Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monroe and St. Louis Celebrate Three More Transformed Lives!!

Family, friends and staff came together with the residents in Monroe and St. Louis to celebrate three beautiful young women as they graduated from Mercy Ministries. Here are their testimonies of freedom:

Monroe

Kerry:


My dad died when I was three years old, which left my mom with a lot to figure out on her own. Soon after his death my mom was sent to prison, which caused me to have feelings of rejection and abandonment. At the age of 12, I started cutting and burning myself as a way to deal with all the chaos in my life. When I turned 18, I developed an eating disorder that gave me yet another mask to cover the pain I felt. I ended up being admitted to many secular treatment centers and did not get the results I wanted. Finally, I found out about Mercy Ministries and the thought of finding real freedom gave me hope beyond just ‘experiencing’ another program.

While at Mercy, God has shown me who I really am in Him. More importantly, he has shown me who I am not! I am not a cutter or a girl with an eating disorder. I am a beautiful daughter of God. He has also revealed to me that life is not just about the negative things that hurt me; it is about what He can do through me because of the painful experiences in my past.

When I get home, I plan on finishing high school and getting a job. I plan to go on to college and pursue a career as an English teacher. As a teacher, I believe that I could use the talents God has given me and have a chance to pour into the lives of the next generation of youth.

Bonnie:

Before Mercy, I was driven by a performance mentality as a way of coping with the pain in my life. As a child I was molested, which led to a perfectionism mindset and a battle with bulimia. I thought if I could be perfect and do everything right all the time that I would be loved. I was going to school full time, working two jobs and participating in a church Bible study. I grew up in fear of not knowing if or when we would eat again. The fear and the eating disorder were controlling me, and I resorted to the possibility of suicide. However, I got my hands on Nancy Alcorn’s book Starved: Mercy for Eating Disorders and decided that applying to Mercy Ministries would be a better option.

At Mercy, God showed Himself to me in a real way and I have developed a close relationship with Him. He has truly healed me from my past hurts, but I am still a work in progress. I know that walking out my healing and freedom will be a process as I continue to learn to eat properly and exercise in a balanced manner. I now know the importance of reading the Bible, staying in prayer and praising God every day because these are the things that bring me into a deeper relationship with God.

After I leave Mercy Ministries, I am going to college to get a Bachelors degree in Accounting, and then I plan take the CPA exam for licensure. However, if God decides to completely change that plan, I am open because I feel as though I might want to go into ministry instead.

St. Louis

Kalie:

My life before Mercy was a nightmare. I was heavily addicted to crystal meth. There was no sad story behind the ‘why’ outside of the fact that I just made bad choices and got involved in the wrong things. I also struggled with bulimia and self-harm as a way to try and regain control over my addiction to the drugs. Paranoia overwhelmed me as I started hearing voices in my head, and I wanted to die. The addiction stole everything from me. I had been to many treatment centers without any lasting change. I was on the Internet when I found out about Mercy Ministries, and I decided to the program as my last hope!

During my stay at Mercy Ministries, God has turned my world upside down. I learned that in Him, I am more than a conqueror. He restored my heart and put all of its pieces back together. The Lord completely redeemed my past and is still restoring back to me a double portion of what the enemy stole.

Now, I plan to go to a school of ministry where I can then reach out and help other girls that are currently struggling with things I have overcome. My desire is to show young women that freedom in Christ is possible. I want every girl to know the truth about how the Lord defines her. I would also love to get involved with inner city missions.


Congratulations Kerry, Bonnie and Kalie!! We are so proud of you! We are looking forward to seeing the great future that God has for each one of you!

Friday, March 27, 2009

St. Louis Residents Impact Lives Through Joyce Meyer Ministries Prison Outreach

Dave and Joyce Meyer have been long time supporters and friends of Nancy Alcorn and Mercy Ministries. Dave and Joyce helped Mercy Ministries open our St. Louis home in 2005 by donating the property and funding the renovations on the house. They have continued to be generous monthly partners of Mercy Ministries over the years as well as helping spread awareness by featuring Nancy Alcorn and Mercy Ministries graduates on Joyce’s television show, Enjoying Everyday Life, which is aired all over the world.

As a ministry, we are always looking for ways that our residents can serve by giving back, and Joyce Meyer Ministries happens to have a prison outreach that is located just 10 minutes from our St. Louis home.

Soon after the opening of the St. Louis home, we thought it would be great for our residents to volunteer three hours of their time on a monthly basis to Dave and Joyce’s prison outreach. The girls spend the time putting together bags that include personal hygiene items and books. By the end of three hours the residents have helped load several pallets full of these bags, are then distributed to prisons. Our residents truly enjoy being a part of this ministry and giving back to the community.

Here is what some of the girls have to say about their time volunteering for Joyce Meyer Ministries’ prison outreach:

Rachel said, “It’s an amazing opportunity to impact the lives of those imprisoned even though we do not actually get to go to the prison. The community of volunteers that we work with is so uplifting and I have fun every time I go!”

Kelly said, “Dave and Joyce Meyer have done so much for Mercy Ministries and have touched many lives. It is an honor to give my time as a token of what they have given to me.”

Tiffany said, “I enjoy seeing everyone come together, all different people from all walks of life, and give back to Joyce Meyer Ministries. She gives so much to Mercy. I actually pray over the items that pass through my hands because I know that they will go to other women who need to experience the same love of God that I have experienced at Mercy Ministries.”

Thank you Dave and Joyce Meyer for your commitment of friendship and partnership through your faithful support of Mercy Ministries. We are so grateful! To learn more about Dave and Joyce Meyer and their ministry, visit their website at www.joycemeyer.org.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Calvary Chapel Pastors Rob and Lou Taylor Partner with Mercy Ministries

Senior Pastor Rob Taylor of Calvary Chapel Brentwood and his wife Lou Taylor have been faithful monthly supporters of Mercy Ministries for years personally, through their church, and through Lou’s business. As CEO of TriStar Sports and Entertainment Group, Lou has spent over 20 years managing the careers and finances of numerous professional athletes and celebrities. Lou is also the author of “The Becoming Devotional Bible.” Lou has devoted time and energy to promoting Mercy Ministries to her clients and using her influence to spread awareness about the ministry.

Amidst their busy schedule of writing, speaking, managing a business and pastoring a church, Pastor Rob and Lou still find time to stop by from time to time to encourage our residents and staff in our Nashville home. Rob has given his testimony of how he came to know and serve God. A few years after Rob and Lou got married, Rob decided to stop living for himself and completely gave his life to God. After winning a battle with cancer, Rob followed God’s leading to Nashville, Tennessee, where God called him to pastor a church. Being a pastor was something Rob had feared all his life. He thought he was “a nobody” and could never stand up and teach the Word of God. But as his life testifies, “You may be a nobody, but God is a somebody.”

Lou Taylor and Nancy Alcorn pictured with Supermodel Niki Taylor at Mercy Ministries 25th Anniversary Gala.

On numerous occasions, Lou has reminded the residents that it only takes one person being obedient to God to make a huge difference in the lives of others. She encourages the girls by telling them that each of their lives is significant to God, and He can use each one of them to do great things and to impact the world.

Thank you Pastor Rob and Lou for consistently pouring your time and energy into Mercy Ministries! We appreciate both of you along with your monthly partnership and commitment to bring awareness to our ministry!

To learn more about Rob and Lou as well as their church, Calvary Chapel of Brentwood, check out their website at
www.calvarybrentwood.org.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Monroe Residents Have a Blast at Third Day Concert

Teresa Halley, one of our staff members at the home in Monroe, LA, and her husband Chuck Halley own a nonprofit business called Glory 2 Glory Productions. Chuck spent many years as a DJ in the secular music industry, but felt the Lord was calling him to start a business that would promote Christian concerts in Monroe, LA and the surrounding cities to reach people and ultimately bring them to Christ. They are currently working on future performances with Skillet, Jeremy Camp, Mercy Me and Apostles of Comedy. Just last weekend, they organized a concert with the popular Dove Award-winning group, Third Day.

The Monroe residents and staff were excited to attend the Third Day Concert at the First Baptist Church in Bossier City, LA. The residents had a blast attending the concert, which was made possible by Teresa and Chuck Halley. The night was topped off when the Halley’s purchased a Third Day CD for each resident.

Here is what a few of our girls had to say about the concert:

Amnoni said, “This was the best concert I have ever been to. It tops the secular concerts! I was able to worship God freely without caring what people thought.”

Stephanie said, “Being at Mercy has expanded my music vocabulary. I am African American, and it has been a challenge to adapt to the different styles of music. Third Day was so anointed and their lyrics are so powerful! God has softened my heart while at Mercy, and I am learning to embrace and appreciate other cultures and music. The concert was fabulous.”

Sarah said, “I felt the Lord’s presence with me. It was awesome and not something I would expect at a concert.”

Amanda said, “I really appreciated the fact that we got to go to the concert for free. It was a great introduction to the kind of generous hearts I will see during my stay at Mercy Ministries.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mercy Ministries Releases Results of Independent Survey of Former Residents

Findings highlight long-term effectiveness of Mercy Ministries' Christian-based interventions - over 93 percent cite transformed lives, restored hope

Nashville, TN (PRWEB) March 24, 2009 -- Mercy Ministries of America today released expanded results of an independent survey conducted among former residents of its Christian-based counseling program that reveal sustained change among residents. The most impressive statistic, however, was that over 93 percent of respondents affirmed that Mercy Ministries helped them transform their life and restore their hope, which is Mercy Ministries' key objective.

Since 1983, Mercy Ministries' free-of-charge program has served a diverse population of young women from various socio-economic backgrounds, ages 13-28, who face a combination of life-controlling issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, addictions, depression, eating disorders and unplanned pregnancies.

Mercy Ministries of America has homes in Monroe, La.; Nashville, Tenn.; and St. Louis, Mo., with a future home set to open in Lincoln, Calif., in 2009. Mercy has global affiliates in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Peru.

Of the 382 former Mercy Ministries residents who responded to the survey:

  • 80 percent would recommend Mercy Ministries without any reservation to girls struggling with similar issues
  • 74 percent at least six months out of the program describe themselves as well adjusted to life
  • 85 percent share their experience at Mercy Ministries in order to positively impact the lives of others
"I worked for five years in a juvenile correctional facility for girls ages 14-18 before spending another three years investigating child abuse cases for the state of Tennessee, yet I always felt something was missing - both in our approach and in the results we saw in the lives of the women we served," says president and founder of Mercy Ministries, Nancy Alcorn. "I became convinced that a faith-based approach that utilized professionally trained staff in every area was the ideal way to rehabilitate young women who had been through traumatic situations or had made bad choices."

As a testament to Mercy Ministries' standardized Christian-based residential counseling approach, the survey found no statistical difference among the 93 percent of women who believed Mercy Ministries had transformed their life and restored their hope relative to:

  • Prior treatment at other residential counseling programs
  • Age of entry at Mercy Ministries
  • Current age of survey participant
  • Year a participant completed Mercy Ministries' program
Mercy Ministries' six-month residential counseling program for young women has always been free-of-charge and incorporates Christian principles with best-practice clinical interventions like individual and group counseling and on-site nutritionists.

The data gleaned from the independent online survey of former residents was analyzed, interpreted and reported by Case Research of Minneapolis, Minn. For more information on Mercy Ministries, please visit Mercy Ministries of America. To learn more about Nancy Alcorn, please visit her personal website. To schedule an interview with a Mercy Ministries' representative, contact Jonathan Burns at (615) 522-7016, or via email at jaaronburns@gmail.com.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Mercy Ministries Celebrates Six More Transformed Lives!


The Monroe and St. Louis staff and residents came together with family and friends to celebrate six amazing young women as they graduated from the Mercy Ministries program. Here are their stories of transformation:

MONROE:

Jennifer

When I was 7 years old, I was already struggling with depression, and by the time I was 13 years old, I was dealing with suicidal thoughts and an eating disorder. These issues stemmed from years of abuse. For 15 years, I experienced sexual abuse, and I was physically and emotionally abused and neglected for most of my life. This abuse caused me great anguish and confusion. The anger turned into self-destructive behaviors and I started to practice self-harm. I hated my body and everything about my life. By the time I was 21, I tried to take my own life on two separate occasions and was then hospitalized for suicidal tendencies. After several failed suicide attempts, I was at a point in my life where I knew I needed help. I had known about Mercy Ministries for several years, so I decided to apply to the program.

At Mercy, God has shown me who I really am. I am beautiful and my Father delights in me. Through God’s perfect love, I have come to find truth and an inner peace that I have been searching for my entire life. I am not perfect, but I have many good qualities, and I am working on changing my faults and weaknesses. God has shown me that I am loved and I have value. Now I know I have a purpose and a great future ahead of me.

After graduation, I plan to get a job and go back to school. I would love to study art.

Trinity

Before Mercy, I was really shut off from reality. I spent a majority of my time trying to please everyone around me. My life was controlled by perfectionism and a fear of rejection and I felt like I needed the approval of others to feel good about myself. I struggled with anorexia, bulimia, depression, drug and alcohol addiction, self-harm, the effects of sexual and physical abuses and sexual addiction. The abuse caused me to develop a deep root of shame and the addictions had become my way of escape and comfort, and they also became a way for me to seek attention. I had been to several other treatment centers but nothing seemed to work. I knew I needed help and the testimonies on the Mercy Ministries website gave me hope that I could overcome my issues, so I decided to apply to the program.

While I was in the program, God restored my joy and laughter. He has shown me the truth about my life. I learned that I am not defined by my past and that I am worthy of love. I deserve to be loved, valued, and respected. I know that my issues don’t have to control my life and I can walk in freedom. God has shown me that I can dream and have goals. My life has been restored and I have learned that my true identity is in Christ.

Now I pan to get a job and go back to school to finish my degree in counseling and Biblical Theology. I would like to thank the Mercy staff for showing me the way back to God and for pouring love and grace into me throughout my hard times. Thank you for giving me the tools to live, laugh, and love God!

Morgan

By age 21, I was morbidly obese and struggled with compulsive over-eating. Before Mercy, my past was filled with darkness, depression, binging at least 5-7 times a week and people pleasing. All the while, I was falling further and further away from God. My roots behind my struggles resulted from continued verbal and emotional abuse from my father. I was also sexually abused by my brother when I was a teenager. I knew I needed help. My binge eating was taking a toll on me physically and emotionally, and would eventually kill me. My mother told me about Mercy Ministries and when I found out it was a Christian program and free-of-charge, I decided to apply.

During my time at Mercy, God has shown me that a real, continual, loving relationship is possible with Him. Thanks to God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, I have been transformed and healed!

In the future I plan to live find a job and then attend college at North Central University in the fall of 2009. I hope to pursue a music degree with a minor in business administration. I would like to thank Mercy Ministries for changing so many lives everyday!

ST. LOUIS:

Kelly

Before Mercy Ministries, I struggled with a severe eating disorder, self-harm, guilt and shame as results of sexual abuse. I felt rejected and unloved by my dad due to the lack of relationship, as well as the lack of attention I received from him. I started numbing my pain with drugs, alcohol and men. I used these substances to cope with a deep self-hatred.

During my time at Mercy I experience God’s unconditional love. I know that there is nothing I can ever do to separate myself from Him. He has redeemed me. I have been filled with a joy and a peace that I have never known before. I am certain of the future He has planned for me - a future full of hope.

I plan on going home to Michigan to look for a job, get married, and go to school. My desire is to pursue a career in nursing. I am looking forward to all that God has in store for my life.

I want to thank all of the Mercy Ministries staff. If it was not for the love and support of the staff, I would not be here. I am so grateful to have a future to look forward to.


Rachel

I grew up in a loving Christian home, but I was always striving for the approval of others. I was unable to form my own identity due to the fact that I could not say ‘no’ to others or set any boundaries. As a result, I walked in shame and rejection. The pressure of striving to be accepted caused me to turn to bulimia and self-harm. Shortly after, I turned to drugs as a coping mechanism. I was trying to fill a void and numb my pain with one thing after the next. I thought that my family hated me. Therefore, I began building relationships with people that were also doing drugs because I felt accepted by them.

My time at Mercy has revealed that true love and acceptance come from Jesus. I have learned to rest in the truth of what He says about me. He says that I am His beautiful princess! I have been transformed by the love of God, and I am able to trust others without the fear of being rejected. I am no longer defined by the opinions of other people. I rest in His peace and joy, which could never be compared to any drug or person.

I plan on going to Youth With a Mission in Gold Coast, Australia for six months of discipleship training. My heart’s desire is to some day have a dance ministry where I can incorporate the Bible into teaching dance.

Danielle

My life before Mercy Ministries consisted of behaviors such as drug and alcohol addiction, self harm, and an eating disorder. I used those behaviors to numb the pain of my past. I grew up with two alcoholic parents who were physically and emotionally abusive. In the third grade, I began having memories of fists in walls, beatings, violations, arguing and hiding. Throughout my childhood it seemed like I was never good enough or acceptable. I was always looking for a way to be validated. Depression started controlling me as I started engaging in self harm and fantasizing about suicide. In high school I made several attempts at suicide.

Shortly after high school, I was drinking at a party and was raped. I started college and continued drinking and experimenting with any drug I could get my hands on. After college things remained out of control. Therefore, I started controlling my food intake by skipping meals and purging regularly. I came to a point where I could not function without alcohol. I was smoking a pack of cigarettes a day and really had no motivation to get out of bed. This was when I decided that something had to change. I was done medicating and trying to fix the symptoms. My desire was to deal with the root issues of my pain, and that is when I applied to Mercy Ministries.

God met me throughout my time at Mercy. God taught me how to slow down and listen. He showed me that all I have to do is be - there is nothing that I can do to make Him love me more. God replaced my rejection, guilt and condemnation with a secure sense of who He says I am. He has called me beautiful, redeemed, blameless, valuable, acceptable, and His beloved daughter. I am no longer defined by my past. I have been set free and am a completely new creation. I now know that I am not a victim, but an overcomer! I am leaving Mercy bold, fearless and on fire for my Savior. This transformation is incredible and I am excited to walk out my freedom.

After Mercy, I plan to move in with the pastors of my home church, Victory Life Center. I would like to get a job using my degree and eventually pursue a Master’s Degree in social welfare and work with abused children, possibly in the realm of advocacy in the legal system. There is a lot of uncertainty in my future, but I am secure in knowing that He has my life in His hands!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Words of LIFE: "Opportunities" with Victoria Osteen

This devotional comes from Victoria's book:
Love Your Life

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on….” (Philippians 3:13-14)

When I look back over my life, I can see where I’ve missed out on some God-given opportunities. Maybe you are saying the same thing. If so, I want to encourage you: Don’t live in regret. Don’t let lost opportunities make you feel disappointed and discouraged. God is bigger than your lost opportunities. He can still get you where you need to go in life.

Everyone has missed opportunities to do something good, help somebody or go to the next level in one’s career. For one reason or another, we’ve allowed that opportunity to slip through our fingers. But let bygones be bygones; don’t get trapped in the past. Don’t allow yourself to focus on the things you’ve missed or could have done better. Allow Him to bring back any opportunities that you may have missed.

Joel’s sister, Lisa, and her husband, Kevin, tried for years to have children, but Lisa was not able to conceive. She went through all the fertility treatments and even several surgeries, but still…no baby. Finally the doctor told Lisa there was nothing more he could do; they weren’t going to be able to have children. Lisa and Kevin were devastated. It looked like their dreams had died, but God always has a plan. One day out of the blue Lisa received a call from Nancy Alcorn of Mercy Ministries, a home for at-risk young women based in Nashville.

“Lisa, I normally wouldn’t do this,” Nancy said, “but we have a young woman who is about to give birth to twin girls and we were wondering if you and Kevin might be interested in adopting them.”

Lisa and Kevin had not yet considered adoption since they were still hoping to have children naturally, but suddenly Lisa’s interest was piqued.

“There’s only one problem,” Nancy said. “I know you and Kevin have most of the qualifications that the birth mother wants for the adoptive parents, but she also has a stipulation that her babies should be placed in a family with twins in their background.”

Nancy had no idea that Kevin had a twin sister, and as soon as she said that, something inside Lisa’s heart confirmed this was a “God opportunity.” A few months later, Lisa and Kevin adopted those twin baby girls and then, three years later, they adopted another “Mercy” baby boy.

God gave Lisa and Kevin three children they could not have naturally. Their hearts were open for what God wanted to do in their lives even though it wasn’t the way they first anticipated. God gave them another opportunity to be the parents they desired to be. They could have just as easily given up and closed their minds, but they didn’t. They remained open and God brought back that opportunity in a different way.

You may be thinking you’ve wasted years of your life in the wrong career or associating with the wrong people. You may think that it has been too long, you’ve been through too much, and you’re never going to see those new seasons of increase. But I believe God is saying to us today, “I can restore the years that you’ve lost.” (Joel 2:25)

The same God who gave Lisa and Kevin three beautiful children can make up for your lost time. He may not always do so in the way you are expecting, but open your heart and mind to the possibilities. Be ready to embrace the opportunities that God will bring across your path. As you do, you’ll rise higher and higher and you will love your life the way God intends.

This Week
Ask God to give you back every opportunity that you’ve missed. Focus on God’s ability to restore dreams, plans and goals.

Prayer
“Lord, I know you can resurrect dead dreams and that you have a way to bring them about. Thank you for restoring those dreams and desires to me. Thank you for working a restoration in my life as I walk in faith in you.”

(Reproduction of this devotional is used with written consent from Life Outreach International.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mercy Ministries Lives the Dream


Live the Dream is a Christian lifestyle brand, as well as an online community that features profiles of young, successful people who share high standards of excellence and live within the Biblical principles that define the foundation of the company. It is also an apparel campaign that is run and supported by Christian men and women who promote success and excellence. They have established a clothing line to get people involved with their mission. Fashion is an easy way to make a statement, and Live the Dream displays positive messages and statements on all of their apparel. They have been declaring war against mediocrity and are boldly proclaiming a movement against the rising tides of complacency in our culture. Their goal is to help others succeed and to provide people with the tools and knowledge needed to see their dreams become a reality.

Since October of 2008, they have spoken to over 20,000 people at leadership conferences around the United States. Live the Dream has exclusive access to large, privately held, leadership conferences several times a year. These conferences provide an opportunity to reach thousands of people through fashion and music and it gives them the opportunity to lead people to their website.

Live the Dream has also interviewed and promoted several high profile athletes including Olympic wrestler, Jake Deitchler, and pro snowboarders, Kelly Clark and Andy Finch. All of these athletes have competed in the Olympics and are exceptional examples of high personal standards, morals, and ethics. Live the Dream promotes the individuals they profile through their online community, leadership conferences, and through their large networks on Facebook and Twitter.

Chelsea Brown, director of Live the Dream, is excited about partnering with Mercy Ministries and explains, “In partnering with Mercy Ministries, it is our hope, to provide Mercy with a greater platform and access to numerous new circles of influence. We would like to help Mercy Ministries raise funds and awareness for their ministry through apparel promotions and donations. Live the Dream is selective about the organizations we chose to partner with but we believe Mercy Ministries exemplifies in every way what it means to Live the Dream, by helping other women find, reestablish and define their dreams with incredible success. It's not just about living your dream; it's about pouring yourself into others as well. It isn't until we serve each other that we truly become free. Mercy is a perfect example of servanthood, which is why we are proud to partner with them and hopefully give them an even greater voice.”

In October, Live the Dream sponsored the Mercy Ministries Barlow Girl benefit concert in St. Louis and they recently finished production on a Mercy Ministries t-shirt. Live the Dream donated shirts to all of the residents at the Nashville home and they plan to give a part of the proceeds from the sales of each shirt to the ministry. To purchase a shirt, visit: http://www.golivethedream.com/products/womens-mercy-tee



Mercy Ministries would like to thank Live the Dream for their support. To learn more about Live the Dream, visit their website at: http://www.golivethedream.com/

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oral Roberts University students volunteer in Nashville and St. Louis

Most college students think of spring break as a time to bask themselves in the sun on the beach while forgetting about their studies and the stress of another semester. This week, however, spring break for a team of Oral Roberts University students means doing the work of God’s “Son” by reaching out to the young women in the Nashville and St. Louis homes.

For several years we have had a relationship with the ORU missions department in which every year a team of female students choose to give up their spring breaks to come and serve in our homes—they clean, organize, work in various offices, and help with whatever is needed. They also take time to share their individual testimonies, and even end the week with a talent show. Residents and staff alike continue to be touched by the annual commitment and contribution that ORU students make to Mercy Ministries on their spring break. Here are just a few of the comments about this special week:

“I was really touched by all the ORU girls being so open and vulnerable with us. It was that which impacted me more than even what they said. It gives me hope that there are amazing Christian women out there living out their faith. I hope to have friends like them when I leave Mercy.” Rachele, a resident.

“I liked all the testimonies … I loved when one of the ORU girls said that God can completely restore all that has been lost, which is something I struggle with. I found that each of them had a part of their life that I could identify with.” Chantelle, a resident.

“I am really impressed with how open all of the ORU girls were to share and open up their hearts to us.” Susan, a resident.

“I love having the ORU girls here. I’m really glad to hear their testimonies. It shows me that everyone, not just “Mercy girls” have life happen to them. To have never known these girls and have them come and share how great God is in (their) lives is so incredible.” Jennifer, a resident.

“It just showed me that God can work with anyone through anything. It was cool that they all learned some of the same things that we learn here every day. Some of their stories were very, very similar to mine and I thought that was so cool.” Caroline, a resident.

"Thank you ORU students. You have helped staff more than you realize. So many of the projects that you were able to complete are things that we have wanted to do for quite a while, but never had the time to do it. This week has been a blessing!” Nashville staff.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Girl Talk with Kari Jobe

Last week, residents at our Nashville home were excited to experience an exceptional performance and testimony by singer/songwriter Kari Jobe. Kari Jobe found common ground with the girls as she quickly stated upfront that she just wanted to be real and kick her shoes off. Kari was tearful as she genuinely communicated her heart for our residents. The girls were deeply encouraged as she sung about the love of God. Kari also shared her own testimony, reminding the residents that the Lord always brings ‘beauty from ashes’. She challenged the girls to be patient with the healing process and to allow their emotions to line up with the truth of who God says they are. Kari closed the morning with prayer and then took some time to answer a few questions. Kari’s time was so sweet and we are looking forward to seeing her in the future!

Here is what a few of the girls had to say about Kari Jobe’s visit.

Grace said, “I was really impacted by Kari’s music and lyrics. I felt God calming the storm of uncertainty and fear inside me with His peace.”

Nakea said, “Kari did not hide anything from us and her smile made my day. She was so real! Her music touched me and so many others.”

Ashley said, “I have never heard of Kari Jobe before, but she is amazing. I was really encouraged by her visit as I wait on God to turn my ashes into something beautiful.”

Click here to view a short video clip of her time at Mercy Ministries.

To learn more about Kari Jobe’s music and ministry, visit her website at www.karijobe.com.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Nancy Alcorn on Frank Pastore Show

Nationally-syndicated top Christian radio KKLA talk show hosts Nancy Alcorn - Friday, March 13, 2009 - Click here for audio...

St. Louis Graduate Finds Healing and Freedom!


This week Mercy Ministries in St. Louis, we celebrated the graduation one young woman who has learned about the joy that comes from a relationship with Christ. Here is her story of hope and healing:

Kelly’s Testimony

I came to Mercy in a broken state. My life was out of control, and I was struggling with depression and self-harm. Most of my struggles stemmed from being sexually and physically abused as a child. I also grew up with several other health issues that really took a toll on me. My life was very unstable, and I ran away from God and my faith. I was angry at God and I thought he was purposely trying to hurt me, so I started to practice Daoism. I continued to rebel and became very promiscuous. I was overwhelmed with suicidal thoughts and I was at a point in my life where I actually hoped and expected to die. My friend Angel told me about Mercy Ministries. I decided to reach out a give life one more try and applied to the program.

While at Mercy, my mind, body, and broken heart were healed and restored. The powerful word of God spoke truth into my life and transformed me from the inside out. The program has been a vital step in my healing process. Now I desire to live and I know who I am in Christ! I have grown to love myself just the way God created me. All of the lies I once believed have been replaced with His truth about me, and I am excited to walk out my new found freedom. I would like to thank the staff at Mercy Ministries for being here and for not walking away from me when I needed someone the most.

As I leave Mercy, I plan on pursuing overseas mission opportunities, and I also plan to start interviewing for elementary music teaching jobs.

We are so proud of you Kelly, and we can’t wait to see what God has in store for your future!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Video Tour of the New Mercy Ministries California Home

Selah Hirsch, Director of Development for Mercy Ministries in California, just visited the brand new home, located in Lincoln, CA. While there, she filmed this tour of the beautiful new facility. This video tour gives you an chance to see the new 22,000 square foot home firsthand. Schedule to open this summer, this home will allow us to take 40 more hurting young women off of our waiting list. Room sponsorships are still available as we are working and believing God to provide the funds to furnish and open the home!! This is a great opportunity for you to invest in the lives of many young women that will be transformed for years to come. For more information on room sponsorship, click here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mercy Ministries “MPOWERS” the Community

On March 5, 2009 Mercy Ministries hosted our first ever Nashville MPOWER seminar for local pastors and counselors. Mercy Ministries in St. Louis has hosted several MPOWER seminars in the community and have found them to be very successful. The goal of MPOWER is to equip attendees with a better understanding of the issues young people are facing today – two of the most prevalent issues being eating disorders and self-harm. We want church and community leaders to leave the seminar with both knowledge and practical tools that will allow them to address these issues head-on within their own churches, organizations, and spheres of influence.

MPower registrants sign in as they enter the main entrance
of the Nashville Mercy Ministries home.

At Thursday’s meeting, eating disorders and self-harm were discussed by two of our qualified Mercy Ministries’ counselors. They reviewed the signs and symptoms of these issues and explained the most common root causes of these struggles. Then the counselors discussed the Biblical approach to gaining freedom in these areas. They went over the Mercy Ministries counseling model and the steps in the healing process that Mercy has found to be successful for 26 years now. Then the counselors took time to answer questions from the audience. One guest that serves on the women's ministry team at her church found the seminar to be very helpful because she said, “It focused on a relationship with Christ as the central key to finding freedom to these life-controlling issues and it also provided the guests with practical and useful information about issues that many young people are dealing with!”

MPower attendees listen to presenters speak on eating disorders and self-harm in the Nashville home classroom

Two Mercy Ministries’ graduates shared their personal testimonies with the group. They talked about their past, the root of their struggles, their experience in the Mercy Ministries program, and how they are still walking in freedom today. A local counselor that attended the seminar said, “It was good to hear from the former residents about their experience with these issues. Hearing it from their perspective helped me learn and understand more about how girls end up broken and stuck in this bondage. It was great to see a graduate of the program still walking out her freedom!”

Mercy Ministries' home staff discusses the topic of "Forgiveness" with MPower attendees

If you live in the Nashville or St. Louis areas, your church or organization can host an MPOWER seminar. At each seminar, Mercy Ministries will provide a counselor and a graduate to share about major life-controlling issues that effect young people today. For more information about hosting an MPOWER seminar, please contact Whitney Cantrell at WCantrell@mercyministries.com. We would love to equip our local communities with the tools and resources needed to address these life-controlling issues that are so prevalent in today’s society.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dave Ramsey Brings Financial Peace to Residents and Staff


Nancy Alcorn and Mercy Ministries staff member pictured with Dave Ramsey
and his wife Sharon Ramsey at EntreLeadership in Nashville, TN.
Dave Ramsey, a long-time supporter of Mercy Ministries, is known across the country as a personal money management expert. He is also an extremely popular national radio personality and author of New York Times Best Sellers - The Total Money Makeover, Financial Peace and More Than Enough. Over the years, Dave has generously donated his expertise and resources to the residents and staff at Mercy Ministries.

Mercy Ministries Founder, Nancy Alcorn, first met Dave and Sharon Ramsey shortly after they had gone through bankruptcy and long before Dave had written his first book. Even at that particular point, there was a divine connection, and Dave and Sharon had an amazing heart for Mercy Ministries from the very beginning. Little did we know what the future would hold for Dave with the birth of his organization, the tremendous growth he would experience, and that he and Sharon would be among our most generous and faithful supporters.

Today, before graduating from the Mercy program, all of our residents complete Financial Peace University - a life-changing program developed by Dave Ramsey that teaches people how to make smart decisions with their money. The girls learn how to balance a checkbook and make a budget. Each of the 13 Lessons in the program deals with a different topic that will change the way one thinks about personal finance. Through Financial Peace along with his other programs, Dave teaches about how to save money, live on a budget, communicate about money, eliminate debt and credit cards, find bargains, build wealth, and experience the joy of giving – all from his own life experience of going from being bankrupt to being a millionaire.

Dave and his wife Sharon have an amazing heart for Mercy Ministries and a huge desire to help the younger generation so they don’t face financial hardship in their future. Dave’s books and resources empower our girls with the practical knowledge, skills, and confidence that are needed to attain their financial goals and allow them to experience true financial peace! His mission with the Financial Peace program in particular is to empower students to make sound financial decisions for life, and it has been very successful. On average, participants pay off $5,300 in debt and save $2,700 in just 13 weeks.

In addition to donating books and resources for our residents and staff, several of our leaders have had the opportunity to attend Dave’s EntreLeadership Seminars – an intensive business conference that teaches the Biblical principles of leadership and growth, and how to operate a successful organization. Each Mercy Ministries leader who attended this event walked away with a wealth of practical information to be applied to Mercy’s growth and structure. The entire ministry has been positively affected by the application of these principles. What a blessing to be able to attend such an impactful event!

The Ramsey family also surprises Mercy residents every Christmas with a new pair of pajamas - which is always one of the girls’ favorite Christmas gifts! And as a part of our ministry partnership, Nancy Alcorn has been invited to speak to Dave’s 100+ staff members to encourage them in their own personal walk with the Lord.

Mercy Ministries of America would like to thank Dave and Sharon Ramsey for giving so generously of their resources and support. Investing time, expertise, books and materials, and financial resources to Mercy Ministries has literally been life-changing for our residents and staff. We are so grateful!!

To learn more about Dave Ramsey or to order his books and resources, visit his website at www.daveramsey.com.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Five Nashville Graduates Celebrate Hope and Transformation!

Five residents at the Nashville home celebrated their graduation this week! This was an exciting celebration of the lives that have been transformed by the love of Christ. Here are their stories of hope and freedom:


Joyia


I grew up in a Christian home but throughout my life, I dealt with many hardships. During my childhood, I became very angry at God because He didn’t answer my prayers to save my uncle’s life. I started to turn my back on God and my faith. Then during high school, I was molested by a co-worker. After all of these heartbreaks, I became very bitter and started to drink and use drugs. I used these destructive behaviors to numb the pain from the circumstances in my life. When I was 21 years old, I fell into a deep depression and I tried to end my life. The suicide attempt resulted in a 2 week coma and a liver transplant. I had to learn to function all over again.

Even after this near death experience, I still went back to my destructive ways. My partying continued and my addictions were controlling my life. I couldn’t bare the thought of putting my parents through more grief, so I started searching for facilities online. I found the Mercy website and I knew the program was my last chance for true freedom.

At Mercy, God has shown me who I am in Christ. I am His beautiful daughter and now I have joy and freedom through Him. He has shown me that I am loved, regardless of my past and He will never leave me nor forsake me.

I plan to go to college in the fall and pursue a degree in Biblical studies and social work. I would like to head back to Philadelphia and reach out to girls on the streets. Eventually I would like to open my own home for unwed pregnant girls and hurting women.


Jessica


When I was two-years old, I was taken out of an abusive home, and was adopted by a loving family. I began to be abused by a close family member. I was consumed with anger and hurt and I started acting out to get my parents’ attention. Because of the abuse I experienced, I had no concept of my self-worth, and I looked for acceptance in all of the wrong places. Then my grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Before she passed away, her one wish was that I would get help for my struggles. I saw information about Mercy Ministries on the Point of Grace website and decided to go through with the application process for my grandmother and for myself. I was ready to conquer my struggles and move on with my life!

While I was in the Mercy program, God showed me how to forgive my brother, my parents, and myself. I learned that God loves me regardless of my past and my sins. I know He is always with me. He has helped me learn to trust again. Now I am free from my depression and I have a desire to live life to the fullest.

After Mercy, I am going to go to college to become a teacher. I come from a family of educators- my mom, grandmother, aunts, and uncles are all teachers, and I look forward to carrying on the family tradition!


Mariah


I grew up in Liberia, West Africa. Life in Africa was very hard; when my mother was pregnant with me, my father left so I grew up without a father figure in my life. I also suffered physical abuse. My mom remarried, but I was rejected by my new step-siblings and step-father. The rejection caused me to leave home, and I lived on the streets. I moved in with a Nigerian family for a little while, but they decided to move back to Nigeria so I was sent to an orphanage. My biological father had passed away during this time, so I never had the opportunity to know him or form any type of relationship with him.

I went on to live in an orphanage for five years and then, when I was 15 years old, I was adopted by an amazing American family and moved to the United States. This transition was very difficult because everything was foreign and new to me. I struggled with culture shock, the effects of past abuse, and my new surroundings, and I became very depressed. I was overwhelmed with resentment and anger. I started to get into trouble at home and fought with my siblings and parents. My mom recognized that I needed to get help and she found out about Mercy Ministries on the Internet. She told me about the program and I decided to apply because I knew I needed to work on my issues and restore the joy in my life.

While at Mercy, God has been so good to me! I am so thankful for His unconditional love and goodness. I have learned how to forgive the people in my life that have hurt me. God has performed a total transformation within me, and I am free from the anger and depression that controlled my life.

Once I graduate from Mercy, I am going home to finish high school. Then I plan attend college. and I have a dream to go back to Africa to visit my biological mother. I would love to get involved with mission work in China one day and teach other children about God and help kids who are like me obtain freedom from their issues.


Emily


Sexual abuse left a scar deep inside of me that fed many lies and distorted the way I perceived myself. The abuse led to a 16 year battle with an eating disorder. This struggle left me lifeless and on the brink of death. Fear and shame controlled my life. I constantly ran from who I was, and I searched for anything that would detach me from my body. I started to practice self-harm and started experimenting with drugs. I was consumed with my life-controlling issues and I lost my passion for life. I was full of shame, and I felt like I was trapped inside a hollow shell. I knew I could not go on like this forever, so I started searching for help online and that’s where I found out about Mercy Ministries.

In the past six months, God has freed me from the bondage in my life and changed me from the inside out. He enlightened my eyes to the truth and I am no longer living in fear. I have grown to love myself just the way He created me. I have learned the power of forgiveness, which was a heavy burden lifted from me. I am standing confident with God on my side.

In the future, I plan to use my testimony to encourage others. As a young child, God told me I would make a difference. I desire to help others who are suffering to obtain freedom from their struggles. I would also love to pursue a career in graphic design and publish a magazine one day!


Congratulations Joyia, Mariah, Jessica, and Emily!! We are so proud of you, and we can’t wait to see all that God has in store for you!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Private Concert with Natalie Grant!!




Nashville residents, staff, and guests were so excited to get to enjoy a special concert with Natalie Grant yesterday morning. Natalie encouraged the girls and staff through several songs and also shared her heart for Mercy Ministries because of her own testimony of overcoming bulimia and finding her true identity in Christ. She spoke with a sincere heart about the reality of the struggles and insecurities that brought her to where she is today. Natalie’s honesty about her imperfections, even in the height of an incredibly successful career, brought encouragement to everyone searching for significance despite their past.


Natalie also celebrated and honored the five girls who were going to be graduating from the program later that afternoon. See Natalie pictured right with our graduates.

Click here to check out a video clip of Natalie’s visit to Mercy.

To learn more about Natalie Grant, visit her website at www.nataliegrant.com.

Natalie’s visit was such a lift, and we are all looking forward to our next time together!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Horrifying Trend Hits Young Women


From the March 3rd, 2009 article on TownHall.com by Rebecca Hagelin.

Julia is a fairly typical 16-year-old girl: she is crazy about boys, concerned about being fashionable, doesn't appreciate homework, loves pizza - and she "cuts".

For those who aren't familiar with the term - and whose imaginations might be thinking the worst about what it means to "cut" - I'm afraid I only have very sad news: "cutting" means you take a knife or razor and use it to actually dig into your own flesh.

This barbaric practice is common among today's precious teen women. Some school counselors estimate that the majority of middle and high school aged girls have engaged in such self-mutilation.

When I first heard about the bizarre behavior I must admit that I assumed it was rare, only done by a few girls with severe mental issues who dress in black Goth clothes accented by equally black eye shadow and studded lips. Yes, many of these girls who appear to be troubled do cut - but so do many of the young women who look like "the girl next door".

Why on earth do our little girls maim themselves? Much of it comes as a result of the hardness that often follows a severely broken heart. Some have grown so numb to the onslaught of abuse and emotional pain that they inflict intense physical pain on their bodies and watch their own blood flow to simply remind themselves that they are alive. Others do it in order to build their immunity to pain in general - they have to find a way to distract themselves from the ever-growing, gut-wrenching emotional trauma over their broken families.

Author Jane Alison's essay published in the New York Times on March 1, 2009, adapted from her forth-coming memoir, "The Sisters Antipodes" due out this month, is a heart-wrenching account of the tragic consequences of divorce on children. She reflects on her own struggles to cope with the fact that her dad left not just his wife, but his own daughters to marry another woman. She explained her and her sister's desperate efforts to cope with the abandonment, "....we tried to make ourselves valuable - writing, dreaming, trying to earn our own father's love. Or, as we tried to feel nothing at all, through drinking, cutting, men and sex."

Divorce is not at the root of all the reasons for self-mutilation. Abuse, a fear of failure, low and low self-image are also contributors. But what cutters have in common is a spirit of brokenness. When I asked my daughter if she knows anyone who cuts, to my horror she replied, "Yes. A lot of people." As she started naming names I realized that nearly all of them are from broken homes. When she asked her classmate, Julia, why she rips into her own arm with a knife, the girl replied, "I don't know - I just do it when I'm sad." A by-product of divorce, it appears by the number of scars on her arms that Julia is sad quite frequently.

Recently I met two wonderful women - Nancy Alcorn and Christy Singleton - who offer real help to girls who are suffering so deeply from abuse and brokenness that they start abusing themselves. Mercy Ministries (www.MercyMinistries.org) serves young women through a free six-month long residential counseling program. They bring both hope and life change to young women who have "life controlling issues such as eating disorders, self-harm, unplanned pregnancy, sexual abuse, addictions and depression." The girls receive biblically based counseling, learn life skills such as setting boundaries, budgeting, and preparation for parenting if they are pregnant. They also take nutrition and fitness education classes. But most of all, they are loved and shown that they can overcome deep hurts of all kinds and create a bright future.

"The Mercy Ministries program takes a non-conventional approach to treatment by getting to the root issues of the problems and then helping the young women move past their debilitating circumstances, recognize and accept their self-worth and prepare them to reach their full potential," says Singleton.

Mercy Ministries reports that they have helped over 2000 young women find freedom from very difficult issues and graduates of their program are found in "universities, on the mission field, working, raising children and giving back to their communities." The program is voluntary and open to young women across the nation. Visit www.mercyministries.org for more information about how to apply. You can also order their helpful book entitled, "Cut: Mercy for Self-Harm" which explains in far greater detail the huge problem that "self harm" has become in our nation, the various forms it takes, the reasons behind it, and most importantly - how to experience freedom and victory over both the causes of and the destructive behavior.

Rebecca Hagelin is a media commentator, public speaker on family and the culture, and the author of, "Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture That's Gone Stark Raving Mad." To learn more about her book or to invite Rebecca to speak at your event, visit www.HomeInvasion.org or e-mail her at rebecca.hagelin@hotmail.com. Rebecca's next book, "30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family" will be released by Regnery on April 6.

Niki Taylor, Burney Lamar and Skechers support Mercy Ministries!


Niki Taylor, Burney Lamar and Skechers support Mercy!Supermodel Niki Taylor and her husband, Burney Lamar, NASCAR driver, join with Skechers in support of Mercy Ministries in this month's "Nothing Compares to Family" ad campaign for Skechers shoes. In the ad, Niki Taylor and Burney Lamar are featured with Niki's twin teenage sons, and they name Mercy Ministries of America as their charity of choice. Their ad appears in the March edition of many popular magazines such as People and US Weekly. Along with Mercy Ministries being named in the ad and featured in magazines nationwide, Skechers has made a generous contribution to Mercy Ministries on behalf of Niki Taylor and Burney Lamar.

Check out the ad online at www.skechers.com/info/charities_niki.

Niki Taylor has long been a supporter Mercy Ministries because of our work in helping restore wholeness to generations of hurting young women. Both she and her husband, Burney Lamar, were guests of honor at our 25th Anniversary Gala on April 17, 2008 at LP Field, where they spoke in support of Mercy.

"Being in the world of modeling where everything is about appearance, I know all too well how the world places an over-emphasis on what we see on the outside. Girls often resort to self-destructive patterns. I personally support the work of Mercy Ministries because I have seen first hand the changed lives." - Niki Taylor

Thank you Niki and Burney for your ongoing support!!

Mercy Ministries Celebrates the Birth of Baby Braylie!


We are excited to announce that on Sunday, March 1, 2009, recent Mercy graduate Carrie gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Braylie Mercy. Weighing in at 7 lbs 5oz, and 21 inches long—baby and mother are happy and healthy. Carrie graduated from the Mercy program on February 17, and is eager to return home and begin the journey of motherhood with baby Braylie.

Because of our supporters, girls like Carrie who are facing unplanned pregnancy can come to Mercy and receive the help they need, and then choose to parent or place their babies for adoption. Your support is literally saving and changing lives every day. We thank God for our supporters – you make it possible for us to see lives transformed through the love of Christ day after day!!