Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mercy Ministries Fish-Fry Fundraiser

Mercy supporters Elee and Terri Trechel recently hosted a good ole’ Louisiana style Fish-Fry Fundraiser at their home in Monroe, LA. They invited friends and family to the event and shared their heart for Mercy Ministries. Two Mercy graduates, Jessica and Crystal gave their testimonies and shared about how God transformed their lives while they were in the program. Five current Mercy residents from the Monroe home attended the fundraiser and helped host the guests. Hardeman and Susan Cordell, Larry and Peggy Rogers and Drury and Linda Bynum also helped coordinate and host the dinner. Over $8,000 was raised for Mercy Ministries through this fundraiser. We are so grateful for all the wonderful people in Monroe who are so passionate about seeing young women’s lives restored!

If you are interested in hosting your own private fundraiser, download our private fundraiser kit by clicking here:

https://www.mercyministries.org/shared/docs/public/fundraisingkit.pdf

Or contact Whitney Cantrell for more information: (615)-467-0506

St. Louis Graduates Share Their Stories of Hope, Transformation and Life

During the month of November, four girls graduated from the St. Louis home. During their time in the program we have seen first hand how their positive choices and growing faith in Jesus Christ have transformed their lives. Here are their stories:

LauraMercy Ministries Graduate

Before I came to Mercy Ministries, my family situation was very stressful. I was lost and searching for answers. My parents are supporters of Mercy and they told me about the ministry. I decided to apply to the program because I felt like I had no where else to turn.

When I arrived at Mercy, I was struggling with severe depression, self-harm, suicidal tendencies, anxiety, and drug and alcohol addictions. 8 days after I arrived at Mercy, I accepted Jesus into my heart and life. I am amazed at how much my life has changed over these short six months. He has showed me that I am no longer defined by a disorder, but instead I am defined as a child of the King. I am free from the bondage of things from my past. These old things have been replaced with God’s love, mercy, grace and forgiveness. Through it all, my family has also become closer than ever.

After Mercy, I am moving back to North Carolina to live with my parents and my brother. I am going to get a job and then in January, I will attend a local university and finish my degree in Psychology. I plan to get my Master’s degree in counseling. Ultimately, my dream is to help young women and maybe come back and work at Mercy Ministries.

TaraMercy Ministries Graduate

I have always been a perfectionist and lived my entire life feeling as though I was not “good enough.” I based my self-worth on my appearance and my grades. When I was in 5th grade, my grandfather passed away, and I felt like there was no one else who believed in me and loved me unconditionally. The chaos of everyday life caused a lot of stress in my family, and I felt like it was my responsibility to keep everything in perfect balance.

While I was trying to fix everyone else’s problems, I developed an eating disorder when I was in 5th grade to cope with my own stress. I turned to starvation to deal with the anxiety of my rigorous class schedule. I purged several times a day; regardless of whether or not I had eaten. By the time I was a junior in high school, my eating disorder became a full-time addiction. The summer after I graduated from high school, I stopped eating and drinking completely. After more than 40 days of total starvation, I ended up in a treatment center.

Over a period of 6 months, I was in a secular treatment six times. My insurance ran out and I had been told by numerous psychiatrists that I wouldn’t live to see my 20th birthday. I planned to let the eating disorder kill me but something inside of me was screaming for help. I was angry with God, but I was willing to give Him a chance as my last resort. My sister had heard about Mercy Ministries at a Point of Grace concert several years ago and told me about the program. I made the decision to apply.

I came to Mercy with a lot of fear and a tiny seed of hope. I had such a low opinion of my value that I wanted to take up as little space as possible, so I would sit on the floor curled up in a ball with my hair in front of my face. I would tell the Mercy staff that I was unlovable but they just continued to tell me that I was loved. That love changed me. I realized that even though I had been through some of the best secular treatment programs out there, Jesus Christ is the only One who heal a broken heart and restore a person to wholeness.

After graduation, I am going to go back to Chicago and live with my family. I want to get a job and volunteer at a home for people with Alzheimer’s disease. I hope to start school at Belmont University next fall, and I would like to major in journalism. No matter what the future holds, I want to be a shining example of God’s mercy to girls that are suffering with the same issues I once had. I want other girls to know that it does not matter what the doctors, therapists, or psychiatrists have told you…I am living proof that there is hope, freedom and life out there. If you can use some help on the journey, swallow all of your doubts and fears and fill out the application to Mercy. The staff members are awesome and the atmosphere is very loving. They are able to reach out to so many hurting girls because they will always point you back to God. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” (II Cor. 3:17.)

Sarah BethMercy Ministries Graduate

I grew up in a Christian home with loving and nurturing parents but from a very young age, I was hardened to their love and to the love of God. For me, striving to be loved and Jesus went hand in hand; this resulted in a lot of legalism.

I became bound by all kinds of fear – fear of Hell, fear of people, and a fear gaining weight. I lost a lot of weight and a trusted doctor suggested that I was anorexic. I began to obsess over food, and my weight, and everything that used to be simple became complicated. I started to despise myself and practically everything related to God. I spent all my time in front of the mirror criticizing my body. I started to exercise all of the time and the more I exercised, the more I was unsatisfied with myself. I desperately wanted God's approval so I would spend hours on my knees begging for God's forgiveness but nothing ever seemed to change on the inside. I desired to be Godly so I followed the scriptures, yet I did everything out of fear and obligation.

When I graduated high school, I decided to stop eating completely. I began to compare myself to the world’s image, specifically to the women in the media. My everyday life became exhausting. If I wasn't exercising then I was crying on the floor unable to get dressed.

I was angry, unhappy, confused and deceived. I wanted to die and was desperate for help. so I decided to send in my application. I arrived at the Mercy home in St. Louis on May 6, 2008. At this point in my life, I was battling depression, an eating disorder, legalism, self hatred, obsessive compulsive behaviors, and lust. I hated who I was and my mind was in total confusion. I was the good Christian girl on the outside, but I was dying on the inside and nobody ever knew my struggles because I was so well put together. Every part of me was filled with rage, guilt, and emptiness.

During my time in the program, I realized that I had built up so many walls against God. Through the unconditional love of the staff and their patience in helping me get to the root of my issues, the walls began to come down. I began to see God as my Father who had been there all along. I saw how He was there even when I was a baby. This released me from the guilt and shame of my past. His love for me reached deep into my soul and took away the pain and emptiness I had been full of.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Former Mercy Resident Gives Back to Her Community

Rachael Cabrales, a former Mercy Ministries resident from 1996, and her four year old son Richie, are impacting their local community in an amazing way. They entered the Mermaid Jingle Jam jingle contest sponsored by Chicken of the Sea. If they win the jingle contest, $100,000 worth of seafood will be donated to the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. The local food bank is in need of help and has recently been forced to purchase food due to a shortage of donations. Being a songwriter, Rachael saw the contest as an opportunity to bond with her son and try to give back to local residents in need of food. She wrote a jingle and recorded her son singing the song. They made the home video in their bathroom using the shower curtain as the backdrop. Richie is quite the performer and we are proud of these two for their efforts to contribute to those in need!

Check out this video in which they were featured on their local news channel, click here.

If you would like to vote for Rachael and Richie’s video please visit:

The contest ends on Dec. 9, 2008.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Run For Mercy

The Second Annual Run for Mercy 5k Run and Family Walk was held on Saturday, November 15, 2008 at the site of the new Mercy Ministries home in Lincoln, CA. Over 170 individuals participated in the run to support and raise awareness for the new home scheduled to open early 2009. This beautifully constructed 22,000 square foot home will provide a place for 40 more young women who are in need of God's healing and love. Local Mercy supporter, Bruce Stone said, “I think this is a beautiful home for young women to receive healing and is a beautiful expression of Christ’s love.”

Altogether, the event helped raise over $10,000 towards the funding of the Lincoln home. Individuals, families and church groups from the community came to the event ready and eager to participate. They brought strollers, dogs and bikes and they made their way around the area surrounding the Mercy home site. Mercy Ministries was honored to be sponsored by several local businesses including Rogers Family Company, Lincoln All American Gymnastics, Wells Fargo, and Best You Photos.



Becky Bell, run volunteer and participant, shared the following: “I am amazed at how wonderful this home will be for the girls who come here - it is absolutely gorgeous! We are all looking forward to the day the house is done and the girls are here!"

After the race, the home was open for tours so people could see how the construction is proceeding.

We would like to thank all of the donors and runners who made this Run For Mercy possible.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nancy Alcorn Featured in Good News Magazine

Ministering to the struggles of young women

After working for eight years in juvenile corrections facilities and emergency protective services, Nancy Alcorn saw many girls funneled through the system without any hope of actual change. Many had been raised by drug addicts, prostitutes, or the foster system. Others came from seemingly benign suburban homes.

Determined to halt the cycle of generational addictions and wounds, she opened Mercy Ministries. Today, the ministry has a global presence that reaches young women with addictions, eating disorders, unplanned pregnancies, abuse, and depression.

While Mercy Ministries is an interdenominational enterprise, Nancy’s own faith roots plunge deep within the United Methodist Church: her conversion blossomed from a Lay Witness Mission event. As Mercy Ministries celebrates its 25th anniversary, founder Nancy Alcorn spoke with Elizabeth Glass-Turner about helping young women who are struggling with life-controlling issues.

Good News: How do you view the work of Mercy Ministries?

Nancy Alcorn: We are an interdenominational Christian social service organization placed in the community to help hurting people.

While many treatment programs for girls charge anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 a day, we believe in taking girls in free-of-charge. We recognize that we’re not equipped to help every situation—but we do try to specialize in problematic issues facing young women. If a girl comes to us, we’re going to do everything we can to help her. If she walks away feeling like she didn’t get the help she needed, at least she’s not walking away with a big bill that she’ll spend the rest of her life trying to pay.

When it comes to pregnancy, our heart is to provide a practical way that a young girl who’s in that situation can choose life and receive all the possible choices that she can make—whether that be single parenting, or placing a child up for adoption. We have our own adoption agency for girls who want to choose that option.

READ FULL STORY from Good News Magazine November/December 2008 by Elizabeth Glass-Turner

Mercy Ministries Receives Highest Charity Rating

Mercy Ministries is thrilled to announce that we have received a 4-star rating – the highest rating you can earn - from Charity Navigator, America’s premier charity evaluator. Mercy Ministries is committed to stewardship and excellence and thus, we are pleased to have this designation. We want to share a portion of the letter we recently received from Charity Navigator.

“On behalf of the Charity Navigator, I wish to congratulate Mercy Ministries of America on achieving our coveted 4-star rating for sound fiscal management.

As the nonprofit sector continues to grow at an unprecedented pace, savvy donors are demanding more accountability, transparency and quantifiable results from the charities they choose to support with their hard-earned dollars. In this competitive philanthropic marketplace, Charity Navigator, America’s premier charity evaluator, highlights the fine work of efficient charities such as your own, and provides donors with essential information needed to give them greater confidence in the charitable choices they make.

Based on the most recent financial information available, we have calculated a new rating for your organization. We are proud to announce Mercy Ministries of America has earned our 4-star rating for its ability to efficiently manage and grow its finances. Approximately a quarter of the charities we evaluate have received our highest rating, indicating that Mercy Ministries of America executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way, and outperforms most other charities in America. This “exceptional” designation from Charity Navigator differentiates Mercy Ministries of America from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy if their trust.”

Charity Navigator scores charities on a scale of 0 to 4 stars to help America's philanthropists make intelligent giving decisions and to differentiate truly effective organizations. Four stars means that our organization exceeds industry standards and out performs most charities within our area of influence. This rise in our rating is an exceptional feat, especially given the economic challenges many charities have had to face in the last year.

We are continuing to make improvements and gain efficiencies at Mercy Ministries, and we will only be successful with your continued support in this area. We will not rest on our laurels with this great accomplishment, but work diligently to ensure we maintain this level of excellence as our standard going forward.

View our full rating at:

http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=4079

Thank you for your continued support of Mercy Ministries.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Five More Graduates Celebrate Freedom and Restoration

Nashville residents and staff came together with the families and friends of four amazing women to celebrate their graduation from the Nashville home. We are excited to share with you their stories:

Lauren

Mercy Ministries GraduateI grew up in a loving home but I was confused with my identity in Christ. When I was five years old, I was sexually abused. Ever since I experienced this abuse, shame and fear controlled my life. During junior high school I ran on the track and cross country team. I wanted to excel in this sport and set very high standards for myself. I could not live up to these standards and thought I was a failure. I developed an eating disorder which lasted seven years.

When I was sixteen years old, I entered into an unstable and emotionally abusive relationship that left me confused and insecure. I fell into a deep pit of depression and it felt like the whole world caved in. I isolated myself and lost touch with the joys of life. I continued to struggle with my haunting past and decided to seek counseling through my church.

I found out about Mercy Ministries through my counselor and a former Mercy graduate. I started the application process, but during this time I started living my life in the fast lane. I tried to fill the voids in my life by partying, drinking, and getting involved in unhealthy relationships. I ended up in an unhealthy sexual relationship and when my boyfriend broke up with me I was crushed. Shortly after, I lost a dear friend and thought, "I can't live with this pain anymore!” I attempted to end my life, but by the grace of God I was not successful. As I lay in the hospital bed, my family stayed by my side and insisted I fight for my life. After a couple of unsuccessful visits to treatment centers, I was tired and burnt out. Mercy called me to tell me they had a place for me at the end of my senior year, and I was finally ready to change my life.

As I walked through the doors of Mercy Ministries, God showed me His love and forgiveness. While in the program, He began to break down the walls of fear, pride and anger. Now I'm walking out my faith and giving God all the glory for my transformation. At the present time, I'm working for Lakewood Church in the book store and attending the College of Biblical Studies in Houston, Texas. I plan to pursue a degree in biblical counseling. I'm hoping that one day I will be on staff with Mercy Ministries here in Houston. I thank God, Lakewood Church and Mercy Ministries for restoring my life.

Jama

Mercy Ministries GraduateWhen I was 15 years old, I was molested. Throughout my life I was abused, raped and manipulated. I developed an eating disorder and became depressed and suicidal. After several attempts to take my own life, I desperately wanted freedom from the pain.

I found out about Mercy Ministries through an old friend. I knew I needed help, but at the same time, I would not admit that I had a problem. I realized that I had a choice- I could either choose to attempt suicide once again or I could apply to Mercy Ministries. I chose Mercy.

While at Mercy, God has given me complete restoration. He has cleansed me from the inside out. Psalm 45:11 says, “The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor Him, for He is your Lord.” This verse spoke to my heart and has changed the way I view and carry myself. My passion and dreams for my life have been restored.

After Mercy, I plan to go to the Lost Valley Ranch in Colorado. I want to work there for a while. In the fall of next year, I hope to go to Moody Bible College. I would like to write books and minister to youth and adults.

I want other girls who are struggling to know that there is hope. Our Father can heal any amount of pain. Mercy is a foundation that restores life and brings hope to hurting young women.



Abbey

Mercy Ministries GraduateBefore I came to Mercy, I had been sexually, emotionally and physically abused. This abuse caused me great anguish and confusion. I tried to numb the pain by living a life of self-destructive behavior. I developed an eating disorder and even studied the occult. I became consumed with depression and practiced self-harm. Eventually, I tried to take my own life.

After four failed suicide attempts, I realized I needed help. My parents found out about Mercy Ministries on the Internet and told me about the program. My mom and I attended Mercy’s 25th Anniversary Conference. When I heard the graduates share their testimonies about their experiences at Mercy, I became hopeful that the program could do the same for me. I had nowhere else to go and Mercy seemed like my last resort.

While at Mercy, God gave me hope and a future. I have a new love for Him and His creation because I learned that He first loved me. He showed me that I am His daughter and He is the vindicator of my pain. I have a new perspective on life and He has transformed me. The program was hard at times, but it is completely worth it. Mercy Ministries changed my heart and my life.

After Mercy, I am going home to live with my family. I plan to finish high school and get involved at a local church. Eventually, I would like to go to school and study Psychology.

Tabitha

Mercy Ministries GraduateBefore Mercy, I was depressed, suicidal and had an eating disorder. My issues just went from one extreme to the next. I had refused to go to counseling on my own, but I knew if I didn’t seek help, my life would continue to spiral out of control. I decided to apply to Mercy hoping to find real freedom.

While at Mercy, God has completely captivated my heart. He has given me more joy than I have ever known. He continues to bless my life. My goals and desires have changed for the better. Now I have a positive outlook on life and can see beyond myself.

Now that I have graduated from the program, I plan to attend Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and study music ministry. Mercy has greatly impacted my life and I give God all the glory, honor and praise for restoring my life.

Hannah

Mercy Ministries GraduateWhen I was 15 years old, I was raped. Then I became involved in an abusive and controlling relationship with an older man. I believed the lies that Satan put in my head, and I was completely broken. I continued to get involved in unhealthy relationships. I became depressed, and I had no desire for life and no joy for anything.

While I have been at Mercy Ministries, God has changed my whole outlook on life. He has restored my joy and my dreams. Now I seek Him every day and have a relationship with the one who saved me from destruction. All of the lies I once believed have been replaced with His truth about me.

Now I plan to move home and live with my parents. In June of 2009, I plan to go back to Kenya, where I grew up, and do missions work. Eventually I would like to attend Capernwray Bible College in New Zealand.

Congratulations, Girls, on completing the program. We are so proud of you and we look forward to seeing what God has in store for your lives!!