Thursday, June 26, 2008

Five Graduates Celebrate Freedom

This month Mercy Ministries celebrated the graduation of five girls from the Nashville home. Each of these young women has walked a long, hard road, but now they are experiencing true freedom. We want to share their stories with you:

Alesha

“For the past seven years, I have dealt with bulimia and a very distorted image of myself. I hid my problems and imperfections the best I could, and I used bulimia to cope with the stresses of growing up and dealing with change. I felt totally trapped in this pit that I had dug for myself. I was tired of lying to everyone I loved and telling them I was okay when everything inside of me was shattered. I hated the life I was living, and I knew it was time for me to really do something-- to really change. That is when I decided to come to Mercy.

While at Mercy, God reached into my life and rearranged everything. He showed me that trusting Him and relying on Him (and not on my own abilities) for change was the only real thing I could do. I am totally free, and I know my life will never be the same. I have gone from being afraid of life and insecure about “me,” to jumping into life head first and taking leaps of faith. I know now without a doubt that I am loved and cared for.

After Mercy, I plan to attend college in the fall. I also want to do something for the youth in my city, like start a hub for Christians where they can express themselves with art and whatever it is that the youth will be into years from now. I am living by faith, and I am so excited about the adventure God has waiting for me!”

Alicia

“I was at the end of my rope with a severe eating disorder. I had already been to two other well-known eating disorder facilities and was told that this is just something I would have to deal with the rest of my life. I was already in debt from the past treatment programs and had lost all hope for my future. I decided to look one last time for an affordable treatment center, and I found Mercy Ministries. I applied, and my prayers were answered.

Since I’ve been at Mercy, I have become a Christian and have gained a personal relationship with God. I now know that God is a good and merciful God and not One that is all about rules and regulations. I have overcome my eating disorder and a life full of deception. I now know my true identity is in Christ and not in the world.

After Mercy, I plan to go back home for a month or two. Then, I am going to work with for The Fuller Foundation, in Americus, GA with Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity.

Andrea

“I grew up in a Christian home and have always been passionate about Jesus with the desire to grow closer to Him. I went to a Christian Leadership Training School soon after I graduated from high school, but the program was so focused on doing good deeds for God that I got busy and forgot about focusing on my personal relationship with Christ. I got burnt out, got hurt by Christians that I knew, and started hanging out with the wrong people.

I fell into a deep depression and even attempted to end my life multiple times. My boyfriend of two years was a hardcore partier. I was spending all my time with him, and then I found out I was pregnant. My life was so out of control and deep down I knew that Jesus was the only one who could help me, but I also knew I needed help getting my life back. I found out about Mercy through a social worker who had a friend that was personally changed at Mercy. I prayed about it, and the next day I saw Nancy Alcorn on TV talking about the program. I knew right then that God was confirming to me that Mercy was the right place for me.

God says in His Word that He will refine us like silver and test us like gold. He did that for me. While at Mercy, He helped me deal with my pain by taking me through the fire to complete surrender and obedience to Him. He brought all of my impurities to the surface and made me pure again. God freed me from my depression, softened my heart again, restored my purity and gave me a hope for my future.

After Mercy, I’m going to place my baby for adoption and go back home to Texas to live with my parents. I will continue my job as a beauty consultant for Mary Kay Cosmetics and save up money so that I can travel all over the world and get my generation excited about following Jesus. I want to show them that it is possible to live for Christ.”

Crystal

“I lived a very destructive lifestyle and was not able to function properly. I had been sexually abused by my father at a very young age, and I struggled with anorexia and bulimia for ten years. Because of this, I was also very depressed and struggled with thoughts of suicide. I had also started cutting as a coping mechanism to attempt to deal with life. Hospital visits became a regular thing for me. My insurance benefits ran out and the hospital told me that even if they could allow me a couple more visits, it wouldn’t do any good. I was pretty much a hopeless case and would struggle with these issues for the rest of my life. I found out about Mercy through Remuda Ranch and The Moore Center. Mercy was my last option and my last hope that I could even be remotely okay with life.

While at Mercy, God has completely transformed my whole being. He has shown me that He is my Father, and He is nothing like my earthly father. He will never leave me nor forsake me. God has shown me that I don’t have to live my life being ruled by a scale or the size of clothes I wear. I can walk in complete freedom and cast all of my cares on Him. My joy and hope have been restored, and I am excited to return home and actually enjoy life for the first time.

After Mercy, I’m going to be working at a summer camp as an assistant to the nurse. Then, I plan to go to nursing school and pursue a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, and I eventually a psychiatric nurse practitioner. I hope to be able to share my testimony with others so I can be a light in the darkness. I want to let the world know that it is possible to live a happy life. They don’t have to have an eating disorder, they can be free from depression, and they don’t need to harm their bodies in any way. There is a God who cares about them, who loves them and wants to be a part of their lives!

Kala

“I grew up in a loving home, but it wasn’t a Christian atmosphere. My parents separated when I was two, which later left me feeling unwanted by my father. All through school, I was picked on, which led to self-hate. I tried to kill myself when I was 14 and was told that I was lucky to be alive. At the age of 14, I decided to go live with my biological father and his family that I did not even know. After living there for a while, I was raped which led to more self-hate. I returned home to live with my mom, and it was then that my pastor’s wife told me about Mercy. I applied and was accepted into the program. However, after about seven weeks, I decided to leave Mercy, which was the worst mistake I ever made.

When I returned home, I got into an abusive relationship with a guy. About a year into it, I discovered self-harm as a way to punish myself for everything I had done wrong. I developed an eating disorder soon after, along with taking drugs and drinking alcohol. After getting married and having two children together, I decided I had to leave, if not for me then for my children. I started another relationship and found out I was pregnant again. I knew then that my life needed to change quickly. I applied for Mercy again and was accepted.

While at Mercy this time, I determined to cooperate with the program and surrender to the process. I have learned who I am in Christ and that I do not need anyone but God to make me whole. I have learned the power of forgiveness, which was a heavy burden lifted from me. I feel beautiful, confident, and I am so grateful to be alive. God has restored my body from all the damage I have done, and He is restoring my relationship with my family.

After Mercy, I plan to go back to school. I know God has big plans for me and my little ones. I am going to start a new life with my children and be the mother I learned to be while I was at Mercy. I can’t thank Nancy Alcorn and the staff enough for letting God use them to help girls like me.”

Congratulations Girls! We are so very proud of you!