On this particular day, three graduates share testimonies that reveal God's ability to change lives from the inside out. Their faces radiate joy, peace and freedom. No longer are they slaves to spiritual battles that once threatened to destroy them.
"When I walked in these doors, I wanted to die," says 29-year-old graduate Kari Jones. "I believed I would never be whole, but God has set me free completely."
Jones had battled an eating disorder since she was 13. Secular treatment programs didn't work; and by the time she checked into Mercy, she was also drinking heavily and sleeping in her car.
As the ceremony progresses, Jones and the two other graduates, Jennifer Blann and Charlotte Brown, receive uplifting words of affirmation from family members, friends and Mercy counselors.
Finally, Mercy founder Nancy Alcorn stands up to speak. "My pet peeve is how the world tells us, 'Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic; once you have an eating disorder, you'll always have an eating disorder,'" says the 50-year-old blonde, who founded Mercy Ministries in 1983.
She emphasizes Christ's transforming power and says Mercy's mission is "to go to the world's trash can and dig out the treasure."
READ FULL STORY from the October 2004 issue of Charisma by Carol Chapman Stertzer