Thursday, September 4, 2008

Nashville Graduation – Celebrating Seven More Lives Transformed!

This month, seven young women graduated from the Mercy Ministries program in Nashville. After coming to Mercy desperate for help, they are each graduating with hope for the future that God has for them. Here are their amazing stories of freedom:

Stephanie’s Story

I came from a very unstable and emotionally neglectful background. I never really felt the love that I wanted so badly from my parents and was left alone frequently. At one time, I was beat very badly by a family member and it seemed that no one really cared. During my teen years, I gained popularity but used relationships with boys to gain some sense of love and security. I began to lie and manipulate to get whatever I wanted. All I was really trying to do was fill the void. When I learned that I was pregnant, I hid it for six months. Eventually, I was forced to have an abortion and due to complications, I almost died. I felt so much shame and pain--I had nowhere to turn. Then I found out about Mercy through the internet and chose to apply.

While I have been at Mercy I have come to know God in a very real way. I know that He loves me no matter what, and that I don’t have to be ashamed of my past. For the first time, I have been able to experience the love that I have been wanting for so long. God has restored so much in a very short time, and I am actually excited about my future for the first time in my life. Coming to Mercy Ministries is the best decision that I have every made. I now have a hope and a huge family of sisters!

After I leave Mercy, I am going to remain in Nashville with a host family and complete high school. One day I hope to become a wedding cake designer. Most of all, I am so excited for whatever God’s plans are for me. Thank you, Mercy!

Miriam’s Story

Miriam came to Mercy Ministries with an unplanned pregnancy, unsure whether to parent her baby or place her for adoption. Through prayer and counseling, she determined to parent her daughter. Miriam wishes to thank God and Mercy Ministries for helping her discover her true identity in Christ and freedom from her past. She is very excited about her future as a mother. Miriam had this to say, “Coming to Mercy is the best decision that I have ever made. I will never go back to where I came from. Thank you Mercy Ministries for helping me transform my life and restore hope for my future!”

Audrey’s Story

Growing up, I did not have a personal relationship with my father due my own personal struggles. I dealt with rejection and emotional abandonment. I had no idea who I was or what my purpose was. I was desperate for help and needed something that offered hope in my hopeless state. I learned about Mercy Ministries from my counselor.

I came to Mercy Ministries with an eating disorder, depression, and self-harm. While at Mercy, God has totally transformed my view of Him! Not only does he love me, but He is in love with me and He really speaks to me! He’s given me new life, brought me from darkness to light, and filled my heart with joy!

After Mercy, I plan to become a preschool teacher. I would love to become a children’s therapist and work with young girls that have been rescued from trauma situations. I want to lead them on a journey of healing and hope. I want to reach out and love the forgotten ones - the ones who are lost in a sea of faces, longing for someone to notice them.

I have learned that there is hope for the hopeless! Jesus will turn your darkest night to light.

Emily’s Story

I came to Mercy Ministries angry and hurt. Cutting and suicidal thoughts had taken control of my life. I used self-harm to get relief, but no relief came. My youth leader had learned about Mercy Ministries through Joyce Meyer and told me about it. I wanted to get better and Mercy Ministries was my last option.

While at Mercy Ministries, God has given me complete freedom and restoration. I have hope for my future and have learned to love and be loved. My daddy God wants to be by my side and will always be there for me. Mercy is like no other treatment center…it saved my life!

After Mercy, I plan to go to college and pursue my dream of public speaking and I look forward to getting a job.

Alisha’s Story

I have battled with bulimia and self-harm since I was young. I was depressed and I hated myself and others. I lost all of my relationships with my family. These factors contributed to my need to turn to these self-destructive behaviors. I realized that I needed help and my mom found information about Mercy Ministries on the internet. I read about the program and felt it was what I needed to turn my life around so I decided to fill out the application.

During my time at Mercy, God has restored my happiness, peace and He has shown me love. He tells me I am beautiful and He has restored my relationships with my family members. I have overcome the hurt from my past and now I am healed.

After I graduate from Mercy Ministries, I am going to Bible College. I would love to go on mission trips. Eventually I would like to open up an orphanage and get into youth ministry.

I want other girls to know that unexpected and hurtful things will happen in life. You have to find the Lord in order to experience the love you are looking for. It will allow you to serve others by sharing with them the gospel of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Mercy Ministries gives you the tools you need to overcome your struggles and helps you see the gifts and abilities that God has given you.

Kara’s Story

Before I came to Mercy, I tried struggled to cope with the pain in my life. Abandonment, betrayal and unforgiveness controlled my life. I was raped by someone I thought I could trust, which only added to my grief. Because of all of this, I also had a lot of anxiety and would often self-harm. I became so suicidal that I would fantasize about not waking up so that I would no longer have to deal with the pain. I needed help—I was ready to give up all together. At my breaking point, I learned that I was pregnant. A family friend told me about Mercy, so I made the decision to apply.

While I was at Mercy God completely broke me down so that he could build me back up. I have become so much stronger in my faith, and I can now say that I am confident in who I am. Rather than wishing I will not wake up in the morning, I now face each day with joy and assurance that God is on my side. I am so excited about what He has in store for my future!

After I leave Mercy, I am going to return home to be a mommy to my baby boy. I plan on being very involved with the single-mothers group at the church I am going to be attending, as well as continuing my education. I hope to one day be a medical assistant. Going to Mercy was one of the hardest things that I have ever done - however, it was the best decision I have ever made. I want other girls to know that it is because of God and Mercy Ministries that I have a second chance. I am now ready for life with my baby boy by my side!

Julie’s Story

I grew up in a Christian home, but never really felt the kind of love that I thought would make me happy. When I was a child, I developed an eating disorder. When this happened, I began to feel insecure about my body, so I started dieting and over-exercising. Eventually, I developed anorexia and bulimia and began to self-harm. I wanted so badly to shape myself into something lovable, but I was damaging my body instead – and I hated myself. I was in and out of hospitals and psych wards that never really dealt with the root issues. I found myself caught in a vicious cycle. I just wanted to give up and die because I felt that life had no meaning. At one point, my body became so weak from my eating disorder that I was at risk of dying. Finally, at rock bottom, I applied to Mercy Ministries.

Since I have been at Mercy, my life has been completely transformed. I have learned that my true identity is in Christ. As a Christian, I do not have to live up to society’s unrealistic expectations of self-image. I am God’s precious daughter and it doesn’t matter how much I weigh or what I look like as long as I am living in His will. I am happy to say that I am free from my eating disorder and free in Christ because “whom the son sets free is free indeed” (John 8:36). I will live and walk in the freedom God has so graciously given me.

After Mercy, I plan on going home to live with my family for a few months. I will be helping my accountability partner lead AWANA, a youth program at my church for high school students. In January, I hope to go to the YWAM base in Hawaii so I can eventually be involved in long-term missions overseas.

Congratulations girls--We are so proud of you!