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.