Thursday, May 29, 2008

Five Graduates Share Their Stories of Transformation and Hope

The Nashville staff and residents came together to celebrate five amazing young women as they graduated from the Mercy Ministries program. Here are their stories of transformation and hope:
Sara
“My mother had me when she was only 16 years old, and when I was an infant I was adopted by her parents. I grew up very confused as to why I was rejected by my mom. I pushed down all the negative emotions I was feeling and at age eleven. I could feel a cloud of depression hovering over me. I did not know how to cope with these emotions, so I began self-harming at age twelve, which turned out to be a difficult two-year battle.
When I turned thirteen, I began dabbling with prescription drugs until I turned fourteen and discovered Methamphetamines. I withdrew from life, and actually attempted suicide more than once. My mom found out about Mercy Ministries when she was desperately searching the internet for some place that could help me. She found the program and encouraged me to apply.
Since I have been at Mercy, I have been able to see God’s grace on my life. He has helped me learn healthy ways to cope with everyday problems, how to confront people and how to ask for help. He has taken the mess that I thought was impossible to fix, and shaped my life into an amazing story that I plan on sharing with people who are desperate, just like I once was.
After Mercy, I plan on going back home to Alabama to live with my parents and reconnect with my youth group. I will finish school and continue to seek God for whatever He has in store for me.”
Ariana
“When I was five I was sexually abused by my cousin who was 8 years older at the time. I developed a deep root of shame and believed that I was an object to be used. At the age of twelve, my dad moved out and it led to thoughts of failure and unworthiness. The lack of relationship with him made me feel completely broken inside. I fell into a deep depression and hated my body, my personality, and my lack of faith in the Lord.
I began to self-harm in the eighth grade and it became a fast addiction. I became involved with guys, seeking the attention that I had lacked from my father. I desperately wanted these guys to tell me I had value to them. I let go of all that I stood for, lying and living a double life. During the next seven years, I struggled with thoughts of suicide and attempted suicide several times. Finally in April of ’07, I overdosed and it was then that I knew I needed help. I had reached the end of myself and decided to pursue the life God had for me. A high school classmate, who later became my best friend, was applying for Mercy Ministries and told me about the program.
In the book, God’s Pursuit of Man, by A.W. Tozer, he sums up perfectly what Mercy has done for me. “To whom the word comes in power know this deliverance, this inward migration of the soul from slavery to freedom, this release from moral position, a REAL crossing over, and they stand consciously on another soil under another sky and breathe another air. Their life motives are changed and their inward drives made new.” The enemy could never stop me from knowing my Father, whom I begged to know during the seemingly endless nights of tears and hopelessness.
After graduation, I plan to go back home to be with my family and get involved in the church I grew up in. Then in September, I plan to go and do the Desperation Internship at New Life in Colorado Springs, where I will continue my pursuit of God. I know that He has called me into the ministry, whether it is worship, pastoring, or missions. Whatever it is, I know it’s gonna be good!”
Ashley
“I came to Mercy Ministries with a severe eating disorder, self-hatred, and a very skewed perception of God. I had tried other treatment centers but got the same result every time—behavior modification. After I would leave, I would go right back into the same behaviors because I still had the same mindset that I had when I walked through the doors. The only thing I got out of treatment was more knowledge of the disorder and an “it’s not my fault” mentality. I believed I would always have an eating disorder and I would just have to learn to live with it.
I found out about Mercy about a year before I came from a friend who was also struggling with an eating disorder. A year later, when I really needed somewhere to go, my mom reminded me of Mercy. This time I was ready to apply.
Since I have been here, God has completely transformed my life. I have experienced God’s love, and for the first time can love myself. I don’t have to try to stop my destructive behaviors on my own, but because of God’s love, I naturally don’t want to do them. He has restored my relationship with my family and has brought me back to wholeness. I no longer desire thinness and outward beauty, but I desire what God desires, which is to love Him and His people.
My plans after Mercy are to do an internship at the St. Louis Dream Center. I honestly don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life after that, but I will do whatever God wants me to do. I do know that I want to help other girls who struggle with eating disorders and hopefully one day work at Mercy Ministries so I can give back what God has given to me.
I know it’s hard to let go of the hurt and control that we so desperately hold on to because many times it has defined us for so long. However, it’s not worth holding on to! God has such awesome plans for every single person in this world who chooses to surrender their will to His. He is just looking for those who will lay it all down and give it to Him. He wants to exchange your past, present, and future for the joy and love He has for you. Mercy Ministries is a place where you can learn to do that, so I encourage you to take a step of faith and apply if you are looking for a change. You are worth it!”
Carla
“I came to Mercy Ministries struggling with major depression, border line personality disorder, cutting, and a secret eating disorder. I struggled with this eating disorder on and off for three years. I was born with mild Cerebral Palsy, and from the time I was young, I felt like I was a misfit in my own family. I became very deceptive and manipulative. I was in and out of many hospitals, and on many different medications, though none of them seemed to help. I had many unsuccessful suicide attempts. I found out about Mercy while looking for a treatment center on the internet. I first applied to the program three years ago, but did not complete the application process. I moved on with what I thought was life, still struggling with all of the issues mentioned.
One day I randomly stepped into a bookstore and found the book, Mercy Moves Mountains. This was so God, because it was a book which that particular book store didn’t carry on a regular basis. I thank God that it was there at the time because it caused me to re-apply to the program.
While I have been at Mercy, God has shown me that I am not a mistake and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God has also shown me that I am a child of God, bought for a very expensive price. He has shown who I am in Him and that I am beautiful inside and out. He is my refuge when I’m feeling overwhelmed with my emotions.
My plans after Mercy are to go home and work on my relationship with my family. I’ve applied for an internship with the Dream Center. I know that I am in God’s hands and whatever He chooses for me to do, I will do!”
Carrie
“Before coming to Mercy Ministries, I struggled with severe depression. I was adopted when I was five, and because of neglect at an early age, I had a hard time trusting my new parents. I pulled away from them and thought that they would abandon me just like everyone else in my past had. I was emotionally abused and had a hard time feeling accepted and loved.
My parents were very controlling, and I wasn’t allowed to do many things that a normal teenager should have the opportunity to experience. I became very rebellious. I often stayed in my room all day because I felt like I wasn’t worth paying attention to, and food became my comfort. I was labeled as having Reactive Attachment Disorder. It came to a point where I just wanted out of the whole situation. My parents learned about Mercy Ministries from a couple at our church whose daughter had gone through the program. My parents told me about it, and I started the application process right away.
Since being at Mercy, I have experienced God’s unconditional love. When I messed up, the staff didn’t give up on me and helped me through everything. I have never experienced that before. I’ve learned to turn to God, instead of food for comfort, joy, and acceptance. I now know that no matter what my parents do or think, I have great worth, and I have a Father who will never leave or give up on me. I learned about appropriate food portion sizes, and how to enjoy exercising and hanging out with girlfriends. I’ve forgiven the people who hurt me, and no longer dwell on the past. I’ve worked through some things with my family, and I have hope now.
After Mercy I plan to go home to Kansas and apply to Job Corps. I’ll finish my high school diploma there, and go into business office technology. I plan on going on to cosmetology school sometime in the future.”
Congratulations to all of the Girls! We are so proud of you!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Residents at the Monroe, LA Home Are Treated to a Picnic!

On May 19, the Mercy residents at the Monroe, Louisiana Mercy Ministries home were treated to a picnic held at Kiroli Park. The event was hosted by the Friendship Sunday School Class of West Monroe’s First Baptist Church. Everyone had a wonderful time of laughter, fellowship, and food, feasting on delicious chicken, salads, and cookies provided by the ladies.

For almost 10 years, the Friendship Class has been a faithful friend of the Louisiana home. This group of approximately 25 ladies first became involved with Mercy Ministries in 1998, when they provided homemade pizzas for the girls.

Over the last decade, the Friendship class has absolutely lived up to its name by reaching out to the Mercy Ministries residents. Some of the class members have assisted the girls with golfing tips, etiquette and sewing classes, taken girls to appointments, and spent time talking with them during occasional mealtimes.

These ladies host special events for the girls four times a year. In addition to a spring picnic, the ladies open up their homes to host an ice cream social in the summer, an autumn dinner, and a Christmas gathering. The Louisiana Mercy Ministries’ home has truly been blessed to have the friendship of this awesome group of ladies. They have certainly impacted the lives of countless Mercy girls over the years!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Habitat for Humanity Founder Visits Nashville Home

Saturday night, Mercy Ministries was honored to have special guest Millard Fuller come and speak to the girls in the Nashville home. Millard founded Habitat for Humanity International in 1976 and served in executive roles until 2005.

In 1996, former U.S. President Bill Clinton awarded Fuller the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, calling Habitat “…the most successful continuous community service project in the history of the United States”. Fuller also has authored nine books about his life and work with Habitat for Humanity.

During his time at the home, Millard challenged the girls to seek God with all of their hearts. He shared about how important it is to put God first, even if that means giving up everything. The girls were encouraged as they have all had to let go of things in their own lives in order to come to Mercy Ministries.

“I see life as both a gift and a responsibility. My responsibility is to use what God has given me to help his people in need.”—Millard Fuller

For more information about Mr. Fuller or Habitat for Humanity, go to www.habitat.org/how/millard.aspx.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mercy Ministries’ expansion to the West Coast is fully underway!

The fourth Mercy Ministries home in the United States is under construction outside Sacramento, California. This 22,000 square foot, 40-bed home will serve young women facing life-controlling issues such as eating disorders, self-harm, addictions and abuse. It is beautifully situated in a newly developed residential community with a neighborhood park across the street.

Mercy Ministries was given a piece of land worth $1.5 million to build the new home in the Sacramento area. In addition, the same donor, Buzz Oates, has given $2.5 million towards the approximate $4 million needed for the entire project. We are believing that God will help us build this home debt-free!

Currently there are over 700 girls in the application process to Mercy Ministries, and we are working hard toward opening the Sacramento home by the end of this year. It is important that Mercy Ministries have a presence in California and continue to spread the message that each young woman is valued and has a hope for the future. Would you consider giving a financial gift to Mercy Ministries to help us finish building the Sacramento home debt free and provide a place that hurting young women can receive hope and healing free of charge?

The Sacramento home will be a wonderful place of safety for girls to come receive the help they need! For more information about the Sacramento home please contact Selah Hirsch by email shirsch@mercyministries.com or phone (636) 326-2015.

To give towards finishing the building of this home, and furnishing it beautifully for each girl to feel the true value and worth she deserves please visit https://www.mercyministries.org/HowToHelp/Donate.aspx.

In addition, we need monthly partners to keep our ministry strong and to make help available for many more girls. Click the following link to become a monthly partner.

“I am so excited about the new California home. Originally from outside the Sacramento area, there was a time I searched for a place to go to that would help me deal with the abuse from my childhood. Mercy Ministries accepted me to the St. Louis home where my life was completely changed and my heart was healed from wounds in the past. There are so many who need Mercy Ministries…Now more girls will be able to get the help they need!” – Britney, graduate

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Nashville Predators and DEX Imaging Team Up to Raise Funds for Mercy Ministries!

The Nashville Predators Hockey Team and DEX Imaging, (the official office supplier of the Nashville Predators), have partnered with Mercy Ministries in a very unique way this past season.

The partnership was called the DEX Score and Win Program. Predators’ players were paired up to score and win on behalf of area charitable organizations. For every goal scored by a certain forward or a win by a goaltender, DEX contributed $100 to Mercy Ministries. They also contributed $150 for goals scored by a certain defenseman and they threw in a $200 bonus for hat tricks and shutouts!

Alexander Radulov and Dan Hamhuis were the Predators assigned to Mercy Ministries and through their goals, wins, hat tricks, and shutouts, DEX contributed a total of $3,200 to Mercy Ministries!

Thank you to the Nashville Predators Foundation, Alexander Radulov, Dan Hamhuis, and DEX Imaging and Mailing for their support of Mercy Ministries!

Go Preds!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mercy Ministries Celebrates 25 Years of Changed Lives

This past weekend Mercy Ministries hosted a weekend of special events to celebrate 25 years of transformed lives all over the world! The entire weekend was absolutely amazing and truly a life-changing time for everyone who attended!! It was exceedingly above and beyond anything that we could have imagined and we want to give you an event by event summary with pictures from the entire weekend.

International Luncheon

Thursday, April 17th 11:00 AM
On Thursday afternoon, the Mercy Ministries International Board hosted a luncheon for our leaders from the different homes around the world who were in town for the 25th Anniversary weekend. Present were representatives from every single country where Mercy exists. It was an incredible time of coming together as Nancy Alcorn shared the vision of being one ministry with multiple locations, and everyone came together in unity as the Mercy family worldwide.

Gala
Thursday, April 17th 6:00 PM
Thursday night, the Gala was held under a large tent in the middle of LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. The Masters of Ceremonies were Kevin Mawae from the Tennessee Titans, and Shelley Breen from the contemporary music group, Point of Grace. Special Music was performed by CeCe Winans, and there was a guest appearance by supermodel, Niki Taylor and her husband, NASCAR driver Burney Lamar. Nancy Alcorn also spoke and shared the past and future vision of Mercy Ministries with many in attendance who were hearing about this ministry for the very first time. Mercy graduates shared their own stories of transformation through their time at Mercy. Hearts were deeply touched as friends and supporters of Mercy joined together for a special dinner and presentation of the countless lives that have been changed through this ministry over the last 25 years. One of the things that made the evening even more special was the over 200 former residents who were in attendance.

Former Resident Luncheon
Friday, April 18th 12:00 PM
On Friday afternoon, over 200 former residents of Mercy homes across the country attended a special reunion luncheon to honor what God has done in their lives through Mercy Ministries. The oldest resident in attendance came into the program in 1985, and the most recent graduate there left the program in February of 2008. It was such a fun time of reuniting and celebrating the incredible transformations that have taken place in their lives, as well as hearing comical stories of many things that have transpired over the past years inside the program itself. What a celebration!

Celebrate Mercy Concert
Friday, April 18th 7:00 PM
Friday night, approximately 400 Mercy girls joined over 3,000 others at the Celebrate Mercy Concert that was held at the Belmont University Curb Center. 2004 Miss America, Ericka Dunlap, hosted the evening and the featured artists included Point of Grace, CeCe Winans, Natalie Grant, Barlow Girl, Israel and New Breed, and Mandisa. Also in attendance were Kyle and Victoria McCarter, who shared their story of their daughter, Amber, who died of a drug overdose while she was on the waiting list to come in to a Mercy home. Natalie Grant sang her song, “Held”, in memory of Amber. It was a very special time for all in attendance. Israel rocked the house as we ended the night with a time of praise and thanksgiving.

Celebrate Mercy Conference
Saturday, April 19th 9:30 AM
On Saturday, the women gathered for a one of a kind women’s conference to hear our favorite speakers from around the globe--Christine Caine from Sydney, Australia, Charlotte Scanlon-Gambill from the United Kingdom, Priscilla Shirer from Dallas, TX, Holly Wagner from L.A., and our very own, Nancy Alcorn. Women were encouraged to walk in freedom and make a difference in their world. It was a powerful conference that led to over 200 people making new commitments to Jesus Christ. What a special day for all of the God-chicks!

Men’s Breakfast
Saturday, April 19th 9:00 AM
On Saturday morning, while the women were at the conference, the men gathered for a special breakfast with Ken Mansfield at the Loews Vanderbilt hotel. Ken is the former U.S. Manager of the Beatles' Apple Records and best-selling author of The White Book: The Beatles, the Bands, the Biz: An Insider's Look at an Era. The room was over-flowing as Ken shared his testimony of coming to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior while showing an exclusive behind-the-scene film of him and the Beatles. Two former residents shared their stories of transformation and there was not a dry eye in the house. The morning ended with a rockin’ Beatles set led by Randy Stonehill and Phil Keaggy. The men loved it so much that most of them commented that they would have stayed all day if they had the chance.
This weekend was an incredible time of celebrating the things that God has done and looking forward expectantly to the many more lives that Mercy Ministries will touch.
Thank you so much for the many people who joined with us this weekend to make the 25th Anniversary of Mercy Ministries an unforgettable weekend!!

Here are the links to the websites of the artists and speakers who helped to make this weekend possible:
Point of Grace— www.pointofgrace.net
CeCe Winans— www.cecewinans.com
Natalie Grant— www.nataliegrant.com
Barlow Girl— www.barlowgirl.com
Israel and New Breed— www.newbreedmusic.com
Christine Caine— www.equipandempower.org
Charlotte Scanlon-Gambill— www.alm.org.uk
Priscilla Shirer— www.goingbeyond.com
Holly Wagner— www.godchicks.com
Ken Mansfield— www.fabwhitebook.com
Randy Stonehill— www.randystonehill.com
Phil Keaggy— www.philkeaggy.com

Team Mercy Ministries Runs in the Country Music Marathon

On Saturday, April 26th, 26 men and women from Nashville and the surrounding areas ran in the Country Music Marathon and Half-Marathon with Team Mercy Ministries! The runners were thrilled to be able to run for a cause and raise support for the Mercy Ministries home in Nashville. Altogether, the team raised over $22,000!

The night before the race, the team and their families gathered at the Mercy Ministries Nashville home to celebrate their hard work, and hear more about how lives are being transformed through the Mercy Ministries program. Guests ate their carbohydrates while listening to the stories of a current resident and a former resident of Mercy Ministries. After dinner, guests received Team Mercy Ministries running shirts and goodie bags. An iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle, and Foot Locker gift certificates were given as prizes to those who raised the most money for Mercy Ministries.

“I had such a terrific time raising money and running with Team Mercy again this year! As I heard the race spectators cheering "Come on Team Mercy!" when they saw it on my shirt, it encouraged me that not only were they cheering me on in the race, but that they were also being exposed to the work of Mercy Ministries.” ~Melanie Blair

“We had a blast walking for Team Mercy!! During the race, I passed one lady that told me that Mercy saved her girlfriend's life and that it was a fabulous organization! I was so impressed that the lady and her friend took the time to tell me that. They were running and I was walking and she slowed down to tell me about how Mercy had changed her friend's life. I just thought that was such a testament to all the great things Mercy Ministries does! Keep it up!!” ~Kimberly Cooper

Thank you to all of the men and women who were a part of Team Mercy! You have helped save lives!

For more information about running with Team Mercy Ministries in the Country Music Marathon on April 25th, 2009, visit www.mercyministries.com and go to the Events section under “How You Can Help.”

14 Graduates Share the Freedom They Have Found

This month Mercy Ministries celebrated with 14 girls from the Nashville, Monroe, and St. Louis homes. These young women have graduated the program with hope for their futures and incredible stories of freedom and transformation. We want to share with you their stories:
Nashville
Ana
“I grew up in a Christian home, but there was a lot of sickness in my family. My dad had cancer, and my grandparents (his parents) had cancer as well. I felt a lot of stress, and I did not have a good relationship with my dad at all. I was sexually abused from age 7-12, which caused a lot of anxiety for me that I dealt with by cutting. Later, I got into drugs and became very rebellious. I didn’t want anything to do with anyone and had poor relationships. I found out about Mercy Ministries through the internet and decided that I needed to apply to the program.
Since coming to Mercy, the verse in Hebrews 13:6 which says, ‘The Lord is my helper, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?’ as changed my life. I used to look at that verse and say – ‘Man can do so much to me!’ Now I look at it as, ‘Yes, man can hurt me, but man cannot take away the plan that God has for me.’ I have experienced real freedom at Mercy. It’s not about independence or rebellion, or doing things my way. It’s about totally depending on God and surrendering to God.
After Mercy, I’m going to home school for the rest of the year. I plan to get a job, get plugged in to my youth group, and allow God to use what He did in my life to change the lives of those around me.”
Amanda
“The atmosphere I grew up in was really unstable. I was eventually put in foster care and grew up in the state system. I never had a place to call home, and I felt like I didn't belong anywhere and no one loved me. During that time, I was physically and sexually abused and raped numerous times. I had such a skewed view of love, life, God, relationships, and family. I was hurt, angry, confused, broken and depressed, and I didn't know how to deal with anything. I felt so much pain and worthlessness that I started cutting myself to temporarily numb the pain. I hated myself, and I felt like my life was too far gone to fix anything, so I rebelled against everything possible. I later discovered drugs, smoking, and drinking, and they became my escape. I'd go to sleep every night hoping to never wake up.
I came to Mercy thinking that God was a joke or a fairy tale. I doubted that Mercy could help me because nothing else had worked, but God had other plans. It's been an extremely long and hard road, but it's been way worth it. I've come to realize God's love for me – a love that never ends and has no conditions. I love life, and I just want to spread the word of joy and hope and be a bright light in the darkness.
After Mercy, I'm heading to California. I'll be joining a great church, working, and living it up for God!”
Kelly
“I grew up in a Christian home, but from a very young age I realized that I was more mature than most people my age in many ways. Satan really used that to his advantage, using my maturity to make me feel like I didn’t fit in and telling me that I stood out because of it. By fifth grade, I was also much more mature physically than the other girls, and because of that, I began a diet that very quickly spiraled into a very severe eating disorder.
I was in and out of psychiatric hospitals and treatment centers for eight years. Before coming to Mercy Ministries, I hit my lowest point where I was very near death physically, but I already felt dead spiritually, mentally and emotionally. God had no place in my life, and my conscience was almost completely gone. I didn’t care about anything except my eating disorder and the power and control that it gave me. Death from my sickness seemed like a welcomed escape. I found out about Mercy through several girls that had gone through the program and I had seen the transformation take place in their lives. I decided it was my only hope for freedom, so I applied to the program.
At Mercy, I really struggled with giving up control for the first four months. I would give God bits and pieces of my broken life, but then take it back. After failing miserably at Christmas when I was home on break, I returned to Mercy and tried to continue this game of "tug of war". Finally, one night in January, I laid on my bed and thought, ‘This can’t be it. God you’ve got to have more for me.’ From that night on, I began to allow God to move inside of me in miraculous ways.
He restored my physical health in ways the doctors never thought possible, but more importantly, He set me free. God didn’t deliver me from everything right away, and it’s been a long process, but He has taken me from a place of total brokenness to having so much hope and joy for my future. I now know that there is something much more out there for me, and I am so excited to be able to tell of all the Lord has done for me.
After Mercy, I will be going home for the summer and then starting college in the fall.”
Jessica
“I was adopted when I was two weeks old, and my parents got married when I was seven. After that, we moved around a lot. As a result, I never had many friends, and I tended to isolate myself. By the time I was 12, I was really depressed and I didn't know how to handle my emotions, so I turned to anorexia hoping to find acceptance. When that wasn't enough, I turned to self-harm, which soon became a normal part of my everyday life. My parents found out when I was 13, and the only way they knew how to help me was to take me to counselors and psychiatrists, but nothing really worked. All they told me was that I was hopeless, and because I was so suicidal all they could do for me was to put me in a psychiatric ward. When I was 14, I discovered bulimia and started purging almost every day. I found out about Mercy through a Christian magazine called Brio and decided to apply to the program last year.
When I came to Mercy, I thought I could continue with my eating disorder and self-harm, as well as try to surrender to God at the same time. I finally realized that I could not say I was surrendering and still hold on to my eating disorder. I became a Christian in September, and since then, God has shown me that it doesn't matter what I've done, He still loves me and He still has plans for my future. Jeremiah 29:11 says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, but to give you a hope and a future.’ I thought that because of everything that had happened in my past and everything that I had done, I wouldn't have the future God planned for me or that He wouldn't want me anymore. God has shown me that He is a daddy who will never hurt me and is always there for me.
After I graduate from Mercy, I am moving to Boston to live with my aunt and uncle. I plan to share my testimony so that I can help other girls.”
Emily
“I grew up in a family that went to church, but I saw God as more of a religion than an actual relationship. I didn’t really know who God was and at the time I did not want anything to do with Him. I was a very negative and unhappy child. I felt like I was never good enough or that I would never meet my parents’ standards. Around sixth and seventh grade, I developed intense anxiety and depression. That led me to self-harm. I tried anything I could to fix myself because I wanted to be happy. I tried eight different medications, but they only made me feel worse. I felt was hopeless and did not see a future for myself, so I attempted suicide. I found out about Mercy Ministries through Dawson McAllister’s Teen Hope Line and applied to the program.
At Mercy, I came to know God for who He is. He became real to me and not just a religion. God has restored joy and peace in my life. I am completely free now and I AM NOT GOING BACK! God has shown me my identity in Him and that He accepts me for who I am. It’s not how the world sees me or how others see me, but how He sees me that really matters.
After Mercy, I’m going to go back home to live with my family. I will finish high school and move on to whatever God has for me next.”
Kellsey
“I grew up in a Christian family and went to church, but it was never real to me. When I was nine, my mom died but I never grieved that loss because I didn’t know how. After she died, I lived with my dad and my brother and developed a horrible self-image. I started cutting and I continued to until about a year ago. When I was 13, my dad left me and I moved in with my aunt and uncle. I am so thankful for them, and I have lived with them for three years now.
Since I have been at Mercy, God has given me a foundation of truth. He is my rock - no matter where I go or what I do, He never changes. No matter what happens in your life, He stays the same.
After Mercy, I am going to go home to Washington to finish out my tenth grade year. God has given me an amazing family to live with. I look forward to what God has in store for me because I now know that He is my provider and He will never fail me.”
Rita
“I was raised in the occult for the first 13 years of my life and was sexually abused by multiple people, both men and women. I started cutting at a young age and was involved in bad relationships and drugs. At age 19, I accepted Jesus Christ into my life and I moved to Oklahoma City to go to school, but I was continually running from my past. I started having what appeared to be grand mal seizures, but they were actually panic attacks. I was in and out of hospitals and saw doctors for months, but no one knew what was going on. God continually kept knocking on the door of my heart and was telling me that I needed to let Him in to deal with the issues from my past. I tried to hold everything together on the outside by getting involved in youth conferences, teaching in schools, and doing ministry, but at the end of a day and I would cut myself and I just wanted to die. I found out about Mercy through Joyce Meyer Ministries, and I knew that it was my last hope.
My first two months at Mercy, I could hardly make it through the day, but I had an amazing counselor at Mercy who kept me motivated! She helped me deal with my issues from the past and forgive those who have hurt me. That allowed God to come in and release healing in my life. As I allowed God into my heart, He began bring major change in my life.
After I graduate from Mercy, I am going to the University of Missouri. I plan to get my undergrad in Non-profit Management and Public Leadership. My heart is starting to dream again. From there, I'm going to go to the nations and preach the gospel to everyone I meet!”
Monroe
Alexandra
“A ten-year battle with an eating disorder was the most pressing issue I needed help with. I had been in treatment before and believed that if I could somehow manage the eating disorder behaviors, that I would never really be free. Mercy Ministries was an answer to prayer. My parents knew I needed help and learned about Mercy through our church.
During my time at Mercy, God has only begun to show me how much He loves me and has freed me from deep-rooted shame and fear. I was finally honest with myself, God, and others, and when I expected judgment, I received mercy. God is showing me that I am fully loved and accepted just as I am. God really has set me free and transformed my life.
Whether you are a concerned parent, a girl thinking about applying to Mercy, or just surfing the web, don’t give up. God is a God of possibilities and hope where I had none before. My plan is to go home and live with my parents and brother, find a job, and go back to college.”
Elise
“I spent many years of my life struggling and living without joy or happiness. My shyness and perfectionism caused me great pain. I started self-harming in the fifth grade to punish myself for not being perfect. In the seventh grade, I started to control my eating to lose weight in hopes of being accepted. Instead, this led to an eating disorder that controlled my life. I fell into a deep depression, and I no longer wanted to live.
I found out about Mercy Ministries through my Christian counselor. She spent a lot of time looking on the internet for treatment programs for me because she did not want to send me anywhere that wasn’t Christ-centered. She finally found out about Mercy through a family whose daughter had applied to the program. Once I saw the website, I was set on coming to Mercy.
God has done an amazing work in me while I have been here. I have been healed from having to take any medications to control my mood and sleep, which is wonderful. I have learned that I am who God says I am and not who the world tells me I am. God has given me joy that I have never experienced before. I now have a passion to live my life and to live for God. I can be who God created me to be without worrying about what others think of me. God has shown me His unconditional love and has restored my relationship with my family. He has given me hope for my future and He gives me the strength I need to make it through anything.
My plan after Mercy is to go home to South Dakota and live with my parents until I save enough money to move out on my own. I am going to find a job with a Christian work environment. In the spring of next year, I plan on going back to school for physical therapy or business. I am excited to get involved in my church. I hope to be able to help out with the youth group and possibly the praise team. I am also excited to get back into a women’s Bible study group. I am going to live my life for God and do what He wants me to do.”
St. Louis
Christine
“Before I came to Mercy Ministries, I struggled with self-harm, binge eating, depression, anger, and suicidal thoughts. After I attempted suicide and failed, I knew that I need help. I had never heard of Mercy Ministries before, but one day I received one of the Mercy magazines in the mail. I had not signed up for it, but it just arrived in my mailbox, so I knew that it was God showing me Mercy, and I applied to the program.
Through my time at Mercy, God has given me joy and hope. Now I can smile and laugh. I have confidence because God has shown me who I am in Christ and that I have a future worth living for.
After graduation, I plan to return to school and pursue a degree in Human Services. I love sharing about what God has done in my life, and I hope to one day be involved in missions work.”
Anu
“I came to Mercy Ministries struggling with an eating disorder, over-exercising, depression, self-harm, and lesbianism. The eating disorder was so bad that my friends feared I would die. One of them told me about Mercy and I decided to apply to the program.
Mercy Ministries has helped me understand God’s unconditional love for me. The staff at Mercy have helped me learn that I don't have to be ashamed of my past. I didn't think I could ever trust people again, but at Mercy God has also shown me the value of true friendship. Now I have lifelong friends, and He has shown me that it is all possible through Him.
After graduation I am going to New Hampshire to visit friends for a while and enjoy life. I will eventually return to Finland (where I am from), and I will start looking for a job and get involved with a church. My passion is children, and I want to one day help children who are in need.”
Mary

“Before coming to Mercy Ministries, my life was controlled by an eating disorder. At one point I was bingeing and purging up to 13 times a day and even staying up through the night to binge and purge. My mind was consumed by an obsession with food and control. I knew I needed help, so my mom told me about Mercy Ministries. After finding their page on MySpace, I applied to the program.

During my time at Mercy Ministries, God has given me back a future and a hope. He has restored my mind and my broken heart. He has renewed and strengthened my weary and burdened spirit. God has also done a work of healing in my family and my relationship with them. He has taught me how to let people in and receive love and Godly discipline. He has taught me to face the hard things in life, rather than spending my life running. I can eat and sleep like a normal person again! I no longer live bound by fear. I can now take risks and enjoy the life and relationships God has blessed me with.

After graduation, I am going to go home and be a daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and student. I’m going to get involved in my local church and seek fellowship with God and my church family. I hope to be a wife and mom one day and to be in ministry. I would love to use my musical gifting to express God’s passion for us and to overcome the powers of darkness and oppression.”

Lauren
“Before coming to Mercy Ministries Istruggled with anorexia, major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and self-harm. I grew up with an angry and controlling family member, and I never felt loved. My parents divorced when I was seven, and I chose to live with my mom. This created a need for approval from my dad and everyone else. I felt like the divorce was my fault.
As I grew older, I saw my dad less and I thought it was because I was getting bigger. In my mind the only solution was to make myself smaller so that he would love me more. In fifth grade I started to restrict things like ice cream and sugar. I entered high school at an already low weight, but decided to restrict food even more. I also started cutting in high school because I couldn't handle the anger and hurt I felt inside that I had been stuffing for years. At an alarmingly low weight, I was sent to an eating disorder inpatient treatment center. After an attempt to kill myself by taking several prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs, I had convinced by myself that I would be this way forever. I have an amazing friend who told me about a place that would change my life forever, Mercy Ministries. I applied to the program and was soon accepted.
God began pouring His love on me from the moment I walked through Mercy's doors. At first I didn't know what to do with it, but eventually I let it sink into my heart. I am saved by grace, and I know that God accepts me for who I am and not for what I do or don't do. He knows my every flaw and He loves me anyway! He has taught me that it is ok to cry because even Jesus cried. I am no longer tied down by my issues – I am free.
After graduation, I am going back to college to study elementary education and psychology. While I am in school, I want to get a job as a waitress so that hopefully my smile will bring hope to another person who thinks there is none. I plan to get involved in my small group at church again, and I want to continue to train for the nationals in taekwondo!”
Mandie
“Before coming to Mercy Ministries, I struggled with physical, emotional, and verbal abuse, depression, and self-harm. I couldn’t live life the way I was any longer. A family friend told me about Mercy Ministries. I had also heard Nancy speak at my church, and I knew it was exactly what I needed, so I applied to the program.
While I have been at Mercy, God has healed me completely! He has shown me his everlasting love and forgiveness. I have learned that He never will leave me or forsake me.
Mercy will truly change your life. Freedom is the best feeling I have ever felt in my life. I have joy and peace and so much more! God wants to heal you completely and set you free!!
After graduation, I plan to go back home and live with my family. I love to sing and will get involved in ministry at my church. I plan to work for a year and eventually go back to school to pursue music.”
Congratulations girls! We are so proud of each and every one of you!