30 June 2014

Such A Blessing


As I look around this campus, I see lives being changed.  I see and feel the presence of the Lord at work in each individual.  Some of the things I see Him giving people are: peace, love, comfort, security, joy, and encouragement.  What a blessing it has been to serve these people.


Carla Habrich
Lydia House, Day Support Worker

27 June 2014



                When I think of why I work at Open Door Mission I think of the word freedom.  Recently the Lord gave my church a word.  It simply said, “You are free”.  It’s amazing how many of us live in bondage.  At the mission I have found the freedom I have never known at any workplace.  Just being able to share Christ with others is freeing.  At the job I was at before coming to the Mission we were not allowed to say Merry Christmas.  Being able to acknowledge Christ as our Savior is freeing.

                The Lord wants to set us free in all areas of our lives.   I remember when I was battling depression.  I was in bondage and didn’t see a way out.  When I turned to the Lord, He freed me.  I don’t live in bondage anymore.  I feel the same way about working at Open Door Mission. I don’t work in bondage anymore.  I’ve had opportunity to pray with guests, read the word with guests, praise the Lord with guests, cry tears of joy with guests, and laugh with guests.   The best thing is to be able to serve our guests.  It’s been an honor to serve others and see their lives changed. 

I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments. Psalms 119:45 NLT


Tracy Epps

Case Manager, Lydia House

26 June 2014



I play a sport called paintball.  Much of it is about angles and timing.  You have to get the angle to see the person to eliminate them. It is all easy if no one looks at you and you don’t have adversity.  But when someone sees you are “at work” and begins to act against you, timing becomes especially key.  You have to time shots right, you have to have the right timing to peek out of the bunker (while being shot at),  and shoot the other player without getting hit by their paintballs.

This is just how ministry (life for a Christian) always exists.  We so many times think we will make leaps and bounds forward, unopposed!  We work the angles under our own timing and strength and we “push, push, push. “  We forget that we are OPPOSED!  Then enemy seeks to “put us out of the game” any time he can.  We try for the angle, we “work our magic,” and strive to hit the enemy.

The angles we seek and the timing all comes from the same place, Our Father.  Our angles don’t work and we pound ourselves against the walls. Our timing is bad and we are constantly knocked down by the enemy.  Our God is who places us in the right place, then spurs our action at the right time.  Not of our own power, understanding, timing, or sight are we able to do this.

This rings so true when a new Christian declares their allegiance to Christ.  God’s timing for their dive in the Christian life is not the same as ours.  Through meetings, scripture, and time I was able to introduce a woman to Christ (God’s timing).  Knowing how much attack she would be under, I tried to connect her with a mentor right away.  I was discouraged as she was falling for the enemy’s  tricks and plans.  She bought into his lies and “pleasures.”  But then the timing of God came again in a meeting.  God gave me the right angle in the conversation (one I didn’t think of) and it was now his time to show the blessing of the church.  The connection was made!

Don’t let the enemy’s  attacks frustrate you into doing things on your own timing to get your own angles.  GOD has made the way and established time. Work his angles and operate in his timing and push the enemy BACK!
Taylor Clinch
Open Door Mission's Permanent Supportive Housing Director

24 June 2014

See Ya Later

See Ya Later

By Kat Swartzfeger                                                          June 24, 2014 Rescue Blog


She abruptly told me that she didn’t want to talk about it.

Something was going on with Debra, but she shut down. This was sad, because each morning, we would chat about the day before and the day ahead. She was a special lady that had just made her share of mistakes that – combined with the rest of her life’s journey- landed her in a shelter. She had a sense of dignity that was magnetic. Not everyone can maintain that in this environment. Today, there was no hug and I was concerned for her.

This change in Debra lasted for several days. It was so hard to watch someone who had been such a joy to serve suddenly seem gripped in the cruel hands of despair. I only saw her for a few minutes each shift, so it was difficult for me to help her to the level that I would like, but I prayed. I longed for her to know the hope and peace that I knew.

One day, Debra brightened in her countenance and stated that she had located housing and would be leaving soon. She was almost back to her prior self, and it was so good to see her happy! I wished her well, and tried to accept the fact that she was leaving and I may never see her again; definitely a tough assignment. I always hope for these ladies to grow their wings and fly, but it comes with a cost.

It was about a week later, that I noticed a familiar name on our census form. It was Debra. My heart sunk, as I tried to imagine the situation in which she found herself that required her to return. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before I saw her and found out that her housing had fallen through. The last thing her pride needed was a trip back to Lydia House- or so she thought.

This time was different. Debra gave account for things that were happening in her life that indicated to me that God did not just love her, He was PURSUING her. Day by day, she would report something new and good in her life. I finally asked her if she knew how to become a Christian? She said she didn’t, so I went over the same basic steps that I would do with children and adults alike. Debra didn’t even realize it, but she was a believer.

Today, Debra told me that on the way to and from work- she talked about God with perfect strangers. She has a light in her eyes, and emits a newly-found assurance in her life. She’s going to church today, and taking a friend.  It is such an encouragement to see this huge change and be able to cheer on a sister in Christ.

We will now never have to say good-bye again. No matter what happens in Debra’s life, we’ll only have to say…..

See ya later.


***Name has been changed to protect identity.

21 June 2014

Consider it pure joy!

I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.
~Psalm 119:10
I am blessed to work at the Open Door Mission.  God brings me divine appointments on a daily basis.  This Sunday I had the opportunity to talk with a guest.  She recently started to go to church as she wanted to make her life right before God and wanted to grow in relationship with Him.  She was dating a guy who was also attending church with her, but she came to find out that he wasn't being honest with her about things he was doing, and she realized the relationship had to end.  That Sunday's church message was about following God whole-heartedly and not just following Him a little bit or letting God in some parts, but truly surrendering her life to God.
She said through that trial of ending that relationship, she wants to commit to her life God,...she wants to live rightly for God.  I saw this precious woman asking questions what it looks like to live for God on a daily basis, what it looks like to walk out our faith in everyday life.  This woman has found Jesus and He has won her.  I see wonderful things from this woman, I don't see her settling anymore for what she's been told, but striving for what Jesus is calling her to be.  At the end of the conversation, this woman told me how blessed she was.  It's amazing how God is working through the hearts of the women here at the Lydia House.  And how many of them are grateful and full of joy at the end of the day...not wanting more, but overflowing out of the love God has given them. 
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
~James 1:2-4
Trudy Woodward
Case Manager

20 June 2014

Summer Memories...Thanks to You

For most of us summer has great memories attached to it like exciting outings, fun in the water, and a week of camp.  For many of the children and youth at the Open Door Mission, these have been hopes rather than memories.  Summer can be especially stressful for the homeless and near-homeless.  Parents find themselves without childcare or a guaranteed breakfast and lunch during the week.  This added stress can often push a family even deeper into poverty.

In response to this need and with the partnership of YOU and the community, we are sending our Kids to Kamp this summer.  Because of your generosity, children and youth will be able to experience a week of traditional summer camp as well as an entire summer at Boys and Girls Club.

Activities include hiking, camping, s’mores, canoeing, baseball games, tomato growing, and fieldtrips to the zoo, Children’s Museum, UNO Planetarium, and so much more.  Alongside these great activities, parents can rest easy knowing that their child will receive three, nutritious meals a day all week long. 

We hope your summer is full of beautiful memories, thanks for making our kids’ summer beautiful as well.
Rachel Fisher
Children & Youth Director

19 June 2014


Program promotions are coming up on June 28th. While there are lots of preparations happening to make sure it all goes smoothly it has also been a time of reflection on the last several months.

Spring Graduation 2014
I have had the opportunity the last couple of weeks to help students as they prepare the testimonials they will share at graduation. It has been so encouraging to see the life transformations that have occurred. As I work with the students day to day I tend to forget where they were when they started. I only see the strong, faithful, recovered students. Many of them have overcome challenges that seemed impossible to overcome when they first began.  With lots of prayer and a bit of guidance from staff, students that once were ready to give up because of one more failure are now preparing to celebrate a huge victory at graduation. I pray to always keep this fact in the front of my mind. We have new program students starting every week. I pray to remember that these hurting, desperate souls will very soon be sharing their own stories of a transformed life!

I am excited about the upcoming graduation.  I know that through God, these Graduates will do amazing things. I am also excited for the newest students that are just beginning this life transforming process.
Vickie Gregorio
Learning Center Director

18 June 2014

Well Done Good and Faithful Servant

My name is Diane Ward. I work in the Emergency Day room for the Garland Thompson Center.
One night in February 2014 I was in Atlantic Iowa working for a Home Health Company. I had pulled up to this house at 7:00 pm ,exhausted, tired, and I had 3 more patients to see, before I could even think about going home. This was not uncommon for this company to over book their nurses.  I had pulled up to this home. I stopped and I began to cry. I stated," JESUS you need to intervene NOW! " I no sooner got those word out of my mouth and Cheryl from the Lydia House called wanting to see me for an interview.
The next thing I knew I was working at The Open Door Mission's Garland Thompson Men's Center on the Emergency men's side. I was afraid at first ,but I began to see the men not the illness. I was able to use the resources that are provided to help a gentleman with schizophrenia.  He begin to talk to me. Then I made sure he got the proper medication he needed  and allow the medication to work. I helped guided him to call and fill out work applications. He was eligible for general assistance. He is now  in his own apartment working and is caring himself with confidence, and knows the Lord.
I believe the Lord would say, "Well done good and faith servant." to all the people at the Open Door Mission and all the supportive service.
In Jesus Arms,
Diane Ward

15 June 2014

Jenny...Called to Volunteer

Out of everyone working at the Open Door Mission... I have the best job. As a member of the Volunteer Department, it's my privilege to work alongside hundreds of volunteers from all over the Omaha area. Many visit the mission as part of a church group or activity, leaving tired, satisfied, and with a better understanding of the problems homelessness and addiction pose in our community. Some leave it at that. Some, like Jenny, leave determined to come back.

 Several years ago, a Filipino mother of 6 came several times to volunteer in our Timberlake Outreach Center. Life interfered, as it usually does, but that seed stayed planted. Last July, with all of her children grown, it bloomed. God answered Jenny’s prayers for direction with a simple instruction: to serve the homeless. She immediately thought of the Mission, and promptly showed up for orientation and a tour. On that tour she passed through the kitchen, and as far as I’m aware she hasn’t left yet. Showing up at 9:00am four or five days a week and seldom leaving before 6:00 or 7:00pm, Jenny spends more time serving here than many people do at their jobs. I am firmly convinced that she has made it her life’s mission to feed everyone she encounters until they can’t eat any more, then give them cookies.

 It’s volunteers like Jenny that allow us to make the kind of impact we do on the community, volunteers with a God-given heart for the homeless and an intentional commitment to serving in whatever capacity God calls. Without them, without the people who give of their time and their resources to support us, Open Door Mission would not exist.

Seth Hendrickson
Volunteer Department

14 June 2014

Just A Sack Lunch...And so much More

One of my favorite things about my job is participating in our Streets of Omaha program. For those of you who may not know about this program, let me briefly explain. Each Friday, we have groups of volunteers come to make 1,000 or more sack lunches. After making the lunches, a small group of volunteers deliver those sack lunches around the city.
 We have an ever-growing list of people struggling to make ends meet who have requested sack lunches, and we are able to get to each house about once a month. It's always an eye-opener for many volunteers, and even though I lead the group regularly, I always learn or notice something new. 
There's always a mix of new and regular volunteers who fill the van. Lisa Harrison is among the regulars. She has been doing the program for nearly 15 years, and it's simply inspiring to watch her work. She cares so much about the people living on the streets and knows most of them by name. She is always sure to pray for people and empathize with them. She's been doing this program for so long that she seems fearless. 
I was reminded this past week of how often I am more concerned with my to-do lists than caring for people. Thankfully, God meets me where I am, and his Spirit convicts me of the areas I need to grow further in. I thank Him for people like Lisa who are such beautiful examples of exactly the things I need to learn. 

--Erica Julsen
Volunteer Coordinator 

12 June 2014

If You Can't Take the Heat...PRAY!

It's been said, "If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen." Here at the Open Door Mission, I think the saying should be "If you can't walk by faith, stay out of the kitchen." 

Each new day brings a new opportunity to have our faith challenged and stretched. A great example that happened recently was coming in and realizing that we were out of canned fruit to serve our guests for dinner. I spoke the words to the team, “Hey guys, we’re out of fruit, so pray.” Later that day, Joe (our delivery guy) was making his normal pickups of donated goods. Without any communication to or from the kitchen, a manager at one of his stops asked him, “Hey, could you use some fruit?” Joe had no idea we were short on fruit, but wasn’t about to turn down a donation. 75 cans of fruit arrived on our loading dock just in time for dinner. Praise the Lord!

Serving up fruit!

God's timing is perfect!

Laura Keen
Kitchen Director

11 June 2014

Stuck in the Past or Moving Forward?

My role as Admissions Director is to ensure that we have all the right paper work in place to meet Open Door Mission needs and remain in compliance with our investors. But my job is not just paper, the Admissions department meets with all guests coming to live at Open Door Mission.  During the short time that we meet, we have opportunity to hear the guest's story and to offer God's encouragement and pray with them.  These meetings are the best part of my day.
And then there is the paper part of my day.  With so many files and reports, we always need to be aware of what we are keeping and how we are storing to be sure that all information is kept private, backed up, and securely stored in ways that make the information meaningful.  Until recently, I had not thought how this process of 'storing' can relate to our personal lives.  Two big events are occurring in my life that have have caused me to examine all that we hold onto and it's value.  I am super downsizing my life to a tiny apartment and my father is passing away. Over the last months, as I go through his belongings in South Dakota and my own here in Iowa. I see our stored stuff in two categories: memories and to-do projects.  When I realized this, I had that light bulb moment that this could be a reflection of life.  Our accumulation of life experiences can move us forward or they can get us stuck.  A life can be stuck in the past memories of long ago good times that will not be again or lives stuck from past memories of shame and hurt.  Lives can also be stuck from 'someday' thinking, 'Someday when ____ happens, I will do _____'.  Being stuck can rob the meaningfulness from a life.  

Stuck is the condition of most Open Door Mission guest's lives.  But just as I purge through my father's and my personal belongings, keeping the meaningful to pass on - tossing the old clutter, Open Door Mission's Life-Changing programs teach God's scriptures to release a person's heart and mind from the past, opening up opportunities to live each day fully in God's promises.  What a joyous way to live!
Ronda Nelson
Admissions Director

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2 (NIV)