Friday, February 13, 2009

Four Graduates Celebrate Freedom and Transformation

Mercy Ministries recently celebrated graduation in St. Louis, MO and Monroe, LA. Four young women graduated the program with hope for their futures and incredible stories of freedom and transformation. We want to share their stories with you…

Ruth

When I was 11 years old, I became extremely depressed. I grew up in a Christian household with loving parents, but I struggled with the shame and effects of sexual abuse. I wanted to maintain the image of a good Christian daughter, but I was overwhelmed with fear, guilt, and anxiety. I did not know how to deal with the overwhelming emotions, so I began to practice self-harm and I developed an eating disorder. I tried numerous counseling facilities but nothing seemed to help.

By my second semester of college, my addictions were out of control and my health was deteriorating. I was admitted to a treatment facility and after four months of treatment, I ran away to Dallas, TX.

I spent the next five years living on and off the streets. My life was consumed with drugs, promiscuity, and depression. During this time I went through several psychiatric hospitals and I attempted suicide multiple times. After my most recent suicide attempt, I decided to apply to Mercy Ministries. I was desperate to find hope, to know God, and to experience freedom.

When I arrived at Mercy Ministries, I was lost, hopeless, and I did not have a purpose in life. I came to Mercy with bulimia, depression, drug addiction, self-harm, and the effects of sexual and physical abuse. Through my time at Mercy, God has done amazing things. He has healed me from the pain of my past and given me a purpose and destiny in Him. I learned how to walk in real freedom and I have discovered who God created me to be.

After Mercy, I plan to move to Seattle and join the Church of the Undignified. I am going to take part in their transitional care program and attend their ministry school. I also plan to get a part-time job. God has given me joy that I have never experienced before, and my desire to live has truly been restored!


Jackie

I was sexually abused for almost five years. I grew up involved in church and ministry, but after experiencing this abuse, I started to question God and my faith. I thought God had given up on me and I started to live a life of secrets and deception. I tried to hide my anger, confusion, and depression.

Eventually, I developed an eating disorder which controlled my life for 13 years. My life literally revolved around my eating disorder. Then, in high school, I experienced more devastation- I was raped and my dear friend unexpectedly passed away. I tried to suppress my feelings and numb my pain by harming myself and experimenting with drugs. I hated myself, detested my life, and I felt hopeless.

I went to college, but my depression continued to worsen. My father passed away my junior year, and I finally hit rock bottom. I could not suppress my feeling any longer and all of my issues came to the surface. My grades dropped, my partying increased, and I was in and out of the hospital. I knew I could not go on like this, so I decided to seek help and apply to Mercy Ministries.

I came to Mercy struggling with anorexia, bulimia, depression, self-harm and drug and alcohol addiction. Since being at Mercy, God has really lifted me out of my pit, restored my faith, and transformed my life. God is showing me that I am fully loved and accepted just as I am. For the first time, I experienced unconditional love and grace while I was at the Monroe home, and now I have a greater understanding of God’s mercy and love for me. I am finally excited about waking up ever day, and I look forward to the life God has for me. I am free from the issues that kept me bound and from the shame of my past mistakes.

After Mercy, I plan to go back to Ohio and start a new job. I am going to intern with the middle school ministry at my church. Eventually, I am going to attend the ministry school at my church because I want to share the hope and love of Christ with young people. My dream is to be a full-time missionary!


Kimmi

I am 22 years old and for 16 years of my life, I was physically abused by my father. He also sexually abused me for 12 of these years. During this time, I was not provided help or guidance. A close relative of mine was very negative, and I was left dealing with this abuse by myself without any support from friends or family. To cope with the pain, I started to self-harm and experiment with drugs and alcohol. I was severely depressed and developed post-traumatic stress disorder. I was regularly hospitalized for suicide attempts, and I was desperate to receive help. I learned about Mercy Ministries through the BarlowGirl MySpace page, and I decided to apply to the program.

While in the program, God has done so much in my life! I hoped the program would heal me from my depression, but I never imagined it would provide me with the tools to be completely free from my bondage both now and in the future. God went way beyond dealing with the issues - He healed them! Now I have a strong will and desire to live, and I am happy for the first time in my life! God is the father that I have always desired and longed for. He loves me unconditionally and I have a personal relationship with Him.

After I graduate from Mercy, I am going to work at a Christian coffee shop and volunteer at my local church as well as a battered women’s shelter. I plan to go back to school and get my Certified Nursing Assistant license. I would like to work on an adolescent psychiatric unit as a mental health technician. My dream is to open a home for abused children.
I want other girls that are considering applying to Mercy to know that if it wasn’t for Mercy Ministries and God’s transforming power, I literally would not be alive to tell my testimony.


Lindsay

I grew up in a Christian family and was a pastor's daughter. To my family and community, I appeared to be a happy and healthy young lady. But in reality, I was a broken, abused, fearful little girl. When I was in grade school, I was sexually abused by a female neighbor for several years. I tried to cover up the pain and depression with self-harm, suicidal tendencies, alcohol and drug addiction, and sex. Eventually, drugs became my main addiction of choice and they consumed my life. I would do anything to get my next fix, and I ended up dating my dealer and selling drugs myself. In the midst of all this destruction, I learned I was pregnant. I refused to keep my baby so I abused my body until I had a miscarriage. I finally decided to seek help and I applied to Mercy Ministries.

I came to Mercy battling a seven-year eating disorder, depression, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, physical abuse, sexual abuse, self-harm, and an unplanned pregnancy. After arriving in the St. Louis home, I have learned how to trust God and how to love myself for who He has created me to be. God has completely transformed me from the inside out. Now I can say I'm walking in total freedom. I used to describe myself as broken, used, and worthless, but now I believe I am whole, pure, beautiful, worthy, and a daughter of the King. I am now free from the bitterness and resentment that consumed my life. I have learned to forgive my abuser, and most importantly I have learned to forgive myself.

I know God has never stopped working in my life, and I am excited to see what He has planned for me in the future. After graduation, I plan to take a course at my local college to get certified as a nursing assistant or I would like to go to South Eastern University in Lakeland, Florida to get a degree in Christian counseling and minor in family counseling and substance abuse. Either way, I am excited to live out whatever God has in store for me.