Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Highlights from the Always Sisters Forever Brothers Conference

This past weekend, Nancy Alcorn was honored and excited to be a part of CeCe Winans’ 4th Annual Always Sisters Forever Brothers Conference, sponsored by CeCe Winans’ organization Sharing the Vision, Verizon Wireless, and Mercy Ministries for the purpose of educating, motivating, and redirecting the life choices of our teens and young women and men.

CeCe Winans and Nancy Alcorn were joined by other special guests Tony Dungy, Kimberly Daniels, Anthony Evans, Pastor A.R. Vernon, and many others who are passionate about impacting the next generation. Over 2,000 young adults, including the 40 Nashville Mercy residents, were exposed to powerful truth and were challenged to live ‘uncommon’ lives, daring not to blindly follow the crowd. Teens were encouraged to be serious about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and to walk in the authority they have in Christ. In addition, the various well-known speakers boldly addressed challenging issues that can hinder a daily walk with Christ.

Here is what Nancy Alcorn had to say about this year’s conference:

“I can’t even begin to tell you what a powerful move of God we had for two solid days from early in the morning until late at night. There was not one thing that happened at this conference that God wasn’t all over. The young men and women that were there absolutely loved it! Our girls were blessed beyond words. I salute CeCe Winans and her awesome team for a job well done. No doubt about it – this weekend was completely life-changing from start to finish.”

This two day event culminated with a special concert featuring BeBe and CeCe Winans, Mary Mary, Da’ T.R.U.T.H., Nia Allen, The Katinas and many more.

It was truly a life-changing weekend and one that Mercy Ministries plans to be involved in for years to come. Here is what some of the residents had to say about the conference:

Jessica said, “The conference was AWESOME! All the speakers and artists really impacted me! The whole weekend was not about us or them, but the Holy Spirit filled that place! I hope to go again next year!”

Caitlin said, “The speakers, music and events were so spirit-filled and kept my attention the entire day. I feel really blessed to have been able to have this experience and I hope the Mercy girls will get to attend events like this in the future.”

Beth said “I especially liked Tony Dungy’s message on “being uncommon” and watching out for who we follow. It was also amazing to worship God with such a large group of powerful worshippers!”

Stay tuned to the website - www.alwayssisters.com - for upcoming conference dates.

Check out this slideshow of pictures from this amazing and power-packed weekend!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Graduation Celebration – Six More Young Women Experience Freedom!


Staff, residents, family and friends gathered at both the Nashville and St. Louis homes to celebrate six more incredible women who have made the choice to leave their pasts behind and embrace all the successes that God has planned for their lives. We are excited to share their stories of transformation with you:



Nashville

Rebecca

For as long as I can remember, my stepdad sexually abused me. As I got older and began to understand it was abuse, I told my mom and the truth spread quickly. A few months later, I learned that my stepdad killed himself, after allowing self-hatred and guilt to drive him to depression. When I got into high school, I quickly fell into the wrong crowd. I became addicted to sexual relationships and started self-harming as a way to relieve my pain. Desperate and with nowhere left to turn, I decided to apply to Mercy in order to find a place to escape and try to turn my life around.

Since I have been at Mercy, God has shown me how to really live. He also showed me that I’m beautiful and worthy of love, regardless of how people have treated me. I have been able to confidently proclaim that I am a princess, dearly and intimately loved by God. The love I have been searching for was within arm’s reach, but I just never noticed it enough to let it in. Now that I have experienced this love, my life is forever changed and I will never let go of it. I am no longer the victim but I am the victor. Mercy was a tool that God used to grab my attention and heal my broken heart!

My plans after Mercy are to go home and be with my family. I’m certain now that God has a plan for me, even if I don’t know exactly what that is yet. I want to change lives by example, meeting people where they are and showing them that God is not too small to help them.

Rachele

Before Mercy, I was angry at myself and God. When I was four, my Dad died and I believed a lie from the enemy that a loving God could never let that happen. Because I believed these lies, I lost myself in a life gripped with depression and self harm. Sometimes I prayed to God, asking Him to kill me like He did my Dad. Finally, I began to see I was hurting myself and others, so I applied to Mercy for help.

At Mercy, I have learned that God is the only One in this life who will never let me down. He is always with me no matter what I do. I have found my identity in Him. I have discovered that I don’t have to tell lies in order to be accepted. Now, I love truth and it has set me free. One of the most amazing truths I have learned is that God loves me unconditionally. This love has changed my life.

When I leave Mercy, I plan to go home and finish high school. After that, I plan to pursue a degree in counseling and develop my public speaking skills so I can tell others like myself what God has done for me and what He can do for them.



Chantelle

Before coming to Mercy, I had a very twisted idea of love. I thought love and acceptance involved a sexual relationship with a guy. I had been self harming since I was very young, and I started cutting at the age of 14. Harming myself physically gave me a false sense of control and security. When my uncle died, my depression took over and I was numb to everything. I sought thrills just to be able to feel something and ended up in very dangerous situations that only the hand of God could have delivered me from. At first, I didn’t think I was desperate enough to seek help but, in my heart, I was crying for freedom from my pain. My parents encouraged me to apply to Mercy, and with what little hope I had left, I followed through with the application process knowing there had to be a better life than the one I was living.

Since being at Mercy, the healing I have known is immeasurable. I have learned that I have potential to be wise and discerning. I am beautiful and I have a beautiful voice to sing for God. I have also learned that my thrill seeking is a gift from God and a tool to use for the places he sends me. There is nothing dysfunctional about me and I am no longer a victim.

After Mercy, I plan on going into the mission field- that is where I feel most alive. I’m going to be a worship leader someday and whether or not that includes college is up to God. I can’t really tell you my future, but I love Proverbs 16:9-“In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”



Rachel

Life before Mercy was hard. With the depression I had built up over the years, it caused me to lose custody of the two most important people in my life, my kids. That led me to thoughts of suicide, and I experimented with self-harm and started using drugs and alcohol to try to take the hopelessness and unworthiness away. I had a lot of anger towards my mom, who left me at age 7 and had not been there to show me how to be a mother. When I got pregnant with my third child, I knew I had to find some way to help myself so I could be a good mother. I shared with a friend that I was ready to seek freedom from my emotional pain and she told me about Mercy Ministries.

During my time at Mercy, God has surrounded me with amazing women who have shown me that I do have what it takes to be the mother that I have always desired to be for my children. God has completely taken my depression from me and has given me joy that I never thought imaginable. He has shown me that I am worthy of His love and the love of others and that I am accepted. I can now look forward to each day ahead of me.

After graduation, I plan to make a home with my husband to parent my new baby girl. I plan to keep walking on the path God has set before me, and I hope to eventually reunite with my other children. Eventually, I want to go back to school and continue my plans of working as an RN at a children’s hospital. I’m so thankful to Mercy for helping me get back on the path God has set before me.



St. Louis

Annie

My life before Mercy consisted of living in the past and trying to always figure things out in my head instead of being in the present moment. I felt checked out in a lot of ways. I was battling depression and I had a clogged mind. I could not find the answer to all of my problems. I started rebelling in college, which led to a life of misery and shame. Pride and anger had gripped my heart, and bitterness and resentment were the results of many years of fighting God’s will for my life. I reached a point where I was unable to fully function and engage with the working world. My friend Amy told me about Mercy. Soon after, I applied out of desperation and a desire to learn how to live again.

During my time at Mercy, God totally restored me and gave me tools to really live the rest of my life. Now, more than ever before, I know not to live off of feelings. Rather, I seek to enjoy the moment. God helped me take my eyes off of myself and focus on what matters. Also, God has been faithful even with my hard-heartedness – He has truly taken my heart of stone and given me a heart of flesh. He has never given up on me.

After Mercy I am moving back to Minneapolis, MN to reside, work and enjoy the city. I am excited to be a part of a church and get plugged in as a way to meet new people. I hope to meet the man God has for me, settle down and have kids.



Caroline

I came to Mercy struggling with past sexual and physical abuse, self-harm, sexual promiscuity, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, abandonment, neglect, negative self-image, and perfectionism. The root behind all of these struggles began with lies that Satan fed me after my mother died of cancer and my father was murdered. I began to believe that I was worthless and that I had no purpose in this life. I believed I was an inconvenience to everyone. I knew that I needed help when I began to have several angry outbursts a day, always blaming others for my problems. My self-esteem had hit rock bottom and I knew I needed to get back on the right track with Jesus Christ, so I looked online for Christian programs and I found Mercy Ministries.

During my time at Mercy, God restored my shattered heart. He has given me beauty for ashes and has redeemed me from generational curses. I am freed from the bondage of my past and God has filled the voids in my heart. I have learned that there is nothing I can do that will cause God not to love me and now I know that I am very valuable to Him. My true identity is in Christ alone!

After graduation, I also plan to attend a junior college to get my basic education and then I want to pursue a Bachelors degree in Forensic Psychology. I have also made plans to marry my fiancé, Derek, in October 2010.



Ladies, we are so proud of you! We are excited to hear about all the plans God is unfolding in your lives!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mercy Ministries California Open House – EXCITING!


Last weekend we were excited to open our brand new beautiful home to the Sacramento community. Over 50 guests toured the facility during our open house last Saturday, as they learned more about the Mercy Ministries program and were given an opportunity to become a part of helping us raise the remaining funds needed to be able to open our doors to 40 more hurting young women.

The furnishings have been arriving, and our staff and volunteers have been busy assembling and placing the furniture and décor in their designated places. Visitors enjoyed having the opportunity to explore each room in the 22,000 square foot home and to ask questions about the Mercy program. We are believing God to officially open the home – our first West Coast location - sometime this Fall.

Check out our progress on our first Mercy Ministries California home that will soon take 40 more girls off of our waiting list who will, no doubt, experience freedom and discover that God has a plan and purpose for their lives (Jeremiah 29:11).

The book of Romans tells us that it is the goodness of God that leads people to repentance. Mercy Ministries is so thankful to its supporters who have been so faithful to bless these girls with a home that they can be proud of. When we tell them that they have value, we want them to receive that message – not just through our words, but through God’s provision for them. Thanks to everyone who is sending finances to help us get this home open debt-free. If you are interested in knowing what needs still exist, please contact Selah Hirsch at shirsch@mercyministries.com.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

30 Ladies from Atlanta Christian City Church Visit Nashville Home


Earlier this year, the Senior Pastors of Christian City Church (C3 Church) in Atlanta, Georgia, Dean and Jill Sweetman, invited Nancy to speak at their annual women’s conference. Pastor Jill and the women of C3 church so connected with the heart and vision of Mercy Ministries that they wanted to see the ministry first hand. So, they planned a road trip to Nashville to visit our home and international headquarters.

On Tuesday, 30 women from C3 came to attend a graduation and to tour the home. They enjoyed dinner in Nashville and came back on Wednesday morning to encourage the Nashville residents. Associate Pastor, Kay Weeks, shared a powerful word of encouragement on how God calls each of us by name. Kay shared some of her own testimony while challenging the residents to rest in knowing that each of them has a great future. Our girls absolutely loved connecting with the group over lunch – laughing and sharing stories about what God has done in their lives.

Thank you to all of these amazing women for taking your own time to come and encourage our Nashville residents. The girls really enjoyed their time with you all!

Here is what some of the girls had to say about this visit…

Jessica said, “I was planned and creatively knit in my mothers womb. My life is His storybook. My past has toughened me for my future. Kay was amazing. She was so much fun. God was just speaking to me through her. I have a brand new name in Christ.”

Brandy said, “I am not stupid or anything else negative. I am His beautiful, smart, lovely daughter. I will follow Him.”

Hannah said, “God is the only one that truly defines me, and His opinion of me is the only one that truly counts in the fallout. God wants to replace my sorrow for joy, and beauty for my ashes. Disappointment can keep me from moving forward in Christ.”

Bethany said, “God created everything about me. He is not disappointed with me, because he knows exactly what he thinks about me and He is pleased with me.”

To learn more about C3 Atlanta and their amazing team, check out their website at www.christiancitychurch.com.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bethany Church’s Senior Pastor Harry Lilly Encourages the Monroe Residents

Senior Pastors Harry and Pam Lilly of Bethany Church in West Monroe, LA, have been long time friends and faithful partners with Mercy Ministries. Pastor Harry is passionate about pouring into the lives of the next generation, which is why he makes frequent visits to our Monroe home.The residents have been attending Bethany church for quite some time now so the residents always look forward to when Pastor Harry comes to visit.

This month, Pastor Harry came to speak to the residents and encourage them about their time at Mercy. Pastor Harry challenged and reminded the residents that a quick change is likely not a lasting change. Pastor Harry strongly encouraged the residents to let Mercy work for them and allow God to complete the process He started in them, which takes time and patience.

Here is what a few of the residents had to say about Pastor Harry’s encouraging teaching and time at the Monroe home.

Ivy said, “I liked how Pastor Harry defined hope - a happy expectation for a better day. I often get frustrated because I don't see a future. This was enlightening because this means that all I have to do is have expectation. That has been hard for me, but I know it is obtainable in Christ. It is nice to know that faith always has an answer.”

Kristy said, “Our faith needs to be unchanging in order for it to change us. When we're double-minded, we're always changing and we are never free to be ourselves. I want to be at the point where I hope only in God, and I let Him reveal who I am.”

Special thanks to Pastor Harry and Pam Lilly, for making time to faithfully encourage our residents. We are so grateful for all that you do and we are looking forward to your next visit!

To learn more about Pastor Harry and Pam Lilly and Bethany Church, visit their website at www.bethanywestmonroe.com.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mercy Ministries helps young women regain balance

Residential program presses onward amid slumping economy

By Harriet Vaughan • THE TENNESSEAN • July 17, 2009

BRENTWOOD — A recent $500 donation from the Rotary Club of Brentwood is a big deal for Mercy Ministries, where every penny counts.

The residential relief program that provides assistance to young women does not accept federal or state funding. It relies on donations to provide hope and relief to girls ages 13-28 suffering from addictions, depression, physical and sexual abuse, eating disorders, self-harm and unplanned pregnancy.

Mercy Ministries, a nationwide residential program with its only Tennessee presence in Brentwood, offers young women a free place to stay for an average of six months, free assistance with prenatal appointments, counseling, academic studies and tutoring, clothes and many more services.

The $500 will be used to follow up with and assist the teens and young women after they've graduated from the six-month program. Christy Singleton, executive director of development, says it's a crucial donation at a critical point in time.

"Some contributors have had to stop making donations but have called and apologized for not giving. Others have stepped up to help due to the economic times," Singleton said.

She says Mercy Ministries has been fortunate to stay in the black.

Former client is staffer

Young women such as Kathryne Coonce have benefited from the spiritually based program. Coonce, born and raised in Franklin, came to Mercy when she was 18 after she became pregnant during her freshman year at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

Coonce also was carrying the heavy weight of depression after the death of a close friend. She says she sought comfort in the relationship with her boyfriend.

"I was scared to death like any 18-year-old would be. I was scared what my consequence would be from my parents. It's amazing how God can turn around something that is so scary and horrible," Coonce said.

She heard about Mercy from her mother and moved into the 40-bed facility, reminiscent of a college dorm with a staff that seems to always have a smile and soothing voice. She decided to put her child up for adoption through Mercy's adoption program. They have been doing private adoptions at the center since opening in 1996. The pregnant mothers are able to have a hand in selecting the people who adopt their children.

Coonce credits the adoption program, peers who understood her struggle, counselors on hand 24 hours a day, a support system built for success and a center focused on the story of God for the reason she is able to call herself a complete and healthy person.

Since her 2001 arrival at Mercy, Coonce has graduated from college with a degree in psychology. She now works at Mercy.

From failure to family

Annie McBride came to the program in 2005, when she was 18. She was pregnant, hopeless, had a history of smoking marijuana and drinking frequently. Her parents divorced when she was in third grade. She was left to cope with a difficult and lengthy custody battle along with alcoholism and depression in her family. She says she internalized all of her emotions and developed a great sense of failure. She did what she could to numb the pain. Though deep in despair, she was finally ready for a change. She came to Mercy as a last-ditch effort to turn over her life.

Among the exercises and activities that help these teens and women battle their problems, Mercy residents plan menus for the week, and a group of them will prepare the meals for the dorm. They focus on organic and healthy foods.

Singleton says activities such as these help them learn balance, gain self-esteem and develop respect for their bodies.

It worked for McBride. She began eating healthy, feeling healthy and thinking healthy thoughts about herself. She opted to keep her son, Grey, who is now 4. Gray's father went through a similar program. The two recently celebrated their third anniversary the beginning of July. They also have a second child, 20-month-old Lucy. McBride works at a preschool. Her husband, Matthew McBride, is working at Starbucks while going to school to become a nurse practitioner — a long way from where the once hopeless teens came from.

"I believe that the Lord used Mercy to heal my pain from the past and to restore my broken relationships," Annie McBride said. "Because of Mercy, I have freedom from my past."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Special Guest Speaker Encourages Louisiana Residents


Carla Pilgreen, former stylist of a local family-owned salon called New Creations in Monroe, LA, came by this week to encourage the Monroe residents. As a new member of Mercy’s Community Board in the Monroe area, Carla has a deep compassion for hurting young women and a desire to connect with the vision of Mercy and use her talents and resources to help in any way possible.

Carla’s time with the residents was such a lift for them. Each girl was encouraged in a personal way to continue on her journey during her time at Mercy.

The following is what a few of the residents had to say about Carla’s teaching:

Samantha said, “I loved how Carla said that life with Christ is a process…that is so true! But God is able to sustain me throughout the process.”

Christy said, “I do want to know Him and the only way is by reading the Word. Carla talked about forgiveness and how we have this horrible feeling in our stomach that won't go away. We need to make the choice to forgive, including ourselves, which I need to do.”

Christine said, “We must have the Word in our hearts, and it will then come from our mouth. When we realize God loves us, then we can love others. The Word give us hope for today and strength for tomorrow. Life with Christ is process and a series of choices.”

Kristy said, “I've taken one step and then a step backward. The Lord wants me to take one step at a time. It will be slow, but I will be steadfast, and I'll be putting my feet on a Rock.”

Monday, July 13, 2009

Encouraging Words from an Adoptive Couple

Jordan Rubin, well-known speaker and author of The Maker’s Diet, The Great Physician’s Rx for Health and Wellness and many others, and his wife Nicki, recently shared with us about their journey of adoption through Mercy Ministries. When girls come to us with an unplanned pregnancy, we are dedicated to helping each expectant birth mother reach the best decision for herself and her child – whether that is to parent or place her child for adoption. If a girl chooses adoption, she gets to list all the characteristics she desires in an adoptive couple and we seek to find the best match. If we do not have any potential adoptive couples that match the birth mother’s wishes, we do everything we can to find a perfect fit…which happened to be the case in this awesome God story!

We asked Nicki to share her and Jordan’s adoption story in their own words…

“When most people see orphans or starving children on television, they quickly flip through the channels because they don’t want to watch something so depressing. I, on the other hand, stay glued to the channel with tears streaming down my face. At the end of my pregnancy with our son Joshua, I often had insomnia and would sit up late at night flipping through the TV channels. It so happened that I came upon one of these shows. As I sat watching with tears streaming down my face, I said ‘Lord, do you want us to adopt?' I had never even thought about adopting before then. Even though I was due to give birth in a couple of weeks, I starting thinking about adoption for the first time. Jordan was hesitant when I first mentioned it to him, but after a few weeks he was on board with the idea as well. We didn’t really tell anyone, but sort of kept this to ourselves.

"For three years Jordan and I prayed for the Lord to clearly show us if we should adopt. Our basic prayer was ‘Lord, we’re more than willing to adopt if you will bring the situation to us.’ I had a heart to do this, but I wanted divine direction so to speak. I didn’t know if we should adopt a boy, girl or both, a newborn or an older child, one from inside or outside the United States, etc. Since most people seek out adoptions, I knew that if an adoption situation came to us it would be from the Lord. Well, that is exactly what happened.

"After three years of praying about this, Jordan received a call from Mercy Ministries letting us know that there was a situation with one of their birth mothers. Jordan spoke with Nancy Alcorn on the telephone that Friday evening. She told Jordan that a young girl, who was considering an adoption plan for her baby, had listed some very specific requests about what she was looking for in an adoptive couple for her soon-to-be-born child. Nancy read the list and thought of Jordan and me. Nancy remembered that we had expressed interest in adopting on a previous tour of the Mercy home in Nashville, TN, where Jordan had been a guest speaker. This young girl had heard him speak about health and nutrition. Jordan even remembered the specific girl that Nancy was speaking of. That one phone call changed everything. For Mercy to call us completely out of the blue and ask if we would consider adopting was all the direction we needed.

"Samuel 'Sammy Bear' Tyler Rubin was born on Aug. 6, 2007. Although we got to be at his birth, we weren’t able to bring him home for 6 ½ months due to working out the logistics of the adoption agreement. However, even this turned out to be a blessing in the end because we were able to have a phone conversation with the birthfather that ended up bringing a great deal of reconciliation. He even came to the placement ceremony! This was a real blessing because we got to know each other a little bit and he felt that he got to be part of this important decision to place his son with the family God ordained for him. There was also a reconciliation and forgiveness that took place between Samuel’s birth parents at the placement ceremony. We took pictures with both of Samuel’s birth parents and have great memories of that day.

"Not only did we get to adopt a wonderful son, but we also got to know both of his birth parents whom we dearly love. We cherish the letters we get from each of them and can’t wait to share all of this with Sammy Bear when he’s a little older.”


Your support of Mercy Ministries is literally saving lives and making these kinds of God stories possible every day. Thank you!

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Night at the Muny for ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’

As a surprise to the entire St. Louis home, a private donor provided the residents with tickets to the Summer Series at The Muny in St. Louis, Missouri. The Muny is the nation’s oldest and largest outdoor theatre. The residents were excited to be able to attend the musical show, "Meet Me in St. Louis". The residents had a blast at the show as they shared moments of laughter and singing throughout the production.

Thank you, to all who made this special evening possible for the girls in St. Louis. They are looking forward to the next show!

Here is what a few of the residents had to say about their first night at The Muny…

Emily said, “It was such a privilege to see an amazing theatre performance through the generosity of a private donor! I am such a theatre lover and it is a rare and precious gift to see such amazing talent. The weather was perfect, the fireworks were breathtaking and the Mercy sisters I got to share it with were awesome. It was a total gift!”

Michaela said, “Enjoying The Muny was a great way to spend a beautiful summer evening. My favorite part was seeing all the smiling faces from a group of local nursing home residents who sang along to their favorite tunes. The show was a joy for everyone and brought smiles and laughter to all ages.”

Annie said, “As the stage lit up and smiles flashed across the theater, I was reminded of the good parts of my past, and I again felt God fill me with bright hope for my life and future!”

To learn more about The Muny or to see the summer schedule, visit their website at www.muny.org.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mercy Ministries Celebrates the 4th of July

Fourth of July weekend was a busy and fun-filled weekend for all of our U.S. homes. The Nashville residents had a blast with an unexpected cook-out due to a change of plans when the fireworks got rained out. Luckily, the St. Louis residents were able to attend fireworks in the city of Webster Grove while enjoying a picnic dinner, games and songs. Our Monroe girls enjoyed a casual cook-out of barbequed chicken, baked beans and corn on the cob followed by a fireworks display. It was nice for the residents to experience events that were out of the day-to-day routine of the normal week’s schedule.


At our brand new home in Lincoln, CA, staff was joined by 20 enthusiastic volunteers for this year's 4th of July Parade in the city of Lincoln. With a 40 bed facility on the verge of opening, Mercy Ministries’ staff and volunteers had fun getting to know hundreds of locals that gathered to enjoy the festivities of the day. Throughout the parade, the Mercy group distributed candy, water bottles, and flyers as a way to raise awareness in the surrounding community. Special thanks to all who participated. The following is what a few of the staff and volunteers had to say about their time at the Lincoln, CA 4th of July Parade.Megan said, "My favorite part of the morning was when the Mercy car reached the grandstands and the MC announced that Mercy provides free residential care for young women facing tough times. The crowd didn't just cheer, they were really energetic. It really made me realize that the community is especially supportive of Mercy's mission in our area! Go Mercy!"

Cheryl said, "What a fun way this was to make our presence known to the Lincoln community. This was a great way to spend our morning."

Ryan said, "The crowd seemed so happy to see us in the parade this year. I can really tell that people are glad Mercy is here in Lincoln and they seem really supportive and interested in what we are doing."

To learn more about the Lincoln home and to find out how you can help us open our doors to 40 more hurting young women, contact Brittany Wallace at 916-316-1612 or california@mercyministries.com.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Three Graduates Return to Nashville for the Fourth of July Weekend

Tamara, Megan and Jen graduated from our Nashville home in January of this year. Each of these three beautiful young ladies has been enjoying life after Mercy and has courageously chosen to walk out her freedom from the past by continuing to prioritize time with God and with others who can hold them accountable. Tamara, Megan and Jen have also pursued jobs, school, volunteering and personal hobbies. This past Fourth of July weekend, these three ladies took their own time to visit the Nashville home. They spent Friday evening sharing their stories and encouraging the current residents about walking out their freedom after they leave the program. They also enjoyed reconnecting with the staff.


(Pictured L to R) Jen, Megan and Tamara

Megan said, “I had such a tremendous time sharing with the Mercy girls. They seemed so hungry for hope. I had some sweet talks with a couple of the girls after we shared out testimonies. It was so encouraging for me to go back through the past 6 months to see what God has done since Mercy. It truly gets better and better. I had been so afraid that I would continue in my pattern of leaving treatment and falling flat again, not to get back up. This time it has been different, because I have seen the Lord at work behind the choices that I make and working through them. He has called me to surrender and obedience, and there is nothing I desire more than to know Him better. It was neat to offer hope and a picture of continued freedom and joy. Being back at Mercy holds me accountable and hopefully encourages others. ‘"Freely you have received, freely give."’ I do not have money, but I have my talents, time, and testimony to give back. Let me know how I can serve. Thank you, Nancy Alcorn and Mercy staff, for giving to the Lord. I am a life that was changed.”

Thank you, Tamara, Megan and Jen, for coming back to encourage the current residents. The girls enjoyed the time you all spent with them and we are proud of each one of you for choosing life.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mercy Graduate Volunteers Her Summer at Mercy Ministries!!

Kate graduated from the Mercy program in 2007. She came to Mercy Ministries struggling with an eating disorder, self-harm, depression and rejection issues. For the past year and a half, Kate has been on an amazing journey of continued restoration and truly living out the freedom she gained while in the program.

After Kate graduated from Mercy Ministries, she went home to Kennesaw, GA to attend Kennesaw State University as a full-time student and also to pursue coaching volleyball with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Recently, Kate stepped down from her coaching position to focus on her academics.

With summer on the way and more time on her hands, Kate contacted Mercy Ministries with a desire to volunteer five weeks of her summer to give of her time and talents to help the Mercy staff with whatever was needed! Of course we were excited to have her! Kate helped serve in our corporate office building in Nashville helping our marketing and development team and she also spent some time volunteering in our Transitional Care Department encouraging graduates like herself. She also worked with our graphic artist and was able to both contribute in an area where she is gifted and also learn more about an area of interest to her. On top of that, she taught a photography class to our current Nashville residents.

Kate said, “I was blessed to be able to return to Mercy as a volunteer and to give back for all that I was given while I was a resident. I would not be here if it wasn’t for what the Lord did and has continued to do in my life through Mercy Ministries. I thoroughly enjoyed working and learning more about the business aspect of the ministry. I am learning that, as Christians, we serve and love others as we are loved by God; our service and love towards others is an outpouring of the love we receive from the Lord.”

We are so grateful for Kate’s time with us! Thank you, Kate, for all of your diligent work and willingness to give back!! Check out these pictures from Kate’s time volunteering at Mercy…


Kate pictured with Jude


Mercy Ministries graphic artist, Julie pictured with Kate


Kate pictured with Ashleigh and Amber of the Transitional Care department

Monday, July 6, 2009

Five More Graduates Let Go of The Past and Look Forward to the Future!

St. Louis and Nashville staff and residents gathered with the family and friends of five more incredible young women as they graduated from Mercy Ministries in Nashville and St. Louis. These young ladies made a brave decision to put their lives on hold to get to the root of their issues so they could attain lasting change. No longer are they allowing the pain of their past to dictate their futures. Check out their stories!

Nashville

Michaela

My life before Mercy was a mess. It was a game of hide and do not let anyone seek. I suppressed everything from sexual assaults and death threats to harsh words that cut deep. I always felt as though I had to be perfect and nice to everybody. In order to be “nice,” I found myself allowing people to trample all over me, which eventually built up so much pressure that I began self-harming. I became addicted to hurting myself and quickly became very suicidal. I frequented secular treatment centers, but my insurance was running out. A friend and graduate of Mercy, told me about the program so, I decided to apply because I desperately wanted my lifestyle to change.

During my time at Mercy, God has shown me that He loves and desires me. I realized that He wants to be a true Father and a real friend. He has shown me how to magnify Him instead of the problem and how to have faith that He will work all things out for His glory. I also figured out that no sin is unforgivable and that I am called to love others at all times. The Lord also restored my dreams and my personality.

After graduation, I plan on pursuing a college degree in counseling and art therapy. I would also like to get a degree in photography and open a home in the inner city area of Philadelphia that helps young people through art therapy.

Jacquelyn

Before coming to Mercy, I was part of a divorced family and I had little sense of warmth and security. I grew up around a mother, grandmother and aunt that were all struggling with eating disorders, which distorted my mindset from an early age. Once my mom died of alcohol abuse and an eating disorder, I began struggling with an eating disorder too. I constantly put on the mask that everything was okay. I lived a ‘Christian’ lifestyle that was based on works and I was determined to prevent anyone from getting a glimpse into the darkness of the eating disorder. Two of my friends and graduates of Mercy were free from their struggle, and I wanted to experience that same freedom. I found out about Mercy Ministries on Facebook and immediately applied.

While at Mercy, I experienced God’s love and His true character. He filled the very depths of my heart. I learned how to spend time in His presence and discern His truth over my life. I shattered the box that I had placed God in and many of the legalistic walls I had built up were torn down.

After I leave Mercy, I plan on finishing my degree in Dietetics and eventually pursuing a Master’s in Dietetics. One day, I hope to walk alongside girls who are struggling with the very same things that brought me to Mercy. I am looking forward to instilling hope into the hearts of women by showing them that lasting freedom is possible.

St. Louis

Cecily

Before Mercy, I was going through a phase of destructive living that was spurred on by feelings of seeking to find pleasure no matter the cost. In some ways, I acted like I was indestructible, as if I did not have to worry about repercussions. I would binge drink and have one-night stands with random guys and not worry about any of my behavior having consequences. I always knew that the path I was headed down was not God’s will and that He had better plans in store for my life. I felt hopeless at the thought of ever changing until one of my friends told me about Mercy Ministries. I had hope for the first time and I knew that they could help me change my destructive cycle.

While I was at Mercy, God opened my eyes to who He says I am in Christ. Now, I understand who God is in relation to me. I learned how important it is to renew my mind daily and to walk with integrity in the smallest of decisions. Making right choices in the minor stuff is pertinent to continuing to walk in freedom.

After graduation, I plan on returning to school in order to attain a BA in dance or performing arts. Later, I plan on finding a job close to home and rejoining all my dance classes.

Susanna

Before coming to Mercy, I was purging up to 50 times in one day. I spent hundreds of dollars on food each week, I was too depressed to function, and I engaged in self-harm on a regular basis as a way to cope with the past. Finally, my mother told me about Mercy Ministries and I knew it was where I needed to be.

During my time at Mercy, God set me completely free from the eating disorder and self-harm. I learned of His unconditional love for me and that my past does not have to determine my future. I discovered who I am in Jesus Christ and that He is a loving and accepting father.

After I graduate, I plan on going back home and going to college to study Physical Education, Nutrition and Upper Elementary studies. I hope to one day work for Mercy.

Becki

My life before Mercy was a constant battle with feelings of abandonment, rejection and a lack of purpose. I created a distorted body image in my head and quickly began struggling with an eating disorder. My life was inconsistent and no treatment centers were able to bring lasting change. A family member told me about Mercy Ministries. I knew that God was missing in my life, so I decided to apply.

Being at Mercy provided an opportunity for God to show me that I have a purpose and that I will never be alone. God showed me that He has planned great things for me and that I am the most beautiful woman in His eyes. I learned that I no longer have to focus on myself or worry about anything because all I need is found in Jesus Christ. I realized that by following God’s Word and leading, I have a promising life and salvation.

Once I graduate from Mercy, I will be preparing to attend college. I am not sure where I want to study or what I want to study, but I know that God has great plans for my life!

Congratulations Michaela, Jacquelyn, Cecily, Susanna and Becki! We are so proud of you all for having the courage to seek lasting change. We are excited about the journey that has been set out for each of you!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mercy Ministries Partners With Fervent Records’ Rock Trio BarlowGirl

Media Alert (Sacramento, CA) June 29, 2009 – Mercy Ministries is excited to announce that they will host a private meet and greet acoustic set with Fervent Records’ sister rock trio BarlowGirl on July 29th from 2:30-4:00 p.m. at the Mercy Ministries home in Lincoln, California. As a partner, BarlowGirl shares about Mercy Ministries at their live concert events, encouraging those in attendance to get involved and help support young women at Mercy who face life-controlling issues. Seating is limited and tickets cost $100 each. All proceeds of this event will benefit the Mercy Ministries. To purchase tickets contact Brittany Wallace at 916-316-1612 or California@mercyministries.com.

Each of the members of BarlowGirl has a heart that beats for the young people of this generation struggling with issues such as eating disorders, depression, etc. The group is committed to ministering an encouraging message to their audience. “We have such a heart for the broken and are honored to come alongside Mercy Ministries’ work in transforming the lives of young women from the inside out,” says BarlowGirl.

BarlowGirl is an all-girl Christian rock band made up of three sisters: Rebecca, Alyssa and Lauren Barlow. Their latest album, How Can We Be Silent, debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Christian chart and #40 on Billboard’s Top 200 albums. For more information on BarlowGirl, visit www.barlowgirl.com.

Since 1983, Mercy Ministries has been helping hurting young women to obtain complete freedom and transformation - absolutely free of charge to them. The goal is for each girl who graduates to discover purpose for her life and bring value to her community as a productive citizen. In America, we have helped over 2500 young women. Mercy Ministries is a global organization with locations in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Peru. For more information about Mercy Ministries, visit www.mercyministries.org.