Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Team Mercy Ministries Runs 236 Miles to Help Change Lives

This month a team of 16 men and women ran the St. Louis Marathon (26.2 miles) and Half-Marathon (13.1 miles) to show their support for Mercy Ministries. In total, the team ran 236 miles to help change young women’s lives!

The evening before the big day, the team gathered for a boost of carbohydrates with a pasta party hosted in the St. Louis home. They spent time with the Mercy Ministries’ St. Louis residents and heard from local graduates. The team also received encouragement and gratitude for their support. In total, they raised $5,000 for Mercy Ministries.

If you are interested in running on our Nashville Team for the Music City Marathon April 26th, please contact Elizabeth Claybaker at eclaybaker@mercyministries.com.

Way to go team Mercy Ministries!

10 Recent Graduates of Mercy Ministries!

Mercy Ministries recently celebrated several graduations in St. Louis, MO and Monroe, LA. Here are the stories of freedom and transformation from our graduates. We are so proud of each one of them and the choices they have made!

St. Louis

Hannah

“When I came to Mercy Ministries I was suffering from depression, an eating disorder, insomnia, self-harm, and conversion disorder (which is experiencing physical pain with no medical explanation). Through my time at Mercy, God has shown light through His Word to dispel the darkness in my life.

He has healed my heart as I have allowed Him to take control of my life. God has proven Himself faithful and shown me the freedom made available through Jesus’ death on the cross. In a powerful but gentle way, God has shown me that He is good. He is not the author of pain or confusion but of restoration and peace. God’s power and love do not discriminate; He can set you free from ANYTHING that holds you down. If you commit your life to God and let yourself fall in love with Him, you will find true freedom.

My plans for the future are to walk out my freedom by following God with all I am. I am in love with God, and I want to serve Him for the rest of my life. After graduation I will begin working, and I plan to go back to school.”

Amy

“My eight-year struggle with bulimia initially brought me to Mercy Ministries, but God has brought freedom to other areas of my life as well. I have been set free from a fear of the future, low self-worth, and unforgiveness towards myself and others. Walking through the doors of Mercy was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make because I had to leave what I thought was a good life, but now I have found the true meaning of life through worshiping God, devotion to Him, and faith in Him.

While at Mercy Ministries, I learned how to forgive myself and others. God has restored broken relationships in my family – especially with those who were not there for me emotionally. He has shown me what self-control and honesty are, that I am beautiful, and that I need to love and respect my body. He revealed to me His faithfulness throughout my life, which has created a longing in me to know Him more.

As I leave Mercy, I know I am a new creation in Christ. Graduation is only the beginning of a lifelong journey in my new relationship with Christ. I can honestly say that if it had not been for Mercy, I would not be here today. I am enjoying life and finally being who God has called me to be. God has given me hope for the future! I know that He has a purpose for me, and I believe He has a unique calling on my life.

I plan to return home and get involved with youth ministry. I also want to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. I have a desire to eventually use my media experience to help minister to college-age girls struggling with similar issues that I have overcome. I also look forward to sharing my testimony wherever the Lord leads me.”

Marie

“I came to Mercy Ministries struggling with an eating disorder, and I had a very unhealthy relationship with my family. I had no hope and turned to the eating disorder to help me cope with difficult situations and overwhelming emotions that came up. I found out about Mercy through my aunt who worked for Joyce Meyer. She told me and my cousin about the program, and after my cousin graduated and I saw the freedom that she had, I decided to apply as well.

Through my time at Mercy, God has done amazing things. He has healed me from the pain of my past and set me free from the eating disorder. Through the staff at Mercy, He has taught me balance in eating and exercise. I am able to enjoy being healthy and have learned how to be quick to forgive. I am free to live outside of fear. I am free of guilt and shame. I am free from masking my feelings with outside sources. I am free to choose freedom every single day. I am free to love life because it is such a gift.

Every day God just shows me more and more of how much He loves me. I know that through Him I am pure, and He knows my heart behind my actions. I now know in my heart what I grew up knowing in my head. I am free to dance and be silly and to worship. I am free to be ME and that’s GOOD. I can’t fulfill the purpose that He created for me if I am busy trying to be someone else.

God is also restoring all the lost years between me and my family. He has worked immensely in my parent’s lives, and they’ve been such a great example to me to allow God to work in my own life.

After graduation I am going to go home and live with my family, look for work, become actively involved in my church, but most of all – enjoy life!”

Monique

“I came to Mercy Ministries after a seven-year battle with an eating disorder, severe depression, and a two-year battle with drugs and alcohol. I grew up in a Christian home, but was molested for two years by a neighbor. By the time I was 12, I had developed an eating disorder. After I was raped, I fell into a life of depression, self-harm, and promiscuity, and by age 16 I was a full blown cocaine addict and alcoholic. At 17, I was prostituting myself for drugs and doing 30-40 lines of cocaine a day. I applied to Mercy Ministries because I was desperate for help, and I arrived five days after my 18th birthday.

While being at Mercy, God has completely set me free from the eating disorder. He has shown me how the drugs and alcohol affected the lives of so many others in addition to destroying my own life. I have let go of the shame and guilt from my past and cannot imagine being any happier. No matter how hard it is to work through struggles in life, NEVER GIVE UP.

I plan to work in the prison ministry at my church and then attend Christ for the Nations which is a discipleship program located in Dallas, Texas. Eventually I want to go to the University of North Texas, where I will major in psychology and criminal justice.”

Becca

“I came to Mercy Ministries after struggling with an eating disorder, depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. My mother found out about Mercy from the website and told me about the program.

Since I have been at Mercy, God has changed my perception of myself and my perception of Him. He has given me a personal revelation of who I am in Him as His beloved and how He has taken away my shame. Since being at Mercy, my understanding of God’s unconditional love for me has taken away all the pain from the past. There is hope for anyone who really wants to be free, but it is a choice – I can choose freedom.

I plan to attend Columbia International University to study psychology and deaf ministry. I want to be able to impact girls who have similar issues and who do not know that they can be free. I want to share with girls that their past doesn’t have to be their future; God defines who we are and our potential in Him, not our past.”

Kaitlyn

“At the age of ten I was molested by a family member which continued for three years. Through this experience I began struggling with an eating disorder, self-harm, self-hate, suicidal thoughts, co-dependency, and a dependency on drugs and alcohol. My mom was searching for help for me on the internet and found the Mercy Ministries website. She told me about the program, and I applied.

Through Mercy Ministries God has taught me that He is always with me and that my issues and my past do not define me. God identifies me as His beloved. I’ve learned how to have real joy and real peace that comes from Him and not a person or a substance. I don’t have to run to anyone or anything else for strength and hope because I can run to God.

After Mercy I plan on moving back home with my parents. I would like to work in the church with youth. My desire is to see more people find their true identity and potential in Jesus Christ.”

Ryin

“I came to Mercy Ministries as an angry, controlling, perfectionist battling a ten-year fight with an eating disorder. The last five years were consumed with bulimia. A member at my father’s church told me about Mercy and since I have been here I’ve come to realize that the eating disorder issue was merely a symptom of my root issues which were control, pride, selfishness and rebellion.

I am 26 years old and have been a Christian since I was five. I’ve always had an understanding and knowledge of God in my head, but as Mercy I have come to know Him in my heart. I knew God as my Savior before Mercy, and now I know and trust Him more intimately. I’ve learned to submit my life to His control and trust that He has a good plan and purpose for my life despite my personal circumstances. I thought I was coming to Mercy to get free from my issues, but what I actually got was a real relationship with God, which brings me lasting freedom.

After graduating, I plan to trust God and to pursue a career as a personal chef.”

Katie

“I came to Mercy Ministries after a four year addiction to drugs and alcohol, self-hatred, and a battle with promiscuity. I greatly feared rejection of people, so I was promiscuous to gain approval, and I fell deeper into drugs and alcohol to cover the pain and shame. I loved the way I felt on drugs because I couldn’t feel anything else.

During my time at Mercy, God has completely turned my life around. Through learning to trust the staff, I have learned to trust God and others. All my shame from the past is gone, and He has given me beauty for ashes. I am going to take one day at a time and follow Him wholeheartedly. God has shown me so much grace. I should be dead today, but instead He gave me meaning for life.

After graduating Mercy, I plan to get a job and I plan to finish Cosmetology School.”

Rachel

“I came to Mercy Ministries filled with fear, shame, and despair. My issues included severe anxiety, depression, compulsive over-eating, self-destructive tendencies and sexual promiscuity. I had no hope for my future, but rather just went through the motions in life. As a child, my parents went through a violent divorce, and I had an inconsistent relationship with my mother. Because of this, my trust in everyone and everything was shaken and fear gripped my heart. As time went by, I fell deeper into the pit of depression. I used food and boys as a way to numb the pain I felt inside. Since my father was no longer part of my life due to physical, emotional, and verbal abuse, I searched to fill that void elsewhere. I became pregnant at age 19. Lost and alone with no support from the father, I felt powerless and ended up having an abortion. Grief and condemnation consumed me, and I no longer felt worthy to enjoy life. I found out about Mercy Ministries through a Joyce Meyer Ministries magazine article in 2005 and decided to apply to the program.

During my time at Mercy, God has worked an amazing miracle into my life. He showed me that I could cast all my anxiety, pain and desperation on Him and that He would take them and give me joy, faith, and hope. He knocked down the walls I hid behind for so long. I learned that I can trust Him and He will never forsake me. He revealed to me that His ways are higher than my ways. Now I am no longer filled with heaviness but my burden is light. I have received the joy of the Lord. He restored my purity taught me the power of choice — I can choose life. The Lord fills the void in my soul, and I do not turn to food or men anymore, but I boldly run to the Lord and take refuge in Him. God has redeemed me and made me into a beautiful picture of restoration. I am no longer ruled by fear, but His love is imprinted on my heart.

After Mercy, I am going to continue my education and work. Eventually, I want to work with inner city youth, especially young women, helping them learn the love of Christ, the power of a choice, and that they can have a voice in the world.”

Monroe

Julie

“I came to Mercy Ministries because I had struggled with an eating disorder, self harm, and depression for about 11 years. In the past three years, my very low sense of self-worth led me to make many destructive choices, and I lived a chaotic life of self-destruction. My family heard a graduate from Mercy telling her story and they got the video and played it for me. At the time I was uninterested, but a few months later, God brought it to mind and I filled out the application to Mercy as my last hope.

Since I have been at Mercy, God has taught me so much about who I am in Christ. I have learned that my past doesn’t define me and my diagnosis doesn’t define me. My Savior defines me and He sees me as worthy, righteous, and pure. I have learned that I have a choice, which is a truth that brought me a lot of freedom. No matter what your story is, there is hope and healing in Jesus Christ. There is no past He can’t redeem, no future He hasn’t planned, and no person beyond His grace.

I plan to go home to Oklahoma and find a summer job. In the fall, I am going to college to study English writing.”

Congratulations to all of these girls!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Nancy Alcorn and Guests Featured on 92.9FM

Mercy Ministries’ founder, Nancy Alcorn, two Mercy Ministries Nashville residents, and the Director of Public Relations for Mercy Ministries were invited to do a 2-hour special on 92.9FM with Brian Mason on Sunday, April 6, 2008 to promote the upcoming 25th Anniversary Celebration, taking place April 17-19 in Nashville. To listen to the interview, click HERE.

Amanda Hughes and Kelly Hughes, two Mercy Ministries’ residents who will be graduating on April 22, 2008, joined the interview to share their stories of overcoming life-controlling circumstances and how God has changed their lives during their time at Mercy Ministries. The two young women’s stories gave listeners a glimpse into the heart behind the 25th Anniversary Celebration. Nancy shared how hundreds of graduates just like Amanda and Kelly would be in attendance at the weekend events, where many would be sharing their life-changing testimonies.

For more information on the 25th Anniversary gala, concert, women’s conference, or men’s breakfast, please visit www.mercy25th.com. If you or someone you know need a sponsorship to the women’s conference, taking place Saturday, April 19th at the Belmont University Curb Center, please call 615.831.6987.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Meet Nancy Alcorn


Equipped4Living recently had the privilege of interviewing Nancy Alcorn, founder of Mercy Ministries. Read on to find out about the wonderful work this organization is doing among young women across several continents.

E4L:
This April, Mercy Ministries celebrates its 25th Anniversary. What are the top three highlights that stand out to you as you look back?

Nancy:
1. After speaking at an evangelism conference in Las Vegas, I met a man on the plane ride home who asked how much money I had lost gambling. I told him I hadn’t gone to Vegas to gamble and shared briefly about Mercy Ministries with him. He seemed interested, so I gave him a brochure as we parted. About four weeks later, this same man called me to ask for more details about Mercy Ministries and said he felt compelled to help in some way. It was then that I told him about the plans for the unwed mothers’ home. He told me he had been adopted when he was five days old. His heart was so touched that he wrote a check to Mercy Ministries for the exact amount needed to help build the second Mercy Ministries house debt-free. You can read the entire story in my book Echoes of Mercy.

2. In 1995 we opened the 40 bed facility in Nashville debt-free.

3. In 2000 we opened our first international home in Sydney, Australia.

READ FULL STORY from Equipped4Living Issue 07: Spring 2008