Friday, May 1, 2009

Four More Lives Made New!!

Friends, family, residents and staff gathered together at our St. Louis home to celebrate four amazing young women who just graduated from Mercy Ministries in St. Louis. These young women have been made new through the unconditional love and forgiveness of God. We would like to share each of their stories with you:

Ally

I struggled with an eating disorder for 7 years. When I was 13 years old, my grandmother died and that is when my self-esteem began to diminish. I became obsessed with being thin. I felt ugly and thought that I would go unnoticed if I was thin. I started calorie counting and exercising excessively, which led to anorexia and eventually bulimia. I found myself in a homosexual relationship with my best friend, which really confused me because I had dated guys for the past five years. Everything started getting worse as I began harming myself, taking pills and chemical inhalants, and I soon found myself considering suicide. I was overwhelmed with feelings of unworthiness, self-hate, betrayal and rejection. My heart was completely broken and I wanted to die. I was running out of places to turn and decided to apply to Mercy. I was accepted into the program and for the first time in a long time, I felt a glimmer of hope.

Since being at Mercy, God has amazed me by showing Himself to be undeniably real. My past does not have to be my future! I do not have to be defined by homosexuality because I am a new creation in Christ. I am NOT what I weigh. I have learned that sin separates me from the love of God, but I have been forgiven and my true identity is now found in Christ.

After graduation, I plan on going back home to Ohio to work at Famous Footwear. I also plan on working at a Christian summer camp. I am excited about getting involved in a church and living life for Jesus. Eventually, I hope to go back to college to get a degree in Youth Ministry. Someday I would like to run a homosexual support group for those who want to change and know that freedom is possible in Jesus Christ.

Lauren

My life before Mercy was chaotic and destructive. I was never happy with who I was. The world taught me that life was all about the external, so I strived to be perfect in my performance and my image. At a young age, I was fully immersed into a lifestyle of anorexia and bulimia. I struggled with an eating disorder for 7 years. It was just an outward manifestation of the self-hatred I held inside. When the eating disorder could not fulfill the emptiness in my heart, I started to engage in sexual sin. Still I was left empty. In my heart I knew God was the only One who could satisfy me, but growing up in a legalistic church made me believe I was never going to be good enough to experience His love. With no hope left, I started cutting and attempting suicide. I was lost with no where to go. I just wanted to die. One day I was browsing the web and saw the success rate on Mercy’s website. I knew I had to apply if I really wanted one more chance at life.

While at Mercy, God has truly made my heart come alive. He has restored my hope and has given me a purpose. God who loves and accepts me for me. He has shown me that nothing I’ve done or will do can ever separate me from the love He holds for me, therefore, I am confident in knowing that I am valuable and cherished. He has placed within my heart new desires and dreams. He has truly taught me how to love again. He has revealed to me, time and time again, that He alone is my safe refuge, the One who will always protect me from harm. God has restored my life. He has brought excitement and joy back into my life. With Him, I’ve been made whole—He has satisfied me.

After graduation, my plan is to pursue a degree in Christian counseling and become involved in leading a youth worship team. At some point, I would love to go on missions trips to Honduras.

Jodi

Before Mercy, my life was miserable and I was barely keeping it all together. My childhood was wrought with sexual abuse, which left me feeling out of control. I became very depressed and got involved with the occult. The past 13 years of my life have been defined by self-harm, over exercising, restricting and purging, and abusing over-the-counter pain pills. I isolated myself from family and friends and started spending hours on ‘pro-ana’ and ‘pro-mia’ websites. Finally, my sister told me about Mercy and encouraged me to apply as she knew I was at the end of my rope.

While I have been at Mercy, God has taught me that He loves me unconditionally and that He has good plans for my life. I learned what it means to trust Him and how to have a real relationship with Him.

After I graduate, I will be working at a Christian retreat center over the summer with plans to pursue a career that involves baking and ministry. I am basically just excited to live life for the first time and walk out my freedom doing whatever it is that God calls me to.

Tiffany

My life before Mercy was completely controlled by depression and self harm. I was filled with shame and a lack of worth due to a past of sexual abuse and other childhood trauma. I used whatever I could to numb the torment that I was feeling inside. I used food, drugs, alcohol, sexual sin and any other avenue to cope with the pain. I was afraid of being abandoned and withdrew from people who wanted to help me. My thoughts were full of suicide and hopelessness. I was so close to giving up on God and life. However, I found out about Mercy from Nancy Alcorn’s book “Cut.” I decided to apply to Mercy when I hit rock bottom after a seven year struggle with self-harm. I completed the application and was accepted into the program.

While at Mercy, I truly found life! God took all my shame and replaced it with double honor! Now, I rely on Him and run to His arms for comfort. He has forgiven me, and I have forgiven myself and all those who have hurt me. I know that I am worthy of receiving love. I was truly transformed during my time at Mercy. I know that He has a plan for me greater than I could ever hope or imagine!

After Mercy, I am going back to work in a salon! I am planning on getting involved in the local domestic violence shelter. My dream is to travel to different churches and youth groups and bring life-controlling issues like self-harm out of darkness and onto the light! Christ is the only way to truly find freedom!!!

Congratulations Ally, Lauren, Jodi, and Tiffany! We are so proud of your brave choice to come to Mercy, deal with your issues head-on, and find lasting freedom for your future! We can’t wait to see what God has in store for each of you!!