Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Six Graduates Leave Mercy with Renewed Hope!

St. Louis and Monroe residents and staff joined together with family and friends to rejoice over six more extraordinary young women who have experienced God’s unconditional love and now have renewed hope for the future. We wanted to share their stories of transformation with you!



St. Louis

Alicia

My life before Mercy was full of violence and neglect. I was 8 years old when I began suffering from verbal and sexual abuse. As I sought approval from the people in my life, I began struggling with an eating disorder, depression and I experimented with self-harm. I could see my mother becoming more emotionally distant after she remarried, and that detachment was tough for me. Because my Christian faith had always been such an important part of my life, I knew I needed to find a place where God’s love would truly be evident. Several programs later, I had almost lost hope until I learned about Mercy from my eating disorder support group and knew this was the kind of help I was looking for.

At Mercy, I have learned that I am accepted by Christ and dearly loved by God. I began understanding that I am an overcomer because Christ is always with me and will give me strength to push through the challenges in my life. I now have abundant hope for my future.

After I graduate, I plan to finish my degree in Humanities and pursue my certificate in creative life coaching.



Courtney

Growing up as the heavy girl in school, my mother and I would frequently compete to lose weight. Eventually, this fixation led me to restrict food and over-exercise. Soon after, that turned into binging and purging and my battle with bulimia developed. Despite supportive friends and family and two hospital visits, one for an overdose of laxatives and the other for malnutrition, I still continued in the eating disorder behaviors. I would purge my food an average of 20 times a day and used self-harm to punish myself for what I had done. I was headed toward an early grave, but when my sister told me about the Mercy program, I decided to apply.

During my time at Mercy, I have fallen intimately in love with my Savior. I’ve learned what repentance truly means- to literally TURN from the sin that so easily entangles me. Most importantly, I have acknowledged that life simply is not about me anymore. Now, I am alive in the Lord, who overlooks my flaws and weaknesses and loves me unconditionally.

After Mercy, I am planning to attend Missouri Baptist University to study Nursing with the dream of coming back to work at Mercy one day. I also plan to play tennis for MBU and work as a nanny part-time. Ultimately, I have a heart for missions and will be sharing the truth about the love of Christ with everyone I meet.



Lacey

My mother and several other family members died tragically in a fire when I was 6 years old. After the accident, I clung tightly to my father and he became my entire world. When he remarried and had other children, I began to feel like I did not fit into his new life and that I was just leftovers from a life that I was sure he wanted to forget. These feelings of abandonment led me to choose relationships with men that were physically and verbally abusive and I allowed my boyfriends to have ownership over me. After having an abortion, my heart was broken. I heard about Mercy from my stepmother and I knew it was my last hope.

Since I have been in the Mercy Ministries program, God has shown me His unwavering and perfect love for me. I will never be the same again. I know now that I am precious to Him and I am so joyful that the same Creator of the vast wonder and beauty of the universe loves me personally and individually. I have learned how to truly like myself and to stop believing lies that are destructive.

After graduation, I plan to finish my degree in Broadcast Journalism with an emphasis in the entertainment industry. I eventually want to host my own talk show so that I can share with people that God is stretching out His hand at every moment to rescue them. I’m so thankful that I have been rescued!


Monroe

Sara

Before Mercy, I lived in fear. I was terrified about my unpaid debt due to my spending addiction that seemed impossible to overcome. I was afraid of going to prison. Furthermore, an emotionally and physically abusive relationship left me feeling worthless, ashamed and without hope. My fears only increased after being in a severe car accident. I needed to find my identity and my self-worth. My aunt and my mother told me about Mercy. I was sick of the way I was living and desperate for change, and I knew this could be my last resort.

During my stay at Mercy, God has completely freed me from my fears. My desire for drugs and alcohol is gone, and I now know that I have worth, hope and a great future ahead of me. Learning to trust God has taught me that He will restore to me all the things that I have lost, and now I have so much peace and joy. I am excited about the future and my new life with God.

After I leave Mercy, I plan to attend a technical school to pursue a certificate in Health and Information Services. I am thankful I have been shown God’s amazing love, and I trust that He will lead me in my new journey.



Ivy

Before coming to Mercy, I grew up with a single mother and found myself playing a parent-like role at an early age. I have been told that early in my childhood I was verbally, physically and sexually abused. I began smoking, drinking and utilizing self-harm in order to cope with my confused existence. Never feeling like I was good enough, I believed I had to earn my right to be alive, and suicide began to feel like the only option that I had. After leaving for college, sexual addiction became a powerful obstacle, and at the peak of my hopelessness I turned to the misuse of prescription drugs. I decided to apply to Mercy after unsuccessfully trying to turn my life around on my own. I knew the “God thing” was my last hope for life.

While at Mercy, I was able to see God and His continual blessings. He has moved in my life in so many ways. In addition to becoming a Christian, I was water baptized and have been so excited to leave all the junk of my past in the water that day. I have learned that I do have hope for a future and that I have inherent worth that is not based on my performance. God loves me for me. I’m no longer a victim, and I am able to trust in His love for me. Through God’s mercy, I have been able to forgive others and myself. My hunger for God is insatiable.

After graduation, I plan to go back to my hometown in Waco, Texas where I will get a job in the social work field. I plan to get involved in church and participate in the worship department. Eventually, it is my desire to move to Uganda to minister to orphans.



Christine

My childhood was full of neglect and abuse. I had been abused from birth and I often was not fed. There were many times that I had to search for food from our neighbor’s house. Eventually, someone called Child Protective Services, and I lived for a while in foster care until a Christian family adopted me. When I was 9 years old, my adoptive mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and soon after passed away. I lost hope and began struggling with severe depression. At age 14, I became sexually active and didn’t understand that these relationships were self destructive. After I graduated high school, I moved out of my parent’s house and in with my fiancĂ©. At this point, I knew I needed help with my depression. My stepmother told me about Mercy, so I researched it online and decided to apply.

While at Mercy, I have learned that no matter what happens, God loves me unconditionally and He will never leave me or forsake me. God has brought people into my life who love me for who I am, and now I know that I am a beautiful woman of God.

After I graduate, I plan to go to school in the fall and look for a job. I am looking forward to eventually opening an in-home daycare.




Congratulations Alicia, Courtney, Lacey, Sara, Ivy and Christine! You are our heroes and we are so proud of your transformation!