Friday, January 30, 2009

Mercy Ministries Girls Cheer Vanderbilt to Victory!


We wanted to take the opportunity to thank Vanderbilt University and in particular, the women’s basketball program, for providing 50 season tickets for our girls to go and enjoy all of their home games. Last night, the girls attended the game and Vanderbilt beat Arkansas in overtime 72-61. The girls helped cheer them on to victory. Now the Commodores are 3-0 at home in conference play this season!

“I wanted to thank the Vanderbilt women’s basketball team for inviting us to their home games and for giving us tickets! I have enjoyed all of the games this season and last night’s game was really exciting, because it went into overtime. I love watching the girls play, because they are so talented, competitive, and they play hard.”

–Abby

“We always have fun at the Vanderbilt basketball games. It’s a great chance to get out of the house and hang out with my Mercy sisters. Thank you Vanderbilt for donating the tickets to us! Last night’s game against Arkansas was exciting!

-Sonja


“I love going to the games to cheer on Vanderbilt! It is so much fun to watch the girls play. They have a strong team this year and we have a blast cheering them on. Thanks Vandy!”

-Caroline

The girls wanted to personally thank the team for inviting them to the games. You can follow their season at http://vucommodores.cstv.com/sports/w-baskbl/vand-w-baskbl-body.html. Go Vandy!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

NEW! Mercy Girl’s Blog

We receive numerous letters from our supporters telling us how much they love our monthly thank you letters because they always include a story or a quote from one of our graduates. If you like reading these stories every month, you will absolutely LOVE this…

We have started a blog where Mercy girls can write in and share their stories, their gratitude, and most importantly, their encouragement to other girls who are either currently in the process of applying to the program or who are struggling and searching for hope. This has been a wonderful ministry tool, and we wanted to share it with you. What these girls are sharing on this blog is truly inspiring. So, we wanted to share this blog with you in hopes that it would touch your heart. You will be able to see firsthand how these girls’ lives have been transformed by God’s unconditional love and forgiveness – so much so that they are now using their stories to help others.

Check it out at www.mercyministriesblog.blogspot.com.

Don’t forget to check out Nancy Alcorn’s Blog at www.nancyalcorn.blogspot.com.

As well as Mercy Ministries Video Blog at www.mercyministriesvlog.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Lasting Impact – Letters from Parents

We have recently received several letters and emails from the parents of Mercy graduates who are so thankful that Mercy was able to bring hope and healing to their families in the midst of desperate situations. For over 25 years now, Mercy Ministries has been helping hurting young women find freedom from life-controlling issues. In addition to seeing young women’s lives changed through the power of Jesus Christ, we have also seen entire families impacted. We get so excited when we hear about the lives that have been changed, and we wanted to share a few of these letters with you.

How can we begin to thank you for all you have given our daughter, Jaima, these past 6 months? We sent you a young lady confused, hopeless, prideful, stubborn, and without passion. You are giving us back a young woman who is full of passion for our Lord who has healed her brokenness and given her hope and a future. We stand amazed how our Lord has grabbed a hold of her and renewed her. Thank you for your prayers, endurance, ears, teaching, structure, and love. Our prayers for the ministry will be constant and we plan to give as often as we can.

Continue to serve Him and He will continue to move in HUGE ways in the Mercy homes!

Love, Amy (mother of Mercy graduate)


I want to humbly thank you for saving my daughter’s life though Mercy Ministries. How can we ever repay you? This is one of the most joyful times in our lives.

Approximately 13 months ago, Kori and I were passing though Nashville and I called Mercy Ministries to see if we could stop at your facility. A Mercy graduate took us on a tour of the facility. I will never forget her story and the things she told us about Mercy Ministries. I remember speaking to her in the lobby when I started to cry. I felt so sad inside. I was hurting for my daughter. I thought I had been in some pretty tough battles in my life but no battle compared to this. As we drove away, I gathered my emotions and continued on our journey, hoping that someday Kori would go to Mercy to receive healing and restoration.

Just a few days later, we found out that Kori was accepted into the program. What joy we felt! I called my wife right away to share the good news. Our family had been on a deep, dark, journey for several years and there was so much uncertainty, emotional pain, and heartbreak that we thought the future looked very dim. God opened Mercy Ministries’ door to us and a new journey began for Kori and our entire family. God works His plan in many ways. Kori has grown in so many ways, and as a result of our dark journey, we as individuals and as a family have grown as well. We have so much to be thankful for. I cannot even begin to count the blessings God has given me and my family. I commend Kori for her hard work and growth. I love my daughter so much and I thank God for her. I know God has a special plan for her.

As we leave Mercy Ministries and begin a new chapter in our lives, I will never forget the unconditional love you have shown me and my family. While all the glory goes to God our Lord and Savior, I thank God for you. Thank you for helping my daughter, me, and my family. Time and distance has a way of causing people to forget what others have done for them. You and this ministry will always be close to us and in our hearts and prayers. I hope you will allow us to visit from time to time.

Sincerely,
Tom (father of a Mercy graduate)

We just wanted to take the time to say THANK YOU for listening to God as He led you years ago to start Mercy Ministries.
On Thursday night, we received one of the most wonderful phone calls we could have ever gotten. Our daughter, Laura, has been at Mercy in St. Louis for four months, and we received a call Thursday to tell us she would be graduating soon!!!!

I know you get many letters from people telling about how low things were before Mercy....but we want to say it also...she was so down that we knew only God could bring her back to us...and through your staff's loving guidance, He has done just that!

We learned of Mercy quite a few years ago at a Sunday morning worship service we attended through our Amway business.

We knew then that Mercy was what our daughter needed....but until she knew it and wanted it for herself....we could only pray that God would open her heart.

After having been at Mercy, just talking on the phone with our daughter is unbelievable.....she is so different in her thinking, how she talks of praying to God for answers, and how she KNOWS He has plans for her! Miracles do still happen!

Again, we want to say thank you for all you have done.
God Bless You and the Staff at Mercy!

John and Trina (parents of a Mercy graduate)


Dear Nancy,

We can't begin to tell you how thankful we are that you and the Lord made it possible for Rachel to come to Mercy. I truly think that if she hadn't come when she did that she would either be in jail or something worse by now. She is like a different person---a new creation in Christ. We pray every day that she will stay on the path and listen to the Lord and obey. I know it’s hard at times, but she is determined to work things out.

It’s truly amazing to us how all this worked out. We can now see how the Lord's hand prepared for the time that Rachel would need Mercy Ministries. It is truly a miracle!!!

If we can ever help you in any way please let us know. We will be eternally grateful to you for what you have done for our family.

With grateful hearts, we love you
Sara and Dan (Aunt and Uncle of a Mercy graduate)


Nancy,

I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate all you do! My daughter Tabitha graduated from the Nashville home in November and my husband and I both have looked at each other so many times during this past Christmas season and reflected on where we were last year at this time...I am afraid that without Mercy it is very likely that our Tabby may not have been with us! Thank you for all that you do - you are such an inspiration to so many!
Sending you the best in 2009 and God's love all throughout the year.

Love
Terri (mother of a Mercy graduate)

Dear Nancy,

We love you and we love Mercy Ministries! We love that you have the heart of God and we love that our daughter, Rachel, is fruit from Mercy. She is truly a new creation – healed and whole. Many young girls are now turning to Rachel for hope for their broken lives. God is amazing.

Thank you Nancy.

Love,
Randy, Melissa, Deanna, and Rachel (family of a Mercy graduate)


Dear Nancy and all the Wonderful Mercy Staff,

Mercy was the river that we needed when our desert was dry with no end in sight. You were the Oasis Ana ran to when she needed the only living water that truly cleanses and sustains. You gave hope, unconditional love, and equipped her with the tools and weapons to become the victorious overcomer that I know Christ has purposed her to be. May God continue to prosper, bless, and sustain you to touch many more for years and years to come. Amen.

In Him,
The Browns (family of a Mercy graduate)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mercy Graduate Gives Back to the Needy


Renee came to Mercy Ministries in 2007, broken and desperate for help. She has been transformed by the love of Christ and is now extending hope to other needy people around the world. We wanted to share with you this update we just received from Renee:

“Before Mercy, I was told I was not stable or healthy enough to travel on my own. In the past, I struggled with anorexia, purging, depression, suicide, and self-harm and these issues prevented me from even dreaming about having a normal life. Doctors declared me a life-long case, psychiatrists promised me I'd never be off medication, and pastors told me I was too much of a burden - there was no more help for me. I never imagined that ministering to people around the world would ever be an option for me.

When I walked though the doors of Mercy Ministries in St. Louis, I found myself in a place like none other. I was used to being locked in hospital wings for the severely anorexic, monitored 24/7, shut in padded rooms, drugged against my will, force-fed through a NG tube, and stripped of all of my rights. I expected Mercy would be no different - another program, another place, another failed attempt. However, I quickly realized that this place was very different. The other girls at the home were walking and jogging outside, laughing and joking, and seemed to enjoy this place. I was not locked in a room, or hallway, or even the house for that matter. I was treated as a person and not as some case study or hopeless situation, only trying to get stabilized. With God's help, Mercy helped me to get to the root of my struggles. At Mercy, I found my identity in Christ, and I no longer resorted to self-destructive patterns of behavior. Most importantly, God had changed me from the inside out and I had a desire to live.

I graduated from Mercy Ministries eight months ago and since my graduation, I have been on three mission trips. Each trip has been a blessing that I would have missed out on if I were still living in bondage. I just returned from a mission trip to Mexico and I wanted to tell you how this experience has impacted my life. Here is a glimpse of my trip…

When I arrived in Mexico I was saddened by such poverty, illiteracy, oppression, and hopelessness. The people needed God; they needed someone to bring them hope and healing, a lifeline in their abyss of oppression. Our team was there to provide them with help and love.

All together, our team ministered in six churches over five days. We handed out over 400 gifts to children, young teens, and adults, led Bible studies, preached sermons, performed skits, and shared our testimonies.

The trip was challenging at times. I spent the better part of two days feeling sick, got soaked and cold on a boat ride to an island church, had little time to rest or have any "down time," and endured long bumpy rides on an old rickety van. Regardless of the hard times, it was well worth it and I loved being in Mexico. I enjoyed practicing my Spanish and I loved playing with the little children. I hope to return one day. It was a blessing to be there and to allow the Lord to use me to minister to these people.

I was a group co-leader on this trip and the responsibilities of this position challenged me to step out of my normal comfort zone. I had to be proactive, make group decisions, and lead a bible study. Through the experience, the Lord brought me to a new level of understanding and grace. I also shared part of my testimony in one of the churches - something I have not done for years. I was able to share about the love, grace, and comfort the Lord has poured into my life. Although I am not one for tears, I began to cry as I shared of the grace that God overwhelmingly poured into my life - I felt such a burden to share God's deepest desires with these people - my heart ached as I saw them hurting and hopeless. God really ministered to me as I humbly shared some of what he has done in my life.

Overall, it was an amazing experience! This trip to Mexico was all about living out the life of Christ, sharing His love, and ministering His grace. I praise the Lord that he saved me for such a time as this.

Thanks to your faithful support, we hear from girls like Renee every day - girls who come to Mercy Ministries with one last hope for freedom and who leave completely transformed and ready to share their stories of true freedom with all those they encounter. We call this the ripple effect. Your support makes it possible for us to see lives saved and transformed every day through the unconditional love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Creative Expression at Mercy Ministries

After receiving many requests from the Mercy residents to add art classes to the program, art night has been incorporated into the girl’s monthly schedule. Julia Barlar, board-certified art therapist, visits the Nashville home twice a month. She teaches the girls techniques using a variety of tools including pastels, colored pencils, and markers to express their ideas and feelings. Every resident is able to make her own individual piece of artwork and is encouraged to express her thoughts and feelings through her work. When the girls finish their artwork they have the opportunity to share their work with the group.

Ashley MacLachlan, Nashville program director, believes art night is a great addition to the program. She said, "It allows for an unguarded form of expression for things the girls are often unable to verbalize. It also provides a great opportunity for the girls to further explore some of these deep feelings with their counselors."

Art night has been a hit with all of the residents. Here is what a couple of the girls had to say:

"I love art night because it gives me the opportunity to channel my thoughts and feelings into something fun and artistic. I especially like using pastels because they cultivate my creativity." - Sarah

“I love to express myself through colors and drawings. It helps me to be able to face some of the hurts from the past that I don’t know how to express with words.” – Allison

We would like to thank Julia Barlar for giving of her time and expertise to our girls.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Graduate Gives Mercy a Voice

Mercy Ministries GraduateNicole graduated from Mercy Ministries in 2006. After graduation, she moved home to Williamsburg, VA. She is now attending school part-time at Liberty University and is working towards a degree in Family and Consumer Science with a teacher’s license. Nicole plans to teach Home Economics.

Nicole has a heart and desire to share to love of Christ with others and give back to other young women who are dealing with life-controlling issues. She became very involved with her local church as the youth assistant for her youth group. She said, “I love pouring into teen’s lives and showing them who they are in Christ!” She was able to speak on an eating disorder panel at the College of William and Mary and her testimony is included in one of the Mercy For books, Starved: Mercy for Eating Disorders.

Recently, Nicole’s church was looking for someone to share their testimony to the entire congregation. After seeing the change in Nicole’s life when she returned from Mercy Ministries, they knew Nicole’s testimony was evidence of a life changed by the transforming power of Christ. Soon after, another local church invited Nicole to give her testimony at a women’s breakfast. We are so proud of Nicole and we would like to thank her for giving Mercy Ministries a voice!

Click here to watch the video of Nicole sharing her story.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Christmas Worth Remembering

Many of the Mercy Ministries residents have never experienced a Christmas worth remembering, but this year they were blessed with a Christmas they won’t ever forget.


For all those of you who helped make this Christmas the best our girls have ever had, we want you to know that the impact was great. I wish there was some way that we could communicate to you the emotion of it all…it was just phenomenal. There were so many tears shed as the unconditional love of the Lord, demonstrated by so many people, helped erase some of the very painful memories of the past. The girls were so moved by the fact that hundreds of people who don’t even know them would give sacrificially so that they could experience a happy Christmas.


For those of you who gave, we want to personally thank you. Each and every girl had something to say about the tremendous impact this had on them. I thought I would share a couple of those comments with you.


“This time last year, I was contemplating suicide. In the past, Christmas was always a painful time of the year because I was faced with abuse and an unstable environment. This year Mercy made my dream Christmas possible.” – Grace

“I appreciate each individual who gave. They showed us a picture of how Jesus loves each of us unconditionally, regardless of our past and what we have done or been through. The night was a reminder that He desires to shower His love over us through abundant blessings. It was the best Christmas I have ever had!” – Sonya


For those of you who chose to contribute for Christmas presents, we’d like for you to see some pictures of the girls opening their gifts. We tried to capture some of the emotion from the night.











One example of the gratitude we can give from the Nashville home is that the girls so wanted to bless the staff and say thank you, that they chose to put together this Christmas presentation as a way to give back. Click here to watch.


Also, so many of you sent notes of encouragement on the paper ornaments we asked you to sign, and the girls absolutely loved reading them! We’ve attached a few pictures so that you can see the girls in each home reading your notes of encouragement. Thank you for taking time to encourage our girls.



Thanks again to all of our supporters for making Christmas at Mercy possible. Our girls are extremely grateful for the unconditional love you have shown them. Your generosity and support allowed them to experience a Christmas that will never be forgotten.