays and seasons, each month brings new difficulties.  I often take my ability to access solutions for granted.  When my apartment gets warm, I turn on the air conditioning.  When the humidity is unbearable, I drive instead of walk, with the AC cranked high.  When feel heat exhaustion setting in, I stay indoors and drink plenty of water.

Many people in Omaha do not have the money for air conditioning.  They do not have extra gas to drive short distances.  They cannot afford an extra bottle of water.  They have no place indoors to seek refreshment.

This is why the Beat the Heat drive is so vital during these blisteringly hot months.  The stress of the elements, added to already strenuous circumstances, is sometimes too much for our residents and clients to bear.  Their health and survival is dangerously at risk.

It is a joy to see donors bring cases of water and plenty of fans, to watch volunteers hand out fans at the Timberlake Outreach Center, to see the complete gratitude on people’s faces as volunteers place a bottle of cold water in their hands.  Thank you for all who have helped with this drive in any way.  Your impact is far greater than you may realize.  You bring refreshment and hope during the heat.

08 July 2014

What is God calling you to?


What is God Calling You To?

 

I once heard a sermon comparing the lives of Paul and Jonah.  Each of them had callings on their lives.  Paul surrendered wholeheartedly, once his eyes were “opened” to the truth, and passionately pursued God.  Jonah on the other hand, when God revealed his calling, did a complete 180, and hopped on a boat headed in the complete opposite direction!    He wanted nothing to do with it.  In fact he fled from God’s presence and because of it put several peoples’ lives in danger.  Paul willingly forsook all and at all costs (hunger, stoning, homelessness, shipwreck and imprisonment) desired to fulfill the purpose God had placed on his life.    Paul encountered the radical love of God and he was permanently changed.  His entire life was turned upside down and he embraced it.  Paul declares to the Corinthians in 1Cor 11:1, ‘Imitate me as I imitate Christ.’  This is my heart for the ladies I disciple in the New Life Recovery Program and the men and women I disciple in WorkNet.  I have undeservedly encountered the radical love and grace of Christ! I, like Paul, was radical changed and had to follow the call God had placed on my life.  I have no greater joy then being exactly where God desires me to be and watching Him work miracles in the hearts, minds and lives of the people I serve here at the ODM.  All for His GLORY!! 

 

Tanya Frank

WorkNet Director

07 July 2014

Keep your eyes and heart open


Hello!  My name is Joshua, I am the Gift In Kind Director. I am 26​years old, and have been with the Mission for a year and a half now.  When I first started​ I was blown away at the amount of ministering and life change that would take place every day in the Garland Thompson Men’s Center! 

​When I moved over to the donations receiving side of things it was a little different than I was used to.  Frankly​,​ I was missing the direct ministering I could do with the men.  But​​ the Lord is good and working in every area of the Mission!  I watched a mother struggling with her two kids get a little encouragement as one of the ladies talked to her about signing up her kids for the summer camp we offer. 

​I saw one of my staff (who was addicted to drugs for years) help lead a wandering drunk man to the Men’s Center​, sit him down and get him some food​,​ and introduce him to the ​Men's Center ​staff.  We have had countless opportunities to pray with donors in person ​or over the phone while they are dealing with a loss in the family, the stress of moving, battles with cancer, etc.

I have come to realize more and more that there are opportunities everywhere to share God’s love to people of all backgrounds!  The key is to keep your eyes and heart open and available, God does the rest!

 

Joshua Smith - Operations Administrator

06 July 2014

God’s word would not return to Him void


A couple of days ago when I came into work in the morning I did my usual routine of walking around the building deciding what produce needed to be brought out and what furniture to give away.  As I was doing that a thought came to my mind, it was a passage from the Bible. It was “My word will not return to me void….” Isa. 55:11.   I thought about that for a bit while I continued to work on the floor.

Later that day, as I was doing resource case management helping our shoppers  receive furniture.   I started working with a Latino family that did not speak English and I did not speak Spanish so I knew we both would have to work a little harder to communicate with each other.

As we were finishing up with the information I needed so they could receive their furniture I noticed the mother had taken a Spanish Bible from my book shelf and she said “Mine, Mine?”  I laughed and said, yes,  she could have the Bible and then took one of our Spanish “Step up to Life” tracts to give her.  As I was doing that her young daughter went to the book shelf and took out a children’s Bible and asked if she could have it.  I smiled and said yes of course you can.  I prayed with the family and then we all went out to get their furniture loaded up.

Later, as I reflected on what had happen that day I was reminded again of the passage I had thought of that morning.  God’s word would not return to Him void, and I was reminded that part of the work we do at the Timberlake Outreach Center is to share our faith(in many different ways), offer prayer, and gather hope, by helping people look up to God for their help. 

I am learning that even when we have a difficult time communicating with our guest we can trust that God is working to open hearts and continue His process of drawing people to Him. 

May God bless you for partnering with us to better serve the homeless and near homeless at the Open Door Mission.

 

Joyfully serving Jesus,

 

Judy Collins, Director of Timberlake Outreach Center

05 July 2014

A Simple Bouguet of Flowers

As a volunteer coordinator I work at the Timberlake Outreach Center quite a bit. It is impossible to know the needs of every single person that walks through our doors. The great thing is we serve a God who does know each and every need and struggle.
 
One of our volunteers was sorting and randomly found a bunch of beautiful fresh flowers. We begin passing them out up front. A lady came up for a bouquet. She begin to explain that she was wanting to go to the cemetery. However, she felt bad because she didn't have anything to put on her mom's grave until now. She left with so much joy. My response was, God knows needs.

I pray for many more encounters like this. I also pray that those we serve can see Christ through these intersections and through us. It is a privilege to serve with all of you.
 
Lindsay Wyant
Volunteer Coordinator

04 July 2014

Sometimes the Boat Rocks…




Sometimes the Boat Rocks…

I remember taking an afternoon sailing course near Santa Monica, CA. The instructors put us in a mini sailboat and told us to make figure 8’s to teach us how to handle the sailboat. If we were good enough, the instructors would take us into the harbor. This sounded fun, but also terrifying.

In the beginning, figure 8’s was hard—figuring out when to jibe or tack was only part of the problem. Some movements required weight shifts and calls that had to be made. It was terribly frustrating when you have absolutely no idea which side is starboard and where the stern is. I find this a similar situation to what many of our guests go through on a daily basis.

Our quests are in a new environment with people they have just met and expected to follow new guidelines which can be overwhelming. Men, women and children come to Open Door Mission for all sorts of reasons---living on the streets, living with an addiction, losing a job or housing, fleeing a domestic situation or lack of job skills. These individuals are searching for someone to calm the waters and show them what they need to do. Many have lost hope in God or do not know God.

After two sailboats capsized in our class of 30, the instructors looked frustrated and annoyed. Our hopes of sailing with the big boats evaporated quickly. Our faith in our ability to maneuver the sailboats evaporated quickly. We were without hope to progress to the next level because we were not comfortable with our surrounds, our peers, or ourselves.

Our guests experience many of these same feelings. It is our task as staff to help guide them on their way and show God’s love in our actions. In Ephesians 2: 12-13, Paul writes for the Jews to “remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and Foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” He is calling the Jews to remember that they are the same as the Gentiles but it is through Christ that they are the same.

The guests we serve day to day are no different than you or I. They are just at a different part of their life dealing with different hardships.  Needless to say, I did tip my boat and end up having to get help back to shore. Everyone needs to remember that while rocking the boat may unseat us and push us into deeper water that anticipated, the depth of the water is relative. What is deep to one person, who feels they are drowning, is only touching another person’s ankles. This in not just a job and the Mission is not just a shelter, this is a ministry where people find their feet again and find that God is with them, no matter how deep the water may rise.
 

03 July 2014

Growth and Change


Many of our guests are broken and need the love of God to help with their restoration process.  I find myself sharing with them the wisdom that I’ve acquired along my journey in life.  Growth is painful, change is painful, but nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong. God is preparing you for some new things, but you might need to let go of some old friends and habits. It may be difficult, but it will definitely be worth it.  It is such an awesome opportunity to speak real-ness and the word of God in the workplace. 

Don’t give up every storm runs out of rain!

Shawntel Scaife

Family Support Worker

02 July 2014

Confident of this...


“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

My name is Bethany and I work as the Guest Services Coordinator in the Timberlake Outreach Center.  One of the many preventative services offered here is a food pantry box that families can take home to help stretch their income.  This afternoon, an elderly woman came to shop and it was her first time.  She was amazed at what help was available and began showing me the different clothes and household items she had found, and explained why each were so perfect for her.  I then made up her food pantry box and helped her to her car.

As we talked, she began to open up about how she found out about our services through a friend of a friend who is another ODM staff member.  Her main reason for coming was to check it out for her friend with cancer.  She was very concerned for her friend and as she was talking, I already knew God was leading me to pray with her.  She said she had gone to different churches to ask for prayer and through that, was finding God.  She also opened up about abuse she had experienced when she was little but said she was beginning to feel free from the hurt and shame with that.  And it was in this conversation that she said God used this verse she had learned to encourage her, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).”

What a joy it was for me to agree with her about this verse in regards to her friend’s healing and for her own emotional healing.  She also shared that she found herself overwhelmed with how much God loves her and how He uses the little things to show it.  I am blessed to work and serve amidst people that God is drawing to Himself.  He lavishes His love in our brokenness, hurt, and pain and He really does use little things to show us His love. For this woman, finding the right clothing items for her was just one way God was showing her His love.  And God used our Timberlake Outreach Center to help speak to her as she is on her journey of knowing God more. 
Bethany Loux
Guest Services Coordinator, Timberlake Outreach Center, Open Door Mission

01 July 2014

What I've found working at Open Door Mission


Working at the Open Door Mission...

When I moved from the small town of Berkeley Springs, WV to Omaha, NE three years ago I would hear on the news, or on the radio about a place called the Open Door, or the Lydia House.  I would hear about all the great things that are happening there. I also loved the idea of how the community would help raise funds, or items to help the mission and the people that lived there.

My daughter and I decided that we wanted to help, even in a small way. We began to volunteer once a week in the kitchen helping to serve dinner to the guest. The more I volunteered the more GOD spoke to me and told me that I belonged there. I began to look for openings, and applied.

I had no idea of how wonderful it would be to work with the guests at The Open Door Mission. I have been so blessed to be part of something so wonderful. I meet people who have been so broken, but who have decided it’s time to give themselves to GOD. I have seen people blossom and shine. They have found ways to mend there broken hearts, conquer addictions, women have fought battles to get their children back, and have found the Lord and feel whole again.

I am honored to see the miracles that happen every day at the Open Door, and to be a part of a community where I can pray and worship and share my faith with my co-workers and guests as a normal part of my day.

Romans 5: 1-5

Therefore, since we have justified through faith, we have peace with GOD through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of GOD. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character: and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because GOD'S love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

GOD BLESS!

Tina Murray,

 Case Manager Lydia House