30 September 2015

The Mission Field

     My name is Sam Minturn, and I have the honor of working as a Daytime Support Worker at the Garland Thompson Men's Center.  I have been a part of the Open Door Mission team since January 2015, and have felt right at home since day one.  It's such a blessing to work with the men on a daily basis and to see how God works in each of their lives.
     My favorite part about the ministry field at the Mission is that I get to pray with each of the men on a daily basis, and share the hope that we have in Christ Jesus.  The Garland Thompson Men’s Center is such a special place to do ministry, because we get to see people at their lowest and most vulnerable points in their lives, then share the love of Christ in everything we do.
Sam gets to minister to men like Dalon each day, sharing Christ's love
and the truth of the Gospel with them.
     I have grown many great friendships with staff, volunteers, men in our life-changing programs, and guests that I will cherish for a lifetime, and have watched countless men dedicate their lives to Christ and be baptized.  I hope to continue to be a part of this ministry team for many years to come, because I truly feel fulfilled in the Spirit and blessed to be around such a dedicated, selfless, and passionate team.  I would like to end with a short passage that helps encourage me through some of the more difficult and challenging times in life:
"Being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might, so that you may have great patience and endurance, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of saints in the kingdom of light." –Colossians 1:11-12

Sam Minturn
Garland Thompson Men’s Center Support Worker

29 September 2015

Remembering Our Roots

     While on vacation over Labor Day, I was able to visit a sister rescue mission in Kearney NE: CrossRoads Rescue Mission.  As I toured the Mission, I couldn’t help but compare it to Open Door Mission.  It is a very nice Mission with lots of room to grow in many ways, and it is serving the Kearney area with a variety of services.  The staff members are clearly dedicated to their work to share the Gospel and serve the hungry and homeless with compassion.  However, I was struck by the size of this Mission, and the many programs Open Door Mission has that they are missing.  When I got back in the car to head home the Lord reminded me that this Mission has only been in Kearny for three and a half years, opening my eyes to a new and wonderful way to look at this fledgling mission…what was Open Door Mission 60 years ago?
     On November 1, 1954, Jerry Dunn and Garland Thompson started the Mission as a store front, targeting the men in need on the streets downtown.  They provide the Gospel message, food, and lots of coffee.  They soon had to move to a larger building downtown.  Hundreds of men began to come through their doors seeking nutritious meals, safe shelter, and hope. Within five years the need was so great that an auxiliary was formed to help coordinate holiday events, improve housekeeping, and raise financial support.
     Over these past 60 years, there have been ups and downs for Open Door Mission, but God has been, is, and will continue to be faithful.  He has blessed us with generous faithful donors, tireless volunteers, employees with a heart for the homeless, and guests…lots of guests seeking hope, seeking salvation, respect, and acceptance for how God sees them.  At Open Door Mission it all comes together on today’s growing campus, but it is important to remember that this all started with a small store front, compassion to help, and prayer.
     If we are rooted in God and Christ’s love, trust the Lord to provide stay in His will (not what we think His will is), and pray for daily guidance, this dream started 60 years by Dunn and Thompson will continue to flourish.  So my drive home that weekend was filled with prayers for Open Door Mission and CrossRoads Mission, that we may never lose sight of what God has called us to do.  Large or small, each person can be a blessing to those in need.

Maggie Cope
Community Relations Coordinator

28 September 2015

The Frustration of an Oyster

     I recently read this sermon on patience by Bryan Loritts of The Summit Church:
     One of the most troubling things that can happen to an oyster is to have lodged within its confines a tiny particle grain of sand.  Usually when this happens, the oyster is able to find and expel the sand.  There are times, however, when try as it might, the oyster struggles to get rid of this grain of sand.  When the oyster finds itself unable to change this situation, it feels frustrated and exacerbated.  At its wits end, the oyster does the only thing it can think to do: it locates the grain of sand and begins to coat it over and over with a fluid that eventually calcifies.  The result?  Something we pay top dollar for, a pearl.  So at the end of the day, a pearl is the fruit of a frustrated oyster.  Without grains of sand, without irritation, without frustration, without exacerbation, there would be no pearls.  God is relentlessly pursuing you, and He wants to make a pearl out of your life!
     Here at Open Door Mission, God is making pearls!  When we think of pearls, we often don't think of the work behind what it takes to create those beautiful jewels.  But the pearl is only created because of irritation, frustration and exacerbation.  Often God uses those moments in our lives to create pearls.  I see this all the time in our guests’ at the Permanent Supportive Housing lives.  They find themselves in a situation they cannot change themselves and often feel frustrated.  So God brings them here, they work hard, and (with God's help) create a pearl.  
     What a blessing it is to work at Open Door Mission and every day see our guests working to create pearls.  How great our God is that He cares about every detail in our lives.  Our God truly makes beautiful things.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  –Ecclesiastes 3:11

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

25 September 2015

Outrageous Generosity

     I enjoy working in Open Door Mission’s Lydia House.  The best part is hearing people’s stories and getting to grow alongside them as they overcome their circumstances.
     Most recently, I was stunned when one of our ladies just continued to ask if we needed help, which is not something a lot of our guests do.  Just the other day she out did herself: we had an intake we could not find new clothes for.  As we were searching for clothing, this woman went through her things and gave her some of her own clothes.  Later, she also offered up her other odds and ends, things that she did not want to keep anymore.  How amazing to watch her bless this woman she had just met!
     I just could not help but see Jesus in this woman as she, a homeless woman herself, gave away her own items to another person in need. It was one of the most beautiful things I have seen at the Mission in all my time working here.

Monica McBee
Family Support Worker

23 September 2015

Heal the Sick

Kate works side by side the Free Health & Healing
Clinic's many wonderful medical volunteers.
     Let me take a moment to highlight Open Door Mission’s new Free Health & Healing Clinic.  This is an facility on campus which provides preventative medical care for homeless men, women, and children.
     This clinic runs on volunteer service.  We are blessed to have community support from DocOn, local private practices, Clarkson Nurse Practitioners, the Visiting Nurses, and nursing student from many area colleges.
     Donations of medical supplies and over the counter medicines allow the clinic to provide complete care to patients all in one location.  To find out how you or your private practice (if you are a physician) can help please contact me at (402) 829-1541.
     Come see volunteers doing the work of our Savior Jesus Christ:
And when Jesus went out, He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.  – Matthew 14:14

Kate Fischer, LIMHP
Free Health & Healing Clinic Director

22 September 2015

El Grito Parade

Ten volunteers represented Open Door Mission in the El Grito Parade.
     This past weekend, Open Door Mission participated in the Nebraska Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s El Grito Parade.  I was blessed with the opportunity to drive an Open Door Mission van during the parade and work with volunteers who came to walk in the parade.
     We had ten volunteers participate in the parade, and each was so excited to represent the Mission.  For many, it was their first time walking in a parade.  We all had the opportunity to meet new people and make new connections.  Many spectators were interested in learning more about how Open Door Mission serves their community.
     This was a great opportunity to share with a new part of our community all about our mission, which is to provide basic needs and life-changing programs for the homeless and needy.

Alexandria Ewing
Director of Community Relations

21 September 2015

Inside Relapse Prevention

When guests are ready to put in the work and make changes in their
lives, amazing things happen.  Hope for lasting change is inspired.
     My job at Open Door Mission is to provide mental health and recovery services such as therapy and recovery classes for the men and women in our life-changing programs.  This is the practical outworking of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I have been doing this for sixteen years. 
     Working with people to help them recognize patterns of their choices and actions is at the heart of relapse prevention.  There was one guest I worked with, named Chris, who was determined to do things the right way.  Yet, he deceived himself by working so hard to do things right that he was unable to enjoy his successes.  This pressure and stress only set him up for relapse.  Chris needed to learn to process his emotions, which is a key factor in being able to experience the fullness of life. 
     Working with Chris on humility, honesty, and forgiveness of himself and others, meant addressing his fears, hurts, and shame.  This process is more than an intellectual exercise of labeling feelings and behaviors.  It takes repetition and working through the emotional baggage of the past.  It is dealing with the “conditioning effect,” where we automatically react to certain circumstances.  Relearning takes time and intentionality for healing and growth. 
     Please pray for the men and women in our programs, that they will apply the truths and skills presented in our classes each day.

John Lindsey
Care Coordinator

18 September 2015

New Brother in Christ

     A few days ago, one of the Rebuilding Lives Center guests offered to pray for me, and afterward told me that he had just asked Jesus into his heart.
     We have been discussing the differences between a relationship with Jesus verses believing in His existence for the past year, and each month his heart has grown softer and softer toward the Gospel.
     On his walk into town today, a stranger walked with him.  The stranger said the Holy Spirit wanted them to walk and talk together.  During this conversation, the stranger led my friend in a prayer to accept the Lord as his savior!
     Hallelujah!  Now we have a new brother in Christ!

Teresa Leishman
Case Manager

17 September 2015

From Broken to Happy

     Escaping verbal and mental abuse from her father, Angela ran away from home at age 15.  She dropped out of school at 16 and adopted a party lifestyle, addicted to meth, marijuana, and alcohol.  Her attitude sent her to  juvenile detention.  Soon she began a cycle of being in and out of juvenile detention centers, group homes, and eventually jail.  
     She would get a job, use drugs again, lose the job and her apartment, and live with relatives or friends.  In 2005, Angela met her fiancĂ©.  Today, they have three children together: ages eight, three, and one.  Her fiancĂ© is currently two years into serving a five-year prison sentence, so Angela is raising her family alone.
     Angela also sold drugs, which she sees as an addiction to the fast money.  Charged with possession, she ended up going to jail once again.  After leaving jail, she came to Open Door Mission while her two children stayed with her brother.  Her time was brief, however, as she left to live with her mother as she needed bed rest for her third pregnancy.  Her second stay at the Mission changed her life.  Angela is now in the New Life Recovery Program, pursuing her GED, and watching her children flourish.  
     “For me, I’ve been blessed in seeing my faith in God grow extremely.  In all I do I want to please my Father,” she said.  “I have that fear of the Lord.  The more I read the Bible, the more I change.”  Although it’s difficult balancing the day-long recovery program while caring for her children.  The program has taught Angela self-discipline, time management, and obedience to God.      
     As Angela nears graduation, her last step will focus on finding a job.  “For my family, I want my kids to see me succeed.  I’m going to have a career.  I’m going back to school and will strive for that career.”
When she asks her children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” she wants them to have a role model and dreams of their own careers.  Angela wants to one day own a house and settle down.  
     Chaotic, sad, and broken is how Angela describes her life before coming to Open Door Mission.  Today the word is happy.  “I feel happy,” she said.  “I never imagined saying that word.  It’s a real happiness.  It’s awkward to feel something you’ve never felt.”  She’s looking forward to sitting around the table this Thanksgiving, holding hands with her children.    
     For those needing help from Open Door Mission, she advises taking the first step.  “Right when you walk in you feel the Holy Spirit,” she said.  “Have an open heart and mind.  You won’t be disappointed.”

Ann Freestone
Open Door Mission Volunteer

16 September 2015

Baked Potato Soup

     Open Door Mission’s Ladle of Love Festival is fast approaching, along with the cold weather that is just around the corner; let me share a family favorite recipe.  This is sure to warm hearts, fill stomachs, and put a smile on faces!  And be sure to purchase your Ladle of Tickets soon!

4 large baking potatoes
2/3 cup margarine
2/3 cup flour
6 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped onions
12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 1/4 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
8 ounces sour cream

  1. Wash potatoes, prick with a fork, and bake at 400 for 1 hour, or until done.  Let potatoes cool.  Then peel them and cut in cubes.
  2. Melt margarine in heavy saucepan over low heat.
  3. Add flour, stirring until smooth.
  4. Add milk, stirring constantly until mixture is thick and bubbly.
  5. Add potato cubes, salt, pepper, onions, bacon, and cheese and cook until heated through.  Set aside some bacon and cheese for later.
  6. Stir in sour cream.
  7. Decorate each bowl of soup with the bacon and cheese reserved earlier.

Lynnette Walter
Development Associate

15 September 2015

Christ be all Around Us

     I love it when I receive emails reflecting Open Door Mission staff standing in the gap.  Even last night when I was leaving the Garland Thompson Men’s Center, I saw one of our Case Managers, Greg, with his hands on a couple's shoulders, praying with them.  All heads bowed. 
     God is at work in the lives of our team and those we serve.  He is always drawing us closer to Him. 
     A couple of days ago I was reading in Colossians 1:28:
"He [Christ] is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ."
     This verse comes near the end of a passage where the Apostle Paul has been describing the person and work of Jesus Christ.  He celebrates the power of Christ as creator and sustainer of all (Col 1:16-17), as greater than all human and supernatural powers (Col 1:16-17), as Redeemer from the penalty and power of sin (Col 1:21-23), and as the very image and fullness of God (Col 1:15, 19).  How should we respond to Christ’s supremacy?  Certainly with hands raised in praise, but also on our knees in surrender.  He who is Lord of all deserves to be Lord of all in us (Col 1:18).  Those who make Him Lord of all experience His sanctifying work, becoming fully mature in Christ (Col 1:28).
     This is my goal: to become fully mature in Christ so that I can impact others for Christ.  Thank you for your prayers and support as we begin this busy fall season.  Please pray that God will take our team to a new level of adoration and submission to the all-surpassing greatness of Christ.  In this way we can be used by God to serve Him and others.

Candace Gregory

14 September 2015

More Than Just a Job

What a blessing to do ministry alongside your friends!
     Not everyone is called to ministry, but employees at Open Door Mission are.  Daily, staff follow the call God has placed on their lives to minister to the hungry and homeless by going to work.  Open Door Mission cares for the Heartland’s neediest neighbors through meeting their basic needs, and sharing the Good News of Christ.  Each employee is considered to be in full-time ministry.
     If you are looking for more than just a job, join us at Open Door Mission and help minister to the hungry and homeless men, women and children here in the Heartland.
     Currently, Open Door Mission has over 100 employees.  We in the Human Resources Department care about the mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of our employees.  We invested in our employees, with the goal of seeing them grow spiritually and professionally.  Along with that, we care deeply about finding individuals who are just the right fit for these open positions.
     There are several job openings at this time.  Click here for more information about any of the following positions:

  • Bilingual Homeless Prevention Specialist  (40hrs/days)
  • Bilingual Guest Services Coordinator  (40hrs/days)
  • Lydia House Family Support Worker  (40hrs/evenings)
  • Garland Thompson Men’s Center Support Worker  (40hrs/split shift)
  • Receiving Clerk  (40hrs/days)
  • Senior Help Desk Support  (40hrs/days)

Amy Buss
Human Resources Director

11 September 2015

Doing Life Together

     I am a new member of the Open Door Mission community.  At the end of June, I joined a great team of Support Workers in the Garland Thompson Men’s Center, and over the last two months I have experienced a variety of new things.
     The verse that has stuck with me the most during these first few months has been this:
“Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well.”  --1 Thessalonians 2:8
     It has been exciting and challenging to explore what this means when serving one hundred men on a nightly basis.  The temptation can come to serve them out of duty of the Gospel or of my job, loving them in that way.  However, this lacks the joy and love that God desires for us when we serve our community.  So the blessing comes in actually getting to know these men, seeing them become more than just the people I work with.  They have become the men I get to share life with every evening.

Coby Fisher
Garland Thompson Men’s Center Support Worker

10 September 2015

Be a Burden Bearer

Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens…”
     What does it mean to bear one another’s burdens?
     As an overnight Family Support Worker in the Lydia House, I am given many opportunities by God to bear people’s burdens. 
     Some of the burdens our guests carry include separation from their children, trying to overcome addiction, struggling with overcoming, trying to find a job to support their families, dealing with mental illness that limits them in many areas of life, seeing a family member or friend active in their addiction, being powerless to help that friend, facing incarceration because of their choices, and etc. The list goes on and on and on.
Staff and residents find joy in community together.
     Sometimes it is very heartbreaking to see God’s children hurting so deeply and so badly. But as I sit with, pray for, and minister the love of Jesus to them, I am so thankful to God for this place where the hurting, lost, and broken can come and find rest for their souls.  Every day they are given the chance to come to know the One who has compassion on them and wants to meet them right where they are at!
     God lives in me, He is present in this place!  Because of His love, grace, mercy and compassion on these people, they can place their trust in Him and walk through their dark valleys knowing they are not alone.  He is walking with them to set them free and make them whole again.  Hallelujah!
     What an honor to serve the Lord in this place, in this capacity, for His honor and for His glory.
     So today, ask God whose burden you may bear, to bring relief to someone weighted down by sin or circumstances out of their control.  Be a light in their darkness so you can point them to the Cross and to the the One who is their Hope and Salvation.
     Be compassion in action for Jesus today!

Overnight Support Worker

09 September 2015

Hope and a Future

     What I know to be true is that God loves and values every single person.  I get to witness the outpouring of His love on every person who walks through Open Door Mission’s doors. Christ’s immeasurable love shines through each life story I hear, hugs I see between new found friends, happy looks in the children’s eyes as they play in the Bright Space, the glow in people’s faces after passing a GED test, and much more.
     As part of my job, I get to read the autobiographies of New Life Recovery Program members.  This is one of my favorite parts of working in the Learning Center!  Many people who go through this program have faced numerous obstacles in their lives, but it is their great resilience which has brought them this far.  Here is a little taste of the beautiful endings of autobiographies from some of the program participants that bring tears to my eyes, a smile to my face, and praise to our Lord Jesus Christ who makes it all possible:
Three of our Lydia House ladies, experiencing the Joslyn Art Museum.
     “Wherever God takes me at this point, I am ready to follow. Nobody is worried about me because I am here, I am safe.  For that, for the Lydia House, I will be eternally grateful.”
      “I am thankful the Lord has given me the ability with nothing in my hands, kind of like David and Goliath. All I know is his mercies are new every day.  That His grace is all I need.”
     “This is a beginning of a new life, my life.”
     “You are my Alpha in the morning and my Omega in the evening.  God, I could do nothing without You so I want to give You all the praise and glory that I can in this moment, that whomever reads this story will know that if it had not been for You coming to my lowest place in my life I would not be here today to give my testimony of Your grace and mercy. Thank You, Father God.”
      “Now in these chapters it is about becoming the best possible man I may become, and I am looking to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, to make that a possibility.  That is how I would like this part of my life to be remembered.”
     “But I was like the man by the pool everyone kept passing by.  Then God sent His Holy Spirit to talk to me, thank You Jesus.  This is where one day I just said I’m going to start living for God, Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ.”
     “I hope to have a family of my own, that happily-ever-after storybook finish. Who knows? Anything is possible with God.”
     “The End…A New Beginning.”
     These conclusions all have something in common…hope.  God turns chaos into order, mends broken relationships, uplifts, encourages, forgives, and restores.  He gives us a hope and a future.
     “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

Anna Razamazova
Learning Center Director

08 September 2015

Workings of the Holy Spirit

     To take a break on Labor Day, some staff and I from the Garland Thompson Men’s Center took 34 of our guys in programs to Calvary Christian Church to play dodgeball and basketball.  Little did we know the plans of the Holy Spirit.  Five of those men made a decision to be baptized right then.  His wonders never cease to amaze me.
     Please pray for these men, as they begin their journey towards knowing Christ.

Pat McKernan
Garland Thompson Men’s Center Director

04 September 2015

This is What it is ALL About!

     I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Open Door Mission has some of the best volunteers around!
     This past Saturday, we held our Back to School Bash event, and hundreds of families from the community came to receive gently used clothing, books, shoes, toys, housewares, bedding, and more.  It was such a great day because not only did we serve hundreds of families, but we also had hundreds of volunteers with servant’s hearts come to help!
     As I was greeting a new shift of volunteers during this event, I watched a young gentleman volunteer to carry an extremely FULL bag of items for some community guests.  He walked alongside a man and woman, and I could see they were chatting.  When they arrived at the vehicle, I saw the volunteer motion to the couple, and they kind of nodded and shrugged their shoulders a little.  After putting the bag in the back seat of the truck, and I saw the volunteer’s hands moving while he was talking to them.  The man and woman began nodding and set their stuff down on the ground.  Then this volunteer grabbed their hands and prayed for them!   This seriously brought tears to my eyes.
     Praise God for His good and faithful servants that come to love on others because Jesus loves us!  This volunteer happily carried items to these people's truck and then he did the best thing that any of us can do for anyone: he prayed for them.  Right there.  May we all be so filled with the Holy Spirit that it shines through like He does in this volunteer, and may we always be BOLD in telling others about Jesus!

Amy Harvey
Volunteer and Partner Director

03 September 2015

Back to School Bash a Success

     Thousands were served in the name of JESUS on Saturday, August 29!  Lines wrapped around campus before 6 a.m. for our Back to School Bash.  Thank you to all of our volunteers and supporters for helping prevent homelessness in the Heartland.  So many families received much needed items for their homes, and we couldn't have done it without YOU!  Our neediest neighbors were blessed in a huge way today!
     Please pray that our next community outreach event, the Community Picnic, will be just as much of a success.  If you are interested in coming to serve on Saturday, September 19, click here to sign up for your shift today!

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

02 September 2015

Gap Year Vagabond

Cooper checked out the Old Market for dinner, after serving at Open
Door Mission for the afternoon.
     We recently had the pleasure of having a volunteer come in from Southern California to serve at the Timberlake Outreach Center.  Well wishes, Cooper, on your journey to volunteer in every state in the country.  Thank you for serving at Open Door Mission!
     Here is a snippet of his story, and heart behind his adventure:

     I graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo this past May, and will be entering medical school in the fall of 2016.  During my Gap Year I want to do something meaningful.  I want an experience that will help grow me as a future doctor, as a man, and most importantly as an American.  So I decided to create - The Gap Year Vagabond.
     My goal is to volunteer in every state over the next half of a year.  I will be working with organizations that care for our neediest neighbors, such as homeless shelters, women’s shelters, clinics, whatever else I can find.  I wanted to try to do something that no one else has done. 
     I'm not sure if I am supposed to share all of my thoughts along the journey.  I also don’t know what the standard practice is for this type of thing, and I don't really want to look up how other people do it either. I figure doing that will cost whatever originality I have. 
     I don't think that my thoughts are important enough or wise enough to invade your screens.  I'm not a great photographer, and I have only an okay camera.  But I will work to bring you from your chair to the projects of the Dominican Republic, to the serenity of Walden Pond, to the misty sunrise on Going to the Sun Road, to the secluded waterfalls along the Columbia River Highway, to the Grand Canyon, to the construction sites of Habitat for Humanity, to women's shelters, and to medical tents.
     I will try my best to bring you with me.

This blog was adapted from Cooper, also known as the Gap Year Vagabond’s, Facebook page.  To read the original, click here.  To view his website, click here.

01 September 2015

Ladle of Love

     Thank you to the women at the Lydia House from the New Life Recovery Program for painting pictures that will decorate the walls for our upcoming Ladle of Love Festival.  We’ve been working on many different types of artwork for a few weeks now, and it is such a blessing to watch these women express their creativity.  These pieces truly are beautiful.
     Save the date for Sunday, October 18th, when you can come to see their beautiful artwork showcased all throughout the Garland Thompson Men's Center (2705 North 20th Street East, Omaha, NE).  And while you’re there, taste delicious soups and breads prepared by area Chefs, vote for your favorite “soup of the day,” and enjoy live Cajun-style music by the Prairie Gators.  Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door.
     Reserve your spot at the Ladle of Love Festival today! 

Celeste Norman
Events Coordinator