Friday, February 26, 2010

Seven More Mercy Girls Celebrate their Freedom!

Family, friends, staff, and residents gathered at the Mercy Ministries Nashville, Lincoln and St. Louis homes to celebrate seven more transformed lives. These young women are now full of hope and new life because of the unfailing love of God. Here are their incredible stories:


St. Louis

Elizabeth

2Before Mercy, I was diagnosed with ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. I believed that my diagnoses defined who I was. Full of anger over my issues, I began to be consumed with thoughts of depression and suicide and even started dressing like “death” by wearing all black. My mom told me about Mercy, and I knew that if I did not apply, I would end up dead.

While at Mercy, I found freedom from all the oppression. I now realize that I am no longer defined by my diagnoses because I have a choice in how I will react to my circumstances. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The old is gone and the new has come!

When I return home, I’m going to walk out this freedom that I’ve been given. I plan to enroll in my church internship program and pursue a degree in Youth Ministry and Psychology. Mercy has been the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Thank you to all the donors who have sown financially into this awesome ministry which God has used to bring His saving grace into my life. I am eternally grateful!

Lauren

4Early on in my life, I sensed a void inside that I didn’t know how to fill. Searching for the answer, I soon found myself trying to fill the void with attention from the opposite sex. I dated a lot and began having one night stands. As a result, I became a victim of date rape and abuse. In the midst of all this, I desperately wanted a relationship with God because I knew He was the source for what I truly needed. I grew tired of always being a victim to my past, and out of desperation, I applied to Mercy.

At Mercy, God has taught me that hearing His voice is the best medicine. I have learned that I am no longer a victim. Instead, I am a child of God and I have spiritual weapons that I can use each day in order to continue to walk in my freedom.

After graduation, I will return home to look for a job. I am not certain what that will look like, but I am completely trusting God with my next step!

Lindsee

5From a young age, I was physically abused at the hand of a family member who eventually rejected me for wanting to become a Christian. Before I knew it, this abuse led me down the road to an eating disorder and drug addiction. I was depressed and hopeless, thinking there was no way out. I really had a heart to help others, but I knew I needed to deal with my own personal baggage first. That’s when I applied to Mercy Ministries.

During my time at Mercy, I learned that you can either be a victim or you can overcome your past. It’s a choice. I learned that God loves me and He’s the best Father I will ever have. He will never forsake me or abandon me.

After I graduate, I plan to start school in the fall at UNC Chapel Hill so I can pursue a degree in Journalism and International Studies. Eventually, I want to do missions work and use my degree to write about my experiences. I want to share God’s transforming work in my life with others.


Lincoln

Michelle

6I grew up feeling rejected and inadequate. I was completely consumed with thoughts of suicide, and I spent almost 6 years checking in and out of treatment centers for my depression and anorexia. Not trusting myself, I wanted to be in treatment because it was the only place I felt safe. Several friends and family members urged me to get help and eventually, I found out about Mercy and knew it was my last chance to receive healing from my life-controlling issues.

While being at Mercy, I have learned that I am fully accepted in Christ. No matter what, He accepts me! I have value because He values me. I don’t need any other reason. By taking my negative thoughts captive and challenging them with the truth of God’s Word, I have total freedom from restricting food or harming myself!

When I leave Mercy, God is calling me to move to Los Angeles so I can work with children that have never been shown God’s love. I am looking forward to letting God lead me wherever He wants me to go.


Nashville

Kaite

3Before Mercy, my life was on a downward spiral. I was lying, manipulating, and acting out in anger which led to constant fighting with my parents. Eventually, I realized that I was hurting the people that I love the most and I knew I needed to seek help. I learned about Mercy Ministries through a counselor and decided to fill out an application.

During my time at Mercy, I’ve learned that my past doesn’t have to determine my future. I am a beautiful woman created in the image of God and the most beautiful thing about me is my HEART CHANGE! I don’t even know who that girl is that walked into Mercy a few months ago.

After I graduate, I plan to finish high school and continue my education by pursuing a college degree in Social Work. My time at Mercy has been amazing and I’m so thankful for all God has done and will continue to do in me.

Rachael

7Before Mercy, I wasn’t able to live a normal life with normal responsibilities because I was always strung out on drugs. My life was passing me by and I was missing it. I didn’t trust the people around me, and that made it difficult for me to trust God. After I was arrested and spent time in jail, I thought that I wasn’t even worth being saved. I decided to apply to Mercy because I was tired of living life on my terms. I could no longer control my addiction and the consequences were too much for me to bear. I didn’t want empty religion. I wanted truth.

I have learned since being at Mercy, through the staff speaking truth into my life, that what I read from God's Word is the only truth and it is powerful. I don't have to be recovering for the rest of my life - I've been set free and now I’m fighting from a place of freedom. I truly believe that when God touches your life, you are forever changed. I’ll never be the same!

After graduating, I want to pursue a college degree in Psychology or Physical Therapy. I’m returning home to my family to rebuild my relationship with them and make up for lost time! I’m excited about my future!

Abbey

1For as long as I can remember, I defined my identity by the people I hung out with or the boys that I dated. After ending up in an emotionally abusive relationship, I stopped seeking God and my relationship with my parents was slowly falling apart. I decided to apply to Mercy when I found myself pregnant at the age of 21 and needed somewhere to turn that would help me walk through the physical and emotional changes that I was facing.

Since I have been at Mercy, my relationship with my parents has been completely restored. I now find my identity in Christ, who calls me His beautiful bride. I am perfect just the way I am, and I’m excited about all the ways He will use me to further His Kingdom. I truly believe that God has used my pregnancy and my time at Mercy to save my life! Through much prayer, I decided to place my little girl for adoption. I’m glad I was able to give an amazing and loving Christian family a child they could not have.

After Mercy, I plan to return to college to finish my degree in Elementary Education. I will forever be grateful to Mercy Ministries for helping me regain my life.


Congratulations ladies! We are so excited to see you leave Mercy with a passion for life that is contagious as you reach out to others who are in need of His healing!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mercy Ministries and The Home Foundation Partner to Provide Residential Care for U.S. Victims of Sex Trafficking


PR Newswire


NASHVILLE, Tenn., Feb. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Mercy Ministries, a non-profit Christian residential program serving young women between the ages of 13 – 28 who face life-controlling issues, has joined efforts with Natalie Grant's Home Foundation, a leading mission with both global and domestic connections to make a difference in the lives of sex trafficked victims. By joining forces, the two organizations will share information and resources to raise awareness about domestic sex trafficking with the goal to develop residential shelters with counseling programs for female victims using the Mercy Ministries' counseling model.

There are 350,000 reported cases of people being trafficked domestically within the U.S. each year. With so many young women at risk of being exploited once they escape captivity, care organizations must make connection with victims during this critical period of time. Currently, only a handful of shelters within the United States specialize in the care of these victims. Partnered through the CTSA – Christian Trafficking Shelters Association, Mercy Ministries and The Home Foundation are committed to creating specialized residential homes dedicated to restoring the lives of these young women who have suffered horrific abuse.

"Over the past 27 years, Mercy Ministries has helped thousands of young women who have suffered abuse, including some who have been victims of trafficking – the most devastating abuse one can imagine. We have seen girls find hope and healing in our program, and as awareness grows about trafficking we have received more calls for help. We are ready to focus on this issue so we can extend our ability to serve these girls," said Nancy Alcorn, Founder and President of Mercy Ministries.

As this abuse becomes more prevalent, Mercy Ministries is committed to being very intentional about serving even more victims. By partnering with The Home Foundation and the CTSA, who have been serving these women exclusively, Mercy can better serve this specific population.

"Natalie Grant has been supporting Mercy Ministries for several years so making a more formal connection with her and The Home Foundation is a very logical step. We know our program works and, thus, want to join forces with others who are already working to combat this issue," said Christy Singleton, Executive Director of Development for Mercy Ministries.

To learn more about the issue of sex trafficking, please make plans to attend two upcoming events. As part of their commitment to quality, the CTSA will be presenting their Christian Trafficking Shelter Association Conference on Thursday, March 11, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. To register go to www.thehomefoundation.net/ctsa. Preceding the conference, make plans to attend The Home Foundation's Third Annual Benefit Concert on March 9, 2010, 7:30 pm at Belcourt Theater in Nashville, Tennessee. Hosted by Natalie Grant, the benefit will feature artists Brandon Heath, Tenth Avenue North, Britt Nicole, Audrey Assad and Phillip LaRue.

Since 1983, Mercy Ministries' free-of-charge, voluntary Christian residential program has served a diverse population of young women from various socio-economic backgrounds, ages 13-28, who face a combination of life-controlling issues such as eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, physical and sexual abuse, depression and unplanned pregnancy. Mercy Ministries of America has residential homes in Monroe, LA, Nashville, TN, St. Louis, MO, and Lincoln, CA. For more information on Mercy Ministries and its global affiliates, please visit www.mercyministries.com.

The Home Foundation was founded in 2005 by singer/songwriter Natalie Grant. With the help of its global partners, The Home Foundation is dedicated to educating communities, building shelters, and providing medical equipment to those ministering to the victims of trafficking. For more information on The Home Foundation, visit www.thehomefoundation.net.

The Christian Trafficking Shelters Association (CTSA) exists to promote the best possible practices for shelters caring for victims of human trafficking in the United States through funding assistance provided to Christ-centered organizations who meet previously established standards of care. For more information on the CTSA, visit www.thehomefoundation.net/ctsa.


SOURCE Mercy Ministries of America

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Donna Lewis, Founder of LiveUP! Ministries, Visits Nashville Home

3This week, Nashville residents and staff had the opportunity to hear a dynamic message from Bible study author, Donna Lewis. Donna is the creator of “You-nique: Embracing God’s Design for You,” a small-group personality study. She has taught women’s Bible studies for over 20 years and is also the Founder of LiveUP! Ministries, a ministry designed to help people understand their unique characteristics and abilities. Nancy Alcorn, Founder and President of Mercy Ministries, was introduced to Donna at last year’s Founder’s Dinner in Monroe, Louisiana, and she instantly saw what a powerful impact Donna’s knowledge and support would have on our residents.

Having experienced mountains and valleys in her marriage and the challenging job of parenting, Donna understands the value of having a healthy identity in Christ. She discussed with residents the importance of understanding their position as children of God. Donna also emphasized how our lives are hidden in Christ and shared how God is above us, before us, behind us, beside us and inside us every moment of our lives! Residents were encouraged to boldly walk in that knowledge and assurance.

This was a special time of empowerment and encouragement for the residents. Here is what a few of the girls had to say about their visit with Donna:

Niki said, “We are protected in God so I can look forward and not worry about my past. Donna reminded me that my position is in Christ and that He gives me the power to face anything.”

Meagan said, “What a powerful illustration of the Lord’s surrounding presence in my life!”

Nicole said, “It is really comforting to know that God is in control and is always working for my greater good.”

To learn more about Donna Lewis and LiveUP! Ministries, visit her website at www.liveupministries.com.

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Victory Bible Institute Students Volunteer in St. Louis

1This past weekend, a team of female students interning at Victory Bible Institute (VBI) in Tulsa, Oklahoma put their faith into action by reaching out to the young women in our St. Louis home.

For the past two years, Mercy Ministries has had a relationship with Victory Bible Institute’s ministry intern department. One weekend every year, this team lovingly serves in our home, cleaning, organizing, and helping with whatever is needed! On Friday, the students arrived in St. Louis to have dinner with the residents and later played an icebreaker game designed to help everyone remember each other’s names. The next day, the team joined residents for some “girl time,” watching movies and playing board games. They also set up a nail salon in the dining room and pampered the girls with manicures! Later that night, they led the St. Louis house in a special time of devotion and worship that included a “djembe”, a skin covered drum, and guitars. This was a powerful time of worship that ministered to several resident’s hearts and lives!

Mercy Ministries is so grateful for our VBI interns and for their heart to serve our girls. They have had such a positive impact on them. Here are just a few of the comments from residents about this special weekend:

Paula said, “I had a phenomenal time this weekend with the VBI girls! The worship was powerful and God used their visit to remind me that He loves me so much.”

Sara said, “I learned a lot from the interns and was touched by their love, kindness and generosity. It was a very special weekend!”

Teresa said, “This weekend was a ton of fun! They even did our nails, which was exciting. The highlight was the worship on Saturday. I really enjoyed it.”


To learn more about Victory Bible Institute, visit their website at www.vbitulsa.org.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mercy Ministries Celebrates the Arrival of Twins - Blakely and Emmi-Rose!

1Mercy Ministries is celebrating the birth of happy and healthy twin girls! Nashville resident Ainsley gave birth to babies Blakely Grace and Emmi-Rose Bella on Friday, January 29. She and her beautiful baby girls are doing great! Baby Blakely was born at 6:10 pm, weighed 4 lbs, 6 ounces and was 17 ¼ inches long. Three minutes later, baby Emmi-Rose joined her sister and weighed 5 lbs, 1 ounce and was 18 inches long.

After much prayer, Ainsley has made the brave choice to place her baby girls for adoption with a loving Christian family. She said, “I know God gave me twins for a purpose because if He had only given me one child, then I probably would have taken things into my own hands and tried to work it out on my own, rather than relinquishing control to God and seeking His will. As I sought the Lord in my decision to parent or place my babies for adoption, God has been my Prince of Peace, and I know that He has an amazing destiny for these little girls.”

Mercy Ministries would like to thank our faithful supporters – because of your support, this young girl’s life has been transformed and both she and these precious babies have a wonderful future ahead of them!

Nancy Alcorn Speaks at Girl’s Getaway Weekend!

Last Friday, Mercy Ministries Founder and President, Nancy Alcorn, had the privilege of speaking at a Girl’s Getaway in the Nashville area for the Tennessee District Assemblies of God women’s ministry leaders. Nancy was joined by Debbie Lindell, co-pastor with her husband John, of James River Assembly in Springfield, Missouri, and Shelayne McDaniel, Tennessee Assemblies of God Ladies Director. The theme for the weekend was Dare to Dream and guests were challenged to dream big - God-sized dreams. Nancy encouraged the women to put faith into action by believing God is greater than any circumstance or situation they might be facing.

Debbie Lindell, Conference Host Shelayne McDaniel, and Nancy Alcorn

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Debbie’s daughter, Savannah; Debbie Lindell; Nancy's assistant, Katelyn; and Nancy Alcorn


Nancy also had the awesome opportunity to teach a leadership session. She educated the leaders about what to look for in the lives of people who might be dealing with life-controlling issues such as eating disorders, self-harm and unplanned pregnancies. She also provided them with resources to help people struggling with these issues in their churches and communities. Nancy and Debbie were also asked to lead a time of Q & A. Worship leader, Tracee Davidson of The Bridge Church in Bristol, TN shared her heart through worship and song. This getaway weekend was a powerful time of ministry, connection, and new relationships!

A big thanks to Shelayne McDaniel for giving out special collection jars to the women’s ministry leaders as they left. Shelayne challenged guests to take the containers back to their women’s groups share the vision of Mercy, and encourage them to fill the jars with donations. The jars will be returned when they all gather in July at their annual women’s conference, where Nancy will be a keynote speaker.

To learn more about the Tennessee Assemblies of God ladies’ ministry, visit www.oneheartladies.org.

Check out these pictures from this fun and impactful Girl’s Getaway weekend!

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Nancy Alcorn and Debbie Lindell doing a question and answer session

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fellowship of Christian Athletes Hosts Valentine Dinner for St. Louis Residents

Illinois State Senator Kyle McCarter and his wife Victoria have taken on the role of ‘mom and dad’ to our St. Louis Mercy residents. Not only have they spent a lot of time encouraging the girls, but they have also been faithful advocates and supporters of Mercy Ministries.

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The McCarter’s two sons were involved in FCA in high school, and Victoria is a huddle leader for their local chapter. Both boys have since graduated and gone on to college but Victoria and her sons have chosen to carry on the FCA tradition they began in 2007 by preparing and serving a Valentine’s Day dinner for the Mercy St. Louis home. In fact, Austin McCarter, who loves to cook, began this tradition because he enjoys being able to do something special for the residents on this particular holiday.

Our girls were truly treated like royalty! The McCarters, along with other FCA student volunteers, prepared each table with a personalized menu with red or pink ribbons. They also placed roses with notes of encouragement at each setting. They prepared a gourmet meal and served it dressed in black pants and white shirts. The meal was topped off with a chocolate fountain!

One FCA student athlete, Ben Benton, had this to say about his opportunity to serve:

“Even as a multi-sport athlete, I have never seen so much strength as I see in these Mercy girls. They have overcome many difficulties and have grown to love God and have tremendous faith in Him!”

Here is what a few of the residents said about the Valentine’s dinner:

Teresa said, “It was awesome that the students wanted to come serve us! The dinner, decorations and entire night was so special - it was a great example of God’s love. I’m glad we had such a special Valentine’s Day treat!”

Christina said, “This event was a tremendous blessing and so memorable. The McCarter family has impacted my life in so many ways. I had a blast and felt amazingly special.”


Mercy Ministries would like to thank FCA and the McCarter family for pouring into the lives of our residents. We are so grateful for your faithful friendship and support.



Monday, February 15, 2010

Monroe and Nashville Homes Celebrate Seven More Graduations!

Last week, seven more residents at the Monroe and Nashville homes graduated from the Mercy Ministries program! These young women have hope for their futures and powerful stories of transformation. We would like to share their stories with you:


Monroe

Mandie

6Before Mercy, my life was consumed by anorexia, bulimia, over-exercising and self-harm. along with a 10 year addiction to laxatives, diuretics and diet pills. I was unable to function as an adult, and I truly believed God had neglected and abandoned me. My poor self-image left me completely hopeless and desperate for a different life. After endless attempts to get help, I heard about Mercy through my treatment center team and knew it was my last hope.

Since being at Mercy, I have been completely transformed. I never knew that life could be this incredible! Instead of the old worldly passions and obsessions, my life now has a purpose beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Knowing who I am in Christ has taken me to an amazing and incredible level of dedication to fulfill the purpose God has for me. Without Mercy, I know I would not be here.

After I graduate, I plan to work with young women so I can teach them about the love and acceptance our Savior gives freely. I also want to pursue a degree in nutrition. Now I feel confident about my future because I know that God will be faithful to complete this good work He has started in me.


Kati

4Because of sexual abuse in my childhood, I believed many lies about myself, others, and God. Perfectionism and fear consumed my life and my world felt chaotic. In order to deal with the hurt, I began self-harming and developed an eating disorder that eventually led me down a path of depression and suicide attempts. I just wanted to give up because I felt totally and completely alone. Trying to stop the self-destructive behaviors seemed impossible in my own power, but I wanted to believe that God had a better life for me than the one I was living. I knew I could not break free by myself, so I began the application process for Mercy in hope of finding the help I needed.

At Mercy, I have been blown away with what God has done in my life. I came in not knowing that I could have a relationship with God and am leaving knowing the truth that I can! Life is about choices. We can be obedient to what God calls us to - we can choose life or death and I chose life! I finally have hope because I know God loves me with an everlasting love!

After I graduate, I am moving back to Colorado Springs and plan to get involved in my local church. I am keeping my heart open to what God desires for me and am looking forward to the journey with Him.


Stephanie

7Before Mercy, I was consumed with death. Out of self-hatred, I abused myself and had no desire to live. There were times when I would literally try to stop my heart from beating. I was also in a losing battle with an out of control eating disorder. My life was very dark and I wanted to end it… but God had a different plan. I made the decision to apply to Mercy because I knew if I were to get help, it needed to be through a program that had God as the foundation.

Now I am not the same person I was when I walked into Mercy. God has completely transformed me and I hardly recognize the girl I used to be. Not only has He completely set me free from the eating disorder, but He has also been healing me of the physical side affects from the damage I caused my body. I am free! For the first time in my life, I am genuinely happy to be alive. That in itself is a miracle!

God has placed a desire in my heart to impact my generation so after graduation, I plan to use my passion for music, youth and evangelism to reach young people for Christ. I know I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.


Jordan

3I grew up in a Christian home, but my parents separated when I was very young so my mom had to raise me on her own. When I was six years old, she died of cancer and my life turned completely upside down. My dad took me in, and his house was always full of strangers. I was sexually abused continually, which left me very hurt and confused. I prayed for a way out of the sexual abuse, and eventually my pastor helped me leave the environment I was in and pursue a college degree. In college I met a friend who was a Mercy graduate and she told me stories about how girl’s lives were truly transformed through the Mercy program. I realized that I needed help so when I was given an application, I prayed about it and decided to apply.

When I came to Mercy, I experienced the kind of love that I needed. God totally met me where I was, and I began to learn about who I am in Christ and how He sees me. I am forgiven! I feel safe and know that God loves me, and I can trust Him with my past, present and future. I am now walking in freedom.

After Mercy, I plan to pursue a degree in massage therapy. I hope to be a light to other young women like myself and show them that their past does not have to dictate their future.


Nashville

Amber

2Before I came to Mercy, an addiction to drugs, alcohol and promiscuity led me to join the wrong crowd. Searching for love and acceptance in the wrong places, I ended up pregnant at the age of 15, and I fell into a deep depression. I knew I needed serious help, so when a friend told me about the Mercy program, I decided to apply.

At Mercy, God has shown me that He is always faithful and I can come to Him when I am in despair because He will meet me right where I am. My time at Mercy has been life-changing and I know I will never forget it.

After graduating, I plan to study psychology. I want to be a voice to this lost and hurting world and tell people about the hope they have in Christ. I want to stand up for the weak and help them find freedom like I did.


Alex

1My life was out of control before I came to Mercy. Many encounters of abuse left me feeling unwanted and deeply depressed. I experimented with drugs, alcohol, inhalants, and self-harm in an attempt to fill up the emptiness in my heart and was left feeling completely broken. I believed God was telling me that He loved me and had something better for me so I knew I had to apply to Mercy if I wanted to give Him a chance to transform my life.

At Mercy, God has shown me that I am beautiful and I believe Him! I feel like God has breathed new air into my lungs and now I truly have life! I have learned that there is freedom in purity, and I’m so thankful for this new perspective.

After graduation, I am looking forward to getting involved in short term mission trips through my local church. I believe marriage and a career as a police officer are also in my future!


Lindsay

5Before Mercy, I was controlled by counting calories. At first, I would allow myself to eat and would then purge the food, but eventually I wouldn’t eat at all and would still purge. I was incredibly unhealthy both inside and out and lost my identity to a number on a scale. My mom was concerned and showed me the application for Mercy, so I decided to give it a shot and apply because I knew I needed help.

During my time at Mercy, I have been completely delivered from an eating disorder. I’ve learned who I really am and where my value truly comes from and the love of God has impacted me in a powerful way.

After graduation, I want to pursue a degree in photography, which I someday hope to use on the mission field. My time at Mercy has been an amazing opportunity for me and I am so thankful for how God is going to use it to impact my future.


Congratulations ladies! We are cheering you on as you live your life to the fullest and take the light of Christ with you wherever you go.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Marie Miller, Founder of Foundations Ministries, Visits Sacramento Home

Marie Miller, full time evangelist and Founder of Foundations Ministries based in Ontario, Canada, was invited to the Mercy Ministries Sacramento home this week to share an encouraging message with staff and residents. Marie has a heart for Mercy Ministries because of her passion to help the “next generation” discover the call God has placed on their lives. Cheryl Bangs, Program Director of the Sacramento home, had the amazing opportunity to accompany Marie to Zambia, Africa in June of 2007 to establish the first Women’s Arise Conference in that nation. The purpose of this conference is to unite women from 13 African countries for prayer and worship.

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During her time with the Mercy residents, Marie offered a timely message about the heart. Sharing from Psalms 4:23, she explained how God does not expect perfection but rather, He desires us to come to Him just as we are. Marie challenged residents to guard their hearts against things that will hinder their relationship with God, such as unhealthy emotional relationships, jealousy, and negativity.

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

Michelle said, “Marie shared with us how our first priority has to be giving our heart to God because if we will do that, the rest will follow. If God’s love is in my heart then His love can flow out of me.”

Cari said, “Our heart is the most precious part of who we are, so we need to guard it carefully. I need to understand that I am defined by the love of God and not by what others think of me. I am beautiful just the way I am!”

Janelle said, “I learned that jealousy can destroy me and negativity can destroy everyone around me.”


To learn more about Marie Miller or Foundations Ministries, visit their website www.foundationsministries.org.


Debbie Lindell Encourages Nashville Residents

Last fall, Nancy Alcorn had the privilege of being 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. Nancy absolutely loved her time at James River and was so blessed to get to connect with Debbie - a new friend and dynamic woman of God.

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On Wednesday, residents and staff enjoyed welcoming Debbie and her daughter Savannah to the Nashville home for a special time of teaching and encouragement. Debbie described the difficult and lonely years of their early ministry and explained how God eventually led them to Springfield, Missouri, where they founded James River Assembly – an incredible church which has grown to over 12,000 people in weekly attendance and multiple locations. The girls were amazed by her challenge to see their lives for the possibilities rather than the way things might look right now. Debbie challenged the girls to be passionate about God’s love for them and take advantage of the power that is available to them through Christ. Savannah prayed a powerful prayer over the girls, empowering them to embrace all that God has for them and start walking out their freedom today.

Here is what a few of the girls had to say about Debbie’s visit:

Heather said, “This was an AMAZING teaching. I loved it. God is bigger than my problems and nothing is impossible with Him. When I realize all that God has done for me, I am compelled to worship Him.”

Rachael said, “The power available in Christ is explosive, like dynamite! That power is in ME!


Debbie has a huge heart for Mercy Ministries and we are excited to continue building a relationship with her awesome church.

To learn more about Pastor John and Debbie Lindell or James River Assembly, visit their website at www.jamesriver.org.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Graduate Encourages California Residents

3Lindsay came to the Mercy Ministries’ Nashville home in 2007, broken and controlled by an eating disorder and the pain of past sexual abuse. While at Mercy, she allowed God’s love to change her and in turn, her life was truly transformed. Today, Lindsay is in school studying International Public Health so she can extend the love of Christ by helping to improve the standard of living for people all over the world.

Lindsay lives only a few hours away from our Sacramento, California home and wanted to share with residents some of the things she has been learning since she graduated from Mercy, so she asked if she could come for a visit. During her time with the Lincoln girls, she shared a message about her personal journey toward understanding different truths about God’s love. Using the scripture reference from Song of Songs 2:16, Lindsay explained that because we are the bride of Christ, we are worthy of love and God looks at our hearts and sees value in each of us. She encouraged residents to spend time letting God teach them about His love so they can begin to love themselves. The girls really connected with Lindsay, knowing she was once in their shoes. Lindsay had the following to say about her experience:

“My time at the Mercy Sacramento house meant so much to me. Tears filled my eyes as I pulled up to the home because I was overwhelmed by God's faithfulness. As I stepped inside, I was in complete amazement at the extravagant beauty of the new home, but I realized that the beauty of the house itself is only a mere reflection of the beauty of those within the house! Mercy is a place where the beauty of who you were made to be is revealed and embraced.”

Here is what a few of the residents had to say about Lindsay’s encouraging teaching:

Nicole said, “I appreciate her explaining how God chose me. The God of the universe loves me and chose me as His bride.”

Shelby said, “God loves me for who I am right now, and if I continue to pursue God, my calling will become more clear.”


We are so thankful to Lindsay for taking the time to come and visit and encourage our girls. Check out the pictures from her visit!

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Artist Bert VanderMark Impacts Mercy Ministries’ Girls and Staff!

1Bert VanderMark, a St. Louis artist and Founder of Visual Parables, a pastoral outreach ministry, has a desire to offer quality art classes to people from all walks of life so they are equipped to communicate “visual” praise and worship to God through art. Over the past few months, Bert has generously donated his expertise and resources to the residents and staff at Mercy Ministries in St. Louis. He also leads the St. Louis residents in a time of devotion before facilitating “art nights” twice a month. Furthermore, it was Bert’s generosity that made the art sales at last year’s Afternoon of Mercy fundraising event in St. Louis a possibility! He donated all the supplies including canvas, boards, oil pastels, paint and brushes and paid for the framing of each resident’s unique painting that was sold at the auction.

Last Thursday, Mercy Ministries Nashville residents and staff were thrilled to welcome Bert VanderMark to their own art day! Before pulling out the art supplies, Bert shared a powerful message about how we are bombarded with visual messages that are contrary to the Word of God. As our minds are renewed by reading and listening to God’s Word, the way we view ourselves gets transformed and we begin to see ourselves as God does.

Bert illustrated his message by passing out popsicle sticks to each resident and asking them to write on them a negative idea that someone had told them or that they believed about who they are. Later, they pieced the sticks together, forming an intricate piece of art, in the shape of a cross to symbolize how our past does not determine our future and that our true identity is found in Christ alone.

Mercy Ministries would like to thank Bert VanderMark for consistently pouring his time and energy into our residents and teaching them how to express themselves through their creativity. Here is what a few of the Nashville residents had to say about Bert’s message:

Amber said, “I loved listening to his teaching because it was so powerful. This world is full of deception and I need to stop listening to myself and begin listening to my Maker.”

Katie said, “I thought that Bert was absolutely amazing! I LOVED what he taught me about belief systems and that by searching the Word of God for truth, I learn who I am.”

Bethany said, “Instead of listening to self talk, which is usually negative, I am going to listen to God because His Word changes me. I really enjoyed this message.”




Monday, February 8, 2010

Exciting Weekend for Monroe Residents


This past weekend, Mercy Ministries’ residents at the Monroe home had a blast attending a life-changing conference for young women.

Lindsey Carr, Youth Pastor at Word of Life Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, invited our Monroe girls and staff to make a road trip to be a part of their True Image Conference. True Image is a ministry to young women whose aim is to silence the voices of the world to allow girls to hear the voice of God. In True Image girls learn to see themselves as God sees them, and discover the beauty of who they are in Christ. Lindsey and other True Image leaders delivered a relevant message about what it means to be a “princess warrior.” They explained that as children of God, women are royalty and they should live with purpose. In addition, an inspirational drama illustrating a woman’s journey to transformation captivated everyone’s attention. Singers Kelsi Craig (who happens to be the daughter of a Mercy graduate!) and Callie Pirtle also personally encouraged everyone with their heartfelt worship to the Lord.

The Mercy residents were inspired to fashion their life after Christ and make a difference in their generation. Many of the girl’s lives were deeply impacted as a result of the conference. Here is what a few of them had to say:

Kelli said, “This weekend I learned that I am royalty:, a daughter of the King, clothed in strength and dignity. I am a fighter whose mission is to use the personal battles I have fought to help others. Most importantly, I can live my life with a purpose, which is to be fully pleasing to my Heavenly Father.”

Kati said, “I love the way Lindsey Carr empowers young women to live the way God has called them to live, as warrior princesses! I left the conference ready to influence the world around me as a mighty woman of God.”

Jordan said, “I loved the worship, prayer time, and amazing message! I felt loved and it was so cool that I was able to be there.”

The True Image team has been visiting the Monroe home every other month to encourage residents and pamper them with spa treatments. Lindsey said, “I have such a heart for seeing these young women transformed and I really love hanging out with them.”

To learn more about True Image and Word of Life Center, visit their website at www.wordoflifecenter.org.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Kirk of the Hills’ Women’s Group Prepares Dinner for St. Louis Residents

This past week, a group of 8 ladies from Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church in Ladue, Missouri came to volunteer their time by making dinner and helping facilitate art night at the St. Louis home. Last year, Tammy Woodward connected with Mercy Ministries through the Afternoon of Mercy Luncheon in St. Louis, and later brought her church bible study group for a tour of the home. The ladies immediately wanted to do something special for the residents. Not only did they make a Mexican style fajita feast, but they also brought Mississippi Mud Cakes for dessert, made by a group of 11th grade girls from their church.

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For the residents, having someone else make dinner is significant because the dinner preparation team gets to take a break from their daily routine. These residents could have had the night off, but chose to assist the visitors and help them find their way around the kitchen. Residents enjoy spending time with volunteers from the community and greatly appreciate all the generosity they receive.

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Here is what a few of the residents had to say about their visit from the ladies of Kirk of the Hills:

Teresa said, “Last night was so much fun! I felt so blessed that the ladies came and cooked for us! They did a great job and the food was amazing. Thank you to all the ladies who took time out to visit with us. They did a wonderful job!”

Tasha said, “Having the women from Kirk of the Hills cook dinner was great and the Mud Pie was awesome!”

Paula said, “Dinner was so good. I’m so glad they gave up their time to spend it with us.”


To learn more about Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church, visit their website www.kirkofthehills.org.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Missouri Newspaper Features Mercy Ministries Strengths-based Training

Evangel assistant professor Lehnert conducts strengths-based leadership training
News-Leader staff • February 1, 2010

Alina Lehnert, assistant professor of organizational leadership at Evangel University, conducted strengths-based leadership training with Mercy Ministries on Jan. 25 in Nashville, Tenn.

Lehnert, who also serves as the associate director of leadership and strengths development at Evangel, and her sister Briana Leach taught the entire staff and residents of Mercy Ministries how to discover their strengths using the Strengths Finder material. They explained how each individual is created with individual strengths and talents, and how each person can capitalize on their strengths in the workplace and their daily lives.

Founded by Nancy Alcorn in 1983, Mercy Ministries of America has provided hope and healing to generations of desperate young women who are seeking freedom from life-controlling problems. Their biblically-based program is free-of-charge and serves a diverse population of young women, aged 13-28, from various socioeconomic backgrounds.

Lehnert earned a bachelor of business administration degree from Evangel University in 1997. She also holds a master of science in counseling from Missouri State University, a doctor of philosophy in organizational leadership from Regent University, and she is a licensed professional counselor. She has taught at Evangel since 2002.

For additional information, visit www.mercyministries.org or Nancy Alcorn’s blog at http://nancyalcorn.blogspot.com/2010/01/maximizing-your-strengths.html.

Evangel University is a private, Christian university that offers more than 100 undergraduate academic programs and eight master’s programs. For additional information, visit www.evangel.edu.


SOURCE: News-Leader, Springfield, MO

Monday, February 1, 2010

Celebrating Two More Transformed Lives!!!

St. Louis and Sacramento residents and staff joined together with family and friends to celebrate two more amazing young women as they graduated from Mercy Ministries this month. These young women are proof that God can transform anyone who will dare to turn their life over to Him. Here are their stories:


St. Louis

Kelly

1Before Mercy, I felt broken and abandoned. My parents divorced when I was five years old and when my mom remarried, I formed a very close bond with my step father. The devastation I experienced when he and my mother divorced was overwhelming, and he was never a part of my life again. After my mother attempted suicide several times in front of me, I lived in constant fear and I began to abuse alcohol, ecstasy and cocaine. Later, after having a daughter of my own, I knew that I wanted more for her and for myself so, I reached out to Mercy Ministries to find help.

At Mercy, I was transformed through the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. God taught me about his unconditional love and His desire for a personal relationship with me. I realized that I was born with a destiny that only I can fulfill! No longer a victim of my past, I can do all things when I seek after God.

After I graduate, I am planning to return home so I can be a Godly mother to my daughter, and I’m going to get involved in my church and my community by reaching out to other hurting women. I also plan to pursue a career as a dental hygienist.


Sacramento

Lydia

2Because of a dysfunctional childhood full of sexual abuse by a close family member, my life before Mercy felt very broken. As I grew older, I found myself pulling farther and farther away from reality, and I began experimenting with anorexia and self-harm in order to cope with the dysfunction. Finally, when I found out that my abuser wanted to become a transgender, my world came crashing down around me, and I didn’t believe life was worth living. I tried seeking help through friends, counselors, and hospitals, but nothing gave me hope. Applying to Mercy was my last chance for a better life.

During my time at Mercy, I have found hope and real freedom from my issues. God met me where I was, and has shown me that I can trust Him and accept His love for me. God has adopted me as His own child, and He sees me as perfect and unique!

After Mercy, I plan to attend college in the fall at South Eastern University, and I want to pursue a degree in social work with a minor in Bible and theology.


Congratulations Kelly and Lydia! We are so proud of your commitment to face your issues and fight for freedom!! We look forward to hearing how God will use you to help others!