30 June 2016

What a Treasure!

     The other day, an old guest stopped by the Garland Thompson Men’s Center to visit.  He handed me an old LP record album that he had come across at a garage sale.  The cover shows it was made from the music at Open Door Mission’s tenth anniversary banquet, which would’ve been over 50 years ago!
     This is truly a treasure for our archives.  It is also a wonderful reminder of the legacy that we at Open Door Mission get to be a part of.  The legacy of God’s work in the lives of homeless men, women, and children for over 60 years!

Pat McKernan
Garland Thompson Men’s Center Director

29 June 2016

Cooling Down

     Jesus loves you.  Today those words are a cool breeze in this intense heat.
     This week I have had some extra time and location requirements for work.  I have had to do some things that I don't enjoy.  My car is on its last legs, requiring the heater be on at all times so it won’t overheat.  And please don't get me started on responsibilities of a parent.  
     The truth is that all of these things make me grumpy, and my reactions are not always as calm and loving as I want them to be.  I really have a blessed life and a cool place to work.  Our guests and tenants have a cool place to rest at Open Door Mission.  But the heat has the tendency of bringing out the worst in all of us, shortening tempers and erasing patience.
     Today the Lord brought me the reminder to be aware of how I feel, react, give directions, and apologize for those moments when the heat and life gets the better of you.
     We are only human, but we are also adopted into the most wonderful family.  We have the honor of representing that family.
     So if frustration gets the better of you, talk to Jesus who will cool you off.  Make sure your temperature gauge is where it should be.  Because especially in this heat, our work is only increasing with men, women, and children seeking cool shelter.
     Thank you all for the part you play is the saving work of Jesus.  Thank you for being examples for me.  Thank you for being leaders in the family of God.  Thank you for working together to change the world, one life at a time.

Steve Frazee
Senior Program Director

28 June 2016

Emerging a Better Man

     John has had his share of problems in our New Life Recovery Program.  Already, he has had to face his anger issues, addictions, and poor communication skills.  After facing so many obstacles, many people would have given up and left, but not John.
     Instead, he took his consequences like a man, admitting that he was wrong and emerging a better man for the trial.  John shared with me early on that he thought he would never be able to have a career.  But because he stuck around, he now has a career in the plumbing field.
     He thoroughly enjoys his work, beaming with pride whenever he talks about it.  Even the dirty parts of the job can’t diminish his enthusiasm for the job.  John's perseverance has paid off in more ways than one—John is now nothing like the John that came here months ago.

Russell Janssen
Case Manager

27 June 2016

The Water Fight

     Last week on a blazing hot day, I asked the Maintenance Department if they had things to use for a water fight.  It was the perfect day to do one.
     In no time at all, they gave us everything we needed and more!  A special shout out to these guys for the hoses, access to the water, the sprinkler, and the sprayer.  It was a success!
     Check out how much fun our Lydia House kids (and their parents too!) had during the water fight.

Rachel Fisher
Children & Youth Director

24 June 2016

Special Moment From God

     Some days  I feel overwhelmed and tired, but I have noticed that the days when I feel that way are when God has a special moment in store for me.
     A couple of months ago, I was speaking with a lady who comes frequently to the Timberlake Outreach Center.  During one of her visits, I noticed that she looked like she had been crying.  So I asked what was wrong, and she explained that her mother had found cancerous lumps in her breast.  We prayed together that day, and honestly I forgot all about it.  But God DID NOT!
     Last week, this same lady visited the Timberlake Outreach Center and told me that her mother is healed--cancer free! Glory to God!  May this story encourage you today, and may you know that God is always on the move.
O Lord, God of our ancestors, You alone are the God Who is in heaven.  You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against You!  --2 Chronicles 20:6

Evelyn Valdez
Timberlake Outreach Center Receptionist

23 June 2016

Thank you Deloitte!

     Last week we had 140 volunteers from Deloitte on campus from 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.  It was an amazing and productive day, despite the oppressive heat.  These volunteers came in ready to work and willing to do whatever was asked of them.

      Some projects they completed include:
Making 1,504 food pantry boxes
Priming and painting the toy area at the Timberlake Outreach Center
Sorting donations at the Receiving Area
Putting down mulch
Soring miscellaneous canned food, to be used for food pantry boxes
Sorting, organizing, and shelving donations at the Timberlake Outreach Center
Cleaning and moving lockers at the Lydia House
Sharing about budgeting and financing with students in the life-changing programs
Helping with mock interviews with WorkNet students
Spending time with our veterans on campus
Washing, vacuuming, and cleaning Open Door Mission vehicles
Handing out 30 cases of water they had donated on Water Patrol
Making sack lunches and sandwiches
Serving Eileen's Cookies they had donated as a lunch time dessert

     All of the above things were possible because we have GREAT staff that worked alongside the Volunteer Department and shined for Jesus today!  The best thing we did today was to Be Jesus, so others can See Jesus, so others can KNOW JESUS!   
     Please pray that the volunteers who don't know Jesus will want to, and those that do will be encouraged!

Amy Harvey
Volunteer & Partner Director

22 June 2016

Exercise Your Faith...Part 2

Continued from yesterday’s (6/21) post…

     The Lord revealed to me that my perspective on this situation was me-centered, focused on what was comfortable helpful for me.  And God asked me, “Are you really LOVING this family?  How have I called you to love?  What does my love look like?”
     How God has called us to love others?
Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails…  --1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
Charles Spurgeon was a British Baptist preacher in the 1800s.
     This verse spoke to me about what loving others looks like.  God doesn’t call us to love others just once, but for as long as life lasts.   This is an eternal focus.  We love others because of eternity, because God’s heart is to see everyone in eternity.  
     "No faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity.  Tested faith brings experience.  You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials.  And you would never have known God’s strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through.”  --Charles Spurgeon
     My circumstances have not changed, but my faith has grown.  To be a witness to others we need to die to ourselves daily.   We can choose to be dull in our spirituality, or to let God do a work in us and increase our faith.  Just like Jesus paid the price for our sin, we must daily die to ourselves to be ALIVE in Christ.  We must forgo the old to become NEW in Christ.
     Be encouraged that with faith and endurance, we will walk strong in God’s promises for our lives and for the guests at Open Door Mission.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

21 June 2016

Exercise Your Faith...Part 1

     Last week I was looking for encouragement in working with a difficult family at the Permanent Supportive Housing building.  I would go into a meeting with the family not already feeling discouraged, and then give and give, leaving totally empty at the end.  But through it all, I knew God was with me, and each day as I drove home exhausted, my prayer was, “God grow my faith.”  
Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.  Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.  –Hebrews 6:11-12
     The truth is that faith needs to be exercised to grow and flourished.  If a muscle or limb is not exercised and used for a while, it shrivels and loses strength.  The same is true of faith—with trials and testing, it will be strengthened.  So in circumstances such as these, I can choose to either exercise my faith and be strong in the Lord, or not exercise it and become spiritually dull and indifferent.
     Jesus never promises that if you have a lot of faith life will be easy, or that faith only requires staying in your comfort zone.  Rather, faith is trusting in God’s promises, no matter what the circumstances.

To be continued tomorrow…

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

20 June 2016

Crossing the Finish Line

      A couple of weeks ago, Open Door Mission held our annual Mission Possible 5k/10k, and we were blessed to have several staff members participate!  One staff member in particular blew me away: Dave ran the 10k, almost beating another staff member.  What makes this so amazing is that Dave has not run for over 30 years!  He just ran along happily praising God the whole way.  Way to go Dave!
     I was inspired by ALL the staff that ran, walked, and jogged to support Open Door Mission.  It was amazing to see them go across the finish line: Dave, Greg, Erica, Vicki, Lindsay, Pat, Steve, Mike, and Lobuwar (who actually won his age category!).
     Also I want to send a special thanks to Candace, Jason, Maggie, Rachel, Alexandria, and Josh for all their help in making this event a success!  Can’t wait to see you all out there next year.

Steve Frazee
Senior Program Director

17 June 2016

True Salvation

     A gentleman in the Journey to Work Program came into my office last week to deal with some consequences of his actions, and we began to talk about the Lord.  This man grew up knowing about Jesus, even believing that he had died for our sins, but his life wasn’t one of pursuing the Lord.
     So I referenced the verse in James that states even the demons believe in Jesus, and he was dumbfounded.  He said that he never heard that before.  I shared with him what it really means to believe and follow Jesus, sharing scriptures with him, and he gave his life to Christ right then and there!
     This is why I love my job. 

Jacob Carr
Case Manager

16 June 2016

Double the Volunteers!

     I am so encouraged today! 
     We have a regular volunteer at the Permanent Supportive Housing building, and she loves volunteering here.  Recently she shared her love for volunteering with a friend, and that person went to Volunteer Orientation.  Now she is wanting to come once a week to volunteer!
     Praise God!  One dependable volunteer brought ANOTHER person who now has turned into another dependable volunteer, so now we have double what we had before!  And what’s even more exciting is that both volunteers are Christians!
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  –Ephesians 2:10
     Let's continue to do good works for God's glory.  Open Door Mission has a special place in my heart, and in the hearts of many others.  It’s always wonderful to watch God capture His people’s hearts for the Mission.
     Let's continue to share the Good News of what God is doing with our friends/family/new friends we meet!  God gets all the glory!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

15 June 2016

It Just Takes an Invitation

     A couple of weeks ago we had our annual Faith Leaders’ Summit Luncheon, where church leaders and ministry workers from the area gathered to discuss an important issue in ministry today—mental health.
     While at the event, I bumped into Ms. Laura Jean who had first invited me to volunteer at Open Door Mission.  I was trying to place exactly when that was, and she asked how long ago my son was born.  She reminded me that she had knit a baby blanket for my son soon after, because he had just been born.  My son turned ten in April!
     Sometimes it just takes an invitation.  This woman’s invitation turned into me stepping into God’s plan for my life.  Ten years later, you can still find me serving Him at the Mission!
     Who can you invite to volunteer?

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

14 June 2016

Great Guys to Serve With

     It was a blessing to serve at the Garland Thompson Men’s Center over the Memorial Day weekend with the homeless men in our Life-Changing Recovery Programs and those in our Emergency Services.
     Being a holiday, we were a little short of volunteers.  But these guys jumped right in, happily willing to help volunteer and make over 16 trays of sandwiches for sack lunches.  It was their time off to rest, and they still did this joyfully.
     The kitchen was running low on sack lunches for the long weekend, and these men saw the need for all the incoming homeless men who would need a sack lunch.  These are great guys to serve with. 

Darryl Price
Day House Supervisor

13 June 2016

Loved by Those She Sees...And Those She Doesn't

     Several months ago, we sent out a card to our donors with a picture of Laura, and a quick testimony quote.  It says, “When I walked in, I was crying.  The staff made sure I got a bed and something to eat, and I surrendered that day.  I knew the moment I walked in that God had brought me here.”

     One of our donors sent this letter in response.
     In honor of people like Laura and so many others that your organization has helped throughout the years, I wanted to include an extra gift this month to say thank you.
     I have been using this as a bookmark for a C.S. Lewis book I have been reading, which reminds me to pray for Laura every day.  I hope she’s doing well!
     God bless.
     P.S.  If you are still in contact with Laura, tell her that she is loved by those she sees and those she doesn’t also.

     What a blessing to know that our community supports us not only with volunteer hours, monetary donations, and gift in kind donations, but also with prayers.  We are covered in prayer, and that means more than anything else!

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

10 June 2016

Multiple Miracles

     Last week at the Garland Thompson Men’s Center, a man came into my office to get his medication.  We talked a little about his pain issues.  He began to share his story with me, and God opened a door for me to share the Gospel message!  I shared the "truth that sets us free," he prayed, and he asked Jesus into his life.  He has been forgiven!
     I came to work tired, but still was willing to listen to God’s calling.  Later than night I was able to pray with another man after chapel.  God blessed me because I was faithful.
     In our pre-shift meeting that day, I told my co-workers that I love coming to Open Door Mission each day because I get to see miracles.  There were multiple miracles beheld tonight! 

Greg Johnston
Intake/Case Manager

09 June 2016

A Smile From Receiving

     You know I have been working at Open Door Mission for too long when I didn't even pause when I saw my coworker Joe taking a little joy ride.  I didn’t even think that it might be out of the ordinary and just walked right by him!  But one of our other coworkers, Steve, snapped a quick picture.  So enjoy a smile from the Receiving Area at the Timberlake Outreach Center!
     I also wanted to remind you all to bring your donations to any of our four Family Outreach/Donation Centers!  We are now located in South Omaha, Elkhorn, Council Bluffs, and (of course) at our Main Campus.  So as you’re cleaning out your closets this summer vacation, be sure to think of homeless and working poor men, women, and children who could benefit from your donation!
     Maybe you’ll even get to see another of Joe’s tricks when you drop off the donations.

Joshua Smith
Gift in Kind Director

08 June 2016

Pain Into Something Beautiful

     This is Amy and Robbie and their daughters Delaney and Mackenzie.  Their son Finnegan was stillborn, and every year on his birthday they have a party to celebrate him.  Any toys they receive for Finnegan, they donate to homeless children at the Lydia House. 
     When I met this family last week, each member was so excited to give.  They are a huge blessing to me and to the homeless women and families at the Lydia House! 
     God bless them for turning their pain into something beautiful to help others.

Shelly McCullough
Day House Supervisor

07 June 2016

Breaking Chains, Breaking Records

     I work over at the South Omaha Family Outreach/Donation Center, and I wanted to share an amazing little statistic from our faraway shores. 
     Last month, our wonderful Development team sent out a postcard talking about all our Outreach Centers in the Metro Area.  Even though we now have four locations, to be more accessible to the working poor and needy, many still do not know about the Outreach Centers closest to them.
     As a result of this added awareness, our location blew away our previous record for the most clients in a single week.  Before, the record was 89 clients from the week before Christmas, which is always a busy time as many parents searching for gifts and toys for their kids.
     The week after the postcard was sent out, a pretty average week of the year, we served 110 families!  And yes, you're right: in this same week we also hit triple digits for the first time ever! Praise God!
     Thank you so much for all your prayers and support these past several months!  It has been exciting to see the ways that God is allowing us to impact people's lives in South Omaha.  And it’s a blessing to work as a team with the Open Door Mission staff to serve more people than ever before!

John Michael Den Hartog
Homeless Prevention Manager

06 June 2016

Back in Japan...

     Sometimes we receive encouraging notes in the mail, and this one was so lovely that I wanted to share it with you.

     God bless your hard work.
     I was born during WWII in Japan.
     My parents worked very hard to put food on our table.  Most people did not have much of anything.
     After the War ended, America helped people in Japan a lot.  I didn’t have many toys, but one sock doll that came from America.  It was the only toy that ever had my name on it.  I didn’t have much of anything to keep me warm during the winter or on rainy days.  Every winter, I got frost bite on my toes and fingers.  And during the summer, the heat was unbearable without a fan.  But at least we had a roof over our heads!
     So I often think about the homeless people in winter time and summer time.
     I often thank our God for what He provides.  We don’t have much money, but enough to make ends meet.
     I don’t donate much, but at least our small donation will do some good, will feed a few people.
     Thank you for your work.

     It’s powerful when the stories of homelessness and struggles during extreme weather of winter and summer become personal.  Thank you to all who support Open Door Mission.  The need is real, and it does not diminish.  Your friendship means so much to us.

Candace Gregory

03 June 2016

Praying Through the Years

     During break last week, I went downtown to run a couple of errands, and ended up near 13th & Howard.
     While out, I had the chance to meet with Ms. Nora, who told me story after story of how she's prayed for Open Door Mission throughout the years.
     The Mission used to be the view from her front desk, just across the street.  She shared with me encounters she had with homeless men, how she had helped them, and some she saw later in life doing quite well.
     "That was before the Mission helped all the women and children as well as men,” she said.  “I can't imagine.  I remember the bikers that would go all around downtown asking bakeries and restaurants for any food they can spare.  It does my heart good to see how far you've come... But heart breaking to see the great need."
     God bless Ms. Nora!

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

02 June 2016

Thirsting for More

     I am privileged to hit the Streets of Omaha each day, passing out sack lunches and bottled water to the needy and homeless on the streets.
     Last week on the streets we were so blessed to meet some amazing folks.  As the day progressed, one of our new volunteers expressed his desire for closeness with God.  He explained to me that the reason why he began volunteering at Open Door Mission, because he wanted to get closer to God.  He felt that by helping with Streets of Omaha he would.
     While we handed lunches to some of our friends on the street, this volunteer had a ray of light in his eyes.  He asked me question after question about God, the Bible, and how he could learn more.  He expressed his love for the hungry and homeless.  He expressed his desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  This young man is HUNGRY for the WORD OF GOD!
     I ask that you continue to pray for this dear volunteer as he walks in the ways of the Lord and continues to fill his thirst for God.

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

01 June 2016

Doing a Good Work

     Hey Open Door Mission family—I wanted to share an ENCOURAGING moment today.
     Recently, one of my tenant’s visiting nurses was admiring all the papers on my door.  These papers range from announcements, to hours of available services on campus, and etc.  She saw the schedule for professional dentists that come to do dental work, postings of available job opportunities, the Health and Healing Clinic Calendar, and more! 
     After skimming them over, she said, “This is really awesome, all these things you guys do for the people that stay here.  You are definitely the top organization for all you do!”
     So take heart, no matter what your day looks like today.  We as staff, volunteers, donors, and friends are doing a good work!  And it takes us all to do this awesome work.  Glory to God! 
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.  –Matthew 5:14-16
     My prayer always is that at Open Door Mission, a Christian organization, we would rise above the rest to point everyone to Jesus the Hero of our story!  Our light is shining BRIGHT in this city!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director