25 December 2012

What Energy Crisis?

I sit and I look out the window from my third floor apartment and I am amazed at the amount of activity. I see people everywhere, hustling and bustling, coming and going. I see cars parking and groups of people eagerly unloading. I see others groups of people, just as eagerly, leaving and as they go their parking spaces being immediately consumed by awaiting cars. There are guys in the street directing traffic, their arms blurs of continual motion as they sport brown Carhart overalls and orange neon vest.

There is even a lady in pink coveralls giving an interview. The ground is white, covered with a fresh new blanket of snow. Just a few hours earlier, from this same window, I witnessed crews of men, as early as four in the morning, plowing snow in anticipation of the activity to come. The roar of the gas powered snow blowers drowned out their voices as they communicated through lip reading and sign language. Then there were the more ambitious workers taking a secret pride in manually using snow shovels while their counterpart, the guy driving the warm grey plow truck and wearing the smirk, pretended to be oblivious to their insinuations. In all, not one giving anything less than a Homeric
effort. All day long I’ve watched people, young and old, in some type of frenzy.

Wow, so much activity and so much effort, yet everyone seems to be operating from the same energy source. As I watch I can sense an invisible common denominator. I can’t help but take note of its root. It is Christmas time again at the Open Door Mission. People are coming together in the name of helping others, and though this is what we do here at the Mission all year long, there is something different at Christmas time. Christmas brings an indescribable spirit that envelopes the entire campus. For and at unbelievable hours people are working together all over the place. Employees and
volunteers alike are aglow with the spirit of GOD’S love. This glow can also be seen on the faces of the tireless parade of donors bringing gifts. Celebrating the birth of Christ by honoring him through showings of love and kindness to others generates life in itself. This energy and effort can not be attributed to human strength. Helping and loving others (altruism) does something for the soul that can not be achieved by any other means. When doing so we are no longer operating of our own strength but by the power of GOD.

Energy Crisis? What energy crisis? Why does the heathen rage? Why are wars being fought and so many lives lost over energy. Why is the survival of nations contingent upon obtaining and hoarding earth’s resource. Why does the heathen rage? Why can’t the heathen understand that giving, helping and loving others generate energy in and of itself. True energy does not come from the ground. The love of GOD and our fellow man generates enough energy to supply all the world’s needs.

Thank you LORD for allowing your children to see that there is an abundance of energy flowing from love.

Jesse Powell

21 December 2012

Just a neat God sighting today.

I had met with a man earlier in the week to complete his paper work to move into our new SRO units that are opening in January.  While we were completing the forms, he talked about his new job and the approaching cold and wet weather and that he did not have a good pair of boots and would be a few paychecks before he could afford.  So we went and looked to see what had been donated at our Timberlake Outreach Center, he looked on the shelves and I looked in storage.  It took me awhile, he wears a men's size ten and not too many shoes that size are donated, and when I got back with a few nines that I hoped he could stretch he was already gone.  I kept the shoes in my office until I saw him again, sad that I could not help him that night.

Two days later, as I came to work, I was excited to see a man that was very hard to get a hold of trying on boots.  I needed to see him to sign some forms.  I asked how it was going and he said that he was looking for boots and found this very nice pair of water proof boots, but they were too big - that they looked to be a size 10!   Oh my - I was now really excited. I told him that I had 9's in my office and I would love to trade for his too large of find - now he was excited!  The first man was to receive his boots tonight and I am sure he will be excited, too! No way could I or these men have orchestrated these events that both men received the correct winter work boots and I got paperwork done with a hard to reach man.  Make me smile - we know there are not coincidences - just you..

Thank you Jesus for the alignment!

Merry Christmas all!
Ronda Nelson
Housing Services Director, Open Door Mission / Lydia House

19 December 2012

A Widow's Might

Many of us have heard of the widow in biblical times that put in two mites at the treasury. But there are mighty widows giving sacrificially at Open Door Mission, even today.

Tis the season to be toy bagging as we are preparing to serve nearly 4,000 children in need this Christmas. A nice woman came to help sort and organize toys. As she was checking in, she mentioned that she had been doing so for nearly five years. It was their family tradition.

A sadness overcame her as she said her husband had recently passed away. This would be her first year serving alone. Right then she pulled out a prepaid cellphone complete with instruction manual and rechargeable card. She said, “This was my husband’s. It still has plenty of minutes on it. I’m sure he would want the Mission to have it.” Then, she pulled a check out of her pocket and said “He is not here for us to exchange gifts this year. So I made a check out to the Mission for the amount I figured we would have spent on each other. ”

She proceeded to check in and put away her belongings. She stayed for another two hours, serving in our warehouse. As much as I could tell she missed her husband, it seemed like being here and keeping up their tradition almost made her feel at home. Once she was done we thanked her and informed her that the phone was going to be put to great use. With her gift, residents would be allowed to call long distance for Christmas to reconnect with their families. She walked to her car and made the nearly hour long drive back to her home in Ashland, Nebraska.

I couldn’t help but think of the Scripture. “Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then a destitute widow came and threw in two mites. Jesus called His disciples said to them, ‘Surely, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.’” (Mark 12:41).

Whether or not she realized it, her attitude and actions had just ministered to us...For she gave of her livelihood that day. Though she didn’t say much, her strength and MIGHT to give had just spoken volumes.

Do you have an item you’ve considered donating? Maybe you’re not sure if anyone could use it or how it could help? We have many needs at Open Door Mission and could use your help to touch the lives of the hurting and broken. Your donation can change lives – and minister to us all in the process.

Merry Christmas!
Victoria Leuthold
Executive Assistant

17 December 2012

Thank you to our donors

I would like to take this opportunity  and thank our donors for their generosity during the Holidays and all year long. The out pouring of your care and concern for the hungry and homeless is appreciated greatly by those we serve.

I work in the Development Department and see first-hand your generosity through financial and gift-in-kind donations. Also, your time that is spent volunteering to help accomplish all the tasks around the Mission and your willingness to give above and beyond to our various drives, such as Turkey 'N' Fixin's and Project Santa. 

It is always a pleasure to hear from our faithful and generous donors. Thank you and God bless!


14 December 2012

Joy at Open Door Mission

I revel in the joy of working and volunteering at Open Door Mission. My work here allows me to interact with fellow employees, donors, volunteers, program clients, and emergency clients. I am in the presence of a mighty work of God.
As my fellow employees are about their tasks—they are also caring for each other. Hopefully, this is the case at your job. Joy abounds in me each day as I experience the living out of personal relationships with Jesus. It is a joy to come to work because I am in the presence of people God has drawn to Open Door Mission.
Our donors are incredible people. They believe in Open Door Mission; they desire to help the homeless and hungry; and they listen to the whispers of God and are providing for the increasing needs that God is bringing to us. When I get to be with or simply talk with them—joy abounds in me as they accept my thanks and explain how God has drawn them to us.
Our volunteers come from every demographic. They are a visible testimony to the truth that God calls everyone to Him! Each time I have an opportunity to work with them—joy abounds as I see the love they give and receive, I hear their excitement about helping others, and I know they have experienced the presence of God as God has drawn them to help the homeless and hungry.
Our emergency clients are people who are trying to survive. Many of them came and stood in line for 2-3 hours on a Saturday to sign up for Project Santa. We were working as fast as we could to sign them up, but it seemed to take forever. To a person they understood, patiently waited, and thanked me when the process was done. What a testimony to the presence of God that the people God is drawing to the Open Door Mission respond to His presence and all who are gathered are blessed.
Our program clients are amazing people. Their life’s journey has taken them places I do not even want to think about. They have heard the whisper of God and now are seeking refuge at Open Door Mission. We ask them to confront their demons, respond to God’s leading, and practice a godly life with us before they re-enter their lives. What an explosion of joy when a person commits themselves to Christ and begins their journey. What a sense of joy is felt each time this happens as heaven cheers, peace is granted, and hope restored.
What a blessing it is to be in the presence of God. Thank you all for making this possible. Please come and experience the joy of the presence of God; come and rejoice; come and be a blessing and be blessed; come and experience the joy I enjoy each day at work.

11 December 2012

Grace with Accountability

I am a minister of grace, or at least I am trying to be. Sounds impressive huh, but aren't all we Christians ministers of God's grace?? I certainly count myself among the biblically challenged (if that is in fact a word). I am not a mature Christian by any stretch, but rather a maturing Christian, trying every day to make the most out of the time and opportunity God has given me. I am a big picture, bottom line kind of guy, and one who believes very strongly that the Gospel is an amazingly simple message that we work very hard to complicate. Jesus' Gospel message is one of grace.
Grace is that thing we don't deserve, that "unmerited favor". We don't deserve it, can't earn it, and frankly have a hard time understanding and accepting it, which may explain why Christians throughout the ages have struggled to share it and extend it the way Jesus intended. We tend to lean more quickly and naturally toward judgment and self-righteousness. I fully admit to struggling pretty hard with it myself.
Here at the Mission, I wear a number of hats. Much of my training comes from years engaged in the trenches of life. Business, church, family, school, and of course life at Open Door Mission have all been rich training grounds. I like most, have learned some lessons far better than others. The lesson I have learned and continue to learn about grace though, is that while not complicated or contingent, grace is a beginning and not an end. Grace is free, but is not, and should not be cheap.
Here at the Mission, we are essentially in the hope and grace business! I watch our staff and volunteers serve with grace, offering hope to friends who have a very hard time experiencing either. My understanding of grace grows every day, as does my ability hopefully, to share and extend it myself. Serving at Open Door Mission though is teaching me a very important lesson about grace, and that is that such unmerited favor must be associated with appropriate responsibility and accountability to have any lasting value or impact. In my quest to be less biblically challenged (there is that word again), I study the Gospels, and the words of Jesus in particular. Jesus hung out with, and in fact searched out the most unsavory people he could find. He taught them, he saved them, he blessed them. Not once though can I find an instance where Jesus then sent someone back into the world instructing them to live as they like, and make the same mistakes. Jesus saved by grace, and then sent people back into the world to live a better life by taking responsibility for their actions.
We all need grace, but we need to understand the importance and necessity of responsibility and accountability that allows such a gift to bear fruit in our lives. I am getting to know a number of men who are embracing the grace of God. I have the honor and responsibility of walking with them as we learn and grow together through that grace and mutual accountability. These guys are terrific, and they too are becoming ministers of grace! My prayer for all of us is simply that by God's power we can embrace the simplicity of the Gospel and be the people and the ministers of grace that God wants us, and challenges us to be.
Thank you to everyone who prays for and supports the Open Door Mission! Please know that we are praying for you too!


Scot Morris

06 December 2012

Donations for life changing impact

I work in information technology here at the Open Door Mission.

The Re-Building Lives center is preparing to open and is buzzing with activity in preparation for the Grand Opening. As part of that preparation, I was tasked with constructing a computer lab so that our men can have access to computers and utilize the internet for research and to seek employment opportunities. The lab is to consist of twelve computers initially.

I took an inventory of all the components required it became sadly apparent that I was way short of the number of LCD monitors that were required to field twelve work stations for the men.

As I started constructing the computers in the back of my mind was the thought “where am I going to get the twelve LCD monitors that would be needed for the Lab?” It was much, too big for me. I had to trust in the promise of Philippians 4:19 “ And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

As the construction of the lab computers continued, the LCD monitors trickled into the Timberlake Outreach Center one at a time, from individuals who cared enough to donate. These blessed donors of at the Timberlake Outreach Center may have not known it at the time of their donation but their actions were fulfilling the promise made to all of us in Philippians 4:19 and I praise God for our donors because “they make it happen here” at the Open Door Mission.

As the Re-Building Lives center prepares to open, please join me in praying that all the work of our hands will produce changed lives and bring Glory to God.

Chris Brooks