Monday, May 11, 2009

Monroe and St. Louis Homes Celebrate 6 More Amazing Young Women

In the month of April, Mercy Ministries in the U.S. celebrated a total of 25 girls who graduated the program! This is always such a special time for us as we honor the young women who have worked so hard to face, deal with, and get to the root of their issues, and who have found real and lasting freedom through Jesus Christ's unconditional love, forgiveness, and life-transforming power. It is also a special time because graduation means that we get to welcome in 25 more girls into the program and off of our waiting list so that they too can get the help they so desperately need. Please pray for the new girls who have just come into the program - that they will choose to commit to the program and find freedom in Christ!


Last week, staff and residents in the St. Louis and Monroe homes joined with friends and family to celebrate new life and new hope for the future! We wanted to share with you the amazing stories of the girls who just graduated from the St. Louis and Monroe homes.

Monroe:

Jessica


My life before Mercy was a mess. I came from an extremely unstable family due to poverty and my parent’s drug abuse. I was very depressed as a child, and at the age of six I was raped. At that point, I became afraid of men and sought approval from everyone I encountered. I was rejected by my peers, and at the same time I was being verbally and emotionally abused at home. At age ten, I began struggling with an eating disorder, self-harm and suicidal tendencies. I was desperate for love and acceptance, which led me down a promiscuous road after my eighth grade year. I made numerous unsuccessful suicide attempts up until October of 2008, which is when I finally decided to apply to Mercy.


While at Mercy, I have learned that I do not need everyone else’s approval; God has abundant love for me. He has shown me how faithful He is in meeting all of my needs and desires. I have been extended such genuine grace and mercy even when I make mistakes, which has been amazing. I am undeserving of love, but it has been given anyway!


After graduation, I plan on getting a job to save some money, and then I would like to go back to school. I have hopes of pursuing a degree in social work and nutrition. I know that my Creator has purposeful plans for my life!


Stephanie


My life before Mercy was very unstable. I had one foot in the church and the other in the world. I was a hypocrite living a secretive and deceptive life. My father was absent until my mother sent me to live with him at the age of fourteen. My last memory of him was at the age of three, which left me with feelings of abandonment. While living with my father, he was sexually, verbally and physically abusive, which caused me to develop a deep hatred and anger toward him and all men. As a result, I became caught up in a homosexual lifestyle for seven years. I was lying to everyone about how I was living and looking for love in all the wrong places. I was trying to fill the void of love in my life with a coping mechanism while at the same time knowing that I had a major call on my life. I applied to Mercy in 2007 shortly after the Lord had set me free from lesbianism in 2006. However, I had not dealt with the root issues of the abuse and rejection, which is why I came to Mercy in 2008.


My time at Mercy has been the hardest and most challenging thing I have ever done in my life. God has stripped me of all control. He has given me beauty for ashes and joy for my pain. God has restored my purity and my desire to love. He has also restored broken relationships with family members and friends. He has given me a new life and a new heart. I also learned that blessing comes from honoring authority, which is something I was horrible at before Mercy.

Once I graduate, I plan on going to the International House of Prayer in Kansas City for a three month internship. After that, I plan on returning home to attend nursing school.

Sharon


At 13 years of age, I started cutting myself and stealing my parents’ pain killers as a way to deal with my dysfunctional family. At the same time, I was diagnosed with severe depression and bipolar behaviors and I quickly became addicted to drugs and alcohol. By the time I turned 16, I was an alcoholic simply because it felt better than cutting myself and it did not leave a scar. I was on a destructive path with no way out and I knew something needed to change, so I decided to apply to Mercy Ministries as my last hope.

Since being at Mercy, God has shown me His unfailing and unconditional love. I have learned how to communicate and be real with people instead of always hiding behind coping mechanisms. I love myself and I am content with who I am in Christ.

After graduation, I plan on pursuing a college degree. Although, I am not sure what I want to study, I know that God has amazing plans for my life.

Gracie


Before Mercy, I lived under depression for years due to the absence of my parents. In other words, I met my mother when I was 14 years old and she already had her own family separate from my father and me. I needed her and she was not available. My father had his own life as well and he only did what he could for me if he had the chance. I was intrigued with death and my mind was constantly telling me to take my life. I was scared to commit suicide because I knew it meant that I would go to hell. I just wanted to be loved. I became very promiscuous searching for love, but I still felt empty and unloved. A friend told me about Mercy Ministries, so I immediately applied as I was desperate for hope and freedom.

Since being at Mercy, I realized that only God’s love can satisfy my hungry heart. I know that God’s love for me is unconditional and I have learned to choose to live above my circumstances. God has also shown me that I do not need to hold grudges against people that hurt me, but that I can develop relationships even when I face conflict. The Lord has helped me express my pain instead of holding onto it. I realized that the Lord has plans to prosper me!

When I leave Mercy, I plan on finishing my degree in Education. I am excited to see where God leads me to teach and love others the same way that He loves me.

Leah


I grew up in a dysfunctional family with parents that were constantly fighting, and they eventually divorced when I was 11 years old. During my childhood, my mom always put a lot of pressure on me to be perfect in everything I put my hands to. When I failed, she became very angry, which frustrated me because I simply wanted her to love and accept me. My dad was never really in my life, which left me feeling abandoned. I wanted to be loved, and the only place I was finding love was in relationships with men. I became sexually active in high school as a way to boost my self-image. I also began self-harming and doing drugs. Eventually, I prostituted myself for drugs and I ended up getting raped, which is when I finally hit rock bottom. I went to Teen Challenge, but was kicked out because of the self-harming. With no where else to turn, I decided to apply to Mercy.

While at Mercy, God has strengthened me and has removed my perfectionist mindset. I realized that I do not have to perform to be loved. He has shown me that true beauty is on the inside and that I am beautiful. He has removed my shame from prostitution and made me a completely new creation in Christ. I now know the only person I need approval from is Him.

After Mercy, I plan on going to school and getting a degree in Art History. Once I finish school, I hope to share my story with others and bring His love to many. I do not want young girls to have to live bound by their past like I did. I want everyone to know that His plans are good!

St. Louis:

Bridget


Before coming to Mercy, I partied my life away. I spent a lot of time at my friend’s house, which is when my friend’s dad sexually abused me. I was not sure who to tell or how to tell about what happened to me so I kept it to myself. My life began to spiral out of control. I worked as many hours as I could and spent the evening drinking until I passed out. I was also promiscuous, which then led to feelings of shame and guilt. I began cutting my thighs and hips to punish myself for being promiscuous. The self-hatred I felt for myself went so deep that I did not want to live. I finally got tired of running. I desperately wanted to find my purpose in this life, so I applied to Mercy Ministries.

While I was at Mercy, the Lord has traded my feelings of hopelessness for His truth. He has shown me unconditional love and how trustworthy He is as my Heavenly Father. I have encountered His grace and forgiveness, and have allowed Him to be my comforter in my pain and shame. The Lord has granted me peace and the freedom to be who He created me to be!

After I graduate from Mercy, I plan on going to Trinity International University in Illinois as a full-time student to pursue a degree in English or Music. Who knows, maybe I will double major! I am also looking forward to playing soccer and singing with the praise and worship team at my church.

Congratulations Stephanie, Jessica, Sharon, Gracie, Leah, and Bridget! We are so proud of you!