31 January 2017

Free in Christ

     There is a man staying in the Garland Thompson Men’s Center who recently joined the New Life Recovery Program.  I’ve been able to hear a bit of his story and have learned that he has only been to church twice in his life and has not read even one complete chapter in the Bible.  He has never met his real father, was adopted, and has spent several years in prison.
     As of last week, this man now is free IN CHRIST!  After years of captivity and living in darkness, he has accepted the One who can make him free indeed!

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free…” —Luke 4:18.

David Eischeid
Discipleship Counselor

30 January 2017

Turkey Bragging Rights

     Every year in November, Open Door Mission holds our Turkey ‘N’ Fixin’s drive at Hy-Vee to raise food for hungry and homeless men, women, and children during the holidays.  Staff members, board members, and volunteers are stationed at every Hy-Vee area store, and over the years it has become a friendly competition to see who can raise the most turkeys, Turkey ‘N’ Fixin’s Bags
     This year’s winners were announced at our annual staff party!  Take a look at their gorgeous trophies and congratulate them for this year’s bragging rights!  And thank you to every person who came out on our Turkey 'N' Fixin's day to support our neediest neighbors - we truly appreciate your donations!

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

27 January 2017

Doing Chores to Give Back

     Seven year old Billy stopped by the Lydia House to make a financial donation for Open Door Mission.  He said that each week when he does chores, he takes the money he earns and puts in in a jar to donate to a place in need.  So sweet!  Praise God for young people who understand the importance of giving back, and who care about hungry and homeless men, women, and children!

Michenzie Motl
Family Support Worker

26 January 2017

The BIG Event

     Last week, I was able to attend The BIG Event award ceremony, and Open Door Mission received a great honor!  Based on public voting, Open Door Mission won for Best Event over 500 attendees for our No Place Like Home Auction & Dinner!
     This win truly harkens back to the good planning for the event from our Development Team – it was a labor of love!  I’m also thinking that the staff members who dressed up as characters had something to do with it!
     Thank you to all who attended and all who voted!  Be sure to not miss this year’s event on September 28!

Deb Saraka-Rubin
Heartland Circle Coordinator

25 January 2017

Sunday Message

     Every Sunday, I get to share a quick message with the men in our Emergency Services, and it is so cool to watch God move among the men.  They are hungry for something more in their lives.  Below is one of the messages I shared with them recently.  Take time to read the passage and then ponder on these questions.

One day some Pharisees and teachers of religious law arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus.  They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating…
So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.”  Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’  For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.”
Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition.  For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’  But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’  In this way, you let them disregard their needy parents.  And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others.” –Mark 7:1-13

     Then I asked the men the following questions.  It caused quite the discussion!  My goal is to not simply preach at them each week, but to encourage a time of thoughtful discussion.

1. Why did the Pharisees criticize Jesus’ disciples?
2. What is a tradition?  Where do they come from?
3. Are traditions bad?  Do they have a potential weakness?
4. Have you ever heard, “We’ve always done it that way”?
5. How is a tradition different from God’s commands?
6. What is the difference between lip worship and heart worship?
7. How did these folks sidestep God’s commands?  Why were they doing that?
8. What did Jesus say their heart condition was?
9. What example did Jesus give of their manipulation?
10. Can you think of any examples from our day?
11. What kind of traditions do we have today that we treat as “fixed in stone”?
12. How can we keep God’s commands and example higher than our own traditions?
13. If we become unconscious of our traditions, how could we become aware?

     My prayer is that this little study blessed you!  Please be praying for us as staff that we may share the Word of the Lord with love and urgency.

Jim Settle
Men’s Support Worker

24 January 2017

On Discipleship

“Finally, as you go and make disciples remember this:  It is not better methods [that we need], but better men and women who know their Redeemer from personal experience—men and women who see His vision and feel His passion for the world—men and women who are willing to be nothing so that He might be everything—men and women who want only for Christ to produce His life in and through them, according to His own good pleasure.”  –IF: Gathering Study on Discipleship

     Maybe today you are feeling weary, and maybe you feel inadequate to make disciples.  I was reading this in my study on discipleship and was encouraged.  So often we think we need better methods, to know every theory on how to disciple.  But that is not what we’re lacking!  Learning is not bad of course, but we cannot rely solely on that.
     Sometimes we may be afraid to take the next step in discipleship because we feel unequipped.  This is not true because Jesus has equipped us!  When we accepted Him into our life, we were instantly equipped with the Holy Spirit!  Our testimony, our personal experience and our passion for Jesus is enough to share with someone.  We don't need more people who have all the "book smarts."  We need more people who are passionate for Jesus in their current place/season.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.  –1 Corinthians 2:4-5

     As Paul said, his message and preaching were a demonstration of the Spirit's power which comes from God.  When we step out in faith, we show that we do not rely upon human wisdom, but solely on God!
     I pray that you would ask God for boldness to share your faith and walk in the truth.  May you know just how beautifully equipped you are!  We just need to be obedient to God's call, as we never know what seeds we will plant for eternity!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

20 January 2017

God at Work...Part 2

Continued from Thursday, January 19.

     Open Door Mission’s Head Chef, Brian, had also started ministering to Heather when she came to volunteer.  He would share of how God changed his life.  She always rolled her eyes at him, and would saying something like, "You and Jessie—geez!"
     This all changed when she came out in the Streets of Omaha van one day.  What she saw that day completely changed her perspective on life.  God did something in her that day.
Our kitchen volunteers are the best!  Would you consider coming
down to prep food or serve a meal for hungry and homeless
men, women, and children?
     We met a woman who talked about her life on the street and how she knew only God could change her.  I prayed for the woman and as we were getting back in the van, the woman gave Heather a hug.  On our way back to the Mission, Heather asked me if my invite to church still stood.  “OF COURSE!” I said.  The Lord was breaking down those walls!
     The next day heather came in and I was playing a worship song on my phone.  She smiled and said, "Is that what it’s like?"  When I asked her what she meant she said, "Is that what knowing Jesus is like?  Peace and joy and stuff?”
     “Yes!” I replied.  I knew God was tugging on her heartstrings.  
     Later that day as Heather was working with Brian, she told him how glad she was to be at the Mission and that she felt something happening in her heart.
     The very next day she said, “Jessica, you know…um…I have been thinking…Maybe I need to learn more about this Jesus stuff.“  What a blessing it was for us to hear those words!  Brian has been praying for Heather non-stop this week, ministering to her and showing her what the presence of Jesus looks like.  Not by his words, necessarily but by his actions. 
     This just goes to show that not just our guests, but also our volunteers are seeing Jesus at Open Door Mission.  As staff, volunteers, and donors who know the Lord, it is so important that the love of Christ shines through us because that is how non-believers see Jesus's love.  Our actions and attitudes need to reflect the love and change that Christ has made in our lives so that people living in the dark can see the light!
     How are your attitudes and actions showing Christ to others?  I encourage you to think about that today.  I know I will!  Thank God for His work in Heather’s live, and for the many others He is bringing to Himself through Open Door Mission! 

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Program Coordinator

19 January 2017

God at Work...Part 1

Our volunteers are essential for feeding the hundreds of hungry
men, women, and children that come to Open Door Mission
each day for a nutritious meal.
     Open Door Mission is a place where people from every walk of life can come and feel the love of Jesus.
     “Jessica, you know…um…I have been thinking…Maybe I need to learn more about this Jesus stuff," said Heather.  She has been volunteering at the Mission for little over a year.  At only 18, her rebellious attitude and poor choice has led her to having to live in youth facilities, jail, and now independent living.
     I met Heather’s mother Laura first, when Laura lost her job last year and began volunteering in the kitchen every other day.  Laura helped make sack lunches and however else she could in the kitchen.
     During this time, Laura shared with me that her daughter Heather was in a local youth facility.  She was under a lot of stress and felt as though she was losing her daughter to the world.  We prayed for Heather and I asked Laura to bring her here to volunteer so I could meet her.  Heather fell in love with volunteering, and began coming pretty frequently.  I was able to begin a mentoring type of relationship with her.
     Then six months ago, Heather ran away from home, and when she was brought back her mother decided the best thing for Heather was to give her completely to God, so she did.  Heather was arrested for truancy, and went to jail.  But God wasn’t finished with her yet, and she came back to volunteer again a few weeks ago.  In the past, she was very shut off to Jesus, and didn't even like when I told her that He loves her and died for her.  She would just say, "Oh Jessie, there you go again with the God talk."

To be continued Friday, January 20.

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Program Coordinator

18 January 2017

Happy Meal Surprise

     At the Lydia House, I’m blessed to see donors drop in with gifts for our guests day by day.  Recently a family brought in a fun surprise that I hadn’t seen before!  Clint and Laurie with their four kids bought and donated 44 McDonald’s Happy Meals for the children at the Lydia House!  We had some very HAPPY kids for sure! 

Shelly McCullough
Family Support Supervisor

13 January 2017

The Good Life

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  –Psalm 118:24

     A lot of us are waiting, hoping, praying for something.  We sometimes start to believe the lie that when we get the thing we are praying for, that is when we will experience "the good life" the Lord has for us.
     Annie Downs says, "No matter where you are on the spectrum of how you feel about God, He already knows how He feels about you, and He loves you.  I’m waiting, I’m believing, I’m hoping but I’m not believing for something better than this.  Keep wanting and desiring the things God put in you, because God put those things in you.  But this is the good life for you and me.  And I’m telling you, you will have a different life if you believe this is the good life.  Will you believe that this is the day that the Lord has acted on your behalf?"
     Psalm 118 says that this is the day the Lord has made.  So this day is good.  Often we go through life saying, "I'm just waiting for a day in the future."  But today, right now, is from the Lord!  We can choose to be a grump and have a horrible attitude, we can choose to go through the motions, or we can choose to say, “YES LORD!  You made today and I'm going to rejoice in it.  Whatever you have for me today, I will do it for your glory!” 
     Let us not be people who only can quote bible verses or only go by the title of "Christians."  Instead, let's be people who live out the Gospel every day.  Let's be people who can rejoice in what the Lord has placed in front of us this second, this minute, this hour, and not secretly wish we were somewhere else.  Let's be people who can rejoice in this day, that today is the good life.  And let us be people who believe in word and action that Jesus is all we need to truly experience the good life the Lord has for us!!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

12 January 2017

River City Six - Mike Johnson

     Open Door Mission’s own Mike Johnson, Chief Financial Officer, was recently featured as one of Strictly Business’ River City Six.  Read his spotlight profile below.

     Open Door Mission (www.opendoormission.org) is a Gospel Rescue Mission founded in 1954 committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness and poverty.  Each day, Open Door Mission’s campus offers 816 safe, shelter beds to homeless men, women and children, serves over 2,000 hot, nutritious meals and provides preventive measures to more than 275 people living in poverty.  Mike Johnson is Open Door Mission’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

How did you get started in the organization?
I was looking for something that would match my skill set with the opportunity to help others in a meaningful way.  Most opportunities required a move to one of the coasts.  After praying for several months, an opportunity at Open Door Mission appeared on a job board.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?
Having to lay people off.  In the corporate world, profits are what matter and some companies sacrifice talented, good people to meet a number.

What has been your most important achievement professionally?
I sat for and passed the CPA examination on my first try after being out of college for eight years.  This opened some doors for me to progress to where I am now.

Tell us a little about your family.
I am married with three daughters.  All three live in Omaha; two are married. W e currently have three wonderful grandchildren.

What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life?
Following Jesus Christ wholeheartedly requires many sacrifices and faith to trust completely in God’s provision.  Stepping into full-time ministry at Open Door Mission is the current step of faith in which I am engaged.

What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?
Being outside, hiking, kayaking, and playing with the grandkids.

What is the most unique or interesting thing about you that most people probably don’t know?
I enjoy cooking and make really good runzas.

What are you the most proud of?
Our team at Open Door Mission.  I know firsthand the sacrifices people go through to work here.  They selflessly give of their time, talent and treasure to help those who need help and direction in this world.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Never quit; do the best you can.  Only when you quit do you really fail.  Everything else is a learning experience.

If you could choose only one descriptive word to be remembered as, what would it be?

If you could choose any other profession to be successful in, what would it be?
Forest ranger or trail guide.  I love our national parks and the wilderness in general.

What local non-profit organization(s) are you passionate about or involved with, and are there any special reasons why?
I love sharing the Word of God with men going through our programs at Open Door Mission.  I love to see their hearts come alive and their lives begin to change into something new.

What is your favorite book or the last good book you read?
Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons.

What is your favorite movie?
The Last of the Mohicans or The Patriot.

What is your favorite TV show?
Currently it’s The Selection.  Those in our Armed Forces deserve all our thanks for the sacrifices they make for our country.

What is your favorite local restaurant?
I enjoy Bonefish Grill for dine in, and for pizza it’s La Casa Pizzaria.

If our readers would like to contact you, how should they do so?
Via email at mjohnson@opendoormission.org or visit our website at www.opendoormission.org.

This article has been re-posted from Strictly Business.  To view its original site, please click here.

11 January 2017

New Year, New Life

     On New Year’s Day, five men from our life-changing programs came forward to be baptized at church.  Please pray for them by name, and share in this celebration!  What a perfect way to start the new year!


Pat McKernan
Garland Thompson Men’s Center Director

10 January 2017

Winter Break Fun

     Thank you to our Children and Youth Director, Rachel, for calling me over to the Lydia House last week to see the coolest fort ever.  I am not sure who was more excited: the kids or Rachel.  But it was a fun sight to see, nonetheless.  I am thinking Rachel needs an assistant to help with kids and I am putting in my application now!

Amy Buss
Human Resources Director

09 January 2017

What Do You Do?

My family and I love our job and all the people when are able to
meet because of it!
     I stopped into several buildings on campus today, and a theme seemed to resonate.  It may be a different year, but one thing I know, that I know, that I know is still the same—God is in control.
     While I was at the Garland Thompson Men's Center to greet media, I got to see two of our New Life Recovery Program students share their testimony for Channel 7, giving God the glory for the lasting change they’ve experienced in their lives.  Their uncut testimonies were so good that everyone listening got chills.
     Then, as I stopped by our kitchen to say hi, I saw one of our Board members serving our guests dinner.  He's been on the Board for years, but still humbly served with a giddy smile like it was his first time.
     My phone buzzed, and I received this message from a graduate as I was leaving for the night.

"Victoria!!!!  It's happening.  Our baby girl should be here by tomorrow.  Please tell me you are still teaching at Lydia House?!  Your class helped save my life. If it wasn't for Lydia House, I know I'd be in the ground.  Now we are close to bringing home a new life.  God is AMAZING!  Thank you for everything."

     It's 2017, and God's grace is still sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).  He knows our needs for timing, budgeting, staffing, etc. He has a plan (Jeremiah 29:11).  He is Sovereign (1 Chronicles 29:12).  He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, more than we could ever ask hope or think (Ephesians 3:20).
     Here's to another day of Mission life, where when people ask, “What do you do,” you reply with, “What needs to get done?”  We may not get to check the boxes off of our to-do list every day, but we are part of God's plan.  We are planting seeds into the fertile ground of this campus, and seeing God change lives every day for His harvest and all eternity.
     So all in all, that was a pretty awesome day.

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

06 January 2017

New Year's Prayer

     Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2017!  Here is my prayer for you all.

May God: 
ALWAYS BE FIRST in your life.
Sit on the throne of your heart.
Be your FIRST LOVE, always.

     I am also praying blessings, provision, protection, wisdom, guidance and God's DIVINE PEACE to flood your soul as we enter 2017.     May I say that I am blessed and honored to serve the Lord alongside all of you – every staff member, donor, volunteer, and friend of the Mission.  What a blessing it is to watch miracles of God’s faithfulness unfold every day!

Trust the Lord completely, and don’t depend on your own knowledge.  With every step you take, think about what he wants, and he will help you go the right way.  –Proverbs 3:5-6

Lisa Freeto
Overnight Support Worker

05 January 2017

God Lead You, God Feed You...

     Another year of great promise for the Kingdom has begun.  Remember during these first days of 2017 that the Word of the Lord will not return void!
     This will be a year of change for me, personally, as I have another high school senior leaving the nest.  He is looking at the next chapter of his life with soaring optimism.  I can’t wait to see where God takes him.  Onward and upward!
     Unlike past years, I have decided to not have a word of the year.  This is very different for me.  Instead, my 2017 prayer for myself, my family, and all friends, staff, donors, and volunteers of Open Door Mission is borrowed from the writings of another.

“God lead you; God feed you; God seed you; God weed you; God speed you.”  In the powerful words of Oswald Chambers, “Leave the broken, irreversible past in God’s hands, and step out into the invincible future with him.”

     I hope this resonates with you now and throughout 2017.  Here are a couple of other thoughts to ponder for the new year:

“One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above little things.” - John Burroughs

“Come, gentlemen, I hope we shall drink down all unkindness.” - William Shakespeare

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” - Benjamin Franklin

“Don’t judge me by my past. I don’t live there anymore.” - Petteri Tarkkonen

“God promises a light unto our feet, not a crystal ball into the future.” - Max Lucado

“Jesus Christ lived obscurely for much of His life and yet billions now follow Him - I am one of them.” - Queen Elizabeth II

     May 2017 be blessed!

Candace Gregory

03 January 2017

Blessing Upon Blessing

     In the days leading up to Christmas, Open Door Mission was blessed by generous donations from all around.  Here are a couple of highlights:
     The men from the Omaha Fire Department donated toys for the children at the Lydia House!
     Project Harmony dropped off 30 dolls and 8 boxes of action figures for our children!  What a blessing!
      Immanuel Village came by to donate toys and other urgent needs for those at Open Door Mission.
     Mark and Bonnie dropped off DOZENS of children's books for the kids.  They will certainly love them!
     Melissa dropped off many items for the men, including wallets, socks, and other hygiene items.
    Omaha Public Schools donated 22 boxes of clothes, toiletries, hats, gloves, toys, and food!
     Let’s send out a sincere thank you to each of these groups and individuals for thinking of the hungry and homeless men, women, and children during this holiday season.  And thank you to everyone else who donated or came down to volunteer!  You made the holidays a little brighter for the hungry and homeless.

Lydia House and Men’s Center Staff