31 July 2017

Mark's Testimony

     I started using drugs at the age of 12 and have had problems with alcohol and drugs most of my life. It has kept me from having any kind of normal life and has gotten me arrested numerous times. I have been to prison four different times, and the last one was for conspiring to manufacture meth. 
     I ended up at Open Door Mission because I overdosed and was brought from Des Moines, Iowa, to Methodist Hospital in Omaha in the back of an ambulance. I have made a choice that I don’t want to live like that anymore, so I joined the New Life Recovery Program.
     My life has turned around. I go to church and attend The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) here at Open Door Mission. I also work in the Mission’s Summer of Hope Garden and have an awesome relationship with my higher power – Jesus Christ. Today, I try to do God’s will instead of my own, pray daily, and read the Bible. 
     I want to thank all the staff and volunteers at Open Door Mission, my brothers in Christ, and Jesus. Without Him, none of this would be possible in my life.

Open Door Mission Graduate

28 July 2017

State of Addiction: Opioid Abuse in Homeless Shelters

This article is taken from KETV Omaha.  To read the official article on its original site and watch the accompanying video, click here.

   Heroin and prescription drug abuse are complicating the challenges facing Omaha's homeless shelters.
     Heroin and prescription drug abuse are compounding the challenges facing Omaha's homeless shelters.
     A wave of younger people with a growing dependency on drugs is rolling in without a place to live. It's another example of the problems created by America's State of Addiction.
     "I've been flat-lined in the hospital three times," said Russell Janssen, a former heroin addict.
      Now a case manager at the Open Door Mission, Janssen knows all about the power of addiction.
     "You lose everything, but you don't care. That's the problem with it. You don't care what you lose because it becomes about the drug. It becomes about the love affair," said Janssen.
Janssen has been sober for 20 years. His addiction started with marijuana and led to heroin.
     "The problem with heroin is, eventually, you get to a point where you have to do so much heroin just to feel normal. And then if you want to get high, you have to go above that amount," said Janssen.
     He said the biggest change on the drug scene is younger men and women in the shelter, each walking the same path toward destruction.
     "Now, we see a lot more younger people coming to the program. I'm talking about 19, 20, 21, 25. It's getting worse," said Frank Bailey, program director for Siena/Francis House.
Bailey sees it too at the Siena/Francis House, the increased number of homeless adults addicted to opiates.
     "It just takes them over. And then in the process, they start losing things like house, employment, family," said Bailey.
     Omaha's homeless shelters have always dealt with drug abuse. But the challenge of how to treat those who are addicted, and still help those who are not, is as great a task as ever.
     "Our idea of sobriety is 24/7, 365," Steve Frazee, senior program director for Open Door Mission.
     Frazee said those who arrive high are kept away from the others.
     Additionally, prescribed medications are kept by staff members, under lock and key.
     The shelter is currently looking for better drug tests to use in screening, according to Frazee.
     "We sometimes get so that we have an issue of being able to detect what is something that they've been prescribed, and something that isn't," said Frazee.
      The Siena/Francis House offers more leniency. 
     Shelter is provided, and counseling is offered if clients will commit to the 120-day residential program.
     "Every person with an addiction is not a bad person. They kind of bond together," said Bailey.
     "I had a motorcycle accident." said Richard Moreno, another former addict.
     Moreno is among those benefiting from the Siena/Francis House's Miracles program .
He bears the scars of a heroin addiction that started decades ago when he was a teenager with prescribed painkillers.
     His wife died last year while he was in jail for drugs. 
     Moreno said the counseling is his lifeline.
     "I got a 12-year-old and my wife passed away in October of 2016 and I needed to fix myself," said Moreno.
     The biggest obstacle on the road to recovery -- a change of scenery.
     "You have to get them out of the environment that they're in because if you don't get them out of the environment they're in, they will constantly stay there and they'll continue to go back to what they know," said Janssen.
     For more information on the Siena/Francis House and its services, visit sienafrancis.org.
     For more information on the Open Door Mission and its services, visit opendoormission.org.

27 July 2017

Daily Life at the Mission

     Have you ever wondered what the men and women in Open Door Mission’s life-changing programs do on a daily basis? Well, each day is filled with activity for each of them. The Journey to Work Program provides hands on experience to prepare for their futures. Often this includes helping out around our campus.
     I love seeing the guys in the programs pitch in where they can. They take great pride in their work of making Open Door Mission a beautiful and welcoming campus. As the saying goes, "Many hands make light work." And these guys work together as a team to care for the campus that means so much to them.
     But they don’t only help with landscaping – there are many other projects that these men help with. God has blessed each man with a specific set of gifts, and many of them are eager for a chance to show the skills they have. It's their way of giving back in gratitude for what God has provided.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. – Mark 10:45

     God shines His light and His hand guides the men and women at the Mission. God's love is evident in more lives making His creation beautiful on the inside and outside.

Rick Ziegler
Communications Coordinator

26 July 2017

Three Baptisms

     I take some guys with me to Sojourn Baptist Church on Sundays. Last Sunday, two of them were baptized! These two men are growing in Christ and doing well in the program. Pray for Daniel and Jeff. There is always spiritual warfare when people make the right decisions for Christ.
     There is another man named Roger who is staying on the emergency side. He is a believer that struggles with drug abuse, but is doing well right now. Recently, he voiced that he wants to be a member of Sojourn Baptist. He is getting fed there and is viably encouraged.
     So I talked with him about baptism. Roger was baptized as a child, but did so for his parents. We talked about how baptism is a personal decision, born out of a relationship with Christ, and he decided to take that step of obedience to Christ and be baptized!
     We will be going over what the scriptures teach about baptism for the next couple of weeks, and then we will baptize him at Sojourn Baptist Church. Praise God for His encouragement and for the movement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of our guests!

Greg Johnston
Health Care Case Manager

21 July 2017

A Shoulder on the Streets to Cry On

Hidden among the streets are tents like these, where
the hungry and homeless seek shelter.
     She sat on a blanket made of leaves and dirt. She had tears running down her face and would barely look at me or any of the Streets of Omaha volunteers that day. So I put a bottle of water by her feet and told her Jesus loves her and we left.
     One week later, the same lady was at the same park, tears still running down her face. I walked over and sat in the grass with our volunteer named Kim. We did not say a word at first. We just sat and drank a bottle of water next to her. She seemed relieved and thankful that we sat in silence with her, and then she quietly laid her head on my shoulder and cried. She didn't say a word.  She just cried, and I let her. I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to just be still.
     Kim put her hand on this sweet lady’s back and whispered, “You can do it, one day at a time.” She whispered a few more words of affirmation to, and we said a quiet prayer over her. As we walked away she said in a gentle voice, "Thank you. I am thankful for love."
     We don't know what was wrong and we didn't need to. We do know that God was at work in her heart and that sometimes you just need to be still and let God do what He does best. On Streets of Omaha we get to do that every day. 

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Program Coordinator

20 July 2017

The Name we Carry

     We all have names that we carry. We have best friends, family, brands we like, coffee we drink, favorite foods we eat…the list goes on. The question is, what name are you carrying? Are you carrying the name of Jesus around or are you known more for brands you like, friends you keep, favorite foods you eat, or the coffee you drink? 
Louie Giglio is the pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, GA.
     Louie Giglio says, "At the end of the day, the most important name for you to carry is the name of Jesus. God is counting on you to carry the name of Jesus. At the end of the day, it's possible that your roommate, friend, family member, buddy will say, ‘I didn't know, I knew you were religious, I knew you were a Christian, but I didn't know about Jesus.’ But Christian doesn't mean Jesus to this world. I'm not knocking Christianity, but the word Christian was only mentioned twice in the whole Bible. I think a better word is Jesus—I follow Jesus, all my fountains are in Jesus, all my hope is in Jesus. The world is dying to hear His name above every name, the name that means healing, the name that means Savior and that is the name of Jesus."

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.  -Acts 9:10-19

     This story snippet of scripture is when Saul/Paul was being prepared to carry the name of Jesus, just like you and me. How much do many of our stories look this way? God came to Ananias and said, “I want you to lay hands on him so he may regain his sight.” Ananias doubted God, saying, “God do you know how evil this man is?” God replied, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name.”
     How often do we doubt God, do we ask God if He’s sure He wants us to share with this person because they are so hard hearted. God's response to us every time is that we are a chosen instrument to carry His name. 
     We are called to carry the name of Jesus, to tell our testimony, to share how God is constantly working through our life. I challenge us, is this the name we are carrying? Are we carrying this name with us every day at Open Door Mission? Are we carrying this name in our friendship circles, family, and homes?
     I say God brings people to Open Door Mission's doorstep because they need to know Jesus, whether or not the person realizes it when they arrive.  Some meet him here in a real way, some hearts are hardened, and some faith is renewed. But everyone comes to our doorstep because they are in need of healing and hearing about the name above all names—Jesus! 
     I pray that we would be people who would boldly carry the name of Jesus at Open Door Mission. I pray that we would not let fear or someone's hard heart hold us back. I pray we would know that even if someone rejects Jesus it is not about us, it is about them and Jesus, it's not personal.  I pray the reason we carry the name of Jesus is because that is the hope we have and that is at the bottom of our joy--Jesus!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

19 July 2017

A Graduate's Testimony

     I started this journey to sobriety in a treatment facility in Des Moines, Iowa, where I was kicked out for drinking. This led me to the emergency room, where I spent several days recovering.
     In January 2016, I arrived at Open Door Mission and joined the New Life Recovery Program in February. It was difficult for me at first, and in June I had to leave for 30 days because I could not quit smoking.
     I restarted the program last August, and stand before you today a graduate! For the next two years I will be a part of The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) program, which will give me a two year associate’s degree in Urban Ministry.  
     I have many favorite biblical passages, but would like to end with a quote from Micah 6:8 which reads
He has shown you O’ man what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
     Lastly, I would like to thank the staff and many volunteers at Open Door Mission. Your hard work and efforts have not gone unnoticed.
     Thank you and peace be with you all!

Dal S.
Open Door Mission Graduate

18 July 2017

Armor of God

     Every Thursday morning, it's a delight to lead a devotional time with the men at Garland Thompson Men's Center. One morning, we talked about putting on the Armor of God and how important it is to be on guard, standing your ground on what is good and true, and shutting out the evil one.  There are many parts that all come together to serve one purpose.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.  –Ephesians 6:10-20

     My hope, prayer, and encouragement for you today and going forth is to live your life shielded by the Armor of God.  

Rick Ziegler
Communications Coordinator

17 July 2017

God's Word

     Have you ever sat down to read the Bible and felt like you were trying to force something to happen? I have. I’ve opened my Bible before, closed my eyes, opened to a particular passage, and started reading, hoping it would be exactly what I needed to hear! But then, it usually ends up being something that has nothing to do with my circumstances. 
     We’ve all been there, trying so hard to make a connection with God and ending up frustrated. God doesn’t want His word to make us feel pressure; He wants His word to make us feel light and free. He doesn’t want us to come to Him feeling stressed; He wants us to come to Him feeling blessed, and knowing His word is making a difference in our lives beyond what we may feel in the moment. 
     God’s word is more than an instruction manual. It’s not just a list of do’s and don’ts. His word is a love letter. When we read it His love empowers us and deposits His strength into us. That is because His word is alive and will change your life. When we read scripture, we have to know that God is breathing His life into us. He is refreshing our spirits and directing our paths. Don’t run from the Bible, run to the Bible and receive His love because God wants to do something great in you!

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. –Hebrews 4:12

Dawn Lindsey
Communications Specialist

13 July 2017

An Encouraged Witness

     I have had the privilege to be part of the restructuring plan at Timberlake Outreach
Renovations at the Timberlake Outreach Center continue to
move along wonderfully!
Center. Through this project, I have been reminded of what God is doing in and through Open Door Mission.

     Our leaders have seen the talents and potential in our program men, and given them opportunities to give back. These men have found purpose and now I can see they actually feel alive again. God has a plan and future for all of them!
     I have witnessed men and women that have journeyed down the hard road, lost much if not everything, walked through healing in Jesus, and now are leaders at Open Door Mission!  They inspire me and give us all hope. It is a pleasure and honor to work beside them!
     I have met neighbors from our community that we have loved and cared for, given resources and spiritual direction to, and who are now working, living less dependent on hand outs and more on Him!
     It can be difficult to see day-to-day what God is doing in our hectic lives, however if we take a minute and step back, He will show us His plans and desires. I have been reminded that God’s desire is to capture our hearts, renew our minds, and teach us to rely on His strength.
     Our love for Jesus changes the landscape of our surroundings. Thank you to all wonderful staff members, volunteers, and donors that allow Him to flow in and through you into this place.
     We can trust Him in everything. God’s word promises that He is able to do more than we can ever imagine! He loves us all deeply!

Laura Keen
Homeless Prevention Manager

12 July 2017

A Personal Relationship

     Last night I met with Matthew. He grew up Catholic, as I did, so we had an instant connection.  He started sharing about his struggle to understand that just knowing about Jesus in our head was not the way to get to Heaven. I had this exact same struggle when I was younger.
     We were able to look at Scriptures together, and the Holy Spirit turned on the light for him.  As we read through John, Matthew realized that in John 1:12, 3:16, 5:24, and 14:6, Jesus was talking about having a personal relationship with the Father, one made possible through His death on the cross. Matthew came to know Jesus last night!
     Now he is a forgiven sinner, a new creation, and a new member in the greatest family on earth--OUR Family-- the Family of our Lord God.

David Eischeid
Discipleship Counselor

11 July 2017

Fun on the Fourth

     We had such a fun time on last week on the Fourth of July!  All of the residents at the Permanent Supportive Housing building got together for an indoor picnic, fellowship, and even a water balloon fight—right before it started raining.
     What a fun day it was for all that attended!  Praise God for developing community, friendships, and relationships at Permanent Supportive Housing.  I hope your Independence Day was just as blessed!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

10 July 2017

Second Men's Basketball Tournament

     Open Door Mission’s Second Men’s Basketball Tournament was held earlier this month. The first tournament was won by the staff team (aptly dubbed "White and Nerdy), so the competition was fierce on both sides this time, either to defend the title or to claim it for the first time!

     There’s a nice flat area between the Garland Thompson Men’s Center and the Lydia House, so we set up a court there.  This location worked much better than the Rebuilding Lives Center courtyard where the last tournament was held.  Being outside, we were able to have many more participants and spectators enjoy the wonderful competition.
     An Open Door Mission volunteer was able to get a basketball hoop donated so we could run a full court, double elimination tournament.  This enhanced the tournament as you wouldn't be out at just one loss. We had three referees, a volunteer, a staff member, and a resident, which kept things fair. 
     The competition was spicy, and the staff team was unable to defend their title.  The team that ended up winning was actually a group of non-typical looking ballers—two older men and a guy wearing boots!  It was truly good to see the friendly competition and fun being had by all!

Taylor Clinch
Rebuilding Lives Center Director

07 July 2017

Free Furniture and Fresh Food

     Due to store renovations, Open Door Mission is offering free furniture and free fresh vegetables, fruits, and breads at our Timberlake Outreach Center every Wednesday and Friday during July and August.
     It has been awesome to see what God can do through the inconvenience of this renovation.  We are still blessed with donations to give to working poor individuals and families, and we are still able to give these away freely in Jesus’ name!
     So check out these photos to see what these free furniture days have looked like.  And
please continue to pray for our renovations and for the new programs that will be implemented later this year to better serve our community.

Dawn Lindsey
Communications Specialist

06 July 2017

My Streets of Omaha Experience

     After ministering to the hungry and homeless during our Streets of Omaha ministry, I always ask our volunteers to share one thing they learned and one thing they loved about their experience.  Here are some answers I have gotten:

"I love that Open Door Mission, serves people not just inside their walls, but out in the community as well.  I am truly blessed by this organization’s love for people."

"I learned that people on the streets are generally very thankful and polite."

"I loved meeting Jay.  He was so kind and gentle. I loved that he talked freely to us and welcomed us into his life."

"I learned that even when they have next to nothing, people on the streets are so generous with what they do have.  I was touched by the kindness of our street friends."

"I love being able to be the hands and feet of Jesus, right here where I live."

     These are some comments made by volunteers on the Streets of Omaha team.  The experience is different every day, but one thing remains the same: people are being impacted and loved.  We strive to show the love of Jesus to people everywhere, and we do that one sack lunch at a time. 

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Program Coordinator

05 July 2017

Bragging Rights Go To...

     Yesterday was an exciting day at the Garland Thompson Men's Center!  We hosted a Spades Tournament, and there was some fierce competition.  Twenty four players duked it out at Spades in the cafeteria, including a couple staff members as well. 
     After four hours, Gooden and Charles walked away the victors.  Each won four consecutive games!  They won some sweet prizes, along with the coveted bragging rights.
     Happy Fourth of July to all of you!  I hope your community time was as sweet as ours.

Jeremy Settle
Case Manager

03 July 2017

Don't Waste Precious Energy

     Sometime last month, I sat down to do my devotions, which can be admittedly difficult with my daily list of priorities.  The last month has been difficult for me, and I have much to catch up on, many extras at home right now, medical things, financial things, family things, AND trying to finish The Urban Ministry Institute course.
     Now, I'm not organized by any standards, but I know where everything I need is and have been challenging myself to make my office neater.  Anyway, I always make sure, even in the midst of this crazy mess, to take time with the Lord.
     This was the beginning of one of my devotionals that really stuck with me, so I wanted to share it.  I hope you enjoy it, and maybe even have your mind blown!
Jesus Calling: June 19
I am the firm foundation on which you can dance and sing and celebrate My Presence.  This is My high and holy calling for you; receive it as a precious gift.  Glorifying and enjoying Me is a higher priority than maintaining a tidy, structured life.  Give up your striving to keep everything under control--an impossible task and a waste of precious energy.
     My guidance for each of My children is unique.  That's why listening to Me is so vital for your well-being.  Let me prepare you for the day that awaits you and point you in the right direction.  I am with you continually, so don't be intimidated by fear.  Thought it stalks you, it cannot harm you, as long as you cling to My hand.  Keep your eyes on Me, enjoying Peace in My Presence.
     “A waste of precious energy.”  What a thought-provoking phrase – that God desires our company far more than He desires a clean desk and tidy home.  May you find time to meet with Him today, so that you do not waste the energy He has given you.

Teresa Leishman
Case Manager