31 March 2017

Homeless No More

     This past weekend, my son and I drove a young father of four staying at the Lydia House down to the bus line.  It was misting, cold, and windy.  Despite this weather, the man was cheerful, and shared that he had just rented a home.
     He and his family have been living at the Lydia House for eight months.  He is a cook out west, but does not have a car.  Every work day he walks downtown to ride the bus to work, works his shift, rides the bus back downtown, and walks back to the Lydia House.  What dedication.
     This family is on their way to being homeless no more, thanks to so many that GIVE to Open Door Mission and Lydia House.

Candace Gregory

30 March 2017

Salvation at Midnight

     A man named Sean was trying to meet with me all evening. That night, however, I was doing intakes at our Men’s Emergency Center and it was busy.  At about ten minutes to midnight, we were finally able to get together for a discipleship meeting.
     Sean was raised in the church, but did not know if he had eternal life.  I shared the truth of the Gospel with him and asked, "Is there any reason you wouldn't ask Jesus in your heart right now?’”  Sean saw he missed the mark with God.
     He saw the truth of Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23. He saw the hope of John 3:16 and I John 5:12-13.  We prayed together and Sean asked God to forgive him through Christs' work on the cross.  Hallelujah!

Greg Johnston
Health Care Case Manager

29 March 2017

Super Hero Day

     The Children and Youth Director and I have been working with a volunteer named Dustin to bring Super Hero Day to the Lydia House!  This awesome group dressed up as super heroes and brought donuts, games, and coloring sheets for the kids to enjoy.  Each member of the group played with the kids and allowed each child pick out three comic books to keep as their own!  What a fun time this was!

Amy Harvey
Volunteer & Partner Director

28 March 2017

It's the Little Things

     I work in the Maintenance Department and get to meet many of the men, women, and children that have come to Open Door Mission for one reason or another.  As I go about doing the repairs across campus, I’m reminded of the little things we all take for granted.  I get big thanks when I fix a clogged sink, or get a washer or dryer running again. 
     I also get a chance to talk with the guests here.  I hear how they are here because of an abusive relationship or they had just been released from jail and being here was terms of their release.  I see how small accomplishments are huge to them.  Getting a GED, graduating from one of the programs here, or even just getting promoted to the next level are all important steps. 
     Please keep our guests in your prayers as they are “the least of these.”

Gregory Crocker
Maintenance Department

27 March 2017

A Greater Impact Together

     I wanted to give a shout out to John Michael, our Homeless Prevention Manager at the South Omaha campus!  Every day, he is intentional about building a great relationship with our guests and our donors.
     One example is his relationship with Saving Grace, a perishable food rescue group.  Due to their generosity, South Omaha is stocked well in order to be a blessing for our shoppers!  With the right partnerships in our community, we can collectively make an even bigger impact for the hungry, homeless, and near homeless.

Joshua Smith
Gift In Kind Director

24 March 2017

The Gift of Vision

     First Monday of every month, Dr. Matthew Taylor comes to Open Door Mission’s Free Health & Healing Clinic and to see guests in need of glasses.  Once he has given them their diagnosis, we contact an organization in Iowa for a free glasses voucher. 
     This week I heard an extra special story about Dr. Taylor’s visit with a guest from the Lydia House.

I would just like to say thank you so much. I did not realize just how blind I was getting and how much I was missing out on seeing.  It's wonderful knowing that I will be able to see once again.  This wouldn't be possible for me without the Free Health & Healing Clinic and the generosity of Dr. Taylor.  I feel very blessed.  Thank You Again.  –Angela

     Praise God for the partnerships we have in the clinic to assist our guests in something a beautiful as seeing the new spring in bloom with clear vision!

Kate Fischer, LIMHP
Health & Healing Center Director

23 March 2017

The Panhandler's Plan

     Sometimes God’s plans are different from your own.  One evening a little while ago, my plan was to rest.  I’ve been getting over the flu, but the process is slow.  While my wife was at her appointment, my plan was to rest in the car until she had finished, and then go home and rest.
     On our way to the doctor’s office, we saw a panhandler and I knew God had a different plan.  After I dropped my wife off, I returned to our friend on the side of the street.
     Ricky is his name.  He is just back in Omaha after leaving four years ago.  He has a couple of light coats on in the bitter cold and a pair of sneakers that are too small.  I gave him a care bag that my church’s small group had made, which contains an Open Door Mission Compassion Card.  These cards let panhandlers know where they can get free food, shelter, and care.
If you would like free Compassion Cards to hand
out to panhandlers, please call Candace Gregory
at 402-422-1111.
     He began talking with me.  I told him all about Open Door Mission and every service we have to offer.  I suggested calling for a van to pick him up so he could get new shoes and a heavy coat, use the phone, and put his stuff in a locker so it would be safe.
     He almost said yes.  He kept saying, "I don't want to agree and then change my mind."  He had his own plan.
     Please pray for Ricky.  As my wife and I drove home later, I passed by Ricky’s corner to see he had left.  Although I wasn’t able to convince Ricky to come to the Mission, I did follow God’s nudging to be kind, give him helpful things, and let him know that Jesus cares.  We will see if one day Ricky alters his plan and comes to get help at Open Door Mission.
     I hope I don't have to wait until heaven to find out what happened to Ricky.  If I do though, I am okay with it because God is good and I can trust in Him!

Steve Frazee
Senior Program Director

22 March 2017

A Lenten Devotional...Part 2

Continued from Tuesday, 3/21.

     Usually when I get tired and worn out, it is because I'm focused on my works and actions rather than on Jesus!  The days when I’m too overwhelmed to keep working for God’s glory are when my priorities are out of whack.  If I am working for God's glory but do not have God's presence, what good is it?  Then I am like the Pharisee.  If on the outside I am doing my job, but my inside is not full of Jesus, then what good am I truly?
     The beauty of the Gospel is that we can come as we are to King Jesus.  We can come and fully surrender our ways to Him.  We can say, “Lord, let me be in Your presence.  Do a work inside of me so I can minister for You on the outside.”  We can ask to be humbled in order to submit to His authority.  We can repent of our hypocritical ways and Jesus ALWAYS is faithful to clean our insides and make us brand new.  When we do this, we are able with His Spirit to minister knowing that we are being made into Christ's image more and more every day!   I Love this prayer from Ann Voskamp:
Ann Voskamp is an influential Christian author and speaker.
By Grace, today I will fast from social media because unplugging tunes me to God.  Today I will be more focused on Good News than any other news.  We repent of having more time for Facebook than we do for Face in Your Book, for more closely following our social media streams instead of thirsting for Living Water and closely following You.  -Ann Voskamp
     Let's not be people who keep plugging away even though our inside is in need of refreshing that only Jesus can bring.  Let's be people who thirst for Living Water that satisfies and do not just get filled with temporary satisfaction.  Let's be people that come to the Lord when we know our inside needs Him desperately and let's let Him transform us to be more like Jesus every day.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

21 March 2017

A Lenten Devotional...Part 1

Lent is a season of prayer and fasting for the 40 days before Easter.
     During this time of Lent, I have been reading a special devotional every day in order to prepare my heart for Easter.  My prayer is that I would be able to grasp more fully what Jesus did for me.  A recent reading included Jesus’ words in Matthew:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.  You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”  —Matthew 23:23-26
     This morning I awoke already feeling weary and worn out (it's only Tuesday, by the way...) and I thought, “Lord, I really need to meet with you during my lunch break to get a fresh perspective.”  Reading this really convicted me.  I don't like to admit it but I can often relate to the Pharisee.

To be continued on Wednesday, 3/22.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

20 March 2017

Spa Day

     Last week, a group from the Veteran’s Association (or VA) came and provided a spa day for our Lydia House ladies in one of  our life-changing programs.  It was AMAZING!  The VA provided professional messages, hair wash/cut/color, make up, nails, new professional clothing, lunch, resume and interview advice, and fantastic fellowship!  Every one of these ladies was so encouraged by today!
     One woman shared with me that before her addiction took over, she never left the house without her makeup done and her hair curled.  As her addiction grew though, it took that from her and she has not worn make up or curled her hair in a very long time.  She had both done today and was nearly in tears trying to tell me how much it meant to her!
     THEN, as a bonus, a Bible study group from Westside Church put together little blessing bags for the ladies.  They ended up making exactly enough to give one to each of our program guests!
     Today I am thanking God for so many amazing blessings He poured out on these fantastic women!  And I am also so grateful for the volunteers and donors in our community who care enough about our guests to show them just how valued and beautiful they are.

Vickie Gregorio
Lydia House Director

17 March 2017

Seeing the Symptoms

     Two weeks ago, a gentleman came into the clinic looking for a knee brace.  I was concerned about the symptoms he shared with me, so I asked if he could hang around and speak with the doctor that was coming in later that day.
     Our volunteer, Dr. Agner, spoke with this man was also concerned about his symptoms, so helped him make an appointment at an office to get some tests done.  The man did this, had many tests, and was diagnosed with a tumor growing in his stomach.  
     Because this tumor was discovered now, this man’s doctors have worked out a treatment plan that will allow him to see his grandchildren graduate!  What a blessing to have such knowledgeable volunteer doctors that can see stomach cancer from a sprained knee visit.  Praise God!

Kate Fischer, LIMHP
Health & Healing Center Director

16 March 2017

Double Salvation

Our bunkhouse is open to men seeking safe shelter.
    Last week, God was surely moving in big ways at the Garland Thompson Men’s Center!  He touched two men’s lives as I spoke with them, and two men accepted Christ the same day!
     The first salvation came as I was doing Case Management with a young man named Kent.  While we talked, I was able to share the Gospel with him.  He prayed and asked Christ to be his Savior.
     Just before that, Pat, our Director of Men’s Ministry, had just walked into the office for a quick hello.  I shared with him that Kent and I were discussing the Gospel, and then Pat left the office.  I'm sure that as Pat walked away, he sent up a quick prayer to God for my conversation.  How wonderful to do ministry together!
     Later that day, I had the privilege of leading another man to Christ.  Meeting with these guys in the Emergency Shelter is an awesome privilege.  They are needy and Christ is there to meet their need.  Please pray for these two men as they begin their new life in Christ.  And pray that the other men in our shelters would be open to hearing the Good News as well.

Greg Johnston
Case Manager/Intake Coordinator

15 March 2017

Girl Scout Cookies!

     Children of homelessness don’t often have the opportunities that children of more affluent families have.  My children were blessed to be involved in scouting (Boys & Girls) and now my grandchildren, nieces, nephews and very special “adopted grandchildren” are involved too.
     When I heard that there was a Girl Scout Troop at Open Door Mission's Lydia House, I was thrilled to know that these very special girls would be able to enjoy all the fun and learning of Girl Scouts along with a sense of belonging to something bigger homelessness.

     Then I saw the newscast of their selling ability on the UNO campus!  The girls were great, organized, worked as a team, were polite, and sold cookies.  I knew I had to support them.  I let my friends know I had “connections” and could get Girl Scout Cookies for them, without them tramping all over town.  Of course, I bought a couple boxes of certain Girl Scout Cookies that I love.
     These girls need all the love, prayers, and encouragement we can give them so they can flourish.  Now I have to go find out if there are any cookies left…to fill my office cookie tin! 

Maggie Cope
Gift in Kind Coordinator

14 March 2017

Another Man in Blue

     Rejoice with us that Open Door Mission volunteer August was sworn in as a new Police Officer!  He is an invaluable volunteer as he helps at our special events as a Spanish and Arabic translator.
     Please pray for August and his family during this transition.  He has a huge heart for those we serve, so we are grateful to have an advocate in uniform.  It takes great courage to serve our city in this way!

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

13 March 2017

International Women's Day

     In honor of International Women’s Day last week, I wanted to share one of my favorite Bible stories of women friendship.
A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth.  At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.  Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?  When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.  You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”   – Luke 1:39-45
     What a beautiful friendship between women these verses describe.  It shows how we are to be in community with one another as women.  And here’s a quote from one of my favorite books on women discipleship that references this friendship:
When the Holy Spirit in one woman recognizes the Holy Spirit in another woman safe places become sacred places.  —“Giddy Up Eunice” by Sophie Hudson
     We all need each other as women in the body of Christ!  I pray you have women in your life that you are in community with and that imitates Mary and Elizabeth's sweet, deep, friendship focused on the Lord!
     I also pray that you would know you are loved, chosen, and valued as a woman of God!  Thank a woman in your life that has inspired you, that has discipled you, or that you disciple and let them know they are important in your life.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

10 March 2017

Salvation at Chapel!

     It was my privilege to share at chapel earlier this week.  For the past week or so I have had a certain passage weighing heavily on my heart, so I wanted to share it with our guests.
Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.  Live in peace with each other.  And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.   –1 Thessalonians 5:13-14
     God guided me to expand on these verses.  Afterwards, I spoke with a young man who is staying in our Men’s Emergency Center.  His name is Alan.  During the service, the Lord opened Alan’s eyes to see his need, and as we prayed together Alan accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior.
     Alan knows now that he is forgiven and has eternal life.  Praise our Savior!

Greg Johnston
Case Manager/Intake Coordinator

09 March 2017

Mr. Country

     “Mr. Country” is what we call him.  This is a man with great wisdom, strength, and gentleness in his eyes.  Mr. Country is a man we serve through our Streets of Omaha program.  We can usually find him close to a local church, passed out from a day of drinking.  The other day though, we had a much different encounter with Mr. Country.
     He was walking tall and sober-minded, with clean clothes on and a fresh smile across his face.  He greeted us with a hug.  I was surprised that he even knew who I was, given that we had only ever spoken while he was under the influence.  But he looked into my eyes and said, "Thank you for caring for me when I couldn't care for myself.  Thank you for taking time to show me love when I didn't love myself.  Today I got an apartment.  Today I am sober--two weeks sober, as a matter of fact!" 
     With great joy, my volunteer team and I talked with Mr. Country about his decision to stay sober and told him that God has a plan for him.  As we watched him walk away, we were reassured of one thing and that is that God sees all of us.  He hears us, knows our struggles, and He rejoices with us when we get it right.
     God is walking along side Mr. Country.  The Streets of Omaha volunteer team, including myself, is glad they got to be a part of his story!

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Program Coordinator

08 March 2017

Big Time Change

     My name is Francisco and in February 2016 I graduated from the New Life Recovery Program offered by Open Door Mission.
     I am so thankful to this place for so many blessings they provided and for saving my life.  I’m thankful that they support people who are battling addictions and help them to find their own way to survive through Christ.  I found Jesus in my journey and am eternally thankful for the staff who introduced me to the real Christianity.  My life has changed big time, and I have come a long way since first arriving at Open Door Mission.
     I’m looking forward to continuing attending recovery meetings, helping my fellow brothers in Christ stand strong, seeing my kids more, and moving up in my company.
     I just wanted to thank everyone at Open Door Mission who gave me this opportunity for new life and to all the staff who made this change possible.

New Life Recovery Program Graduate

07 March 2017

Simple Act of Kindness

     I wanted to share a picture and a story that demonstrates how an act of kindness can really make someone’s day!
     A normal day for me consists of chasing three amazing and wild little girls to the car in the morning.  Last week, the snow and ice was heavy on my car one morning.  This day was also not the usual fun and crazy day.  My daughter's grandma had passed away a few days earlier, and my sweet seven-year-old girl’s emotions were all over the place as she grieved.  This made for a somewhat difficult start to the day.  At this point, I had gotten little to no sleep the last few days, was overly stressed and emotional, and seeing the snow outside my window was just too much.  I broke into tears.
    My coworker Mark had no idea of what was going on in my life that morning.  He did, however, let God lead him in this amazing act of kindness.  I walked out to my car to begin scraping, and Mark was already outside, scrapping off the ice and brushing off the snow.  He didn’t do this because he had to or because it’s a part of his job, but because God called him to do it!  He looked around at me and simply smiled and gave me a hug.
     This is the body of Christ in action!  A team member stepped out of his own schedule to help me out.  Because of Mark, on this very difficult morning, I didn’t have to stand in the cold or struggle to get my kids to sit in the car while I scrapped my car.
     This meant a lot to me and brings tears to my eyes when I think about it!  Thank you, Mark, for your kindness.  I am so grateful to be a part of a staff that feels like a family.

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Program Coordinator

06 March 2017

An Ongoing Partnership

     I had the privilege of speaking with the Nebraska Wesleyan nursing students several days ago, and it was a wonderful time.
     The nursing students’ instructor, Laura, invited me to speak with the class about Open Door Mission and our Free Health & Healing Clinic.  Soon the whole class will be coming down to the Mission for their clinical rotations.  They will assist our guests by taking their blood pressure, testing their blood sugar levels, assessing any illnesses/wounds they might have, and help the volunteer doctors who come to our clinic.
     This partnership has been ongoing for a while, and these students are always such a blessing to us.  It was an honor to go meet the new class and to share with them about what goes on at Open Door Mission and what a blessing they will be.  Thank You to Laura and Nebraska Wesleyan University for all you do!

Kate Fischer, LIMHP
Health & Healing Center Director

03 March 2017

Above and Beyond

Be sure to stop by the conveniently-located
Elkhorn Outreach Center!
     The Kitchen Director at Saint Wenceslaus School called me to say she really appreciated the interaction she had with our staff member, Greg, at the Elkhorn Family Outreach/Donation Center.   When she stopped by to drop off bread, Greg was able to pray with her about her recent knee surgery.  She was very thankful for the service that didn't make her get out of the car as well!  Way to go Greg, for serving our donors as Christ would!  Knowing Greg, this isn't anything out of the ordinary for him.  This is just who he is.
     I could send an email like this about each of my staff members as they are all doing things to go above and beyond each week.  I love watching true servants hearts in action!  Nothing is more inspirational to me.

Joshua Smith
Gift in Kind Director

02 March 2017

Abide in Me...Part 2

Continued from Wednesday, 3/1.

     What Jesus asks us is that we remain in him.  The Greek word for remain is meno which means abide, continue, dwell, remain.  This command is quite counter-culture to our instant culture.  What Jesus calls us to isn’t something you try for five minutes and then move on.  It requires us to slow down, take a deep breath, and dwell, abide, wait.  When I am remaining in Jesus throughout the day, I can see the fruit—abundantly more fruit that I could ask for.  When I rush through life, I don’t see the same results.  
     Lysa Terkeurst says, “Jesus doesn’t participate in the rat race.  He’s into the slower rhythms of life, like abiding, delighting, and dwelling—all words that require us to trust Him with our place and our pace.”
     What would it look like for us to trust God in our place and our pace?  What would it look like to ask Jesus into every part of our life?  You may ask yourself, “How do I bear fruit?  I go to church, do devotional time.”  But for abundant fruit, you must remain in Him.  Are you remaining in Jesus day after day or are you rushing to get everything done?  Are you slowing down your pace, truly listening to the message at church and applying it to your life?  Are you spending your devotional time remaining in Jesus, truly hearing from him or are simply doing it to check something off your to do list?
     When we slow down and ask God if He would speak to us, is when we see God show up!
     The Good News of the Gospel is that we can come to Jesus how we are.  Even if we know we have been moving through life way too quickly, we can come to Jesus and ask Him to slow us down.  We can devote spending more time in His presence.  We can come to Jesus just how we are and know that He will provide for us!  We can know that we are purpose-driven people who are intended to bear fruit.  This is how we show that we are Jesus’ disciples to the world.
     Would we be people that is not just satisfied with being your average Christian, but instead be people who are known by our fruit?  When others ask what satisfies us, would we be able to answer Jesus?  Would our life not be reflected by rushing but instead by quieting ourselves in the Lord’s presence?

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

01 March 2017

Abiding in Christ...Part 1

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”  –John 15:1-8

     In this parable Jesus is the vine, God our Father is the gardener, and we are the branches.  God desires to cut off dead branches that produce no fruit and prune areas of fruitfulness to make us even more fruitful
      The key part that sticks out to me in this passage is when Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”  I look back at the past year and can see where God used me in huge ways and moved mightily in areas where I know if I had been acting on my own strength, the results would not have been the same.  Constantly I need to be asking myself, “Is Jesus in this, or is this solely on Trudy?”
     The world likes to tell us we can still get everything we want by throwing Jesus out of the equation.  Our world has tried to replace Jesus with the “instant culture."  There is instant social media, instant electronics, instant phone call/text message, instant food, instant shopping, instant housing searches, instant everything.  What this shows me is that our world is just crying out for Jesus.  Instant does not satisfy, instant does not fix.  We can get sucked into the “instant” world without even knowing it.  Our world, the people who do not know the Lord are looking and seeking for something to fill them.  So they try fad after fad, always looking to what’s next.  Participating in these fads is not bad, but be sure to do a heart check of if Jesus or these fads are the Lord of your life.

To be continued Thursday, 3/2.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director