Friday, October 30, 2009

Mercy Ministries open home for females needing help

Thanks to a $2.5-million gift and one acre of land from the Buzz Oates Charitable Foundation, Mercy Ministries of America has opened its first West Coast home, an approximately $6 million, 40-resident facility in Lincoln.

Additional funds for the home were obtained through private donations and in-kind gifts acquired by Mercy Ministries and the Buzz Oates Charitable Foundation, according to a Mercy Ministries press release.

Mercy Ministries began accepting residents in October 2009 and will celebrate with a public dedication and ribbon-cutting Ceremony at 5 p.m. Nov. 7 and an open house from 2 to 6 p.m. Nov. 8.

Nashville, Tenn.-based Mercy Ministries of America is a Christian residential counseling program that serves girls and young women, ages 13 to 28, who face a combination of life-controlling issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, addictions, depression, eating disorders and unplanned pregnancies.

“So many girls from California have sought our help over the years,” said Mercy Ministries’ founder and president Nancy Alcorn, “but they have always had to travel across the country to find a Mercy Ministries facility. Before the construction of the California home, Mercy Ministries in St. Louis was our closest home to California.”

~ Staff report

SOURCE: Lincoln News Messenger

A Night to Remember! Celebrating 26+ Years!

Yesterday, Nancy Alcorn, Founder and President of Mercy Ministries was keynote speaker at a Founder's Dinner in Monroe, Louisiana, an invitation only event, hosted by founding Board member Susan Cordell and her husband, Hardeman, at their beautiful home. There were approximately 300 people in attendance, many of which were involved in the beginning years of Mercy Ministries almost 27 years ago. Nancy Alcorn explained why this was such an exciting event for her:

"It was so wonderful to be with people that I knew from years ago who gave sacrificially and who continue to give to this day to make this ministry the successful program that it is. I was so honored to reconnect with old friends that I have not seen in years, and to personally thank those who believed in Mercy Ministries when it was just a vision. I will never forget how I first moved to Monroe in 1983 and began to speak out what God had put into my heart. It takes very special people to become a part of something they yet cannot see. I call those people visionaries and people of faith. It was my great joy to be able to celebrate our beginnings and thank those who have been such a vital part of making it all possible."

The Cordell’s made this a family affair as not only Hardeman and Susan, but also their son Hardeman Jr. and his wife, Misty, and their other son, Sherrause, were all so gracious in hosting this event as a family. See their family picture below.

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The Cordell family pictured from left to right:
Misty and Hardeman Jr, Susan, Nancy Alcorn, Hardeman Sr., and Sherrouse


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Director of Programs, Margaret Troquille, pictured with her husband, Charles

Several of Mercy Ministries founding Board Members were also present. We also wanted to honor the late Bill Husted through asking his wife to stand in as part of this founding director’s picture we took. Those founding directors in attendance were Billy Edmondson, Mary Alice (Mike), Jerry Hightower, Jessie McCormick, and Susan Cordell, (pictured below)

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We would like to thank all of the many volunteers and supporters who worked tirelessly for weeks and weeks in advance to make this wonderful evening so successful. Most of all, we wish to thank our God for His faithfulness in the thousands of transformed lives over the years and the millions of dollars that have been given to make it all possible. Check out this slide show of this historical event.



Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mercy Ministries opens home in Sacramento; already present in St. Louis


October 29, 3:54 PM St. Louis Christian Churches Examiner Alex Fees

A Christian-based home that serves troubled girls in four American cities, including St. Louis, now has a location on the West Coast.

Mercy Ministries just opened a new facility in Lincoln, California. The home just north of Sacramento is a $6 million, 40-resident facility. A similar, 30-bed facility exists in St. Louis.

Nashville, Tennessee-based Mercy Ministries of America is a Christian residential counseling program that serves girls and young women, ages 13-28, which face life-controlling issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, addictions, depression, eating disorders, and unplanned pregnancies. Mercy Ministries’ free-of-charge program has served more than 2,000 young women with its combination of best-practice clinical interventions and faith-based counseling.

Julianne Fogt, Mercy Ministries St. Louis Community Relations Manager, said, “Mercy Ministries is not directly affiliated with any particular church, denomination or organization, but is rather an inter-denominational Christian organization with staff members from a variety of backgrounds and traditions. While girls are at Mercy Ministries, they have daily praise and worship, as well as life-changing classes based on principles of freedom found in God’s Word. The girls also attend a local church in the community where each home is located. Residents at the St. Louis home attend Destiny Church.”

Mercy Ministries Founder Nancy Alcorn said, “Before the construction of the California home, Mercy Ministries in St. Louis was our closest home to California. Now we will truly be able to serve girls from the West Coast in their own backyard. So many girls from California have sought our help over the years, but they have always had to travel across the country to find a Mercy Ministries facility.”

Fogt said Mercy Ministries was founded in 1983.

“The Mercy Ministries program is voluntary and Christ-centered, and lasts about six months. It includes biblically-based counseling and teaching, and life-skills training on nutrition and fitness, budgeting, and job preparation. Transitional care services for graduates include housing assistance, transportation, job placement, and school application.”

Fogt said the residential program serves a diverse population of young women from various socio-economic backgrounds.

Fogt said, “We are committed to providing the young women we serve with the most excellent program services that allow them to recognize their self-worth and prepare them to reach their full potential. Our non-conventional approach to healing allows young women to permanently stop destructive cycles and prepares them to take hope out into their communities.”

In addition to St. Louis and Sacramento, Mercy Ministries of America has residential homes in Monroe, Louisiana, and Nashville, Tennessee. Mercy Ministries has global affiliates in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Canada. For more information, visit www.mercyministries.org.

Fogt said, “Mercy Ministries only accepts applicants who clearly understand our Christian emphasis and specifically seek out our help and assistance. Furthermore, Mercy Ministries’ residents are always free to leave the program at any time.”

Fogt said founder Nancy Alcorn spent five years as the athletic director at a Tennessee correctional facility for female juvenile delinquents. Then she spent the next three years of her life as a supervisor of foster care in Nashville.

“While working at these government run facilities,” said Fogt, “Alcorn realized the girls that were involved in drug use, prostitution, abuse and crime would return to their destructive lifestyles as soon as they were released from custody. Time and time again, she saw the same girls coming back to the correctional facilities with the same charges they had previously faced. Nancy knew that only Jesus could bring restoration into the lives of these girls who were so desperately hurting. God was calling her to step out and do something to help these women in need. In 1983, a friend convinced her to move to Monroe, Louisiana. She was struck by the number of kids in need there and the lack of resources to help them, so she bought a small home and began what she hoped would be an alternative to secular treatment.”

Fogt said Alcorn resides in Nashville, Tennessee, the home of Mercy Ministries international corporate offices.

At Mercy Ministries, volunteers come in three categories. Fogt said home volunteers help with things such as answering phones, maintaining the library, tutoring, and monitoring snacks. Volunteers at corporate headquarters help with things like assembling literature and resource packaging, various administrative tasks, and on-line research.

“We also have interns who receive school credit for their volunteer work,” said Fogt. “Mercy Ministries has artist partners, business partners, and ministry partners. The number of volunteers varies depending on the specific needs at the time.”

Fogt addressed the topic of counselor-certification at Mercy Ministries.

“Necessary qualifications vary by position and by country,” she said, “but all of Mercy Ministries of America professional staff have bachelor’s degrees, with many positions requiring additional degrees and certifications. Counselors at Mercy Ministries of America are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university in social work, psychology, counseling or a related field. Mercy Ministries of America counselors meet or exceed state licensing requirements, and the majority of counselors have master’s degrees.”

In addition to four existing homes around the country, Fogt said Mercy Ministries is raising money to build homes on land in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Destin, Florida.

Any new properties will not likely remain empty for long. Fogt said, “At any given time, we average more than 750 girls on our waiting list in America.”

Private Concert with Austins Bridge

1Last week, Nashville residents, staff, and guests were so excited to get to enjoy the music of the new up and coming Southern Gospel group, Austins Bridge, who came out to sing and lead worship at Mercy Ministries. Made up of three young men, Justin Rivers, Toby Hitchcock and Jason Baird, the male trio shared personal stories from their own lives about how God’s mercy is always there to carry us through whatever situations and circumstances we may be going through. This is one of the reasons why their music and lyrics so connect with the heart and vision of Mercy Ministries.

In fact, Austins Bridge just released a new song about mercy that offers a great description of Christ’s unconditional love, which is taught and exemplified inside all of the Mercy Ministries homes. We are excited to team up with these passionate young men, who will also be joining Mercy Ministries at our official dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for our new Sacramento home on Saturday, November 7th. For more information, click here.

Austins Bridge offers an awesome mixture of eclectic sound and heartfelt ministry that truly uplifted and encouraged our residents and staff. We look forward to enjoying their music again in California at our Grand Opening! Here is what some of the girls had to say:

Beth said, “I really related to when Toby talked about hitting rock bottom before making a change…realizing ‘this isn’t me.’ He said, “It’s okay to struggle in life because that’s how we learn, but God and His mercy will never leave you.’ I really like the chorus of the last song about God’s mercy – ‘When feeling hopeless, abandoned or lost, Mercy pleads your case before the cross.’”

Ashleigh said, “I thought they were amazing. I really liked the stories they each told and especially the last song about mercy – how God’s mercy doesn’t leave you no matter what! I really like their music.”

Hannah said, “I loved the music. Their stories were encouraging, and I felt God as they sang. I’m really glad they came.”

Meagan said, “What an incredible, fun group with so many moving songs and stories. I really liked the song that says ‘There is a God.’ As we look around, how can we not see all He’s given and done for us? Also, the stories they told really touched my heart. I want to have that child-like heart, spirit and vulnerability!”


To learn more about Austins Bridge visit their website at www.austinsbridge.com.

Check out this video of their visit at the Nashville home.


Incredible Weekend at Nashville’s Run for Mercy 5K!

Current Nashville residents -“Team Nashville Mercy Girls” - joined over 400 other participants at the starting line on Saturday morning for the first Nashville Run for Mercy 5K and Family Walk at Edwin Warner Park. A total of 436 runners and walkers gathered, along with friends, family, and volunteers, to help raise support and awareness for the work of Mercy Ministries – and they raised a total of $30,000!

As a way to say thank you for their support, participants received a “race-day bag” that included a Mercy bracelet, a Run for Mercy shirt, Francesca Battistelli and Mark Shultz albums, coupons for local restaurants and more!

Taylor Walthall, this year’s top female finisher had this to say about race day:

“It was exciting to have finished first, but the real excitement was seeing how many people turned out to support Mercy. I loved hearing the testimonies of God’s hand at work transforming lives.”

Here is what a few of the residents had to say about the encouragement they received during this event:

Hannah said, “The Mercy 5K was such a humbling experience. To see all those people spending their Saturday to support us has greatly touched my heart. The whole experience was a huge blessings and I will never forget it.”

Kayla said, “I love to run and really enjoyed the race. It was especially touching that people cheered us on from the sidelines! I also like how there were activities provided for the little kids to participate in.”

Beth said, “This was an amazing experience for me! I learned how much I can accomplish when working towards a goal. I never would have imagined finishing a 5K before being at Mercy.”

Many people are committing their resources and time to support the work of Mercy Ministries as runners, sponsors, and volunteers at our Run for Mercy events across the U.S. We would like to thank all our volunteers including special guest artist, David Ask, for the awesome music and for emceeing this event. A big thanks to Hannah Messinger for donating her photography services on race day. Visit Hannah’s website, www.thephotomessinger.net to purchase photos of this year’s run. All the proceeds will go to Mercy Ministries.

There are still opportunities to support Mercy Ministries at a Run for Mercy near you. Register online at www.runformercy.org by joining an existing team, forming a new team, or participating as an individual runner.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mercy Ministries' First West Coast Home Grand Opening

Sacramento’s Buzz Oates Charitable Foundation Makes 40-Resident California Home for Troubled Girls a Reality

Press Release
Source: Buzz Oates Charitable Foundation
On 1:51 pm EDT, Tuesday October 27, 2009

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Thanks to the lead gift and operational support of the Buzz Oates Charitable Foundation, combined with primary donations from the Stewards Foundation and the Frank Ramos Family and the efforts and contributions of many other businesses and individuals, Mercy Ministries of America today announced the Grand Opening of its first West Coast home, located at 1896 McClain Drive, Lincoln, California. This approximately $6 million, 40-resident facility, just north of Sacramento, will begin accepting residents in October 2009 and will celebrate with a public Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on November 7th at 5pm and an Open House November 8th from 2pm until 6pm.

Nashville, Tenn.-based Mercy Ministries of America is a Christian residential counseling program that serves girls and young women, ages 13-28, who face a combination of life-controlling issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, addictions, depression, eating disorders and unplanned pregnancies. Since 1983, Mercy Ministries’ free-of-charge program has served more than 2,000 girls and young women with its combination of best-practice clinical interventions and faith-based counseling.

The Sacramento-area home will be Mercy Ministries’ fourth home in the United States, but first on the West Coast—a fact that Mercy Ministries’ founder and president Nancy Alcorn says is important. “So many girls from California have sought our help over the years, but they have always had to travel across the country to find a Mercy Ministries facility. Before the construction of the California home, Mercy Ministries in St. Louis was our closest home to California. Now we will truly be able to serve girls from the West Coast in their own backyard,” Alcorn said. “I am so grateful to Buzz Oates, a generous man with a huge heart, and his foundation, The Buzz Oates Charitable Foundation, for giving such a large gift to make this home for hurting young women possible.”

The Buzz Oates Charitable Foundation—a Sacramento-area non-profit focused on faith-based initiatives—became acquainted with Mercy Ministries after its namesake, entrepreneur and businessman Buzz Oates, expressed a desire to fund a home for women with unplanned pregnancies.

Kathy Fairrington, Oates’ daughter and a Foundation board member, eventually spearheaded the project. Fairrington said: “It made sense for us to partner with an organization that had the specific passion and expertise of Mercy Ministries. After spending time getting to know Nancy Alcorn and touring the ministry’s Nashville operations, it became clear we were on the right track with an organization that would connect with my father’s goals and honor his vision through its operations.”

Oates added, “This project’s completion has been a dream of mine. I’m excited to be part of the Mercy Ministries organization and grateful for Kathy’s careful oversight. This home for troubled girls and young women also wouldn’t have been possible without the support and contributions of numerous friends and business partners.”

Mercy Ministries’ six-month residential counseling program has always been free-of-charge and incorporates Christian principles with best-practice clinical interventions like individual and group counseling and on-site nutritionists. In a recent independent survey of former residents, over 93 percent of respondents said Mercy Ministries transformed their life and restored their hope, which is Mercy Ministries’ key objective.

Mercy Ministries of America currently has homes in Monroe, La.; Nashville, Tenn.; and St. Louis, Mo. Mercy Ministries has global affiliates in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and Peru. For more information about the Grand Opening Events or Mercy Ministries, visit http://www.mercyministries.org/. To schedule an interview with a Mercy Ministries’ representative or obtain a press pass for the Grand Opening events contact Christy Singleton at (615) 467-0528, or via email at csingleton@mercyministries.com.

The Buzz Oates Charitable Foundation is dedicated to supporting community faith-based organizations like Mercy Ministries. Its founder, Marvin “Buzz” Oates, is Chairman Emeritus of The Buzz Oates Group of Companies, a fully integrated commercial real estate development company located in Sacramento, Calif., which offers a single point of contact for a full range of construction, real estate and property management services. For more information, visit http://www.buzzoates.com/. For media interviews, contact Shelley Christopher at (916) 379-3817, or via email at shelleychristopher@buzzoates.com

Monday, October 26, 2009

Special Visit from Peru Pastor, Robert Barriger

Pastor Robert Barriger, and his wife Karyn, have been faithful friends and supporters of Mercy Ministries for many years. As the founder of the largest church in Lima, Peru, Camino de Vida (Way of Life Church), Pastor Barriger has spent over 26 years starting ministries including churches, orphanages, children’s ministries, wheelchair distribution centers, medical ministies, and battered women’s homes throughout the country. Having experienced the heartache of having a daughter who battled an eating disorder, Pastor Barriger has a special place in his heart for hurting young women. In fact, his daughter Jenna is a graduate of Mercy Ministries in Australia, and their family first learned of Mercy when they were searching for help for Jenna. Today Jenna is happily married with her first child, and she and her husband are youth pastors. Pastors Robert and Karyn have such a passion for Mercy Ministries that they are helping spearhead Mercy’s first Spanish speaking home in Peru.

Our Nashville residents enjoyed welcoming Pastor Barriger as our special guest on Tuesday. He was in town speaking at a conference and made time to come by and spend time with the Mercy girls. The girls absolutely loved hearing his amazing message about believing there is justice in an unfair world. He asked the residents the question, “Is God just?” and challenged them to know God as the Creator who can take something unfair and make it brand new.


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Pastor Barriger is an awesome and passionate teacher of the Word of God, and has dedicated his life to helping people in need find the mercy of Christ. Here is what a few of our residents had to say about his visit:

Maddye said, “I was reminded that God is a right God in a wrong world. God is not the problem. He’s the answer. I’m asking God to heal my heart and make it clean and whole.”

Gina said, “I loved Dr. Barriger’s openness and honesty. There is a beautiful future ahead of me after my trials. I want to allow God to heal the hurt inside and know that He is fair and just.”

Jessica said, “I loved it when he said that we serve a Creator that can restore the things we have destroyed. That is such a cool image and I have never heard it put that way before.”

To learn more about Pastor Robert and Karyn Barriger or Camino de Vida Church visit their website, www.caminodevida.com.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Nashville Residents Spend a Day at the Farm!

This past weekend, Mercy Ministries Nashville residents had the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful fall weather at Tommy and Phyllis Pardues’ property for their annual “Farm Day.” For the past 9 years, the Pardues have generously opened their beautiful land to the Mercy girls for this fun-filled day that includes pumpkin carving, archery, trap shooting, fishing and more!

One of the most loved pastimes of this day-long trip is the evening bonfire where everyone gathers to sing and share over marshmallow roasting and s’mores. Our staff and residents were so thankful for all the expressions of love demonstrated by the Farm Day volunteers who cooked and served lunch and dinner and who helped coordinate all the various activities.

We are so grateful to Tommy and Phyllis Pardue for their incredible generosity in sharing their beautiful property with the residents of Mercy Ministries over the years and providing a fun fall experience. The girls always look forward to Farm Day. Here is what a few of the girls had to say about their day at the farm:

Ainsley said, “Farm Day was so much fun and a real blessing for all of us. It was a great experience to worship our Father and feel His presence around the bonfire. God really spoke to me through the kindness of the volunteers.”

Amber said, “I felt so free and alive at the farm. The Pardues were so nice and loving. I won’t ever forget it.”

Bobbie said, “I got to shoot a bow and arrow for the first time. That was so cool! From carving pumpkins to the huge bonfire, the entire day was a lot of fun.”

Meagan said, “What a great way to start my first weekend at Mercy. Christ’s love was definitely reflected through all the volunteers who came out to love on us. I felt special and I’m so grateful for the fun time I had!”



Thursday, October 22, 2009

Special Message from a Current Resident!

We thought you might like to hear from a current resident in one of our U.S. homes. Rachael has been in the program for about 4 months and will be graduating soon. Rachael's mom contacted us about six months ago asking us to pray for her daughter who was strung out on drugs and living on the street somewhere - her heart was broken because she really didn't even know where her daughter was and hadn't heard from her for months. She also said she wanted to know how to "Sponsor a Mercy Girl" by becoming a monthly partner with the ministry as a way to sow a seed toward seeing her own daughter set free from drug abuse and turn her life around. We joined with Rachael's mom in prayer for her daughter, and just a few weeks later, I was able to sit down and meet Rachael face-to-face before she came into the program. I wanted you to see what Rachael had to say about her own experience and what she's learned since being here at Mercy.

"I hadn't spoken with my mom for a few months, and I remember getting a call from my mom saying, "Rachael, there's this woman I want you to meet." I remember telling her that I was not going back to rehab and my mom told me, "Rachael, this is not about you going to rehab. I wrote a letter to this woman, and God only knows how many letters she gets across her desk everyday, but she responded to me and said that she would like to meet you. She's going to be in Monroe on May 18th - will you please meet her?" I told her that I would, and I remember my cousin dropping me off that day to meet Nancy. As I sat with Nancy and two other women, they prayed for me and spoke truth to me. I started crying because Nancy was just so real with me, and I knew that this was the only truth I had heard over the last eight months of my life. Nancy told me that they had a place for me if I wanted help, but that it was my choice. She met me at my level and was just so real to me.

I had been to another rehab before for a year that was Christian-based, and I was determined to not have religion shoved down my throat. So for Nancy to say that she didn't want to just give me religion, but give me truth, that's when I knew I was supposed to come to Mercy. I have learned since being here through the staff speaking truth into my life that what I read from God's Word is direct truth. I don't have to be recovering for the rest of my life, but I'm already recovered - I've been set free and now it's about fighting from that point. I've also learned the basics of how to eat right and live a healthy balanced life. I was a competitive gymnast, so I've learned a lot about how to live a healthy life, which is something I never took advantage of and lost throughout my drug use and lack of maturity.

God has been so real and so faithful to speak to me each and every day. He has shown me that what I have gone through is going to be put to good use. The pain and suffering that I experienced is going to be put to good use. What the enemy meant to use to conquer me, God is turning it around for something great, and I don't know what that is but I'm excited!"


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dr. Robb and Linda Thompson Visit Nashville Home

This week, the Nashville staff and residents were happy to host Dr. Robb and Linda Thompson, senior pastors of Family Harvest Church in Tinley Park, Illinois as special guests. During their visit, Dr. Thompson introduced one of his assistants, Jennifer, who is a 2007 graduate of Mercy Ministries!
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Thompson, founder and president of Family Harvest International, a network of Christian congregations in several countries, is known for his leadership strategies and principals on success in the workplace and in life. He travels the globe teaching ministry leaders, training business executives, and mentoring government leaders about excellence and character development. Thompson is the author of several books including “The Endless Pursuit of Excellence” and “Everyday Ways to Enjoy Success at Work.” He clearly wears many hats while maintaining a genuine passion for sharing his powerful personal testimony of transformation through Christ.

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Dr. Thompson's assistants, Chelsea and
Jennifer, a 2007 Mercy graduate

We would like to personally thank Robb and Linda Thompson for taking time out of their busy schedule to spend a couple of days sharing with our girls and staff. Here is what a few of the residents had to say about what they learned during their visit:

Caitlin said, “One of his messages reminded me to keep watch over where I am focusing my heart and my mind because whoever can control my emotions has control over my life, so I have to make sure it is God who has my focus.”

Michelle said, “Dr. Thompson spoke about how God will not only save us, but will be our King. I plan to make Jesus the Lord over my life."

Jessica said, “God sent him at just the right time for me with just the right message. I learned how powerful the Word of God is. I am going to look for truth and immerse myself in God’s Word.”


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For more information about Dr. Robb and Linda Thompson and Family Harvest Church, visit their websites at www.familyharvestchurch.org and www.robbthompson.com.



Monday, October 19, 2009

Nashville and St. Louis Graduates Share Their Stories of Freedom

Last week at the Mercy Ministries Nashville and St. Louis homes, staff, residents, family and friends celebrated as six young women graduated from the program with their lives transformed and their hope for the future restored. Here are their stories:


Nashville

Brandi

2An abusive childhood left scars deep inside me that skewed my perception of who I was and what I could accomplish. After a failed marriage, I was left alone to be a single parent at a very young age, and eventually my finances were left in ruins. With the combination of depression and drug and alcohol abuse, I knew that I would literally not survive another year without help. I remembered an old news story that I had read about Joyce Meyer teaming up with Mercy Ministries and decided to check out the program. I’m so glad I did.

In the past six months of being at Mercy, the wounds of my childhood have been healed and I have learned true forgiveness. I now know I am accepted and loved by my Creator and Savior! Accepting my past and forgiving people for what happened in the past has totally transformed me.

In the future, I plan to pursue a degree in social work and counseling. I want to be equipped for the mission field and ultimately, explore foreign missions. I will always stay involved with Mercy Ministries every chance I get.


Jelsa

5My life before Mercy was a desperate situation, and I made all my decisions from a very legalistic perspective. I decided to apply to Mercy after my small group leader shared with me her experiences while working in the St. Louis home. I was tired of living in desperation and wanted to be free from my past.

At Mercy, God has totally transformed me. I now realize that I have a Father who loves me and His name is God Almighty. I have been called, not as a servant, but as a daughter of the Most High God, and nothing I have done or ever will do could ever separate me from His love.

After graduation, it is my desire to pursue a degree in youth ministry at Christ for the Nations in Dallas, TX. I now have abundant hope for my future!


Brandy

3As a child, I was raised around the ‘party’ scene and I often felt rejected and left out by my family. I felt so unloved. I was desperate for my mom to want to be around me more. As a result of these negative emotions, drug addiction, promiscuity and cutting ensued and I kept falling into a deeper depression. I was desperate for something, but I didn’t know where to turn. A friend from church told my mom about Mercy, and we decided I should send in my application.

When I came to Mercy, I had an identity crisis, but during this precious time in my life, God has totally redefined my understanding of who I am. I have a hope and a future and now I am excited to live my life. My life is not my own and that is such a relief!

After Mercy, I plan to go on several mission trips so I can begin making connections with other people who want to do ministry work. I also have a heart for ministering to children.



St. Louis

Michaela

6I grew up in an abusive home where everyone kept secrets. In high school, I joined the cross-country team in order to escape my chaotic family life, but my involvement in sports led to a 7 year eating disorder and an addiction to exercise. I desperately wanted control over what seemed to be a crashing world around me, but instead I started self-harming. I was on a downward spiral. After a failed suicide attempt, I knew that I needed help but my insurance company would not help me pay for treatment. I’m now so thankful that I discovered Mercy Ministries online and found a place that could give me the real help that I needed at no charge.

During my time at Mercy, I discovered who I am in Christ and not just what a hospital wristband labeled me as. I realize now that my body was created to be healthy so it can be used for God’s Kingdom. Every day is a journey, but I’m discovering the importance of submission to God’s authority. I’m now free to forgive all the those who hurt me in the past, and most importantly, I have forgiven myself.

After graduation, I plan to attend the University of Kansas in the fall and pursue a degree in music therapy and ethnomusicology. My dreams include traveling abroad and working with troubled youth and orphans, using music to introduce them to Jesus.


Amanda

1Before Mercy, I experienced the painful reality of sexual abuse and lost the desire to live. Between my obsession with being perfect and hating myself for failing at it, I was tormented inside. Eventually, I felt trapped inside my own mind and began struggling with an eating disorder and self-harm. My mother new I was depressed and she heard Nancy Alcorn share about Mercy on KLOVE radio. I knew I had no other options so I applied.

While at Mercy, God has shown me that nothing is too big to be forgiven. I am loved and accepted for who I am, and I’ve been healed and transformed! He gave me my identity. I am a daughter of God. My experience at Mercy, although hard, was so so worth it!

After Mercy, I want to take the steps necessary to work in the mission field and share the love of Christ wherever I go. Now, I’m confident that God has plans to prosper me and not to harm me and to give me a hope and a future.


Cortney

4Before I came to Mercy, I was trying to medicate the pain I felt inside in every possible way. After surviving a dysfunctional childhood and breaking off a co-dependent relationship, I didn’t want to feel the pain anymore or even deal with it. An eating disorder, self-harm, marijuana and alcohol addiction, and prescription drug abuse seemed the only way to deal with my negative self-image. I was so miserable that if there wasn’t a way out, I didn’t want to be alive anymore. Seeking God seemed like my only hope so I went on a mission trip and met a Mercy graduate who encouraged me to apply.

At Mercy, I’ve learned that there is no shame in confessing my sin – there is actually great freedom instead! I have allowed God to come in and heal every part of me. I had to face a lot of emotions and hurt head on, but once they came to the surface, God moved in. I learned to get honest with God and myself, and I will never be the same.

Once I graduate from Mercy, I would like to pursue a degree in Psychology, specializing in Christian counseling. I’m really excited about the future!


Congratulations girls! We are so proud of you and can’t wait to see what God has in store for you!!




Friday, October 16, 2009

Run for Mercy 5K in California and St. Louis

Team Mercy in California

Our new Mercy Ministries Lincoln, CA home welcomed its third annual Run for Mercy 5K team last Saturday, October 10. There were 350 participants, including several local Mercy graduates, who worked their way through the Sacramento area race in order to raise awareness and support for the work of Mercy Ministries. Mercy girls from the brand new Lincoln home cheered the runners to victory. A very excited Mercy graduate, Noelle, received an award for placing first among the women, and graduate Lauren Edwards, who also participated in the race, shared her testimony with the crowd after the race. This year, Team Mercy in California raised a total of $20,000!

One participant, Ryan Wallace, said, “It was really fun to be out there running for such a great cause like Mercy Ministries. I was excited to come in 8th place this year and even more excited to see that there are girls living here in the California home now!”




Team Mercy in St. Louis

Halfway across the country, 250 participants laced up their shoes on Saturday for Run for Mercy in St. Louis. Team Mercy in St. Louis raised a total of $24,000, and the top fund raising teams were Faith That Works, a women's ministry out of St. Louis dedicated to putting faith into action, and Team Revolution from Revolution Worship Center.

This year’s first place runner, Gene Hall, said, “It was especially inspiring to have the Mercy girls out on the course providing encouragement to all the participants throughout the race and was very much appreciated on the up hill!”

Race day fans and their families also enjoyed fun prizes, snacks for the kids, arts & crafts, balloon animals and tricycle racing.


Here is what a few of the residents had to say about this year’s race:

Emily said, “It was so amazing to see the wonderful support of people willing to donate money and run to benefit us. I am so grateful to the incredible community of people that care for this ministry and show us God’s unconditional love through their enthusiasm and passion for girls finding freedom.”

Lindsay said, “It blows me away to witness such compassion and love towards Mercy Ministries. For someone to take time to raise support and then participate as a runner proves to me how much favor and blessing God continues to pour into the lives the hurting!”

Lauren said, “The 5K was so much fun for all the Mercy girls! Its incredible how many generous people contribute to Mercy. It made me feel so good to be able to stand on the sidelines to cheer them on as they ran.”


Mercy Ministries would like to thank not only our runners, but also the sponsors and many volunteers and staff that worked tirelessly to make these events successful. There are still opportunities to support Mercy Ministries at a Run for Mercy near you. Register online at www.runformercy.org by joining an existing team, forming a new team or participating as an individual runner.



Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dr. Neil Anderson Leads Nashville Residents through Steps to Freedom

2Founder of Freedom in Christ Ministries, Dr. Neil Anderson has 20 years of pastoral and teaching experience and conducts seminars on Christ-centered counseling all over the world. Mercy Ministries has used many of Dr. Anderson’s books and resources for years including “Victory Over the Darkness,” “Bondage Breaker,” and “Freedom in Christ” to guide residents through practical steps to freedom from life controlling issues. Dr. Anderson maintains a very busy schedule, yet still managed to devote three days last week to our Nashville residents and staff teaching them how to overcome their pasts, and obtain lasting freedom in Christ. Dr. Anderson explained that by choosing Biblical truth over our emotions and thoughts, we can be freed from the burdens of our past and live victoriously.

The vision of Freedom in Christ Ministries is to help people resolve their personal and spiritual conflicts and find their freedom in Christ. We are so amazed at how God continues to provide personal ministry opportunities and dynamic teaching through incredible ministry leaders like Dr. Neil Anderson. The residents were deeply impacted and had this to say about Dr. Anderson’s generous time in our Nashville home:

Maddye said, “I learned that what I do does not determine who I am. Who I am determines what I do. If I am with Christ, I have nothing and no one to fear because I have God on my side.”

Nicole said, “Dr. Anderson explained that God’s compassion is intertwined with everything He does. I desire to have a true knowledge of who God is.”

Bobbie said, “Before coming to Mercy, I didn’t even know what a stronghold was, so I appreciate him explaining all of this slowly and with supporting examples. I realize now that God doesn’t want to bypass my mind. He wants me to focus my mind on Him.”

Jessica said, “I plan to stay in the Word, make a plan of action when temptation comes, pray continuously and make the choice to have faith. I can already tell that God is going to use what I have learned to transform me.”


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To learn more about Dr. Neil Anderson or Freedom in Life Ministries, visit their website www.ficm.org.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pastor Jim Laffoon Visits Mercy Ministries

Pastor Jim Laffoon, teaching pastor of King’s Park International Church in Durham, NC, was invited to the Mercy Ministries St. Louis home this week to encourage residents and staff. A published author of children’s books and a devotional called “Our Daily Blog,” Pastor Laffoon loves to use Bible characters and their stories to encourage growth in our modern day walk with God. He also has a father’s heart towards the Mercy girls and loves sharing God’s love with Mercy girls every opportunity he has.

During his time with the residents, Pastor Jim offered a timely message about why we experience pain and a broken heart. He explained that behind every hurt there is a lie and we often choose to believe we are broken beyond repair, but the truth is that believers can be healed by walking in the healthy patterns laid out in the Bible. Each girl was encouraged in a personal way to continue on her journey of healing during her time at Mercy Ministries.

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Here is what a few of the residents had to say about his teaching:

Brye said, “No matter what’s been broken in me, God can repair it. I used to see myself as damaged goods, but God has changed me.”

Emily said, “Pastor Laffoon blessed us so much. His insight about God’s true heart towards the wounded gave me so much hope. He communicated the Father’s love so clearly that it was tangible. It was amazing to see God through his teaching!”

Lindsee said, “My favorite part of his message is when he explained that God allows us to face suffering because life is not about us. My pain is going to be used to help others for God’s greatest purpose in my life. It was an amazing message.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Charlotte Scanlon-Gambill Shares a Message of Freedom in St. Louis

2Over the years, Nancy Alcorn, founder of Mercy Ministries, has developed a very dear friendship and sisterhood with Senior Associate Pastor Charlotte Scanlon-Gambill of Abundant Life Church in Bradford England. They have spoken at conferences together around the world and Charlotte has come alongside to help birth and support Mercy in the UK. This past Wednesday, Mercy Ministries St. Louis residents and staff were honored to host Charlotte as their special guest and they found her humor and enthusiasm to be infectious!

Charlotte is also the director of the Cherish Foundation that seeks to help children and adults with neurological conditions, diseases, and injuries. She has also authored several books including her most recent book, In Her Shoes, which challenges readers to explore what life would be like if they exchanged shoes with the hurting, lost or orphaned people of this world.

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Charlotte is passionate about reaching the hurting and broken and equipping people to minister to those in need. She encouraged the Mercy girls to find true freedom through loving others and connecting with the reason we are on this planet. She asked the residents this question, “What are you allowing to lead your life?” Emphasizing that loving others as you love yourself is an act of freedom, she explained that a free spirit is incompatible with selfishness.

Charlotte also spent some time encouraging the St. Louis staff and challenging them to be a “whistle blower” in their personal and professional lives by learning their limits and making time to rest. A very special thanks to Charlotte, who travels the world, for taking time to stop by and impart Godly wisdom to our girls and staff.

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Charlotte pictured with Mercy Ministries St. Louis staff


Here is what a few of the girls had to say about Charlotte’s visit.

Lydia said, “It was amazing to hear from her. God amazed me with His challenge to walk in freedom. He calls all of us to let Him guide our lives. Charlotte has impacted my life to truly seek after freedom only found in walking with the Holy Spirit.”

Sydnie said, “The Holy Spirit enables me to live life free from chains of emotions and feelings. I’m so glad Charlotte came and talked with us. It was great!”

Lindsay said, “Charlotte has such passion and understanding for the things of God that captivate my attention every time! What an amazing example she is!”

Mandie said, “I’m choosing freedom during my last month at Mercy and I will continue to choose freedom after I graduate. God is truly working in my life!”


To learn more about Charlotte Scanlon-Gambill, visit her website at www.charlottegambill.com. To learn more about Abundant Life Church, visit their website at www.alm.org.uk.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Amazing Weekend at Designed for Life Women’s Conference

This past weekend, Mercy Ministries Founder and President, Nancy Alcorn, was invited to speak at the annual Designed for Life women’s conference hosted by Debbie Lindell, co-pastor with her husband John of James River Assembly in Springfield, MO. The theme of the conference was SO LOVED and the 2,200 women in attendance were challenged to realize how much God loves them and what an impact they can have on the world by sharing God’s unconditional love with others. Nancy was joined by fellow guest speakers Charlotte Scanlon-Gambill, Associate Pastor at Abundant Life Church in Bradford, England and Lisa Bevere, accomplished author and speaker from Colorado Springs, CO.

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Conference host Debbie Lindell and her team graciously invited the Mercy Ministries St. Louis girls to be their special guests. Not only did they allow the girls to come free of charge, but they lavished gifts on them by creating an entire store of pajamas and toiletries for the girls to go shopping and pick out brand new things!! Every resident had the opportunity to pick out 5 items – 2 pairs of pajamas, as well as socks, slippers, robes, and bath products! The residents were entertained when Debbie modeled one of the robes for them. Here is what Nancy Alcorn had to say about this church’s overwhelming generosity:

It is always special when God bonds people together for His purposes, and I certainly felt that bond with conference host Debbie Lindell – what an amazing woman she is!!

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The James River worship band was joined by musical guests Shane and Shane to lead worship. In addition to the heartfelt prayer and ministry, the St. Louis residents were moved by the great love and hospitality they experienced.

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Nancy Alcorn and Lisa Bevere pictured with the St. Louis Mercy Girls!

Nancy Alcorn also had the opportunity to speak at James River Assembly’s three Sunday morning services at their Wilsons Creek Campus. Mercy Ministries is so excited about connecting with this awesome church and is looking forward to our next visit!

Here is what some of the residents had to say about this special weekend:

Teresa said, “I was overwhelmed with so many blessings and undeserved grace. God keeps showing me He has me right where He wants me and keeps pouring out His love on me.”

Katie said, “The Conference was so cool! The speakers were amazing and I got so much out of each one of the teachings!”

Cortney said, “I feel so blessed to have been there. The treatment we received from the James River staff made me feel like royalty! I loved it!”


To learn more about James River Assembly, visit their website at www.jamesriver.org.

Check out this slideshow of pictures to view this life-changing weekend!



Friday, October 2, 2009

Three More Lives Transformed!

St. Louis staff and residents gathered with the families and friends of three more incredible young women as they graduated from Mercy Ministries in St. Louis. These young ladies made the decision to stop destructive cycles in their lives and embrace freedom through Christ. Check out their amazing stories!



Elizabeth

1My life before Mercy was full of physical abuse, depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. At the age of 12, I developed an eating disorder, and at the peak of my hopelessness, I turned to drugs and alcohol. A friend and Mercy graduate told me about her experience at Mercy Ministries, and I decided to apply because I knew that God wanted more for me and my family.

While at Mercy, I learned about the incredible power of our choices. Most importantly, I learned that I have a choice! I can choose to be obedient to God and live in the freedom that Jesus died to give me.

After graduation, I plan to get involved with my church’s praise and worship team, and I want to help others find freedom and hope through Jesus. I’m looking forward to all God has in store for me!



Emily

2For as long as I can remember, I was in a state of depression and anxiety. I never felt any relief from regret and inner turmoil. Growing up, I was physically, sexually and emotionally abused. My father unexpectedly died of a massive heart attack and at age 17, I attempted suicide with alcohol and this only led to more alcohol abuse. During the darkest days of my addiction, I would mix alcohol with sleeping pills, prescription drugs, marijuana or cocaine. I also questioned my sexuality and struggled with a homosexual relationship. Eventually, my life spun completely out of control, and I began to develop an eating disorder to gain a sense of power. I dropped out of college, hit rock bottom, and truly lost my will to live. Finally, after hearing Nancy Alcorn speak at my church, I realized that I needed help and Mercy was my last hope for change.

During my time at Mercy, God stripped me of my pride, contempt, fear and rebellion. I was forced to face myself and acknowledge the pain that I had caused to others as well as what had been done to me. I found that it was in this place of total helplessness that I was able to experience God’s grace to its fullest and eventually, God gave me the ability to forgive others for their mistakes. I now experience total rest in the presence of my Savior. I have hope, vision and life, and God has healed my broken heart. I am so overwhelmed by His unfailing love.

After Mercy, I will be serving and volunteering at my home church. I would eventually like to return to school and pursue a degree in Psychology or Religious Studies. I am so excited to see where God takes me in the months and years ahead.



Rebekah

3Before coming to Mercy, my family life was an emotional wreck. I remember my parents fighting, and their emotions being explosive. I was molested at the age of 3 and raped when I was 13 years old. I felt like I was wearing a neon sign that said “use me.” I developed an eating disorder and began cutting. This eventually led to drug abuse and I repeatedly overdosed. During my fifth overdose, my heart stopped for about 10 seconds. Most people would say “that scared me to death,” but for me it’s more like “that scared me to life.” I was out of control and I really didn’t want to die. My mom told me about Mercy and I followed through with the application process knowing I needed help.

At Mercy, I’ve learned that there is not a sign singling me out for abuse, but in everything, God was there with me even if I didn’t hear Him or feel Him. Every time I fell, I thought I was picking myself back up but I wasn’t...He was. My experience at Mercy wasn’t easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have peace for the first time and I’m finally free.

After graduation, I plan to go home and spend time with my family full of the joy I have received. I’m going to seek God as to more long term plans, but for right now, I’m content and I’m looking forward to enjoying my family.




Congratulations, Elizabeth, Rebekah and Emily! We are so proud of each of you for having the courage to put your lives on hold and get to the root of your issues so that you can move forward with lasting freedom and hope for your future. We can’t wait to see what God has in store for you!




'Run for Mercy' exceeds goals

Event funds home that helps girls

By Harriet Vaughan • THE TENNESSEAN • October 2, 2009

FRANKLIN — The countdown has begun for Mercy Ministries inaugural Run for Mercy fundraising race.

Planners hope that the first-time event will raise big money for the faith-based Brentwood home that helps girls escaping drug addictions, abuse, low self esteem, self harming, eating disorders, depression and more.

The race will start at 9:00 a.m. Oct. 24 at Edwin Warner Park.

Planning for the race has been several months in the works. Organizers had hoped to attract 200 runners. Three weeks out they already have 220 people registered with more coming in. They also have passed the original fundraising goal, bringing in $15,000 so far.

One of the teams registered is of a group of girls who live at the Mercy home.

"It really shows how much of an impact Mercy has made on them, that they would make that choice," said Whitney Nall, community relations manager.

"They started in September working out and training for this. They're working with the fitness manager each week on this goal. It's been a neat way for them to just encourage each other and work together and celebrate the journey they've been on here at Mercy. And they're giving back to Mercy so that funds can keep coming in and so others can receive the help that they have."

The event will offer something for the entire family, including the youngest runners. There will be a Kids Carnival zone featuring face painting, free smoothies, Chik-fil-A, three-legged races and more.

"Most of our events in the past have been for adults. This is one of our first major family-friendly events. We're excited that kids of all ages can come out and do something fun and healthy in the fall," said Nall.

It's all for a good cause, according to Nall. The home has helped hundreds of girls over the years come out of addictions, overcome abuse and learn to love themselves through a faith-based approach.

To learn more and to register, visit www.runformercy.org/nashville or call 615-831-6987.


Contact Harriet Vaughan at 615-771-5415 or hvaughan@tennessean.com.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

History Made in California Today – Mercy Ministries Opens First West Coast Home!

Today, October 1, 2009, is definitely a day of history and another huge milestone in the Mercy journey of 26 plus years. The doors of Mercy Ministries in California opened today and have officially taken in the first four girls. Pictured below is the very first girl walking in – a young woman named Beth.

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First West Coast resident, Beth, arrives at Mercy Ministries in Lincoln!

No doubt that lives will be completely transformed, and we cannot wait for the very first graduation to see her graduate from the program. This home is so beautiful, and we will now be able to take in 40 more girls off our waiting list and approximately 100 more girls each year. We give all the praise to God for His provision and all the thanks to our supporters who have given so sacrificially to make this possible. A special thanks to Buzz Oates for giving us the land and providing the huge financial resources to build the building.

Our team there is amazing, and our staff is led by our Lincoln Program Director, Cheryl Bangs.

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Our awesome California team!

We have a great group out there already, and our leadership team has been very busy over the last few weeks training them for such a time as this. This home is located in Lincoln, California just outside of Sacramento. We are so thrilled as we open our first West Coast home!

When we opened the St. Louis home five years ago, God gave us a word that just as the well known arch located in St. Louis marks the gateway to the west, so it would also be in the spirit – the St. Louis home would mark the gateway to the west, and our next home would be on the West Coast and that we would receive the double portion. Not only did we believe for the double portion anointing, but also for the double portion literally because our next West Coast home is scheduled to open in January 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia, north of Sacramento into Canada. This is a thrilling season for us, and we anticipate much more as we are already laying groundwork for the property we own in Charlotte, North Carolina and the Panhandle of Florida. Please keep us in your prayers as we celebrate today and look forward to all that God has for us ahead!

Please pray for the new girls that will be entering the California home in the next few weeks. We are so excited for what God is doing, and we also envision a future home opening in the Los Angeles area. Thanks for sharing the joy with us!!!


Merry Mercy Christmas Benefit – Plans Underway!!

Last Friday, Mercy Ministries Nashville hosted a Merry Mercy Christmas Benefit Pre-Event Luncheon to begin to raise community support and awareness for our annual Christmas Benefit and Silent Auction coming up on Thursday, December 10, 2009 at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville. The Merry Mercy Christmas fundraiser began as a small luncheon in 2007, and this year, to accommodate the growing response, it is being planned as a large dinner for over 300 friends and ministry supporters. Now, one of the biggest fundraising events of the year, this event will have entertainment provided by musical guests’ Tammy Trent, Jonny Lang and the Tommy Sims All-star band!

Approximately 30 guests were joined by Event Chair, Marie Parks and her husband Bob of Bob Parks Reality who sponsored the pre-event luncheon. Guests had the opportunity to learn how they can participate in this key fundraising event and connect with other caring friends of the ministry. Mercy Ministries’ Founder and President, Nancy Alcorn, shared about the impact of giving and explained how donations literally save lives. Everyone had a chance to hear life-transforming testimonies from Bethany and Jessica, two current Nashville residents.

We are so thankful to our friends and partners who are prayerfully considering their participation at the December Merry Mercy Benefit. For more information about table sponsorship, please email Heather Robinson at hrobinson@mercyministries.com.

Artists and Live Auction items are being updated regularly. To learn more about the Merry Mercy Christmas Benefit and Silent Auction and find out about some of the exciting live auction items like the Villa Paradise in Anguilla, British West Indies, visit www.merrymercychristmas.com.

Check out these pictures from the luncheon.