Friday, December 19, 2008

Former Mercy Residents Unite

Each year, Mercy Ministries in Nashville hosts a Christmas party for former residents in the area. This is always a great opportunity for Mercy girls to reconnect and share updates about what God is doing in their lives.

This year, fifteen former Mercy girls gathered to celebrate the holiday season. Of the girls in attendance, we had girls who were in the program in 1997 all the way through 2008. They enjoyed a meal together, and received stockings full of goodies and gift cards to Target and Starbucks. They spent the rest of the evening in a beautiful outdoor setting around a campfire telling stories, laughing and making s’mores. We received several emails from those who attended saying what a special night it was. Hope you enjoy these pictures!!

















Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Five St. Louis Graduates Find Joy and Freedom

This week at the Mercy Ministries’ home in St. Louis, staff, residents, families, and friends celebrated as five young women graduated the program, ready to live a victorious life in Christ. Here are their stories:

Brittany
Mercy Ministries Graduate
As a child, I taught myself to suppress my feelings and to disconnect from my emotions. It was all after I was abandoned. I felt so unloved. I was also broken by critical comments from someone who was close to me. I was told I was fat and I started believing their lies, which made me feel worthless. I was hurt but I refused to cry because I thought crying was a form of weakness.

I lived a destructive lifestyle and battled an eating disorder, drug and alcohol addictions, suicidal attempts, self-harm, anger, depression and an addiction to pornography. I realized I needed help so I started researching different facilities on the internet. I came across the Mercy Ministries website and I decided to apply to the program because I wanted to know what it was like to live.

During my time at Mercy, God has really done a work in me and has set me free of my addictions. He has softened my heart towards Him and my self-image has been restored. I learned that God isn’t after a religion but a relationship with Him. God has taught me how to love again and my love for life has been restored.

I plan to go back to college at Lee University in Cleveland, TN and earn a degree in Psychology. Once I finish school, I would like to do missions and help with orphanages in Africa.

I would like to tell girls that are considering Mercy Ministries, that it is possible to restore your life and get it back in order. Your life is worth so much more than the issues of this world and this program really works!


Sarah
Mercy Ministries Graduate
I grew up in a very unhealthy environment and was exposed to drugs and alcohol at a very young age. When I started high school, it seemed normal to dive into a similar lifestyle. The drug and alcohol use started out as casual fun but quickly turned into a full blown addiction. Every aspect of my life was consumed by my addictions, and I lost all of my close relationships with my friends and my loved ones.

Eventually I ended up in a secular treatment facility. While I was at this facility, one of my counselors told me about Mercy Ministries and handed me one of Nancy Alcorn’s books. A girl from my counselor’s church had been through the program. That very same afternoon my father came to visit me at the hospital and said his friend told him about a place called Mercy Ministries that counseled girls with similar struggles as mine. I knew this was not a coincidence and decided to apply to the program.

I came to Mercy Ministries broken and struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and sexual promiscuity. While at Mercy, God has set me free from my addictions. I am in no way, shape or form leaving as the same girl that walked in just a few months ago. God has captured my heart with His love and He has taken away my guilt and shame. My innocence has been restored and I am no longer defined by my addictions.

After I graduate from Mercy, I am planning on going back to school, getting plugged into a church and living everyday with a purpose. I have a desire to work with troubled youth and would like to work in the foster care system. I am walking in freedom and now I have a reason to wake up every morning!


Carla
Mercy Ministries Graduate
Growing up, I suffered from verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. For over 12 years, my mother endured a chronic illness, and I was forced to become the caretaker of my family. I struggled with depression, anxiety, and was tormented by suicidal thoughts.

I wanted to live my life. Before I came to Mercy, I was trying to do whatever it took to survive another day. I was consumed with thoughts of suicide, self-harm, and obsessive behaviors. I felt so hopeless, but I desperately wanted help. A counselor at Beltway Park Baptist Church told me about the program and I decided to apply.

While I was in the program, God showed me how to trust others. Now I can let others into my life and form relationships and friendships. He is revealing Himself to me as a loving, heavenly Father and my mind has been retrained and renewed. Most importantly, I learned to choose life and choose Him. My emotions no longer control my life.

After Mercy I plan to go back to Texas to reconnect with my church. I would like to continue to teach and finish my Masters degree in counseling.


Amanda
Mercy Ministries Graduate
Throughout my life, I had a big fear of rejection. In my past, I was sexually abused so I had trust issues. I never wanted to get close to people because I feared they would leave me. I hated myself and detested my life. I felt like I was in a downward spiral. I had no ambition in life and I lost my desire to live.

I knew I could not go on like this, so I decided to seek help. My youth pastor and a really close friend of mine told me about Mercy Ministries. They heard about the program at a church service and I decided to send in an application.

When I came to Mercy, I struggled with self-harm, an eating disorder, sexual promiscuity, addiction to sleeping pills, and lesbianism. I knew I was living a sinful lifestyle, but I didn’t know how to allow God into my life to help me with issues. While I was in the program, I learned how to overcome my life-controlling issues and my life has been completely transformed. God has provided me with love, mercy, and has shown me who He really is. Now I know I can trust Him to be true to His word. I have accepted myself for who I am and He has helped me love others and allow others into my life. I now have hope and a reason to live.

After graduation, I plan on getting a full-time job to start paying off my credit card debt. I want to put aside savings so I can finish my college education.

Mercy is an amazing place. The staff genuinely loves God and the residents. God is saving and transforming lives through this ministry!


Kristin
Mercy Ministries Graduate
I was raised in a Christian home, but I did not know my identity in Christ. My life was controlled by perfectionism and a fear of rejection. During this time in my life, I had panic attacks and I could barely function. I was struggling with an eating disorder and self-harm and I was so miserable that I actually contemplated suicide. I went to a secular treatment facility to receive help but even after six months of care, I was still struggling with these issues. When the treatment did not help, I felt hopeless and I began to realize that God had to be involved in my healing process. I ordered books about the Mercy Ministries program online and then six months later, I found the Mercy Ministries website. At this point I was looking for another place to go for help, so I prayed about it and God opened the doors to Mercy Ministries.

I came to Mercy with low self-worth. When I arrived at the home, I was still struggling with self-harm, eating disorders and I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorders. While I was in the program, God revealed His grace to me and now I am free from my guilt, bondage, and shame. I have learned who I am in Christ and because of Him, I have gained self-confidence.

Prior to my time at Mercy, I was told that I would always suffer from my issues and that I would have to learn to cope with my problems. But since I have been in the program, I have learned how to live a new life of freedom in Christ. He has restored my life and I am finally free from my struggles! Now that I have graduated from Mercy, I am going to go back to school and walk out my freedom.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Former Mercy Resident Wins $100,000 worth of Food to Feed the Needy

The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma received great news this week thanks to former Mercy Ministries' resident, Rachael Cabrales, and her 4-year-old son, Richie. They were the winners of the Mermaid Jingle Jam jingle contest sponsored by Chicken of the Sea!
Rachael wrote the jingle and her son sang the song for an online contest, "When your tummy is hungry, hungry as can be. What you need is Chicken of the Sea. It has lots of protein, full of vitamin D!" They won first prize with 36% of the votes. As a part of winnings, $100,000 worth of seafood was donated to their local food bank! Food Bank Executive Director, Sara Waggoner, explained the prize couldn't have come at a better time. With the downturn in the economy, the food bank has seen a 40% increase in the number of people asking for food, but donations have dropped by 20%.


Seafood is a rare amenity at the food bank because it tends to be a high-priced item so they are thrilled to receive the amazing gift! They are also excited about the effects of this donation because seafood is very high in protein and will go a long way to helping feed the hungry. For Richie's mom the contest had special meaning because at one point in her life, Rachel was homeless herself. She explained, "I know what it is to be in need and to need help from someone. It feels really, really good to be able to give back in some way. It really does!"

Richie is quite the performer, and we are so proud of these two for their efforts to contribute to those in need! On top of winning the $100,000 worth of seafood for their local food bank, they also won an all-expense paid trip to Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA!

Because of your support, Mercy Ministries able to help so many young girls get their lives back on track so that they can go on and impact their communities just like Rachel.

To watch the news story, click here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mercy Ministries of America Accredited by National Financial Accountability Organization

Mercy Ministries is excited to announce that today we received accreditation from the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability (ECFA). ECFA, founded in 1979, provides accreditation to leading Christian non-profit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with established standards for financial accountability, fund-raising and board governance.

“We are pleased to include in our membership a ministry committed to providing hope and healing to young women seeking freedom from life-controlling problems,” said Dan Busby, acting president of ECFA.

Please click here to read the press release from the ECFA.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Six More Lives Transformed

Jennifer
Mercy Ministries Graduate
I came to Mercy in a broken state. I was fighting a twenty-year battle with an eating disorder. I also struggled with self-harm. I was overwhelmed by depression and suicidal thoughts. I was hopeless. I found myself angry with God for creating me. Every night, I prayed that I would not live to see another day.

During my time at Mercy, God set me free from depression that ran so deep I never imagined living without it. He has restored my joy, my dreams and the purpose that He has for my life. The Lord has taken away the fear that kept me locked inside myself. Now, I desire to live. I am determined to fight a life of freedom. I also want to help others fight for their freedom. I am alive in Christ.

I will be attending Harding University in January. I plan to pursue a major in social work and a minor in missions. God has given me a huge burden for the children in Africa. Therefore, once I finish school, I plan on moving to Africa in order to utilize my degree while walking out my heart’s desire.


Katie
Mercy Ministries Graduate
I did not have a relationship with the Lord and I was at the end of my rope. I needed help. My life was full of destructive behaviors as an attempt to fill a void. When I hit rock bottom I realized that I did not know who I was in Christ. My self-esteem was non-existent, which fed a never ending path of trying to be the ‘prettiest.’ Soon, I found myself struggling with anorexia and then body dysmorphic disorder. I just wanted to die, but I knew that there had to be more to life.

Since being at Mercy, God has performed a total transformation within me. He has filled the void. I finally found the One who defines me. I know who I am in Christ! I have grown to love myself just the way He created me. Comparisons are no longer lies that I allow to overpower me. I can face my fears instead of running from them. The Lord has given me something to smile about! I am no longer defined by my disorders or the opinions of others; I am defined by my Father in Heaven and He tells me I am beautiful!

I am returning home to my family and I am excited about walking out the fun-loving person that God created me to be! I plan on getting involved with my church youth group, as well as finding a job. I hope to attend college in the fall to pursue a career as a veterinarian!


Ashleigh
Mercy Ministries Graduate
I thought I was going to go crazy! My mind was so wrapped up in an unrealistic world driven by fear, rejection and anger. I was desperate! I started doing drugs in an attempt to numb those feelings. I had been sexually abused and abandoned. Therefore, I raised my siblings from a young age while also becoming addicted to weed and ecstasy. Running away seemed to be my only option. I hated everyone including myself. I was confused about what life is really about.

During my stay at Mercy, the Lord has shown me that the pain caused by my own parents does not define me. He has freed me from addictions, shame and guilt. He has traded my insecurity for acceptance and self-worth in Him. The Lord has shown me the true love of a father through His unconditional love. Relationships have been restored and new friendships have been formed. It’s so cool because I have never had a ‘true’ friend. He has given me a new life, but most importantly, He has given me a whole new heart!

As I leave Mercy, I plan on pursuing Master’s Commission and then moving into full-time ministry. I would love to be a full-time youth minister and do evangelistic missions.


Tamara
Mercy Ministries Graduate
Sexual abuse, rejection, shame and a low self-image were devastating my world. I was part of an extremely violent and abusive family. I was left feeling like I was defined by my issues. I was living under depression, severe self-harm, suicidal ideology, bulimia and binging, and no relationship with the Lord.

While at Mercy, the Lord restored my foundation in Him. He has allowed me to walk out a personal relationship with Him that has taught me balance in many areas. He has set me free from depression, suicide, and self-harm. Now, I know the importance of keeping Christ at the center of all my relationships. I have felt His unconditional love and acceptance.

I plan on going back to Michigan and getting involved with my church. I am going to go back to school and find a job as well. My desire is to eventually return to Nashville to finish my degree in education. I would like to be a middle school teacher.


Stephanie
Mercy Ministries Graduate
I did not trust anyone. I wanted to fit in, but I could not please everyone. I was always concerned about what others would say or think about me. I began struggling with an eating disorder and self harm. At the same time, I was dabbling in drugs and promiscuity, addicted to pornography, lying compulsively and rebelling against everyone as a way to gain attention.

God has set me free. He has showed me that He is trustworthy. I know that I do not need to please man, but instead, I can be single-focused on and defined by who I am in Him. I found who I am meant to be.

I plan on going home to finish high school and then go on to graduate from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Marine Biology. I am looking forward to mending relationships with my family.


Megan
Mercy Ministries Graduate
I accepted Jesus into my heart at age three. I grew up in a Christ-centered home that filled me with the Word and the truth about the incredible plans that the Lord had for me. At the early age of four years, I was stricken with fear and anxiety. When I was seven years old, lightening hit our home and burned my bedroom to the ground. That occurrence reinforced my fear and anxiety. Soon after, my mother fell into a major depression and as a means of control, I stepped into the enemy’s trap of anorexia. I believed that anorexia was my ally and that it would claim my life.

At 17 years of age, the Lord reminded me of His promises to me as a child, but I continued to struggle with anorexia throughout high school and college. I went through seven rounds of inpatient treatment within 12 years. An addiction to running left me suffering from osteoporosis and multiple broken bones. I finally obtained a degree in Psychology and English from Asbury College. My heart’s desires for singing, academics and loving others did not dwindle amidst the anxiety, depression and anorexia. Later, I had three suicide attempts within four months, but the Lord spared my life each time. God’s grace and mercy still abound as I finally conceded and sent in my application to Mercy.

Mercy has been a vital step in my healing process. While at Mercy, the Lord took me from a place of resentment to a place of thankfulness for His provision and live-saving works (Psalm 40). He drew me from the pit and placed my feet on the rock. Mercy was a time of letting go of my anger with God. God has restored my joy and my song. He has brought peace to my life and I find rest in Him.

I plan on going back to North Carolina where I will work at Starbucks and substitute teach. I hope to attend Ashbury Theological Seminary in the fall to get my Master’s Degree in Counseling. For now, I am excited to share about what Jesus has done in my life!


Congratulations, Girls!! We are so proud of you and can’t wait to see what God has in store for your futures!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

DELIVER ME


By Amy Lambert as told to Laura Christianson

I sat on my bed, carving slash marks into my leg with a razor blade as I listened to a song called “Suicidal Dreams.” I was 10 years old. “I’m going to make Dad and Mom pay for what they’ve done to me,” I murmured.

My parents had just gotten divorced, and my dad moved to another city. Our family was broken—and so was I.

On the outside, we appeared to be the perfect pastor’s family. But within the privacy of our home, it was like the Twilight Zone. I was constantly walking on eggshells around my short-fused dad, who was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Sometimes I’d smart-mouth him and he wouldn’t react. Other times, he’d fly into a rage for no apparent reason.

And now it had come to this: My parents’ divorce, and my angry, broken heart. I pleaded with God, “You said that if I had faith the size of a mustard seed, you’d move mountains. Please, put my family back together.”

It didn’t happen. Convinced God had forsaken me, I changed my prayer to, “Just kill me.”

To punish my parents for the hurt they’d caused me, I chose the thing I was sure would upset them the most: drugs.

READ FULL STORY from TODAY’S CHRISTIAN magazine, September/October 2008

Nashville Society Helps Celebrate a Merry Mercy Christmas

On Monday, December 8th, 2008, over 100 women attended the Second Annual Merry Mercy Christmas Benefit at the historic Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.

Co-Chairs Mrs. Sandy Houston and Ms. Tonya Cumbee, both Mercy Ministries Nashville Board members, hosted the event along with several Mercy Ministries staff. Committee members included Mrs. Tracy Mawae, wife of Titans Team Captain and pro bowl center Kevin Mawae, Mrs. Sharon Ramsey, wife of radio talk show host Dave Ramsey, Ms. Juli Fisher, Mrs. Shelley Breen of Point of Grace, Mrs. Denise Jones of Point of Grace, Mrs. Leigh Cappillino of Point of Grace, Ms. Lynn Morrow, Mrs. Charita Upkins, Mrs. Sylvia Singleton, Mrs. Ashley Cook, Mrs. Brittany Horn, and Mrs. Tobi Frankfather.

Cider and TrufflesBethany Chocolatier Truffles and hot apple cider were served and a pianist played carols as guests bid on silent auction items donated from The Hermitage Hotel, A Moment’s Peace Day Spa, Scott Schrecker Photography, Village Wines, Portraits by Griggs, Deus Virtus Handbags, Woo Cosmetics, and many more. Among the exceptional items in the auction were original paintings from three local artists Jonathan Murrell, Kris Prunitsch and Adam Hall.

Guests were given Mercy Commemorative Christmas Ornaments, as well as gift bags with the following sponsored gifts: gift cards to Swoozie’s, candles from Sweet Aroma Shop, Point of Grace “How You Live” cds, Gigi’s Cupcakes gift certificate, free facial gift certificate from Arbonne, and Nancy Alcorn’s book Echoes of Mercy.

Mercy Ministries



Local Mercy graduates Kathryne Coonce, Monica LaPlante and Ashleigh Stevenson shared their stories with those gathered and a powerful DVD was shown about how Mercy Ministries is transforming lives of young women not only in the Nashville home but all around the world.






Point of Grace



The event ended with Point of Grace singing holiday favorites including, “Tennessee Christmas” and “Not That Far From Bethlehem”. Before singing their hit single “How You Live”, they dedicated the song to Mercy Ministries’ Founder and President Nancy Alcorn, honoring her commitment to seeing young women’s lives transformed and their hopes restored.





“All the staff at Mercy Ministries greatly appreciates the time and effort of all of the incredible women who made this event possible. It was so wonderful to see women in the Nashville community embrace and support the work of Mercy Ministries and our home here. This benefit was a tremendous way to start this season of giving!” –Linda Hood, Executive Director of Mercy Ministries

“I really enjoyed being at the Mercy Ministries benefit at the Hermitage! It was so nice to be able to share my testimony and be able to give back because Mercy gave so much to me. Mercy helped me to develop the most important thing in my life – a relationship with Jesus Christ – without which I would not be who I am or where I am today. I am so thankful to Mercy and Nancy for helping me learn how to live a full and joyful life with Christ at the center and for helping me to place my child with a wonderful family through adoption. Not only was my life restored through this ministry, but many others were blessed with the birth of a little boy! Thank you Nancy for accepting God’s call on your life!” –Kathryne Coonce, Graduate of Mercy Ministries

“The second annual Merry Mercy Christmas Benefit was a wonderful event. It was a special day for Mercy as the ministry’s mission was shared and received by the generous community of Nashville. It was such a blessing to hear the graduates speak of the restoration and healing they received at Mercy during this season of hope and joy.” –Kay Strom, Volunteer of Mercy Ministries

Mercy Ministries sends a special thank you to Ms. Tonya Cumbee and Mrs. Sandy Houston for hosting this wonderful event and to all the committee members, sponsors, and guests for helping to make this a very Merry Mercy Christmas!

Friday, December 5, 2008

NEW! Nancy Alcorn Blog

We are so excited to let you know that Nancy has started her own personal blog. The purpose of the blog is to keep in touch with our supporters and former residents and to share about some of the exciting things that happen at Mercy on a daily basis. She plans to update her blog regularly, and would love to hear from you all!

Here is the link:
http://nancyalcorn.blogspot.com/

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Karen Wheaton at Mercy!

Karen Wheaton, who travels worldwide in her ministry, came to Mercy Ministries in Nashville and spent the day. It was a great time as she told some things that she has had to overcome in her own life, and she communicated with the girls about the destiny that they have before them as a generation in the earth today.

She also told of a group that she founded 10 years ago in Hamilton, AL called The Ramp. Check it out at www.theramp.org. They have between 1,000 – 2,000 young people visit there every month, and she has invited our girls and staff to make a trip there in the first part of 2009.

It was so great having her here and we wanted to share these pictures from the special time we all had together.