31 October 2012

Are you a servant?

The other morning as I was getting ready for work, I was listening to a song. 
Make me a servant, humble and meek.
Lord let me lift up those who are weak.
And may the prayer of my heart always be,
Make me a servant, Make me a servant,
Make me a servant today.
Jesus certainly set the example of how to be a servant when he washed His disciples' feet. It was not beneath Him to do such a lowly thing. He did it out of love.
At Open Door Mission I see servants everyday. The mission staff reaches out in love to the people who come to us. These people are hurting and have many needs, and the staff try to 'be Jesus' to them and 'serve' them, and show them God's love. Sometimes it's hard to be a servant. Our pride gets in the way and Satan uses that to keep us from being the humble and meek servants God wants us to be. I pray that God will help me and continue to mold me into the servant He wants me to be. How is your servant attitude?

Lynnette Walter
Development Associate

26 October 2012

Freedom in Christ

In a cold dreary winter day a young man stood in the busy streets looking for a friend. Up and down the streets he roamed, looking for someone to notice him. As the Christmas lights gleaned off the glistening snow, his heart sank because the day had come and gone. No one seemed to notice or even care. Where was that one special person, better yet, where was this God he “knew” so much about?

In each day’s passing this young man contemplated his existence. He wondered where his life had gone so wrong. In his final hour of desperation he found himself in a small city mission. It rescued him from the elements for the days to come, but not ailments that plagued him so. Who is this young man you ask? Well, that young man was me. I was a lost soul, who knew of Jesus, but did not KNOW Jesus. From that cold winter in 2000 on, God has taken me on a journey. After attending several Christian Programs freedom in Christ became a reality. Since then, He has allowed me to marry a Godly wife, finish my degree at Grace University, and join a wonderful staff at Open Door Mission.

My passion for this ministry is strong because I believe in their three fold objective. It states that each person will be saved, discipled, and equipped when they leave. I was given that opportunity several years ago and now I work at a place that provides the same elements of freedom.

I want to encourage you to come to Open Door Mission graduations and witness God’s hand at work. It is truly a miracle of His love, mercy, and grace. Though I have a position “behind the scenes” I consider these men and women my brothers and sisters in the battle that has already been won. I would also encourage those who are thinking about giving to a great cause, to consider Open Door Mission. As I visit a few donors that helped me, I know Open Door Mission graduates appreciate every dollar given to them as well. I want you to know through my story that every dollar given represents a changed life, including mine.

Thank you and God bless.
Christopher J. Yelinko

23 October 2012

God is changing the hearts of men

"I must admit that I wasn’t quite sure what to expect this summer when I started working with the men in the New Life Recovery and Journey to Work programs. Although there was uncertainty and doubt, I knew that it was God who had brought me here. Since my start this summer, I have truly come to see God at work in magnificent ways here at the mission! Each week I see men come and apply to join the programs. When they come, they are often broken hearted and hopeless, yet fearful of what to expect. As they spend time at the mission, I see God begin stirring in their hearts as he meets each and every one right where they are at.

The most exciting times for me are the points when God stirs my heart to minister to a man and tell him about the greatness of our God. When I see the doubts and fears come out and become replaced with love and hope, it is powerful and moving. I am so glad that God is working in those men and that they are coming to know Him, but I am also excited that God has continued to work in my own life so that I can see others who came from backgrounds like my own experience the same wonder and love that I have experienced. Praise the Lord!"
Jeremy Settle
Veteran Coordinator and Program Case Manager

18 October 2012

Through Christ we have Joy in the Morning

Over the last 2 years it has been such a blessing to see first hand what God is doing at the  Mission. It is incredible to get the opportunity to love and pray for the clients here. A few months ago a new resident moved in who was trying to get her 2 sons back into her custody. Weekly I would meet with her, and she would express how difficult it was only getting to see her children a few times a week. Together, we would prayer the verse John 16:22 over her situation.

"Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you." 

Continuously  week after week, seeing her complete each goal she had set and going above and beyond what was being asked of her to do. Yesterday, I got the privilege to meet with her and her case worker. She was finally told that her boys were going to move in with her full-time. She began crying and threw her arms in the air and said praises to our God for answering her prayers. What an incredible moment to be able to witness. A woman who completely has given her hopes to God and being steadfast in His promises to her.  Praise Jesus!

Katie Schumacher
Lydia House Case Manager

17 October 2012

What is your vocation?

I have to laugh sometimes at how life works. I was in the lobby of the Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) facility recently doing what I do. I joke with people who ask what I do at the Mission, that I am the Director of other duties as assigned. It’s not that I don’t have specific responsibilities but that I can do many things and being able to switch hats around here is a real plus. On this particular day I was cleaning windows for the second time that day  and one of our community partners walked in and asked me if I had gotten in trouble or something. I wasn’t sure what he was referring to but he pointed to the window cleaner in my hand and I got it. I smiled and told him to hang around for a few minutes, I was moving to toilets next! We joked about how that college education was really working out! It was a fun exchange but highlighted a key difference between working in the world and working in ministry, particularly here at Open Door Mission.
My job right now is to be Director of Permanent Supportive Housing. The PSH is a facility consisting of 41 two and three bedroom apartments, and it exists to serve those who have had problems with stable, affordable housing, but who are ready and equipped to pay rent and live independently (with some gentle guidance and support). Being Director means I am charged with managing the facility and serving the 92 men, women and children who call the PSH home. I love these people, and I am very serious about helping each and every one of them to live safely, independently, and responsibly while also helping them identify and realize their goals and dreams. That is my job, but at a recent conference, Pastor Clyde pointed out that it is not my vocation. My vocation, is to serve Christ! I have a lifetime of experience and education that prepares me to do my job, and I can do that pretty well.  My only qualification and power to engage in my vocation however comes from the Holy Spirit. Pastor Clyde challenged me to really think about what my vocation means and I would love to tell you I have some deep new truths to share about that, but I am a “big picture” “bottom line” kind of guy. The only word that comes to me as I consider what it means to truly embrace my vocation to serve Jesus is “willing”.
I am not a gifted evangelist, I cannot preach or teach, and while I continue to seek God’s truth in his Word, I am as biblically challenged as anyone else. I can’t do anything to instantly change those realities but in this moment I can make a conscious, prayerful decision to be willing. Willing to do what?? I guess willing to do anything that I believe serves Christ, and for me that simply begins with meeting people and helping them wherever they are. Does washing windows or scrubbing toilets count then in my vocational pursuits? I believe they do if those simple acts help one person feel better about where they live or who they are. More importantly, those actions serve my vocation if it helps one person draw closer to Jesus. The big picture or bottom line for me is a question from the prophet Isaiah. I heard the challenge from two Pastors in different cities this week. Does that mean it's a message I should pay attention to? God asks the question…Who then shall I send??
Here am I Lord, send me!! Send me to visit someone in the hospital. Send me to the store or the bank or the Social Security office. Send me to help someone find a relative, to get legal help, offer  a ride or fix their car. Send me to pray with someone, and yeah, send me to scrub the toilet.
It is an honor and a pleasure to do my job, but I am challenging myself and I guess anyone else who takes a moment to read this, to be willing to truly engage in my, or our vocation. I want to be willing to go and do whatever serves Jesus today, and I hope and pray I can see and grab those opportunities as they come. Here am I Lord, send me!

Scot Morris
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

16 October 2012

Southside Church Kids for Christ TPS Open Door Mission

To most of us toilet paper is one of those things we don’t talk about much but really appreciate. The Kids for Christ group at Southside Christian in Council Bluffs decided to let a lot people know how much toilet paper is needed at Open Door Mission. They made flyers and biked all over their neighborhoods asking for donations. They were hoping to get some extra rolls besides what they brought to church.

They were surprised to find out how responsive people were; they would hear thuds on their front porch and find packages of toilet paper had been dropped off. They were so successful that they filled the trunk of my car and most of the back seat! That was 117 pounds of toilet paper! They are already planning on making the drive next year more successful-they want me to have to make 2 trips to collect all the toilet paper for Open Door Mission.

These young people were so excited that they had done something to make a difference in the lives of others. They had had fun doing the Toliet Paper collection as a group. They experienced sheer joy seeing how their efforts piled up and then had to be stuffed into my car. They learned that helping others is not just the Christian thing to do it can be fun. What would your youth group or organization like to do to make a difference? Give me a call today at 402-422-1111

Maggie Cope

15 October 2012

Whoever is kind to the needy honors God

I work in the administration building in the development department. My job is a pretty “behind the scenes” kind of job. This past Friday, I had the opportunity to help with a program called Streets of Omaha. The purpose of this program is to help people in their homes and on the street by providing them with sack lunches. Every Friday hundreds of sack lunches are made and then delivered to people all over Omaha. Friday was the second time that I have helped make the lunches and deliver them.

I had a really great experience both times and I think it would be hard to go home at the end of the day unchanged. I was amazed how thankful people were for something that seemed so simple to me. On many of our stops, we were greeted by lots of small children with huge smiles on their faces. In addition to giving out the lunches, we also gave out tracts and Bibles. I was surprised how eager and grateful people were for a Bible. There was a man who did not want a lunch but just wanted a Bible.

He said that “the Word was the only food that he needed.” A couple of men we stopped to talk to on the side of the street said they really needed a toothbrush. We happened to have a couple new toothbrushes and toothpaste in our van that we gave to them and they were very happy. There was also several people who asked for prayer. We were able to pray with a woman outside of her apartment and others just asked that “as we lay our head on our pillow tonight, we would think of them on the streets, and pray for them.”

I am very thankful to be a part of what God is doing at the Open Door Mission. Tonight as you lay your head on your pillow, think of those who are on the streets. Think of those who are hurting and hopeless. Ask God how He wants you to help them.

Proverbs 14.31 - Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

Ryan McDowell
Open Door Mission

11 October 2012

Morning Time with God

Psalm 13:5 "I trust in Your unfailing love and my heart rejoices in Your salvation."
I can honestly say that I love getting up in the morning and coming to work at the Lydia House! It is so refreshing to enjoy my job, my co-workers, and the residents. My favorite thing about my job is being able to share God's word, while also being encouraged by the determination of the residents that we serve.
My day tends to be very busy, but I wouldn't change it. The morning time proves to be my most rewarding; my co-worker Mandy and I start the ladies off with prayer at 7:30 and devotions at 8. We have a great time doing this because it really gives us time to answer any questions that the ladies have regarding Jesus and His plans. The photo I have included are just some of the women who attend devotions on a regular basis.
Part of my job includes working with the residents in maintaining room cleanliness and organization. I am currently seeking some donations, such as; tubs with lids, 3-drawer plastic organizers (larger size), and rugs to help the residents give their rooms more of a feeling of home. Thank you in advance for volunteering, donating, and especially praying.
Rachael Hillebran
Lydia House Day Supervisor

10 October 2012

Rearview Mirror

As I was driving to work this morning I made sure I was following all the laws. The reason why…because when I looked in my rear view mirror there was a police car right behind me. So I did what everyone does in a situation like-I did what I knew was right. That got me to thinking how would we live our lives if we lived like Jesus was always in our “rearview mirror”?

We all know Jesus has told us to care for the needy but are we doing it. Working at Open Door Mission I see so many needs every day. We have great community support but the needs are growing daily as more people seek help. Can you help us meet the needs in poverty or that are homeless? Can you clean out the winter clothing you no longer use & donate so someone else can be warm? Can you come volunteer to help fix & serve a meal? Even though I work here I am blessed to volunteer at Open Door Mission too. Would you do a food drive so we can continue to feed over 2,000 a day? Jesus remembers what you do not just what you should do. Is Jesus in your” rearview mirror”? Call 402-422-1111 today or visit www.opendoormission.org to see how you can help make a difference at Open Door Mission.

Betz Woodhull

09 October 2012

My Own Little World

My name is Amy Buss and I am the Human Resources Director at the Open Door Mission. On the way to work I heard the song: My Own Little World by Matthew West. Here is some of the song.
Stopped at the red light, looked out my window
Outside the car, saw a sign, said "Help this homeless widow"
Just above this sign was the face of a human
I thought to myself, "God, what have I been doing?"
So I rolled down my window and I looked her in the eye
Oh how many times have I just passed her by
I gave her some money then I drove on through
in my own little world there's
Population two
What if there's a bigger picture
what if I'm missing out
What if there's a greater purpose
I could be living right now
outside my own little world
Start breaking my heart for what breaks Yours
give me open hands and open doors
put Your light in my eyes and let me see
that my own little world is not about me

In the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives it’s easy to get caught up in our own lives and we sometimes we don’t take the time to reach out to others. Many people come through Open Door Mission doors because they lost a job, a loved one, a fire destroyed their house, domestic abuse or so many other reasons. We might not ever know why they are here but we as staff are blessed to be able offer a warm meal, and a place that is safe for them to lay there head . In 1 John 3:17-18 it says "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." We don’t know what the people we serve are going through but we can show them the love of Jesus and to me that is the best gift of all.

Perhaps you feel a tug to get involved at Open Door Mission. Visit our volunteer page today and learn about volunteer opportunities. I look forward to seeing you around here soon!
Amy Buss

08 October 2012

Millard West DECA is “on a Mission for the Mission”

Watch out corporate America there is a DECA group at Millard West that will be giving you a run for your money soon. These 3 DECA leaders, Jessie, Azure & Presley, are “On a Mission for the Mission”. They are developing a series of drives to benefit Open Door Mission this school year. I spent an hour being amazed at how well they have planned everything out and all the great ideas they have. The students at Millard West will be well aware of the needs and opportunities to volunteer at Open Door Mission.

It is so wonderful to work with teenagers that are making a difference right now in their community. These young ladies are using their talents, future goals and hearts to reach out to a population most teenagers don’t even realize is in need of help and the number is growing daily. Parents, administrators, teachers and students of Millard West please support DECA as they lead in compassion and caring.

05 October 2012

Winter Coats are NEEDED!

The days are getting shorter and colder and this means one thing to any parent.  It’s time to go coat shopping!  For most families this can be a challenge financially, but imagine worrying about 80 kids instead of 3!  As the Children and Youth Director it’s my job to make sure each child in the Lydia House has a winter coat, pair of gloves, hat, and scarf.  This means collecting coats as early as August from our Timberlake Outreach Center and digging through storage hoping to find extra coats leftover from last year.
While many of our kids are now ready for winter, we still have a desperate need for infant and toddler sized coats since almost 50% of our 80 Lydia House children are 5 years old and younger.
As you prepare for the winter season in your home, please think of us as well.  Any donation would be greatly appreciated by our the Lydia House residents and their children.
Rachel Fisher
Children & Youth Director

04 October 2012

LIving Up to Her Potential

Almost daily I am inspired by the people around me here at the Open Door Mission Lydia House.   I have the awesome privilege here to be apart of something so much bigger than myself.  I watched first hand how one young woman clung to the promises of the cross and daily surrendered her life to a bigger vision.  In August she was released from jail for drug charges. During her time served she was attending bible studies and overcomers AA meetings. She rededicated her life to the Lord and trusted His plan.  In that trust she moved into the Lydia House after jail to get her feet back under her.  Within  2 weeks she was working full time as a waitress in a small cafe and attending meetings 3-4 times a week all on her own...with no vehicle.  She was determined to live up to her full potential.  In another 3 weeks she had saved $900.00, found an apartment from one of the cafe regulars as well as bought a very inexpensive car, also from one of her regulars.  So in total she was here 5 weeks. She worked so hard and was always trusting in God's future plan for her.  I think it's often easy to want God's plan but yet not put the hard work and effort into that plan and God most definitely asks us to do that.  God used this young woman to inspire and encourage me in my own journey. 

Tami Gumm

01 October 2012

Has Risen

Intersections are landmarks often overlooked in today’s hustle and bustle society. In times past travelers could go for mile and miles before choosing which turn to make at the fork in the road. Not true of today’s travelers. Every hundred feet there are corners. The chooses are so many we pass intersection after intersection oblivious, unaware of where this turn or where that turn will take us. Having too much information to take in we are tunneled-vision, we march on. We seem to wear blinders, attempting to avoid distractions from the world outside.

Today I find myself standing at a particular intersection, Locust and 20th St., and I am fully aware of what is going on at this corner. No blinders here. I’ve stood here before, years ago. I marvel at the sharp contrast of then and now. Back then at this intersection stood an undeveloped wooded lot. I use to sit here on fallen trees, homeless and confused.

There were no sidewalks or level ground. Back then, unlike now, there was not much activity here, just me and a few other lost souls. A block to the east was a dingy grocery store, obviously in the twilight of its life. Every now and then you might see a customer go in or out. Beyond the store stood several shacks that reminded me of Little House on the Prairie.

But now just as Jesus rose from the grave to save and change lives of the fallen, so has the Open Door Mission. Today at this intersection and on this corner are signs of life everywhere, no longer the undeveloped wooded lot. But in its place has risen the Lydia House, a facility dedicated to rebuilding the lives of 300 fallen women, children and families. And to the east there is no longer a dying grocery store but in its place stands the Timberlake Outreach Center, a vibrant and activity-filled center for the homeless and near homeless, a place where the financially challenged of the community can come and make ends meet with food, clothing and furniture. And no longer are the Little House on the Prairie shacks, but in its stead there has risen the Permanent Supporting Housing Building, 41 two and three bedroom apartments. Here, those with low income can live in a safe, clean and affordable environment. Standing here I look in the distance to the south and rising out of the ground is the brand new Garland Thompson Men Center, a facility dedicated to housing the homeless fathers, sons and brothers of our community. This facility provides food and shelter to 300 men. Attached is the brand new Rebuilding Lives Center, a facility dedicated to offering life saving programs to our vets, chemically dependant, and disadvantaged men. Wow, much has changed at this intersection. There are volunteers, clients and staff everywhere. People are moving and things are getting done and I am thankful I can see it.

Here, as I pause long enough to remove the blinders of busyness, I can see many are doing much to usher in GOD’S kingdom come here on earth.

Jesse Powell