Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Celebrating Eight More Restored Lives


Staff, residents, friends and family gathered together at our Nashville and St. Louis homes to celebrate eight more beautiful young women as they graduated from Mercy Ministries. These eight ladies have been restored from the pain of their past. Now, they are pressing forward into a future full of expectant hope. We are excited to share their stories with you.

Nashville:

Jenn

Before Mercy, I spent my entire life thinking that I had to be perfect. At age 13, I developed a severe eating disorder. I went through treatment center after treatment center and the doctors told me that I would always struggle with the disorder. As I got older, I became rebellious and started drinking. I felt hopeless and then started harming myself. During one of my visits to a treatment center, I met a girl who was already in the process of applying to Mercy. Not long after that conversation, I decided to apply to Mercy because I saw she actually had hope of being free. I was looking for that same restoration.

God completely gave me my life back while I was at Mercy. Now, I can look at my future and be excited about it. God has shown me how His love is unconditional and that He will never leave me! After graduation, I plan on going to college in the Fall to major in Nursing and to play volleyball. In the future, I hope to work at Mercy Ministries.

Maddison

My life before Mercy was a nightmare. My past was a never ending cycle of mess-ups, falling on my face and getting back up to do it all over again. It got to the point that no rehab or support group would help. I was ready to try something that would really work, which is when my brother told me about Mercy Ministries.

During my time at Mercy, I have learned that I can truly be free. The Lord has shown me how to walk out my freedom. I realized that He has always been there for me and that He will continue to be with me the rest of the way no matter what.

After Mercy, I plan on attending college to become a Registered Nurse. Someday, I would like to go overseas to work with Youth With A Mission. I am looking forward to the plans that He has for me.

Sonya

I grew up in a Christian home, but received mixed messages about God throughout my entire life. I was sexually abused as a child and raped as an adult. As a result, I tried to earn God’s love. I increased my involvement at church as a means to escape the pain of my past. My desire was to do great things for God, to know Him more and to love others, but all at the expense of not taking good care of myself. At that point, I began struggling with bulimia as another means of coping with pain and failure. Since my identity was in what I did as a Christian and ministry leader, the guilt and condemnation from my struggle overwhelmed me and led to more binging and purging. I could not break this addictive cycle in my own strength, but I continued to cry out to God for freedom. Nancy Alcorn visited my church, The Life Church of Memphis, and I finally surrendered my plans and applied to Mercy. I was ready to find freedom through learning how to rest in Him.

During my time at Mercy, I have learned who I am in Christ apart from what I do. I am a daughter of the most high King, clothed in righteousness because of what Jesus did for me on the cross. I experienced God and was able to allow His love to shatter the walls around my heart. Now, not only do I receive love, but I give it as well. He has healed the pain of my past and taken the depression and bulimia. He replaced my nightmares with dreams from Him and has given me strategies to continue walking in freedom through the power of His word.

Upon returning home, I plan to complete a Master’s of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition while working part-time. I will also begin the process of compiling God’s promises to me into a devotional book. Someday, I hope to work as a nutrition coordinator at one of the Mercy homes. My dream is to reside in Cape Town, South Africa.

Ali

Before coming to Mercy I was sexually abused as a very young child. I was threatened not to tell anyone, including my family, and if I told, I would be killed. Carrying that secret led me into coping with life by beginning to starve myself when I was 12, which was followed by a cycle of bulimia starting at the age of 16. Soon after, depression set in. When the eating disorders weren’t enough, I started drinking when I was 17 and cutting myself when I was 19. I also engaged in very risky sexual behavior, which included sleeping with hundreds of men that I met online, as well as prostitution - all of that resulting in rape. I felt as though I could not turn to God because I “knew better.” I “knew better” because my dad is a pastor and I was raised in church. As a result, I fell deeper and deeper into shame and condemnation. I fell so far away from God and felt horrible about myself. My life was entirely out of control and I knew that I needed to surrender all control to God. Terrified, I looked online for Mercy Ministries’ application and applied.

While at Mercy, I learned that I am not my past. I am forgiven and God sees beyond my faults and failures. Each morning is a new slate. When I stumble and fall, I can rise AT THAT MOMENT and move on. My shame and guilt are in the past. I realized that I am human and therefore, I am not perfect. I also learned that God hurts when I hurt. When I cry, He cries too. I never saw God this way before and it has helped me to gain an understanding of His heart for me.

After graduation, I will be going back to school in the Fall to obtain my Nursing degree. As of right now, my education is entirely paid for. I will also be able to finish my RN degree within two and a half years due to transfer credits. My goal is to work on a pediatric floor or as a trauma nurse with women who have been abused. I want my life’s experiences to help others who have been where I have and I want to show them that life after pain is possible!

St. Louis

Anna

Before coming to Mercy, I felt so alone in this world and I was not sure if I would ever be happy. When I was a little girl, I had to have surgery on my back, which led to feelings of shame and low self-esteem. As a result of a poor self-image, I had no friends and many problems in school. At one point, my family moved, which meant that I had to attend a new school. So once again, I had no friends and I continued to act out in school. I had terrible grades and my life felt like a vicious cycle. I felt like my life was going nowhere. Luckily my mom told me about Mercy and I applied immediately.

While I was at Mercy the Lord rescued me from the pain of my past. I am no longer who I was, but I am a new creation in Christ. The Lord has replaced the old things with His promises!

After Mercy, I plan on going home to be with my family. I am also looking forward to attending college. I am not sure where I want to go or what I want to study, but I trust that the Lord knows. I am also excited to help teach Sunday school classes at my church.

Andrea

As a child, I experienced a lot of different forms of abuse. I put up many walls to prevent anyone from getting in. I did not trust anyone but myself. My life was extremely painful. I felt worthless, unlovable, forgotten, and hopeless. I lived to numb myself through drinking, an 8 year battle with bulimia, and working all the time. I did not care if I lived or if I died, and I treated my body so badly that there were times when I was not sure if I would wake up the next morning. I was depressed and could not stop my destructive behaviors on my own. My grandma mentioned Mercy Ministries to me so I got on the web to apply.

Since being at Mercy, I have laid down my pride and let God touch my heart. He did an amazing work in me. I let go of deep rebellion and started to listen to God, which led to even more freedom. I experienced unconditional love and released my past hurts. I learned how to accept myself and others. My heart has been softened, and I am learning how to accept love and give love too. Now, I know I have hope and a future!

After Mercy, I plan to go back home and find a job. I am looking forward to doing all of the things I love, which are dancing, quilting and canning food. I am also planning on getting involved in my local church as one way to continue learning and growing in Christ.

Julia

I have never known my father and therefore, my mother raised me. My childhood was extremely chaotic with a mom that was physically, verbally and emotionally abusive. Most nights were filled with fighting, screaming and fits of rage from my mom. I felt abandoned and unloved. I was sexually abused at the age of 4, and numerous other times between the ages of 7 and 9. I felt dirty and ashamed. As a result, I became extremely sexual as a kid, which only led to increased shame and confusion. When I was 9 years old, I began struggling with anorexia. As a teenager, I began struggling with bulimia, self-harm, depression and suicidal ideation, which led to an addiction to alcohol, cocaine and crystal meth. I tried every different kind of treatment and nothing worked. In the midst of my struggle, my cousin came to me and told me about Mercy Ministries. Eleven programs later, I finally decided to give Mercy a chance.

Since being at Mercy, God has taken away all of my guilt and shame from the sexual abuse and sexual perversion. He has healed my wounds from my mother and father. I am learning how to see Him as my Daddy. I am no longer a recovering addict nor am I defined by an eating disorder. Those things have become choices instead of labels. Christ has given me the strength to say no to those labels and to choose life. I am no longer defined by my past. I am forgiven, my slate is clean, and I have been made BRAND NEW!

After graduation, I plan on getting a full-time job, serving in my church, and eventually going to a school of ministry. I hope to one day work for a church and have a teaching ministry or work at Mercy Ministries. I am excited about life!

Lisa

Before coming to Mercy, I grew up in a verbally, mentally and emotionally abusive home. I looked for approval and love in men because I did not get it from my family. All of this left me feeling guilty, ashamed, filthy, unworthy, abandoned, rejected and unloved. I felt dead on the inside, and I knew that there had to be more to life. When my friend told me about Mercy Ministries, I did not hesitate to apply as I wanted to know who I was.

During my time at Mercy, God has shown me His unconditional love and acceptance. He has taught me that it is valid to have feelings and that I am wonderfully made. I learned that Jesus shed His blood so that I would not have to take on any guilt, shame or rejection.

Once I get home, I plan on getting my Bachelor’s degree, but I am still undecided on what I want to study. Most of all, I am looking forward to getting married and raising a family.

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