Thursday, October 16, 2008

Six Graduates Celebrate New Life!

This week we are celebrating the freedom of six young women who just graduated from Mercy Ministries in Nashville and Monroe! These girls have experienced the true freedom and joy that comes from having a relationship with Christ. Here are their incredible stories of transformation:

Nashville Home

Samantha’s Story:

When I was growing up, my house was filled with rage and anger—and a lot of physical abuse. I started engaging in an eating-disorder and self-harm when I was just 11 years old. This continued to get worse throughout the years. Then, when I was 15 years old, my mother left after my parents divorced, and I felt completely abandoned and rejected—I believed that I was unworthy of anyone’s love. At one point, I tried to kill myself by overdosing on pills. While I was in the hospital, I met a girl that introduced me to the party lifestyle. From that point on, I became very promiscuous and heavily involved with drugs and alcohol. I really needed help and had nowhere to turn. Nancy Alcorn came to my church to speak. She told me about Mercy Ministries and encouraged me to apply so I did.

Because I was able to come to Mercy, my life has been completely transformed. I have finally learned what it means to have a true and intimate relationship with Christ. I am now able to rely on Him instead of running to self-harm, drugs and alcohol, or guys. I no longer need those things because I put my complete trust in God—my value lies in Christ alone. I am so excited about my future and what God has for me!

After Mercy, I am going home where I will be very involved with my church. Then, in January 2009, I will be attending the University of Central Oklahoma. I plan on majoring in speech/language pathology so that I can pursue my dream of working with deaf children.

I want other girls to know that Mercy Ministries is an amazing place. Lives are completely transformed here and the staff demonstrates unconditional love. I couldn’t have picked a better place to get help.

Cindy’s Story:

Before I came to Mercy, my life was filled with resentment and hatred. During my childhood, I dealt with a lot of physical abuse. I felt that my family withheld love from me, and when love was offered, it was always conditional. All of these things played into the development of a negative self-image, self-harm, perfectionism, and unhealthy eating habits. I was harboring a lot of unforgiveness in my life and did not know my worth so I tried to kill myself. I knew that I needed to experience the mercy of God. I learned about Mercy Ministries on the internet. I felt that this might be the place for me, so I applied.

Since I have been at Mercy, God has helped me break through the strongholds in my life. He has shown me that my true identity can only be found in Him. I understand that I do not have to let my past affect my future. He has made me new, and I can overcome. God has completely pulled me out of my pit and put me in the arms of His grace.

After Mercy, I am going to finish my education and get very involved with youth groups in my area. I want other people to know that Mercy Ministries is an amazing place. You may arrive broken, but if you allow God to work, you can become a whole person. The staff at Mercy truly exemplifies the love and patience of Jesus Christ.

Monroe Home

Ruby’s Story:

For years, I struggled with an eating-disorder, self-harm, and depression. I always looked to alcohol and drugs to mask the hurt that I carried around inside of me. There was a lot of shame and guilt that caused me to hate myself, so I eventually became suicidal—I was ready to give up on life. Although I desperately wanted a way out, my actions reflected that I desired to live in bondage. I had a hard time believing that I was worth anything or that I could truly experience life. I found Mercy Ministries online. This was my last hope.

Coming to Mercy has shown me how incredibly deceived I have been. I have learned so much about myself and God’s true character. There has been so much that I have received from God since he has revealed Himself to me. He has given me hope and a desire for life! I know that I can be honest and real with Him without being condemned. I am learning to accept and receive the blessings and love that He has to offer. I do not have to live in the bondage of my issues—God has so much more for my life. I no longer look to anyone to define me except Him.

I am looking forward to my life after Mercy! I pan to go home to California and be involved with multimedia at my church. I would also like to do a short-term mission trip to another country. I am going to remain open to God’s leading.

Deanna’s Story:

I struggled with an eating-disorder and self-harm for nearly ten years. After some traumatic experiences with the authority figures in my life, I began to believe that all authority, including God, could not be trusted. I became very legalistic and believed that by doing certain things, God would accept me—or that I would be good enough for Him. When that failed, I began looking for love and acceptance through food, self-harm, alcohol, sexual-sin, and partying. I was trying to fill the void in my heart and take the pain away. I learned about Mercy Ministries online and decided to apply.

When I walked through the doors of Mercy Ministries I felt dead inside. Through the love, grace, and acceptance exhibited through the staff, I started seeing that I actually had a reason to live. God has shown me so much about His character and who I am in Christ. I now realize that I am more than just a number to Him—that He calls me by name. He will never reject me, and there is nothing in this world that can take the place of who He is to me. Because of Him, I have a future and purpose!

After Mercy, I will be going back to Pennsylvania to be with my family. In the spring of 2009, I hope to go back to school so that I can pursue the passion God has given me for music.

Bri’s Story:

I came to a point in my life where I had basically given up on myself. For me, anything that seemed to offer hope was too good to be true. I was very angry and did not want to accept the help of anyone. I learned about Mercy Ministries through a pastor—his daughter graduated from the Nashville home. I realized that this was my last hope, so I went through the application process and was accepted.

When I came through the doors at Mercy, I was very angry. However, after a few months, my life began to completely turn around. God has given me life again! I know that I have a future and that I was not a mistake. I know that there is a purpose for my life, and I no longer need to hide or be ashamed. I understand that forgiveness is a choice, and I have learned how to give everything to God. I can now submit all of my emotions and anger to God. I know that He can help me channel it in a positive way.

I am so excited to return home, where I will continue to explore that joy that I have found in Christ. I will also be attending college and getting involved with modeling again. I am not quite sure where I will be going to school, but I know that the Lord will direct my steps. Someday, I hope to do some traveling.

Heidi’s Story:

Before coming to Mercy, I was bound by an eating-disorder and cutting. This all stemmed from my inability to deal with abuse that occurred in my past. I was very angry and felt completely hopeless. My counselor recommended Mercy Ministries to me, so I applied.

I never thought that I would be where I am today. At Mercy, I have learned to trust God—because I know that He is the only One that can bring healing to my life. He is all that I need and I have learned to find my worth in Him. I know that God loves and accepts me for who I am—His opinion is all that matters. I see God as my Father and for the first time in my life, I have real joy which is not dependent on circumstances.

After leaving Mercy, I am going to get a job and pursue my degree in nursing. Eventually, I would love to go to Africa so that I can be involved with medical missions.

Congratulations - we are so proud of all of you!