30 September 2016

Bacon Cheeseburgers and God's Presence


     Those of you that did not make it to the Community Picnic last week to get a bacon cheeseburger, you really missed out!
     Our Community Picnic Outreach was fantastic this year due to many of our staff and faithful volunteers working together to make it happen.   There is no way the Volunteer Department alone could handle a bonus day at the Timberlake Outreach Center, making 1,500 bacon cheeseburgers at the kitchen, serving all those bacon cheeseburgers, and running carnival games!
     God continues to show His presence at our events and make no mistake that people are drawn to participate in our events for this reason.   We were blessed to be able to work side by side with almost every department in one way or another for this event, and because of our unity, we were able to smoothly serve every person that Jesus sent to us today!
     THANK YOU to everyone that helped out, we appreciate you and want you to know that you are AMAZING!
     My favorite picture of the day is captured in this photo.  This gentleman stood alone in front of the dock at the kitchen (as others were walking by, eating, talking, playing, etc) and just stood, looking at our volunteers Dave and Amber as they sang worship songs.  This man stood and listened intently to the words Dave sang for two full songs.
     As Dave sang words about forgiveness, this gentleman just began nodding and continued to soak in the words and music.  Just thinking about it still gives me goosebumps!  I feel privileged to have seen this interaction and know that God is at work.  God is so good and we are so blessed!

Amy Harvey
Volunteer & Partner Director

29 September 2016

Cowboy Party for Homeless Men

     Two volunteers at the Rebuilding Lives Center know how to throw a party!  Last week they threw a party for our men that was Western-themed.
     They taught line dances, had a hay bale cake, cowboy games, and individual gifts and cakes for each man with a birthday in September.
     Each cake was personally made and decorated by Sherri.  Gena works with her church and local vendors to get gifts for each man.  The cakes and gifts are personalized for each man based off a questionnaire the men fill out, which includes questions about favorite themes, icing, kind of cake (or pie), etc.  In short, this party is real blessing to our men.  It is very special.
     The coolest thing about connecting with volunteers is their passion for our guests, and their drive to always kick it up a notch.  With their excitement and connections, volunteers and donors can bring a level of care and love to our guests that we staff wouldn’t be able to bring without them.

Taylor Clinch
Rebuilding Lives Center Director

28 September 2016

Chosen in Love

     I found this to be very encouraging, and wanted to share it with all of my Open Door Mission friends.
     J.D. Greear said, "What is important is that you live with the assurance that God chose you, in love, before the foundation of the world.  And that if He chose you before the world began, He will never give up on you for any reason.  He is working His good plan even in your darkest moments.  And you can boldly proclaim the Gospel to those around you because God determined those are the means in which He will save souls."
J.D. Greear is the Lead Pastor of  The Summit Church of
Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina.
     What a great encouragement this is, to stay the course no matter what!  There will be times when we as humans will fail, when we feel like giving up, but God will NEVER give up on us.  He chose us specifically, and that should inspire great hope within us.
     Ephesians 1:4-10 says, “For he chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love, He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will— to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us.  With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”
     Take heart, my fellow workers!  God has called us to a higher purpose, and He is using us to save souls.  What better calling could there be?

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

27 September 2016

Packages of Diapers

     This is James.  He is in a community service program at Lakeside Hospital, and a recent assignment was to choose a non-profit in the area to support in some way.  We are so blessed that James chose Open Door Mission’s Lydia House, and donated 15 packages of diapers!  These will be used for homeless babies staying at the Mission, and provide great relief to their mothers.
     Daily, we are reminded of how generous a community we live in and how much God blesses us with His favor.

Shelly McCullough
Day House Supervisor

23 September 2016

A Tale of Faithfulness


     I recently was able to witness a volunteer bless a woman who was staying at the Lydia House. 
     Early in the week, this woman was accepted for an apartment that she loved, but the complex required a $180 administration fee that she couldn't pay.  This woman had already faced SO many setbacks in securing housing, and was beginning to lose hope.  Her assistance was on the edge of expiration, pending on if she signed a lease, but she couldn't sign until the fee was paid
     The next day, this woman and some other ladies from the Lydia House were praying into this situation during lunch when a volunteer came over and asked what they were praying for.  They explained the story to him, and the volunteer graciously decided to pay the fee for her.  She signed the lease the following morning!
     Each time this woman had faced a setback in her search for housing, her first response had been to pray and trust God.  It was amazing to see her faithfulness, this volunteer’s faithfulness, and (of course) God’s faithfulness!

Ashley Carlson
Lydia House Case Manager

22 September 2016

Shwin

     Shwin lives at the Lydia House with her children and has been such a hard worker since the day she moved in.  Last week, Shwin obtained her GED!  This is such an exciting and well-deserved accomplishment!
     Shwin studied in the evenings after work and on the weekends in the Library.  Her persistence and dedication payed off when she passed her last test!
     Please join me in congratulating her!  With her dedication and hard work, I am confident that God will continue to bless Shwin’s efforts to provide for her family. 

Anna Razamazova
Learning Center Director

21 September 2016

Day of Caring


     Last month the Volunteer was able to be a part of the United Way Day of Caring!  This is an annual event where different businesses and individuals sign up through United Way to volunteer throughout the day at different agencies, showing their support for the community.
     We are so grateful for each volunteer that stopped by that day, dressed in their Day of Caring shirts!  Our hope and prayer is that these volunteers loved their experience and LOVE what we do here at Open Door Mission, so they will tell others about it and return (with friends!).  Hopefully this was accomplished.
     Additionally, THANK YOU to the staff who worked with the Day of Caring volunteers!  Many amazing staff members stepped up alongside our Volunteer Department to make this day a success.  
     We are thankful for the opportunity to tell others about what God is doing here at Open Door Mission and to have such a supportive team of co-workers that are willing to jump in when needed and lend a hand in spreading that message!  Don’t miss out on next year’s United Way Day of Caring!

Amy Harvey
Volunteer & Partner Director

20 September 2016

Desperate for Hope

     I wanted to share this story from a few days ago and ask for prayers.
     At our Administration Building’s front desk, I received a call from a man begging for prayer.  He quoted scripture accurately as he described his desperate need of help.  I prayed with him and his wife over the phone, reminding them both that God loves them and wants the best for them in all situations.  Then I encouraged them to continue praising God even when faced with troubles and to cast all of their cares on the Lord.
     This conversation stuck with me into the night, and I kept thinking of this man and woman.  They are living in a motel room, far from home, and desperate for affordable shelter as they face many medical difficulties.
     I started feeling an overwhelming sensation of thankfulness.  It is so easy to forget where I have been, but moments like these remind me of how good God is, no matter what.
     Would you please keep this couple in your prayers?  Ask that they would find appropriate housing for their situation and they would rely upon the Lord.

Cynthia Mier
Receptionist

19 September 2016

The Pain of Hunger...Part 2

Continued from Friday, 9/16.

     We packed his back pack full of bottled water and sack lunches.  I talked to him about seeking shelter and gave him Open Door Mission’s number.  His eyes were full of tears as he gave a final hug, and I asked once more if I could call Open Door Mission to come pick him up.  He assured me he had a plan for his night and would be fine. 
     This boy didn't say much or tell us much about his life story.  He did teach us about being full of thankfulness, that life is precious, and that sometimes all you need is a hug and to know that someone truly cares about you. 
     He left knowing that he was loved, cared for, prayed for, and (most importantly) he left hearing that there is a Man named Jesus Who came to this earth, died on a cross for him, and Who loves him more than he can imagine.  This boy left knowing that God sends people like our Open Door mission Streets of Omaha Volunteers to show love, acceptance, and grace to those we meet.  That is the overflow of the same that has been shown to us.
     Yes it started with a sack lunch and water but it ended with this hungry boy feeling full, accepted, and LOVED!

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

16 September 2016

The Pain of Hunger...Part 1

     You know that feeling you get when you haven't eaten all day?  You get a low grumble in your stomach that eventually turns into a slight cramping pain.  The thought of that feeling came to my mind as I spoke to a young 18 year old boy who shared with me that he hadn't eaten in days.
     Of course, our Streets of Omaha volunteer team handed him a sack lunch, but then this boy just sat still, looking at the sandwich he had pulled out of the lunch.  After a moment, I asked him why he didn't want to take a bite.  His response stabbed my heart like a knife as he said, "I am trying to decide how much I should eat.  I know I will be hungry later."
     As I tried to fight back tears, one of our volunteers asked him if we could hug and pray for him.  He agreed, and we each gave him a hug.  It was one of the tightest hugs I think I have ever received.

To be continued on Monday, 9/19.

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

15 September 2016

Labor Day Cookout

     Our Permanent Supportive Housing family had a Labor Day cook out last weekend, and it was such a wonderful time of fellowship!  It is awesome to gather together as a community, to support one another and hear how God is working in each other’s lives.  We did have to eat inside because it was so humid, though!





Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

14 September 2016

God is at Work

     I got to throw a PARTY in the elevator last week.  One of our New Life Recovery Program graduates and long- time tenants at the Rebuilding Lives Center got a full time job!
     It has been a long road for him, but now he will be working two different jobs.  His financial picture has completely shifted, and he is so grateful!  Praise God for His provision in each of our lives, always at just the right time. 
When it seems hopeless for those we serve, God is at work. 
When everything is at a stall, God is at work.
When we have done all we can do, God is at work. 
When .... Ever, God is at work.
     Remember to celebrate God's work with and for those we serve!

Taylor Clinch
Rebuilding Lives Center Director

09 September 2016

United in Prayer


     Last week, we had a prayer meeting of many men of all ages and from all parts of the United States and abroad.  We all came together for a powerful time of prayer before the Cornhusker AA Roundup.
     This truly was a joy to see people from all backgrounds praying together.  There is nothing quite like the Body of Christ living as true disciples of Christ.  Not only was this a beautiful sight to see and a special time to be a part of, but it was a great reminder of how God is changing lives and destinies!


Pat McKernan
Garland Thompson Men’s Center Director

08 September 2016

A Fresh Start

     "There are no strangers to me, Jessica.  There are only friends I haven't met yet."
     These words were spoken to me, followed by a big hug full of gratitude, by a man we met on the streets.  The volunteers and I listened to his story which he told with conviction and pain in his eyes.  What was the most touching was when he told us about his new found relationship with Jesus and his plan to change his life. 
     I will never forget the look he gave me when he said, "Thank you, ladies, for showing love to me today.  It is a reminder of Christ’s love for me."  The look in his eyes spoke to me more than the words out of his mouth.  His eyes told his story.
     "I am hurting, and I am hungry but I am not ALONE,” he said.  “I am a new creation, I am set apart for a bigger purpose, I am child of God.  He protects me, loves me, and changes me every day.  I am loved!"
     We spent 45 minutes talking to our new friend. In those minutes, we laughed, cried, prayed, and hugged our new friend and brother in Christ.
     Two days later, we were on our way to another Streets of Omaha location when I heard someone shouting my name.  I looked over and there was our friend, getting ready to get on a bus heading to his fresh start.  I got out of the van and gave him a big hug.  We prayed again and said farewell as he boarded his bus.
     These moments will never be forgotten.  To think it all started with a lunch. 

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

07 September 2016

Thirsting for Something More...Part 2

Continued from Tuesday, 9/6.

     People encouraged him to come down to Open Door Mission to get help, which he did reluctantly.  After weeks of debating of whether or not to join the New Life Recovery program, Dillon recalls the day he looked up to the cross in Open Door Mission’s chapel. At that moment, he sought Christ with his whole heart and  became a born-again Christian. The hurt he felt was gone. He learned to let go of the anger and bitterness.
     Dillon did join the New Life Recovery Program and graduated in January. Dillon now has a restored relationship with God and an understanding of who Jesus Christ is. He draws from that cup every day, inviting the Holy Spirit into his life. Dillon says, "If I don't call on the Holy Spirit daily, I will be prideful and destroy myself." He has learned to ask the Holy Spirit to be inside of him and help him make life-giving choices. 
     He now works at a local recovery center where he gets to serve others. Daily, he sees reflections of his former self full of anger and emptiness walk through the doors in need of help. He is thankful for Open Door Mission as he has found that missing piece, Jesus Christ. With Jesus at the center of his life, Dillon has rebuilt his relationship with his daughter, goes to work every day, prays and believes in God.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

06 September 2016

Thirsting for Something More...Part 1

     Following the divorce of his parents at the tender age of three, Dillon bounced from foster home to foster home enduring years of pain and physical abuse. He attempted to live with each parent but living with either a violent father or a drug-addicted mother didn't make safe alternatives for a child.
     He recalls his father jumping from girlfriend to girlfriend all the while abusing him and his sister. On the other hand, his attempt at living with his mother and step-father resulted in Dillon selling drugs in middle school. At age 13, he was placed in a youth correctional facility. 
     Dillon's rebellious life continued into adulthood. His daughter was born when he was 32 and he realized he couldn't live a double life of dealing drugs and raising a family. The time had come to pick one. He got clean and sober for three years but there was still a piece that was missing that led him back to drugs and alcohol.
     He started his own tree company and kept busy with work but thirsted for so much more. He felt a tremendous void in his life, one that in the past was filled with drugs and alcohol.  Dillon’s negative thoughts were consuming him and his life was falling apart.

To be continued Wednesday, 9/7.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

02 September 2016

Bingo Night

     Once a month I hold a Bingo Night for my tenants at the Permanent Supportive Housing
building, and they LOVE it!  Our most recent Bingo Night was a little different in a HUGE way.
     One of my tenants found out some horrible news about his brother, and he was devastated.  This man and his wife asked if we would be willing to pray for his brother, and I said yes.  We took a break from bingo, and everyone and held hands in a circle.  Together as a family, we stood in agreement in the power of prayer.  I started us off, but many others prayed in between, feeling called to pray in that moment. 
     About 25 of us took a small moment to powerfully stand together and pray for this precious family.  We stood together as a community in Christ's love.  It was a beautiful scene; one of such beauty that a photo could not capture!  Praise God for unexpected prayer meetings, community with other believers, and the spiritual maturity of our tenant at the Permanent Supportive Housing building.  My heart is exploding!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

01 September 2016

Sharing the Gift of Salvation

The Water's Edge is one of many churches who join Open Door
Mission in helping hungry and homeless men, women,
and children.
     I was homeless for about a year and a half, travelling through many different cities across Iowa and Nebraska.  Please allow me to share a little about my experience.
     One major thing I learned is that is no way for a Christian organization to force homeless men and women into finding Christ.  They simply need to be there as a shoulder to lean on in the darkest of days for these hurting people.
     Now the beauty of God's grace is that He led me to Open Door Mission, where God is truly working and where they have figured out that forcing Jesus doesn’t work.  My life was forever changed at this place, and I now have my daughter, a full time job, and a wife that I love with all my heart.  I have a great church and an ongoing relationship with the men who helped me at the Mission.  My mentor was actually the one who officiated our wedding.
     The reason Open Door Mission worked is because they have the support of multiple churches that don't only contribute financially, but also volunteer their time and extend helping hands to build personal relationships.  These relationships are what help men and woman make conscious decisions to follow Christ willingly.
     Religion isn't forced upon as a condition to stay at Open Door Mission.  Christ is openly and frequently mentioned, but not in a mandatory manner.
     The churches affiliated with the Mission that I have attended are selflessly devoting their time and efforts towards helping the hungry and homeless.  Now, by the grace of God, I'm here today and can say that the journey was all worth all I’ve learned.  It’s a privilege to be an example of how God can work on you, taking you from depths of the valley to the highest of mountains, and truly change your heart.
     I hope that this blesses anyone who reads it, from volunteers to donors to church partners to any seeking help.  I felt it was necessary to share my personal experience, and I hope it provides a better understanding of what needs to happen so that more men, women, and children can have and share in the gift of salvation.

Hugh
Open Door Mission Guest