28 February 2017

Grateful for Safe, Warm Shelter...Part 2

Continued from Monday, 2/27

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

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

27 February 2017

Grateful for Safe, Warm Shelter...Part 1


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

To be continued Tuesday, 2/28

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

24 February 2017

Morning Devos

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

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  --Jeremiah 29:11

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

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

Rick Ziegler
Communications Coordinator

23 February 2017

Assurance of Salvation

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

Greg Johnston
Case Manager/Intake Coordinator

22 February 2017

We Value Our Guests

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

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

21 February 2017

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

Continued from Monday, 2/20

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

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

20 February 2017

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

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

To be continued Tuesday, 2/21

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

17 February 2017

A Real Friend

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

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

16 February 2017

Troop 42


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

Phillip Gronewold
Council Bluffs Family Outreach/Donation Center

15 February 2017

On The Air

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


Taylor Clinch
Rebuilding Lives Center Director

14 February 2017

A Valentine's Weekend

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

Candace Gregory
President/CEO

13 February 2017

Congratulations!

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

Anna Razamazova
Learning Center Director

10 February 2017

Back for a Visit

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

Cynthia Mier
Receiptionist

09 February 2017

Good News at Open Door Mission

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

Greg Johnston
Case Manager/Intake Coordinator

08 February 2017

Faithful Volunteer


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

Laura Keen
Council Bluffs Outreach Manager

07 February 2017

Sanctified by God's Truth

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

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

02 February 2017

Loving Intentionally

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