24 February 2012

Stories of Hope

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview one of Open Door Mission’s graduates to write a story for the latest issue of The Open Door newsletter. It’s amazing to see how far someone can come with God’s help. Just a few good choices and determination can make a difference in someone’s life.

Since we last visited with Sandra after graduating from the New Life Recovery Program in 2004, she has progressed significantly.

Sandra had a rough life. Neglected as a child, she had to work at age 12 to earn money for food. She dropped out of school in ninth grade, fought with alcohol & drug abuse and suffered failed relationships, prison and homelessness. That all changed—when she joined the New Life Recovery Program at Open Door Mission.

Since graduation, Sandra now has a good job, a home of her own and a life she never dreamed possible. Still today, she reviews her old class notes because she can always use a reminder that “I can still do this.” She had never felt good about herself before, but today she proudly says “I can do it and I am somebody!”

While Sandra admits she has regrets about how her children were raised, she is making up for it now in a big way. She has been given the responsibility of raising her grand-niece and in December, was able to host all of her children and grandchildren in her own home for Christmas. “It took a while,” she says, “for her children to trust that she had really changed.” But now her kids say, “You did it!” She has cookouts in her yard and is looking forward to sleepovers with her 10 grandchildren.

Sandra says, “The Mission is still helping my family today. I can still come to the Timberlake Outreach Center for food, clothing and household items when I’m in need.” The impact your donations had on one life are still impacting dozens more today.
If you would like to write a story of hope for Open Door Mission’s newsletter, please call me at 402-829-1507.

JoAnn Dodd

20 February 2012

Faith Like A Child

Working at Open Door Mission, I deal with a number of folks through the course of any given day. My job like so many others around here is about laughing one minute and dealing with full blown crisis the next. My days are filled with hope and faith, as well as business and strategy as I use the gifts God has given me along with my education and 25 years of business experience to help pave a path toward success for anyone daring to search for it.

I think I’m good at what I do, but I like so many others can be humbled, and taught in an instant by the children around me. A few weeks ago I was in my office in the Permanent Supportive Housing building (the PSH) and I was greeted by several children. Now these kids know me, and we do our best to communicate. I have told them on several occasions that I don’t speak toddler but they speak it well enough for all of us and they will not be deterred in their effort to get their points across. So I made an offhand comment to Nate that his shoes were the wrong color. His facial expression turned to one of serious dismay. Not sadness mind you, he just has the look of someone who is about to set the record straight!

I continued though and I told Nate that his sister had the right colored shoes as she was in pink from head to toe and her shoes were a perfect match. I looked at Nate and told him that he was dressed all in blue right down to a blue blanket he was carrying, but his shoes were brown, and clearly wrong. I told him that they were wrong and should have been blue. Picture a toddler with a furrowed brow looking more serious than most little guys ever considered being. Nate told me in no uncertain terms that his shoes were not wrong! I took another shot at it and asked him if his shoes are right, why they were brown instead of blue. OK now maybe it’s a bit childish of me to try to one up a 4 year old, but we all have our moments. Well, it turns out this was Nate’s moment, and he looked at me and answered my question putting his hands in the air and shrugging his shoulders. He said “Scot, this is the way God made shoes”!

I was having some fun with him, but Nate didn’t have to think about his answer. With all the faith and innocence one might expect, the little guy ran home to God. It’s a cute story but I think about that little interaction all the time now, and I pray for that kind of faith. I don’t have to have all the answers, I just have to be like my little friend Nate, and be able to trust that God does. It’s a lesson worth learning, and my teacher in this case was not some snooty professor, but a little guy who simply trusts that things are what they are because God made it so.

It’s an honor and a pleasure every day to be even a small part of the ministry here at Open Door Mission. My hope and my prayer is that with teachers like Nate I too can learn to run home to God without a second thought.

Scot Morris

17 February 2012

The Fruit of the Spirit

A few weeks ago the Children and Youth Director, Rachel Fisher, came to me and asked if she could borrow my office tree for an object lesson. When she returned it a few days later it had fruit shaped pieces of construction paper, with the fruits of the spirit written on them, tied to the tree. The children had colored on the construction paper fruit, and it was quite festive!

I recently found myself reflecting on the message of my tree. Love, do I demonstrate love to the people I encounter every day, do I show them the love of Christ and love them enough to lead them to Him. Joy, am I joyful each day, even in the little tasks that don’t seem fun or seem almost tedious. Peace, do I have peace in my heart, even when I am surrounded by the chaos that surrounds so many that I encounter everyday. Longsuffering, am I patient with my clients. Kindness, am I kind, not just with the clients it is easy to love, but to them all. Goodness, am I doing what is good and right. Faithfulness, am I showing those around me that I am a faithful friend, that I will be there for them. Gentleness, am I speaking and acting in gentility or am I being harsh. Self-Control, even when I am having a bad day, or not feeling well, am I showing self-control or am I allowing my emotions to take over.

This festive fruit filled tree has made such an impact on my life in the past few weeks. It reminds me daily what my life as a Christian should be like.
Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law
Noelle Pee
Work Net Director

15 February 2012

What is impossible for men, becomes possible with God

Psalm 116:1-2
New International Version (NIV)

"I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live."

One day a man residing at the Garland Thompson Men’s Center approached me and said, “I would not have the patience to deal with the men you see every day”. It took me a while to assimilate the comment and I responded, you are right, I never imagined myself being this patient before. I still remember those years when I was not patient at all, but I thank God for His mercy that regenerated my heart and brought me into a different life. When we cry out to God for mercy the supernatural appears and what is impossible for men becomes possible with God. Believe me, when God regenerates the heart of a person miracles happen and the evidence of that conversion glorifies God on hearth.

Jonathan Lopez
Garland Thompson Men's Center

14 February 2012

God is moving!

85 days ago everything changed for me. 85 days ago I accepted my current position at Open Door Mission's Lydia House. Little did I know that I would be a part of and able to witness incredible life transformation literally daily while doing my “job”. Little did I know that on any given day at “work” I now expect to weep or shout with joy at the work of our Lord in the lives of those living at Open Door Mission. God is moving! And God is changing lives through his redeeming work here at the Open Door Mission. Easily evident by how recently I was asked by a resident if I would hold hands and pray with her before she went to bed that night…Yes please!

Tami Gumm

Family Support Worker

Lydia House, Open Door Mission

13 February 2012

Doing "great things" through the power of the Holy Spirit

There are many people who are doing amazing things in many places of the world—things which Jesus described as being greater than his miracles. The place I know best is here at Open Door Mission. Many of the amazing things that I have experienced here brings the conversation beginning at the end of John 13 between Peter, Thomas, Philip, and Jesus to my mind.

John tells us that Jesus explained to the disciples that he was going away to prepare a place for them. This really troubled Peter, Thomas, and Philip. They obviously did not want Jesus to leave. Who would? After Jesus predicted his death and told the disciples they could not come with him. Peter wanted to know why and made a braggadocios statement that implied whatever Jesus was going to through he could do. He could even “lay down is life.”

Thomas followed with a very practical question “how do we get there?” Jesus answered him indirectly and to his original point. As I read the story, I see that Jesus’ answer did not help the disciples understand. So Philip tries to makes sense out of the statement by offering a compromise in spiritual terms, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Peter wanted Jesus to know that they were capable of following him; Thomas wanted to know how to physically get where Jesus was going; and Philip attempted to resolve the situation by asking for one more miracle. Jesus told them that everyone who believes in Jesus (12), “…will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these…”

This truth relates to many of the people who call Open Door Mission home. Two gentlemen in particular come to mind. They are ready to graduate from our New Life Recovery program. They joined the program because it was offered to them. They were at the place in their lives that they realized they had no answer for their addiction that was hastening their death. They both had placed their lives in jeopardy many times. They were running on fumes and borrowed time.

They heard the good news of Jesus and immediately responded to the calling. They immediately began to care for the men around them. They reinforced what was being taught in classes and in case management. They progressed through classes and interacted with folks who were on the fringe. They encouraged them to work the program and shared their stories without shame. They sacrificed so that others, “who were in more need” could get what they needed. For example, when the need arose they would not take a place on a van to a popular church at times so others could attend. They simply walked to a church close to Open Door Mission—knowing everyone would be fed the word of God.

They keep encouraging friends who decided not to enter/continue in the program. They know they do not have everything right. They now understand the need to live the generous life of Jesus. They show Jesus to others who can’t see Jesus in people who don’t share their desperate circumstances. They serve as they are being served. They care for guys who distance themselves from Open Door Mission. They represent as they are still being forged. They live for Jesus so others can be saved by Jesus. They are living the life. They are doing “things greater” through the power of the Holy Spirit and so can you!

Steve Frazee
Open Door Mission

09 February 2012

Kingdom Building

Hi Greetings in Christ name. My name is Rey Rios and I work at the Garland Thompson Men’s Center. I just want to share my experience of what it is to work here at Open Door Mission. First of all, let me say this is an intense ministry. Approximately 16 percent of the adult homeless people suffer from severe mental illness. It is also estimated that 30 percent of homeless single adults suffer from abuse and addictions. Countless many experience the pain of rejection, abandonment and loneliness.

This is a population of people that are not only generally ignored by society but labeled as outcasts. However, at Open Door Mission I can see the evidence that God has not forgotten them. I believe the Garland Thompson Men’s Center is a piece of The Kingdom of Heaven’s Property located here on earth. I see how God is always changing the lives of these men everyday. I have seen many men cry in brokenness, repent and give their lives to Christ.

Great unsung miracles are happening everyday here and I have seen these miracles flow out of the mighty instruments of God like Mr. McKernan, Mr. Powell, Mr. Lindsay, Lopez and Mr. Janssen. These men provide wisdom, support, guidance and most of all; the staff team offers the most important ingredient that the emergency population does not see anywhere else. LOVE!

I Corinthians 13 teaches you can have the greatest talent, greatest gifts, unmatched wisdom, and incredible knowledge in the entire universe but if there is no love; it means absolutely nothing (less than zero). “But the greatest of these is love.” I am excited to be apart of the most fruitful team in all of Omaha. A place where hungry and homeless men, women, and children's lives are being changed on a daily basis. I want to keep coming to the one place Jesus loves to dwell. The Open Door Mission.


Rey Rios
Garland Thompson Men's Center

07 February 2012

Kids Drop Underwear at School!

Kids at Hickory Hill Elementary are not afraid to drop (off) their underwear at school…uh…that is new underwear for those in need. Led by the Student Council they collected new underwear and socks for those staying at Open Door Mission. Lydia House, at Open Door Mission, was especially appreciative as most of the underwear collected was for children living with their family at Lydia House. Lydia House has 46 families seeking safe shelter and hope for a new life.

The Student Council took to heart and action when asked “how would you like to wear someone else’s underwear?” at their meeting in December. They began collecting to make a difference in the lives of children in a very basic and simple way-new underwear. Would you like your school, organization, group or work place to make a difference in the lives of others? Please call me to have a speaker come and share about basic needs at Open Door Mission or to set up a drive to collect needed items. You might just be surprised to find out how a new pair of socks or underwear can give hope to someone.

Maggie Cope
Communications Coordinator
Open Door Mission

06 February 2012

Growing Seeds

I had the opportunity to take a group of high school girls on Streets of Omaha. This program helps to alleviate peoples budgetary crisis by providing them with sack lunches in their homes or on the street. People call the Mission and request to be put on the program and once a week we make and deliver sack lunches to them. This outreach takes us all throughout the Omaha area and is a great volunteer opportunity and experience.

The number of people we serve through this ministry is quite substantial. Due to this fact, we are unable to spend hours on end with each stop because of others in need. We take the opportunity to spend as much time as possible with each person, but we always want more. The reason I am telling you all this is because in that small amount of time "seeds" are planted. The Bibles we hand out are read. The tracts we distribute are taken in.

Proof of this came on our very last stop this pas week. Two gentlemen came out of their apartment to get sack lunches and asked for a Bible. "I was having a really bad night the other night, ya know, stuff running through my head, and I looked down and saw one of the tracks you gave me. I read over it and it was beautiful. It encouraged me and help bring me out of that dark night. Do you have a whole Bible?" Man talk about getting to see a seed growing.

I want to write to encourage all of you to take heart in unseen seeds. Trees that we take shade under, flowers that please us, and grass we relax on started as a seed unseen. The Gospel in people's lives is the same way. A seed is planted by many people through many different events. When that seed starts to grow, for some time the growth is still unseen (just as a plant seed). I was blessed enough to get to see that growth taking place in this man's life. While volunteering here at Open Door Mission might not always provide the aforementioned experiences of witnessed growth, it does always bring growth. The growth can be in yourself, or in the people you are volunteering with, or the people we serve. I know Corine would love to have you come down and plant with us. Please E-mail Corine at csawadogo@opendoormission.org and let her know your ready to work the soil.

Taylor Clinch
Volunteer Associate

03 February 2012

Finding Success through 29/11 program

My name is Nicole; I would like to tell you a little about myself. I was at a very low point in my life struggling with addictions which led to a broken family. One day I was in the car when I heard a gospel song that moved me to tears as I remembered that I was once a devoted Christian raised in the church. At that moment I decided to give my life back to the LORD. I needed the help so I called shelters and found room at the Lydia House. They welcomed me warmly and my journey began. I didn’t bring my daughter with me but I was determined to reunite our family and rebuild our home.

My finances had taken a blow and my credit was not good. I had GOD and a job and I was determined to get my finances on the right track. I entered the 29/11 Program as a single mother wanting a new start. I began working on my finances and paying my bills on time but sometimes it was a struggle. The 29/11 program helped me put food on the table as I strive to become financially independent.

With the help of the 29/11 program I was able to stay focused and encouraged. As of this summer I was able to purchase my own home thru a program provided by Family Advisory Services on 24th and Lake Street. I could not have done this if it was not for GOD who has provided agencies like the Open Door Mission with people who love and care for others. In the 29/11 Program I am able to find strength, courage and support from other believers. They have shown me compassion and not judgment, and help with dignity. I will always be grateful to GOD for the Open Door Mission. I have also learned to give to others when I can.

For more information 29/11 SuccessNet
Please call Mandy Rios at 402-829-1500 ext 7006

02 February 2012

No God, No Peace: Know God, Know Peace

I am often asked, “Isn’t it so difficult working with the homeless?” And there are days, but the opportunity to share in a life a person who is hopeless, and share their pain in order to earn the right to share the grace and truth that can transform that person into a man with a future and a hope. Recently, I received a phone call from a man, Sahara. I had worked with in 2006. He spent several months in the program, but was never willing to fully surrender to Christ. But thankfully the way God works in a person’s life, is not dependent upon our ability, but our availability! He asked me if I was surprised to hear from him, and said “I was.” He then told me, “I called to let you know that I am graduating from the University of Minnesota, and I just wanted to send you an invitation.” He thanked me for the time I invested in his life, that he never forgot that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life!

John Lindsey
Garland Thompson Men's Center

01 February 2012

Practice what You Preach

As the Families Case Manager at the Lydia House, I meet with the families once a week for Case Management. Last week during a session with a one of my clients, a single mother, mentioned a phrase that her father instilled in her growing up and one she tries to live by and teach her daugther.

That phrase is “practice what you preach”. We preach to our family, friends, children and I, my clients, about being kind to others, giving to others, and loving others. But how often are we kind to everyone we meet? How often do we give to someone in need? How often do we love everyone we see? It says in Matthew 25:40,
“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
When we are kind, giving and loving those who we may see as unworthy, unkind or unlovable we are giving, kind, and loving God. We are all called by God to do His work and at times it may seem impossible, but we just need to keep what Jesus said in Matthew 25:40 in mind. People may not listen to our words, but they always pay attention to our actions, even when we think no one is watching.

Jessica Michaels
Lydia House Case Manager