31 August 2016

Being Jesus With Skin On

     I wanted to say a huge, “Thank you!” to Brian Springer, Open Door Mission’s head chef.  He showed up a couple of weeks ago to mow my daughter and son-in-law’s grass, despite the the horrible heat and humidity!
     My daughter and her husband are brand new parents, their baby is just days old.  So they're still trying to figure out how to juggle everything.  Knowing this, Brian reached out and was such a blessing to them!  Not only did he mow the lawn, but he went above and beyond with trimming and everything.
     Open Door Mission is blessed to have staff who live selfless lives, both at the Mission and in their everyday lives.  Thank you, Brian, for being such a blessing and Jesus with skin on to people you don’t even know.

Teresa Brown
Open Door Mission Volunteer

30 August 2016

Angry No More...Part 2

Continued from Monday, 8/29.

     Finally Trudy’s brother brought her to Open Door Mission’s Lydia House.  For months she had resisted this center, knowing their programs are Christ-centered.  She was convinced that after all that had happened in her life, God must hate her.  “I came here really angry at God, and I was not going to change my mind,” said Trudy.
     That all changed one night, when inspired by the Scripture on the walls, Trudy began reading her Bible.  She started with Psalm 6, went on to 7, 8, and countless more.  “I felt then,” Trudy said, “like God was the only one who could save me.  I said, ‘Look God, I’m really mad at You, but I really need You.  So I just have to trust that You’re going to be good to me, and that You’re going to help me through this, because I am lost without You.’”
     It soon became a dream come true.  She joined the worship team, and now has the truths of those songs and Scripture in her heart.  “Who knew I could worship Him in the most natural thing that comes to me?”  Trudy said.  “Music is a God-given blessing.”
     The Open Door Mission staff have also been a blessing to Trudy, taking time for her and putting their energy and love into this place.  Trudy’s dream is to one day help other addicts, especially those with multiple diagnoses like Trudy has.  She now has custody of her youngest, and is close to getting her other son back.
    “Once they brought God into it, my recovery became possible,” Trudy said.  “Before I had all the need and all the reason in the world to get clean, but until I had opened my heart to Jesus, I had no will.  Now a huge burden has been lifted off my heart.”

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

29 August 2016

Angry No More...Part 1

     Trudy spent most of her life angry at God.  It wasn’t until she had hit rock bottom that she began trusting Him, that she experienced true lasting change.
     Her childhood was difficult to say the least.  She watched her parents get divorced, lived with her drug addicted mother, and stayed in abandoned houses and cars.  After years of this lifestyle, Trudy’s mother was sent to prison, so Trudy went to live with her father.  In time, Trudy was a functioning alcoholic.
     Trudy’s older brother taught her how to play guitar.  This became a way to escape the harsh realities of life, and soon she got into music full time.  She joined a band and played bars each night, which added to her alcoholism and introduced her to cocaine.
     Trapped in a nightmare of addiction, Trudy welcomed three children into this tumultuous life.  She recalls life on the snowy streets while pregnant, struggling to survive; having a son who was born with illness; living in her car; and recovering from a car accident.
     Eventually this downward spiral led to losing custody of her children and unbearable heartache.  She knew life needed to change, and began a journey to sobriety last November.

To be continued on Tuesday, 8/30.

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

26 August 2016

New Wheels

     One of our Journey to Work Program graduates just receive some new wheels!  God truly is taking care of Yusufu!
     He shared with me that he recently got a job downtown, and his shifts end very late at night.  As he rides back to Open Door Mission on his bike, drunk people often throw beer bottles as well as insults at him.
     Now has safe passage to and from work, and a way to transport his young children.  This was what Yusufu was most excited about, as now he can take them to church with him!
      Praise God for His goodness!

Joshua Smith
Gift in Kind Director

25 August 2016

I Need Your Prayers

     We get the privilege here at Open Door Mission to stand back and watch God work in the lives of the people we serve.  I had one of those God moments with our Streets of Omaha volunteers today.  Their names are Heather and Lashawnda. 
     We pulled up to a corner lot where two individuals were sitting on the grass.  Lashawnda and Heather handed out bottles of water, packets of hygiene items, and sack lunches to these sweet folks.
     As I was walking back to the van, I heard a soft voice say, "I need your prayers."  I turned around and witnessed this beautiful sight: Lashawnda was praying over these two beautiful people.  Her powerful prayer asked for hope, love, protection, and God's guidance over them.  Tears rolled down everyone's face.
     As we said amen and hugged each other, the woman said, "I just knew today was the day that someone would come to care for us."  As we were getting in the van, one of the volunteers looked at me and said, "This right here is why I do this.  Everyone needs to know how much they are loved. Thank you, Jesus, for bringing us to these people today." 
     What an absolute blessing it is to be the hands and feet of Jesus. 
Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

24 August 2016

Smile, You Work for Jesus!

     Recently in our Administration Building, the air conditioning on the fourth floor (where my office is located) went out.  It was a rough week!
     As I think back on our level of discomfort in dealing with the heat, I can't help but think of those we serve...those that live with no air-conditioning, struggling to make it by paycheck to paycheck ...or are roaming the streets with no refuge from the sun or the elements.
     Please say a special prayer for our friends in need. This week without air conditioning has definitely given me a deeper appreciation for the things we tend to take for granted.
     One of my coworkers pointed out that as I pass out pay stubs to my department, I have become notorious for saying, "Smile you work for Jesus."  But it's true!  I have friends around the world that can only afford short-term trips and so long to be in full-time ministry.  I know others that are state-side and volunteer all the time, but hate where they work. Neither get paid to be in full-time ministry, doing what we do. 
  I guess this week has been one of reminders to be grateful for all God has blessed me with, from air conditioning to working in full time ministry!  

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

23 August 2016

Missionaries Where We're Planted

I wonder what would happen if we all lifted our eyes and imagined as living intentionally exactly where we are.  What if we looked at where we are called to serve through the eyes of missionaries.  What if God has placed us exactly where we are, that we are sent people.  Sent to this world, not to stand in judgment of it, or be separate in our safe Christian confines, but be for it, to be representatives of Jesus, to bear the Good News wherever we go.  Who has God placed around you that you could love.  What can we do to show you are welcome with me, you are safe with me.  It could change the way we are able to share the Gospel in our generation.  --"Pulling the Thread" by Jen Hatmaker

     I was listening to this sermon last week, and it spoke to me in such a HUGE way.  What would it take for me to be more intentional on a daily basis?  We are placed and planted where we are for a purpose: to love and welcome people into the Kingdom!

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.  For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.  And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.  So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.  --2 Corinthians 5:18-21

     We are Christ's ambassadors!  The definition of an ambassador is a respected official acting as a representative of a nation.  Verse 18 states that God has given us the task of reconciling people to Him, just as Christ reconciled the world to himself (verse 19).  So as Christ's ambassadors, using that definition, we act as representatives of God, sharing the Good News.  We are an acting official acting as a representative of Christ.  We speak for Christ when we plead with our lost brothers and sisters to turn to God, so that all could be made right with Him.  How the Lord loves all of His children!
     I pray this encourages you today, and that we may fully live in the calling the Lord has given us!  I pray we have testimonies we are able to share with each other on how God is moving at Open Door Mission, in us, through us, and through the people we serve.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

22 August 2016

At the Council Bluffs Outreach Center...Part 2

Continued from Friday, 8/19.

     Seventeen of our homeless guests this week alone came in for a change of clothes because everything they had was stolen. 
     We had four families this week that have three or even four generations coming to the Outreach Center monthly for food and supplies.  
     This week, three women of various ages came in.  Although they weren’t related, they had much in common.  Each walked in with their heads down, sharing tear-filled stories of how they never thought they would be coming to ask for help.  Loss of relationships and jobs have put them in a place of hopelessness. 
     This is just a snippet of the stories we hear daily.  We offer help and direction.  We share our faith in Jesus.  And at the end of our busy day, we fall on our knees on their behalf.  Then, with a heart of thankfulness, we praise Him who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can ever imagine through His very life that is within each of His faithful children.
     Please pray for Council Bluffs. God has brought LIGHT in this dark place through the work of Open Door Mission. As we link arm in arm through faith and prayer, I believe that we will see lives changed and hope restored.

Laura Keen
Homeless Prevention Manager

19 August 2016

At the Council Bluffs Outreach Center...Part 1

     I want to share what a week looks like here at the Council Bluffs Family Outreach/Donation Center. 
     Today, fifteen of our guests live on the streets or in shelter nearby.  As a daily average, one out of every three guests that come in are homeless.
     A few days ago, two women in their thirties came in, and explained that they have been living behind dumpsters for the past four weeks.  They hadn't showered in weeks.  Shelters are not for them because, as they said, "Meth is our best friend."
     A 32-year-old woman relocated to Council Bluffs due to domestic violence.  She has eight kids (three still in diapers) and one on the way. They live in a shelter, and she said all her family bridges have been burnt. 
     A 33-year-old woman has five children, and her boyfriend had recently beaten her up, sending her to the hospital.  She and her five kids have been homeless for months.  They have lived in hotels, with friends and family, and now are living for the next week with the last family member that will help.  Staying at Open Door Mission isn’t an option, because she cannot leave the state of Iowa.  On top of this all, she now knows that there is another child on the way.

To be continued on Monday, 8/22.

Laura Keen
Homeless Prevention Manager

18 August 2016

Can I Give You a Water?

     "Excuse me sir, can I give you a water?"
     That’s how the conversation started for a volunteer and one of our homeless friends on the streets.  It didn't stop there though.  This man invited us to sit down and have conversation with him.  He talked to us about his life, politics, and how he loved nature.  Apparently he had grown up on a farm, so he really loved being outside.
     I looked over at one of our volunteers, and I could tell she was holding back her tears.  As the conversation came to an end, the man stood up and gave us a hand shake and thanked us for taking the time to visit with him.
     We walked back to the van and on the way our volunteer hugged me, saying, "This experience is one of the best I have ever had."  That day she not only made a difference to the gentlemen we had chatted with, but he made a difference in her life. 

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

15 August 2016

Walking With Jesus

When I’m back on my feet again
I’ll walk proud down this Fort street again;
I’ll remember that I always win
When I’m back on my feet again

And not going to cry no more
And I’m not going to get high, no more
I remember who I’m living for…..
Jesus Christ, my Lord

Open Door Mission Guest

12 August 2016

No More Taking Things for Granted

     As a volunteer at Open Door Mission, I found myself being very humbled.  I realized that there is so much that I take for granted every day.
     On an average day, I come home from my great job, greet my family in a heated or cooled house, eat a delicious warm dinner, and sip on something to drink. I do all of these things without a single thought about those who only have a shady tree or a freeway over pass to call home, those without food or water.
     So when I heard about Open Door Mission’s urgent need for bottled water, I challenged my truck club Diesel Mafia, Nebraska chapter to donate and help out.  We proudly collected 75 cases of water, and I know this water could be a life-saving drink for someone in need.
     I will continue to do as much as I can to help, and do my best to not forget what I learned during my time at Open Door Mission.

Ron Brazau
Open Door Mission Volunteer

11 August 2016

Back to School Physicals

     What an amazing day we had today at Back to School Physical Day at Open Door Mission last week!  Thanks to the many medical professionals from our community who volunteered their services.
     We had a very successful turnout, and now all Open Door Mission’s children are ready to head back to school healthy and happy.  Thank you to all those who came out and volunteered!  Check out the action in the photos below.

Kate Fischer
Free Health & Healing Clinic Director

10 August 2016

Prepared for Where We're Going

     A couple of mornings ago, a young lady was dropping off some clothes at the Timberlake Outreach Center.  I handed her a receipt enclosure and envelope, letting her know that we give everything away free so any financial donation is appreciated.  She stopped me, explaining that she used to live in the Permanent Supportive Housing building and had received help from the Timberlake Outreach Center many times.
     About a year ago she took the Financial Peace course with our Permanent Supportive Housing Director, and that course drastically changed her life.  She learned so much about financial stability and responsibility, and was able to move out into her own home using these principals.
     I love seeing how we helped repair someone from where they were and prepared them for where they are going!  Praise God for getting to see lives changed!

Joshua Smith
Gift in Kind Director

09 August 2016

Press On

     Do you ever feel as though you have hit the end of your road?  Maybe unfortunate things have been happening in your life, and it seems like the trials never end.  Maybe you are experiencing some things you know the Lord wants to stretch you with.
     I know that this has been me lately.  To be completely honest, there have been moments when I wanted to just give up.  But then at church this past Sunday, I was reminded of my purpose through the follow Bible verse.  I was reminded that it’s during those hard times that we have to keep pushing on.  
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  –Philippians 3:14
     I wanted to encourage all Open Door Mission friends this week: don't lose sight of what your purpose is.  When things get difficult, press into Jesus and press onward for the kingdom!  Maybe that sounds a little cheesy, but it’s true.  If you were placed here at the Mission, as a volunteer, donor, staff member, or friend, it means God has a plan for you to help accomplish His work!  Don't lose sight of your purpose!

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

08 August 2016

Accept the Invite...Part 2

Continued from Friday, 8/5/2016.

When we accept life's invitation, it's contagious too.  Other people will watch us and start seeing life as something more amazing, more whimsical than before.  When you show up, people (the type that don't think they're invited) start seeing invitations everywhere as thick as colorful fall leaves.  They don't think about their pain or weakness any longer.  Instead, they think about how incredible a big life really is and how powerful the one who is throwing the banquet is too.  –"Love Does" by Bob Goff
     This was so good!  Every day we are blessed to be given an invitation to live life fully and point others to Jesus BY living fully.  What if we viewed the invitation to live fully every day as important as, for example, getting an invitation to the White House or to meet your favorite celebrity or to get a paid trip to a beautiful beach?  What if we viewed our life every day like this?
     Let's be people who accept life's invitation to walk with Jesus, a life where love takes action.  Let's have faith that others who feel unworthy and uninvited will see they have an invite too, just by seeing our acceptance of the invitation to live a full life.  I believe that they will see they are loved and cherished by us and by Jesus when we begin to live fully!
     Will you accept the invitation that God is calling you, to live a full life today?

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

05 August 2016

Accept the Invite...Part 1

     There is only one invitation it would kill me to refuse, yet I’m tempted to turn it down all the time.  I get the invitation every morning when I wake up to actually live a life of complete engagement in the Lord, a life of whimsy, a life where love does.
     It doesn’t come in an envelope.  It’s ushered in by a sunrise, the sound of a bird, or the smell of coffee drifting lazily from the kitchen.  It’s the invitation to actually live, to fully participate in this amazing life for one more day.  Nobody turns down an invitation to the White House, but I’ve seen plenty of people turn down an invitation to fully live. 
     A couple of things happen when we accept Jesus' invitation to participate with Him in life.  Obstacles that seem insurmountable suddenly aren't.  Impediments that we believe disqualify us suddenly don't.
     When we show up to participate with Jesus in the big life, we're participating with the very being Who made life in the first place.  He gently asks us how we are and invites us to get better together with Him.

To be continued on Monday, 8/8/2016.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

04 August 2016

What an Angel

     One of our wonderful volunteers, Angel comes in consistently to play with our kids aged three to five years’ old in the Bright Space.  It is a pleasure to watch her interact with the children, and her love for them is so evident in her words and actions.
     This picture is the perfect example of what I’m talking about.  The girls wanted to braid her beautiful hair, and she obliged.  Thank you, Angel, for being a light in the Bright Space!  We at Open Door Mission truly are blessed with the best volunteers!

Rachel Fisher
Children & Youth Director

03 August 2016

Project Blessing

     There are two ladies who are making a difference in such a fun way, and I wanted to tell you about them.  These amazing ladies buy donuts for half price, pay for the boxes with their own money, and then donate them to the local shelters! 
     Their names are Deb and Diane, and each time they bring eight to ten boxes filled with three to four dozen yummy donuts almost every week.  And we’re talking huge, delicious, gourmet donuts!
     They call themselves Project blessing, and what a blessing they are!  Thank you, Deb and Diane, for caring for hungry and homeless men, women, and children.

Shelly McCullough
Day House Supervisor

02 August 2016

Hitting Home

     How great it was to start my morning last week at Sam's Club in Papillion to speak at a staff meeting.  To my surprise, while introducing me, the manager broke down in tears.  He shared that one of his associates last month had asked him for a ride to the park after work, revealing that he was homeless.
     The manager personally brought him to Open Door Mission instead.  Isn't God AMAZING?!  The other staff members were shocked to know that anyone that they could have worked with was actually homeless, especially in a more affluent part of town.  To think that we get to play a small part in this is such an honor and privilege.
     As he shared, the manager mentioned how impressed he was with the level of respect and dignity the staff members had treated our new guest with.  This man has since raised enough money for a bus ticket to Texas to stay with his sister.  The manager said for the first time in a long time, he personally dropped to his knees in prayer and praise as he counted his blessings.
     Thank you for being Jesus, so others can see Jesus, so that they may KNOW Jesus.

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

01 August 2016

Not Just a Sandwich

     We have volunteers here at Open Door Mission who are excited about our Streets of Omaha ministry.  From making sandwiches and sack lunches to handing them out to folks on the streets, people are wanting to get involved!  The story I want to share with you today is about a volunteer and her experience on the streets.
     Margaret has been coming to the Mission every Tuesday for the past four months to make sack lunches.  She is always talking with other volunteers about how much she enjoys volunteering here, and how she feels as though she is being blessed through serving others.  Margaret decided that she not only wanted to make lunches, but that she would like the opportunity to come out in the van to hand them out as well.  She spent the afternoon laughing, praying, crying, and sharing the love of Jesus with people.
     My favorite part of the afternoon was when a woman named Bridget asked Margaret and two other volunteers to pray for her.  After the prayer, Bridget started to cry.  Margaret hugged her and allowed Bridget to rest in her embrace.
     On the way back to the Mission, Margaret said, “Jessica, I never knew that the lunches I was making in the morning brought so much joy to people.  I just thought I was making lunches…I guess I didn’t realize I was giving HOPE and love.”
     For Margaret, volunteering at Open Door Mission has showed her that in EVERYTHING we do, our purpose is to show people that Jesus is the answer.  For He uses simple things, like sack lunches, to change people’s lives.

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator