Thursday, June 25, 2009

Six More Lives Changed by Grace

Staff, residents, family and friends gathered together at the Nashville and Monroe homes to celebrate seven more amazing young ladies as they graduated from Mercy Ministries. Each of these ladies has chosen to exchange her pain for joy and is moving forward excited for her future. We are excited about sharing their stories with you!

Nashville

Ashley

Before I came to Mercy, I was struggling with self-harm and suicidal thoughts. I've also struggled with depression my whole life. It started at a very young age when I started being sexually abused. The abuse lasted throughout my childhood. I was very scared, but somehow knew in the back of my mind that there was a God that loved me.

During my teenage years, I began struggling with self-harm, which became my addiction. I always thought about it and it was my "escape." Also, I had thoughts that were so tormenting - everyday, I wanted to die. I threatened suicide many times and even made attempts to end my life. I went to numerous mental hospitals, just to get out and return the following week. I knew I needed something to change. At that point in time, one of my friends told me about Mercy and I began the application process.

God did SO MANY things for me while I was at Mercy. As I renewed my mind to His Word, He helped me to become more in control of my thoughts. For a while, things were so bad that I thought I would be that way for the rest of my life. I literally thought that I was born that way, but God helped me to recognize that my mindset was based on lies! God completely and totally transformed and healed me. I am AMAZED and I rejoice that He makes ALL things new!

After Mercy, I plan to go back to Chattanooga and get a job. Then I am going to work on getting my GED so that I can go to college and major in Photography and minor in Astronomy.

Alison

I grew up knowing Christ, but turned my back on him after being sexually abused by my brother and my mom all throughout my childhood. I developed a performance driven mindset and I tried to please everyone around me including my mom. Pleasing my mom meant that I had to be skinny, which led me down a path full of unhealthy addictions. I became desperate for a better life. I was ready to give up on life and happiness, which is why I decided to come to Mercy.

Once I got to Mercy, I began learning about truth. I realized that who God says I am is all that matters. I found out that my internal beauty is the only beauty that defines me. No longer do I have to please anybody else because my Heavenly Father already delights in me.

After graduation, I will be going to a Christian camp for kids called Sky Ranch to be a counselor. Immediately following the camp, I will be attending Oral Roberts University where I will pursue a degree in the Nursing program. I am looking forward to my life after Mercy.

Nakea

I spent my entire life without ever knowing my Dad, which was always hard on me. I began looking up to my uncles, but most of them were bad father figures. So, during my 6th grade year, I started looking up to male classmates. During the summer after my 7th grade year, I chose to engage in sexual sin. Soon after, I found out I was pregnant and realized that I could not continue going to school because I would be made fun of. I was already picked on and I knew that I needed to make a change. My mom’s best friend told me about Mercy and I knew that they could help me.

During my time at Mercy, God taught me how to surrender all my problems to Him and how to leave them at His throne. God restored me with His love. He gave me back the life that He put on this Earth for. After much prayer, I decided to place my baby for adoption with an amazing and loving family.

After I graduate, I am going home to live with my family. I am going to summer camp and then back to school. I will be going into the 10th grade and hopefully playing on the basketball team. I am excited about the life that God has set out before me.

Ashley

My life before Mercy was very destructive. I began struggling with rebellion when my grandfather died, which was just before my 14th birthday. At the age of 18, I became very rebellious and as a result, I got wrapped up in promiscuity with dangerous guys. My life was out of control, and I could see that regular counseling was not enough to get me on the right track. When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I had to do something. My mom told me about Mercy and I made the decision to apply.

God has completely restored and transformed me while I’ve been at Mercy. He showed me that my identity is no tin a guy, but in Christ. He also showed me that my past does not define me - Christ defines me.

After graduation, I plan on going to a maternity home in Kansas as I begin learning how to be a mother. My long-term goal is to finish college with a degree in Education or Counseling. I know and trust that the Lord has plans to prosper my life.

Monroe

Amnoni

I was abandoned at birth by my parents. I was left in the hospital due to poor choices my mom made. I had some birth defects which led to Asthma and a learning disability. I was placed in foster care for about 9 months and then a family member decided to take care of me and my two other siblings for 10 years. During that time I was starved, locked in the basement and physically abused. I began stealing and hoarding food because of hunger pains and intense fear. At the age of 6, I was sexually abused, and due to that I had intense feelings of shame and guilt.

At the age of 10 I moved in with another family member. I was physically, verbally, and emotionally abused by them. At that point, I started begging for money on the streets, which lasted 5 years. Eventually, I got into a car with a stranger and came close to being raped. Finally, I was removed from the home and placed in foster care for 6 more years. I moved into six different homes within that time and felt very unstable. I experienced deep feelings of rejection. I became promiscuous at the age of 13 until the age of 17, which led to an addiction to food and pornography. I was diagnosed with PTSD, Major Depression and Anxiety. I was physically alive but spiritually and emotionally dead. I had no concept of true happiness and joy, which led me to apply to Mercy. I was desperate for help.

Since being at Mercy, God has removed all shame, guilt and condemnation. He has placed true joy and happiness within me. I am blameless and the apple of Gods eye. I am beautiful on the inside and out. God has restored my purity and innocence. I came to Mercy with lots of shame, embarrassment, feelings of unworthiness, filth, and rejection, but God has shown me how to separate who I am from what I do. I now know who I am in Christ and I have confidence, the ability to make decisions, and the ability to detect what control and manipulation looks like. My beauty is restored because I now have the identity that Christ has given me. Christ died to set me free, and I am happy to announce that I have a life worth living. I am a princess because my Father is the King of Kings. What was meant for harm, God used for His will and purpose.

My plans after Mercy are to continue working on my dog walking business and volunteering. I plan to go back to school to pursue a degree in Sociology and a Master’s in Social Work so that I can continue to serve God.

Hannah

I grew up in a strong Christian family that always went to church with parents that were busy serving in leadership positions. Growing up, I felt I needed to live up to the “perfect Christian girl” label. I felt I had to be the best at everything. For some reason, I was always insecure with my weight and who I was. When I was 15, I decided I had enough of being the fat girl. I saw a movie where a girl stuck her fingers down her throat, threw up, and began rapidly losing weight. It sounded easy enough to me. I began a full blown eating disorder within a week’s time and I threw up every single thing I ate.

After several months, my mom found out and thought she could help me. She watched me like a hawk and therefore, I began restricting instead. Throughout high school, my life was centered on music, exercise, and the eating disorder. I wanted so badly to be noticed and loved. I began to abuse laxatives and exercise, and I became very depressed. I thought, “If I am going to have live with this eating disorder for the rest of my life like they say, then I just do not want to live.” In July 2007, I attempted suicide as a cry for help. I soon began cutting to feel something, anything other than the apathy and numbness. I began to party a lot. At this point, I had already begun the application process for Mercy Ministries, but I filled out the application half-heartedly.

I was completely consumed with bulimia, partying, and drinking. I would drink a lot to escape the confusion and pain I felt. Nothing in my life was balanced and I felt like my life was spinning out of control. I had the head knowledge about needing Christ, but did not have the discipline to transfer my head knowledge into heart knowledge. I was convinced that I would never change, but I knew I was ready for help. So, I applied to Mercy again after my youth pastor’s wife told me about it – this time I was serious about getting help.

During my time at Mercy, God revealed His steadfast love for me and how I did not need anyone else’s approval because He already loved and accepted me. I finally figured out who I am in Christ. I am beautiful because He who is in me is beautiful! I am a daughter of the King! I am an overcomer! I discovered that I am complete in Christ.

After graduation, I am going home to Georgia to begin working at a salon. I plan on possibly going back to college for music, psychology, or nutrition. I would like to go on mission trips and work in a leadership position in the church. God has changed my life forever. I am looking forward to fulfilling the plans God has for my life because I am confident they are huge plans! This program was an answer to prayer. If you are thinking about applying, do it! You will not regret the program if you stick it out!

Ladies, we are so proud of you. We know that God has good plans for each one of you!!