13 December 2017

We are the Branches

     Recently I’ve been reading SheReadsTruth--Romans Study, and it has been a hard study to really dig into. Paul chooses his words for a reason, all intended for a purpose, and keeping that in mind often causes me to look deeper at Scripture to understand God's character even more.

But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root. “Well,” you may say, “those branches were broken off to make room for me.” Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either. –Romans 11:17-21

     These verses remind me of humility. Paul is talking about the struggle with pride and humility between Israelites and Gentiles. Paul has a specific purpose for discussing this as he knew was there was a struggle and would be in the future with this concept. 
     I think sometimes being a Christian we have a tendency to think of two sides – believers vs. unbelievers. But the key is that there is not a "me against them." It's all for the Glory of God! All together we make up a community of believers, doing God's Mission together. And we need each other to carry on God's Mission together!
     It can also be easy to brag when we are strong where others are weak. In those moments, though, we need to recognize that we are just the branches, and the Lord root. It's an everyday choice we make to have either a spirit of humility or of pride. We can do things for God’s glory, helping others in need and letting our pride go, OR we can judge and inflate our pride.
     The Good News of the Gospel is that Jesus came and died for our sins so we could have eternal life with God. We have a perfect Savior that came so we could be in right relationship with God. We just have to humbly come to God and ask Him to change us from the inside out.
     I pray that we would be a people marked by our humility. That we would humbly help those in need, co-workers, guests, volunteers, friends, and family alike. That through our humility we would experience the peace that comes with following God's ways! That we would do everything for God's glory!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

12 December 2017

What Inspired You to Volunteer?...Part 2

Continued from Monday, 12/11.

     As I turned away to continue cleaning up, I thanked another volunteer for coming to serve. She had a humbling look on her face. So I decided to ask her the same question, "What inspired you to volunteer today?"
     “I am selfish,” she responded. “I literally think about myself more than anyone. New shoes? I want them. New purse? Gotta have it. New car? Better be mine.”
     She talked about her self-centered outlook on life and how she wanted to make a change. Someone told her about an Open Door Mission ad they heard on the radio, so she e-mailed our Volunteer & Partner Director, certain all the volunteer spots would be full. Fortunately though, some people had just cancelled and she got on the schedule right away.
     Man, am I so thankful that this lady reached out to volunteer! With tears rolling down her face she said, "Today it wasn't about me and It was one of the best days I have had all year. I am coming back to volunteer. I want to learn how to be selfless.”
     You see, our volunteers don't have to be here, they don't have to pick Open Door Mission to volunteer their time with. They could pick any organization in Omaha that they want. But praise God that they choose here! I don't know about you, but that really warms my soul. What keeps our volunteers coming back is relationship. They are here because seeking something greater than themselves. What an honor it is to share Jesus with our volunteers by just loving on them and appreciating what they do.
     Be a leader where you are, and use the gifts God has given you right where you are! God bless you all and I hope these stories have an impact on you as they have me. 

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Program Coordinator

11 December 2017

What Inspired You to Volunteer?...Part 1

     A question I always like to ask our volunteers is, "What inspired you to volunteer at the Mission?" 
     I had never really felt the weight that this question holds until this past Thanksgiving. We had a volunteer who came in a little late for our Thanksgiving banquet, but was determined to serve and jumped right in to help.
     For some reason, she stood out to me. Her eyes were filled with joy, yet there was deep pain inside. People like that intrigue me, so I observed her throughout the night. She smiled at every man that sat at the table she was bussing that night, which included probably 16-20 men.
     Towards the end of the banquet, I decided to ask her my favorite question, "What inspired you to volunteer on Thanksgiving this year?" 
     Instantly, tears started rolling down her face, and what she said rocked my soul to the core.
     “It's how I can be close to my parents this year, because this is my first holiday alone. My mom passed away in May, and my father right before that. I knew today I was going to sit at home alone and cry most of the day. But I saw an advertisement about volunteering and something just urged me to pick here. I felt as if this was what my parents would have wanted me to do. I thought I was going to feel alone this Thanksgiving Jessica…instead I have never felt more full."
     She hugged me and actually thanked Open Door Mission for allowing her to volunteer. She THANKED us! That is what I call God-sized gratitude!

To be continued Tuesday 12/12.

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Program Coordinator

08 December 2017

Crossing the Grand Canyon

     There is a guy who comes to Open Door Mission's Garland Thompson Men's Center from time to time to visit one of our guests in the New Life Recovery Program. He asked if he could talk with me, so I brought him into my office. His name is Ron. Ron asked how he might get a job here at the Mission. I shared our website with him and encouraged him to look at our job openings to see if any would be a good fit.
     Then I asked how his life is going and learned that Ron has actually been sober for several years. I also asked how his relationship with God was, and learned that did not have assurance of salvation. He did believe in Jesus, but his feelings and life didn’t line up to where he knew for certain that he had eternal life. 
     We talked for a while and Ron shared things in his life. He is a single father with two daughters. He is not going to Church anywhere. 
     I was able to share the Gospel with Ron as an analogy of trying to walk across the Grand Canyon on the tight rope of feelings or on the solid bridge of God's promises through Christ. He chose the bridge. He prayed and surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. When we had finished praying, he knew for sure that he has eternal life. Praise God!
     Please keep Ron in your prayers, along with his two girls. Pray that he will start going to a life-giving church that will help him grow in his faith.

Greg Johnston
Health Care Case Manager

07 December 2017

New Sets of Wheels

     At Open Door Mission, we love to celebrate when our guests receive cars to help their pursuit of lasting change to be homeless no more! So would you celebrate the following three recipients with me?
     Bob who graduated from the New Life Recovery Program over a year ago and currently lives in Permanent Supportive Housing received his own set of wheels!


     Then we have Katie, a Lydia House guest, who is the proud new owner of a Chevy Tahoe.

     Finally we were excited to see Henry and Inelisse receive a vehicle of their own. They are fresh from Puerto Rico and lost almost all of their possessions.

     Please contact us if you are interested in donating a vehicle to Open Door Mission! Click here for more information.

Jason Green
Director of IT and Logistics

06 December 2017

Blessings at the TOC

     We at Open Door Mission (specifically the Timberlake Outreach Center) are blessed to have such amazing, faithful volunteers! Last week we were short staffed, and these wonderful people stepped in without hesitation to save the day! I could not have served our guests without them! Thank you!
     Our volunteer department is amazing, too, for finding these great volunteers and getting them plugged into the right spots. Thank you for all your great help!
     We are just so blessed!

Laura Keen
Homeless Prevention Director

05 December 2017

Project Santa Sign Ups...Part 2

Continued from Monday, 12/5.

     Later that day, a different former Lydia House guest came in whose case I had managed. During her stay, this lady made decisions that caused her to move out early into her own apartment. While she was leaving, she blamed all of her decisions on me. I remember thinking, “Lord, will this woman ever have a positive relationship with me again?”
     Well He answered my prayer as she walked up to me to get registered on Saturday! She has been stable with a good job, living in her own apartment as a single mom to three kids. As I helped sign her up, I couldn’t help but notice a change in her heart. She did not seem to bitter. She said overall things are going well for her. There seemed to be more joy in her life than when I had last seen her.
     I prayed with her and afterwards she said, “God Bless You.” This is a woman I never thought would say a kind thing to me again, but God is greater! And God is constantly working in our hearts and in the hearts of the guests we serve. 
     It encouraged me to see that although some people are only here for a season, God is still at work in their life outside of Open Door Mission.
     I also share to say that God is always working. Even in those tough moments we have with guests, God is using us.  We may not know until we reach heaven (or a few years down the road), but just because we don't see results right away doesn't mean we should stop trying. It means we say, "You are greater God, and I trust You even if I don't see results today. Use me for your glory!”

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

04 December 2017

Project Santa Sign Ups...Part 1

     This past weekend we signed up families from our community for our annual Christmas program called Project Santa. There were two stories this day that encouraged me, and I wanted to share with you all.
    The first story is about a former Lydia House guest whose case managed a couple of years ago. She had come to the Lydia House because of a domestic violence relationship, and she had come alone because her partner couldn’t join her until she had completed a batterer's intervention class. Due to her situation, I was able to have intentional discussions with her alone (without the abuser) about God's purpose for her life. She left with the courage to break up with her abuser, and has been stable and living on her own ever since.
     As we were talking this past Saturday, she said that her time at Lydia House made her see that she could do it on her own and because of case management and getting connected with available resources. I asked if I could pray for her after signing her up for Project Santa, but she said no—she is blessed and thankful this holiday season. She currently is a single mom to three girls and is a strong mom for her family.  She handed me a family picture and said, “You can hang this in your office as a reminder of a family you helped that is now successful.”

To be continued Tuesday, 12/5.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director