29 January 2016

Becoming a Man of God

“How can a man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to Your word.  With [his] whole heart [he] seeks you; let [him] not wander from Your commandments!”  -Psalm 119:9-10
     The Lord gives clear instructions in His Word on how to live a godly life.  But without guidance, how is a man supposed to learn these ways?  Gary grew up without direction, never learning the importance of the future, of being independent, of being a man.
     He was surrounded by bad influences—a brother in prison, parents using drugs, and a place to stay without any expectations of him.  Throughout high school, Gary was convicted of several misdemeanors, even kicked off the football team for using pot.  He did have dreams of joining the service after high school, but it never happened.
     Gary's mother was in the hospital with pneumonia, close to death.  His father fled to New York with his new girlfriend, abandoning both his wife and his sons.  “Everyone else can support themselves—why can’t you?” were the last words Gary heard from his father.
     Without the means to support himself, Gary took to the streets.  He began to drink heavily, and was banned from a couple of programs in the area.  His pride got in the way of receiving real help, and Gary distanced himself more and more from his friends, too ashamed to admit the truth.
     “It got to where I had no confidence, no dignity, no respect for myself, and no happiness,” Gary said.  “I was sleeping outside in the mud, but where could I shower?  Down by the railroad, I would just sleep on the street, holding my book bag, and praying.”
     To fill the time, Gary would walk all around Omaha, sometimes taking the train in between cities in the area.  One day the train took him to Open Door Mission.
     “I knew enough was enough,” said Gary.
     He felt safe the moment he entered Open Door Mission’s doors.  Now, having joined the New Life Recovery Program, Gary sees becoming homeless as a blessing.  God used his time living outside to transform him, make him new.  Due for a Program Promotion soon, Gary can’t believe how far God has brought him.  The Director of Men’s Ministry even baptized Gary at Calvary Christian Church.
     “I still have a long ways to go, but I know where I’m going,” Gary said.  “I know that God’s leading me.”

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

28 January 2016

Respect and Dignity

     I want to take a moment to say, “Thank you!” to the team working in the Garland Thompson Men’s Center Emergency Services.
     Each staff member working in this area treats the men who come in for food and shelter with respect and dignity, both through their words and their body language.  I’ve witnessed several staff members take time to answer the men's questions during a house meeting, and they always answer with an emphasis on the need for Christ in their lives.  They’re not afraid to express love for the men.  I know these staff members are great listeners, as after a house meeting, men line up to speak with them.
     I am very grateful for the Godly men that are on our team, and for the lives that are being impacted for the Kingdom.

Candace Gregory

27 January 2016

Breaking the Cycle

     Recently I was speaking to a donor, and she gave me the Quote of the Day:

"I am calling to make a donation.  I am sending my check this year and every year till the day I die.  Open Door Mission helped me when I was younger and didn't have a place to live.  It's my turn to help needy people.”  – Carol

    What a blessing it is to work somewhere with a mission to Break the Cycle.  I love seeing God’s work here!

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

26 January 2016

Katie's Story Part 4

      After I was released from the hospital, my mother let me stay at her place for a few days.  But she knew I needed to get into a program.  One day she asked if I was ready and I said, “Yes.”  Deep down, I was terrified.  She walked me into Open Door Mission, and I had no clue that this action would change my life forever.
     I was very ill, pacing, throwing up, and not eating—I was in the middle of detox.  But the staff at Open Door Mission accepted me all the same.  They were by my side the whole time.
     One particularly rough morning I saw a staff member.  She joked that I looked, “Grey and deathly.” 
     “Can I pray for you?” she kindly asked. 
     I had my doubts, but was desperate for anything that would help.  So we prayed, and for the first time in my life I listened to the Lord.  Later on in the day, I felt no form of detoxing at all.  I was actually hungry.  How could this be?  I was hardly able to move this morning, but now I felt no effects at all.  This had to be God. 
     Soon I was feeling better and finishing the detoxing process.  I became myself again.  My Child Protective Services workers saw the change in me, and allowed me to get my boys back permanently.  It was such a relief when my case was closed, because I no longer had someone watching over me.  I had my life under control, and I was going to fight for my kids no matter what.
     The last I heard from my husband, he is currently homeless.  I pray that someday he will find the will and understanding of what life can be like without drugs.  He is a great father, and our boys love him so much.  God works in mysterious ways.  If my husband were to find his way to God, I’m sure He would lead him the way He led me.

Former Open Door Mission Resident

25 January 2016

Katie's Story Part 3

     “Where would you like me to drop you off?”  my mother asked.
     “Anywhere.  You could careless anyway,” I stated.
     “You know I love you, and in the long run you will understand why I have to do this,” she replied.
     “Understand what? I just lost my kids and now you’re just leaving me on the streets to just figure it out?” I shouted.
     “You have to learn to fall before you can get back up,” my mother replied softly.
     “Whatever, you just hate me,” I muttered.
     At that time I hated her.  I couldn’t understand how she could drop us off on the street and leave without worrying about us one bit.  I didn’t understand that this was tough love.
     We asked my mother to drop us off in a nearby parking lot.  So we were left and told that we were loved.
     Although my husband’s family was furious with him for losing our boys, they gave him a place to stay.  However, I wasn’t welcome.  He chose to go, and I was abandoned to forage for myself.  I was lost, it was cold.  I had no one but my drug dealer “friends.”  No food, no shower, no warmth, and I had to beg.  I would sit with my luggage in any warm area I could find with only my thoughts for company.  I hated my life and needed to fix it.
     I called my mother and told her I was ready and it was time. I couldn’t handle being away from my children any longer.  My best friend came to pick me up and allowed me to stay in her home until my mother was off work.  Then my mother took me to a hospital where I was admitted into the psychiatric ward.  I spent my Thanksgiving there.

This story will be continued tomorrow, January 26.

Former Open Door Mission Resident

22 January 2016

Katie's Story Part 2

     My husband and I did what we could to keep our children warm, trying to find places to stay where we were not a burden.  We didn’t have the best options, which resorted to long, cold nights sleeping in cars, our storage unit, and drug dealers’ houses.  Sure, we knew this wasn’t healthy for our boys, but what choice did we have?  At this point, we had no way out. We cared more about our drugs than our children, plain and simple.
     My sister in-law let us stay with her for a couple weeks with the condition that we would have a job within the first week.  Of course, my husband and I didn’t care about a job or pleasing her.  We cared only about our next high.  So we stole from her to make money off the items. 
     Then one day, everything changed.  My sister in-law was at work and the boys were at school.  It was only my husband and I in the home when we heard a knock on the door.  We both knew it was Child Protective Services, and we knew they didn’t have good news. Hoping the problem would just go away, we didn’t answer.  After the coast was clear, we found a card on the door directing us to contact the agent immediately.  We called her, and set up an appointment for her to come speak with us at the house.  Not only did she show up, but so did my mother and sister in-law. 
     My husband, the agent, and I sat on the front porch and had a very long conversation. We admitted to everything, and with tears in our eyes stated that we couldn’t take care of our children.  They were to stay with family until we could get our lives together. 
     The agent gave us an hour to pack our things and say goodbye to our children.  This was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  It felt like I was saying goodbye to my children forever.
     As my mother drove us away, tears wouldn’t stop rolling down our cheeks.  My husband and I loved our children and wanted the best for them. But our addiction had gotten the best of us, and we were unsure if we really had the will to quit.

This story will be continued Monday, January 25.

Former Open Door Mission Resident

21 January 2016

Katie's Story Part 1

     We knew the dreadful day was coming when my husband, my two boys, and I would be evicted from our apartment.  We had refused to pay any of our bills and we also refused to work.  Why, you might ask?  My husband and I had a drug addiction.  Our relationship didn’t start that way, though.  We were once a strong, happy family.
     It all started when I had severe stomach issues and was hospitalized for a week.  I felt as though I was dying, and the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.  They just fed me with pain and nausea medication and keep running tests.  I was later released without a diagnosis.  Soon, I realized the pain medication made me feel wonderful and happy, and I no longer felt nauseous when I took it.  I became addicted.
     Not only was I taking a medication that was highly addictive, but my husband and I had begun using methamphetamines.  My family knew that this caused our homelessness, and felt that we could no longer be trusted.  We had no problem stealing our loved ones to support our addictions....

This story will be continued tomorrow, January 22.

Former Open Door Mission Resident

20 January 2016

More Like Him

     Just think!  God has chosen you, selected you personally and individually, to believe, belong, and become more and more like His Son, Jesus!
     This is what God calls us, as His children, to.  We are meant to take on more and more of Christ’s character, to know Him better, and to trust Him more completely.  What a beautiful duty!
     Being in full time ministry at Open Door Mission gives us a wonderful opportunity to help others along this journey with us.  Each day, God is helping us to shape hearts and change lives.

Laura Keen
South Omaha Family Outreach Center Director

19 January 2016

Why we do What we Do!

     A young lady came into the Administration Building last week, and the look on her face was one I know oh too well.  It was a look of sadness, hopelessness, and brokenness.
     She began to share her story with me, that she was losing her home and had nowhere to go.  I saw that she was fighting back the tears, but I let her know that it was okay to let them flow.  As she cried, I let her know that she is loved and that there is HOPE in Jesus.
     I asked if I could pray with her, and she said yes.  As we prayed, another staff member was able to join us and speak some words of encouragement and love to this woman.  When she gathered her things to drive over to the Lydia House, she hugged us both.  I saw a look of renewed hope in her eyes.
     Praise GOD that we were able to meet this wonderful woman and share the love of Jesus with her!  This is why we at Open Door Mission do what we do!  PRAISE GOD for opportunities! 

Jessica Coffey
Development Associate

15 January 2016

Gems in Our Life

     I am reminded on a daily basis of the blessings I have, and how I need to humble myself.  How the Lord has blessed me with very supportive family and friends!
     When I talk to future guests/tenants and hear their stories, each one is full of is life situations they encountered alone, without the support and financial means to pay rent, pay mortgage, pay bills, etc.  They did not have people in their life to help them.  Those people that support us are gems in our life! 
     Often I take that for granted my support system.  I just pray that God would place in me in that state of humility and gratefulness!
     God teach us to be more like Jesus everyday.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  -- Philippians 2:5-8

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

14 January 2016

Blessings for WorkNet

     Last week was Salon Day for the WorkNet class.  WorkNet is a program at Open Door Mission that works to set our guests up for success in the workplace with training on things such as interviews, applications, and resumes.
     The wonderful ladies at Authentic You Salon blessed the WorkNet class with makeovers--haircuts and colorings.  It was awesome to see the huge smiles on their faces when these hardworking men and women saw the result of their transformations!
     This was like icing on the cake for these men and women that have worked so hard on making changes in their lives.  Not only do they feel refreshed spiritually and personally, but they now feel refreshed physically.  These makeovers gave each of them the boost of confidence they needed.
     This is a great example of the community caring and giving back.  Now we are ready for mock interviews, promotions, and graduation!

Gerry Ford
Evening House Supervisor

13 January 2016

Young People can Change the World

     One of the greatest pleasures of my job at Open Door Mission is to share with schools (elementary, middle, and high) about the Mission and to, hopefully, change misconceptions about homelessness.  I am blessed to have teachers who regularly ask me to come and share with a large variety of students.
     People often ask me, “What can young people do?”  My answer is that they can change the world, starting in their own backyard— they just need to know how and where.
     I was recently blessed to speak in Mrs. Mach’s class at Millard West High School.  They were asked to write what they learned. Here are a few quotes:

“I will not think of homeless people the same way I did before you came.”  --RI

“The thing that has shocked me the most is that the things I would think that are not so important can be someone’s most prized thing.”  --CB

“I was inspired…I plan on telling my family we need to go and help out.”  --BG

“…my thoughts have changed about homeless people…I also realize how expensive it is to live a ‘comfortable life’.”  --AP

“…made me think a lot more about being grateful for the things you have. It’s the little things that matter.”  --Anonymous

“I learned how much people in poverty struggle for essentials, the effect of poverty on children, and why it is difficult to escape poverty.”  --Anonymous

“…made me realize how important it is to give just a few hours of your day to help make someone else’s.”  --Anonymous

“…learned a lot more about the importance of Open Door Mission…I’m hoping to be able to volunteer more there to help myself and people in need.”  --JD

     Can’t wait to watch these kids change the world.

Maggie Cope
Community Relations Coordinator

12 January 2016

Dangerously Low Temperatures

Thank you to Lifegate for a donation of urgently needed toilet paper!
     These last few days, the temperature dropped drastically.  The high winds made it below zero, which is not only frost bite damaging, but deadly.
     In Open Door Mission’s shelters, we are encouraging our guests to have hats and gloves or mittens to cover their skin.  Extra blankets were pulled out for those sleeping on the floor to get rid of the chill.
     This type of weather will drive people out of the homeless camps, abandoned buildings, and cars this meaning an increase in numbers and services.
     Join me in praying that the homeless will seek refuge and safety at Open Door Mission.  Also be praying for the Open Door Mission team on the frontlines, that they would have the love, compassion, and understanding, as well as the strength and patience to serve.
     Our urgent needs, due to this increase in numbers, now include blankets, pillows, towels, and toilet paper.  Click here for a list of drop off locations, if you wish to donate.
     Buckle up, God is in the driver seat.  It's going to be an awe struck 2016!

Candace Gregory

11 January 2016

Be Bold, Testify

     So it is an amazing thing to have hope when you have been hopeless.  When darkness surrounds you and seems to be gripping even your heart, the beam of hope’s light shining casts it out.  A sense of hopelessness can set in for anyone who has a deep disconnect in their life.  I’ve seen this to be true among the men in our shelters.
     The Lord wants to shine the HOPE that Christ offers as brightly as possible to cast out the darkness of hopelessness!  You can always to be part of that.
     Consider your testimony and its power to offer hope.  No matter what Christ has brought you through, big or small, it is a glimpse of God's power and love and hand at work.
     Great, now that you have considered your testimony, and know its value, listen as God calls on us to share His work.
     There can be a tendency to think our testimonies are not powerful enough, if we have not struggled with addiction, homelessness, or other hardships.  But this is a lie!  Whatever God has done in your life, His truth in your story can bring hope to many.
     Your testimony is powerful and important.  People can gain hope in the One True God from it.  Please be bold and share.  Be it with your neighbors, your coworkers, or even down here at the Mission.

Taylor Clinch
Rebuilding Lives Center Director

08 January 2016

Medicine Against Discouragement

Turn to the Word of God whenever discouragement darkens your life.
     This is a good reminder for any who feel weary.  It is easy to get discouraged, but when we wait on the Lord, are patient, and trust in God's perfect timing, that is when He will answer us.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” -Isaiah 30:21
     God's word warns us not to try and speed things up and do things in our own strength.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.  - Proverbs 16:25
     God's answer to your prayer may be to wait for a time before He gives you your desires. Every gift that comes from God is worth waiting for.  Throughout the Bible, there are lots of examples of God providing deepest desires.  In 1 Samuel, Hannah wept and prayed out of great anguish before the Lord for a child.  God answered her prayers.  In the book of Esther, God called Esther to a position of influence, and used her to save the Jewish people.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.  Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. - Habakkuk 2:3
     So be encouraged.  Wait patiently on the Lord.  Trust in God.  Know that He will work things out.
     God will use you as you are, if you make yourself available to Him.  God is faithful, and He calls you to trust in Him and His perfect timing.
     It can be easy to get discouraged when working in full time ministry, but in God's timing, He always comes through for us.  Thank you, God! 

Amy Buss
Human Resources Director

07 January 2016

Rumor Has It

Coming to the Mission, I was scared out of my mind,
but the help I receive here continues to strengthen
me physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I wish I
could tell all of the supporters, 'THANK YOU!'"  -Kim
     Scuttlebutt is gossip or rumors.  I am not usually one to pass this on, but it has been too juicy lately.  Here are some of the quotes I have to share with you. I hope that you find these details as tantalizing as I did. 

     "I have been in several other treatment programs before.  People always talked down to me.  I love it here because people talk to me like a normal person, which I am."

     "I figured I could come here and after two days, cut my monitor off (motions to ankle monitor), and leave.  But I am still here."

     "I love the Mission because out of everywhere I have stayed, it really feels like home. Actually home."

     Be encouraged by the fruit your work produces through Christ Jesus.  No matter what role you play at Open Door Mission, be it staff, donors, or volunteers, you are part of the culture, face, and results of God’s ministry.  Your touch in your area spills over into others, making the Mission what we are.
     We are Open Door Mission and Christ is our head.  Let us continue to push forward, following His leading!

Taylor Clinch
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

06 January 2016

Power of a Testimony

     Words cannot the joy that has filled my heart while serving the Lord at Open Door Mission and working alongside such wonderful staff.
     I have grown so much in the Lord since I first came on staff, and I'm grateful that this job has been a ministry platform for the Lord to be high and lifted up.
     I have been able to share my testimony with the ladies at the Lydia House on many, many, many occasions.  What a blessing it is to share how I have OVERCOME by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony on what God has done in my life.  I love seeing God use my story to encourage these women and teach them that they too can have the same victory and freedom as me.  Jesus already paid for their ransom on the cross!  And He uses me to share this Good News with them!
     The Open Door Mission staff family has been a huge blessing to me as they allowed me to bloom where the Lord planted me.  Working here helps me truly understand this great verse:
“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

Overnight Support Worker

05 January 2016

It's All Worth It

     Earlier this week, I was speaking with a man who had just recently joined our New Life Recovery Program.  We were talking about Christmas, and he wanted to know what gifts I had received.  I described a couple of the gifts I had been given, and then asked what Santa had brought him, thinking about Adopt A Guest.  His answer stunned me.
     Grinning, he said, "Jesus gave me a warm place to sleep and food in my stomach.  Without Him, I would have been out on the streets, breaking into abandoned houses just to survive.  But now, my mind is strong and sober.  I'm thinking clearly for the first time in a long time.  I wouldn't have any of this without Jesus!" 
     That was my best Christmas gift, getting to see firsthand that it’s all worth it.

Teresa Leishman
Case Manager

04 January 2016

A Platform for God's Work

A donation of hats, gloves, and socks had a major impact
...on the donor.
     Around Christmas time, I had a woman come to my office and hand me three bags of new socks, gloves, and hats.
     This situation was a little unusual, as she had requested to see me specifically when she dropped off these donations.  As we were talking, what she did was most unexpected.
     She broke into sobs as she explained to me what was in the bags she had brought.
     I gave her a hug, thanked her, and asked if she was okay.  She could not contain her weeping, but managed to tell me that she was fine.  She was crying because she is so thankful for the work Open Door Mission does.  It was overwhelming for her to be a part of God’s work here.
     What an honor it is that we get to be a platform for people to be faithful as God tugs on their hearts to serve!

Joshua Smith
Gift in Kind Director