Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nashville Hosts Special Guests from the UK!

On Tuesday, Nashville residents and staff had the awesome privilege of hosting some very special guests all the way from the United Kingdom!

Ben and Deb Cooley are the Founders of Hope for Justice, a non-profit ministry in the UK that exists to rescue victims caught in human trafficking, see their lives restored, and pursue justice by prosecuting those responsible for this horrific crime. This amazing couple shared the vision of their ministry including some of the heart-wrenching stories about young women they have worked with. Everyone was stirred as Ben shared how he and his team literally go into some of the darkest places to rescue victims trapped in sex slavery. Deb also took time out to describe the different types of human trafficking and encouraged everyone to partner with God in saving those who are lost or hurting.

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Nancy Alcorn with Ben and Deb Cooley

As Mercy Ministries becomes even more intentional about serving young women who have been victimized by sex trafficking, it is so exciting and humbling to see how God is connecting our ministry with people all around the world who share the same heart and spirit.

Here is what some of the Mercy Girls had to say in response to their time with the Cooleys:

Kelly said, “I did a lot of research on the issue of sex trafficking in graduate school, but hearing about it again has rekindled my desire to be a part of the solution. Ben Cooley’s message about taking down giants has inspired me to be a more passionate and consistent risk taker.”

Crissie said, “There are millions of girls out there in slavery who go through a lot of pain and suffering each day. My heart hurts for them because I have experienced similar abuse, but now I realize that God sent His Son into the world to seek and to save those who are lost.”


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Then, later that afternoon, residents had the wonderful opportunity to hear a message from International speaker, author, and Founder and Director of Heartcry for Change Ministries, Rachel Hickson. After almost losing her life in a horrific car accident in Zimbabwe, Rachel was miraculously healed, and since that time, has had a desire to pray, train others to pray, and see cities transformed by the power of prayer. Based out of Oxford, England, Heartcry’s aim is to encourage the local church to connect with their own communities and bring a practical message of hope to those in need. The Mercy girls loved and appreciated Rachel’s loving and nurturing personality.

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Rachel Hickson, Nancy Alcorn, and Helen Azer

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

Alexis said, “So often, I look at the world and get overwhelmed by the need to try to save everyone. When Rachel described what she did to help others, it made me realize that if I am obedient to God, He will use me in a mighty way. I am God’s SECRET WEAPON!”

Katie said, “I was impacted seeing Ms. Rachel’s passion for Christ in her life. Like her, I want to live out the dreams that God has planted inside of me.”


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Mercy Ministries considers it a huge privilege to partner with amazing people like Ben and Deb Cooley and Rachel Hickson in the work they are doing. To learn more about Ben and Deb Cooley or Hope for Justice, visit www.hopeforjustice.org.uk. To learn more about Rachel Hickson and Heartcry for Change Ministries, visit www.heartcry.co.uk.


Monroe Church Hosts Mercy Ministries Pastor’s Luncheon

Last week, First Baptist Church in West Monroe, Louisiana hosted a luncheon for area pastors and community leaders to spread awareness for Mercy Ministries in Monroe. With the goal of every home being fully supported by the community where it resides, Mercy Ministries looks to area pastors in the community to rally local support and join us in helping to change the lives of hurting young women. Over 50 pastors, ministry leaders, and friends came out to demonstrate their support and learn how they can help their own church families get involved.

Mercy Ministries Monroe Community Relations Manager greeted guests and shared the heart and vision of the ministry. Mercy Monroe graduate and current Mercy Community Board Member, Sherry Peveto, followed by sharing her heartfelt testimony of God’s transformation power in her life through Mercy Ministries. Sherry can remember Nancy Alcorn, Founder and President of Mercy Ministries, teaching her how to live out her faith day by day. She explained how she felt humbled by the way God has changed her life through the support of so many committed donors. Guests also had the opportunity to hear about Mercy’s annual “One Dollar for Life” program from Pastor Harry Lilly of Bethany Church. A long time Mercy supporter, Pastor Lilly encouraged his colleagues to alert their congregations to the opportunity they have to donate at least $1 to young women who are in need.

Mercy Ministries would like to thank First Baptist Church in West Monroe for hosting this event and for providing the delicious meal. We are so grateful to Dr. John and Dee Ledbetter and Billy and Linda Foster who purchased copies of Nancy Alcorn’s book Mercy Moves Mountains for every guest at the luncheon. This inspirational book shares heart-gripping stories of God’s mercy and grace extended to troubled young women who have graduated from Mercy Ministries.

We are excited that pastors and ministry leaders in the Monroe community are committing their love and support. Please agree with us in prayer that we will reach more girls this year with the love of Christ than ever before. If you would like more information about the “One Dollar for Life” program, visit www.mercyministries.org/ODFL/OneDollarforLifeTools.aspx.

Check out these pictures from this special event.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Monroe Residents Have a Blast at Winter Jam

Last Saturday, Mercy Monroe residents had a blast attending the Winter Jam concert in Bossier City, Louisiana, the largest annual Christian music tour in the U.S.

Chuck Halley, husband of Mercy Monroe staff member, Teresa Halley, owns a nonprofit business production company called Glory 2 Glory that acted as the local coordinator for this event. He was excited to invite the Mercy residents as special guests. The girls loved getting to enjoy this powerful time of worship. They were excited to see some of the greatest Christian artists of our day. The concert lineup included performances by New Song, The Newsboys, Tenth Avenue North, Third Day, Sidewalk Prophets, Robert Pierre, Revive, Mikeschair, and Fireflight! Midway through the lineup, Tony Nolan, the concert tour pastor, used his wacky humor and passion to help concert goers connect with God in a life-changing way

Here is what some of the residents had to say about the concert:

Brittany said, “I had so much fun! There were so many awesome bands – some of my favorites! It was such a great time of worship and fellowship with other believers.”

Tina said, “It was great to see people from different backgrounds all worshiping together. I had a wonderful time.”

Kelli said, “There were so many great bands this year! We had the best time dancing and singing and I’m really glad that we had the opportunity to go.”


To learn more about Winter Jam and look up remaining tour dates, visit www.jamtour.com. Check out this slideshow of pictures from the concert!


St. Louis Residents Travel to Hear Jesse Duplantis

1The residents and staff of Mercy Ministries have been consistently overwhelmed by the generosity of Jesse and Cathy Duplantis, pastors of Covenant Church in Destrehan, Louisiana. As faithful monthly supporters of Mercy Ministries, both through their church and through Jesse Duplantis Ministries, Jesse and Cathy have donated a wealth of resources, books, and CDs to our residential homes that have proven to be powerful teaching tools. Having spent over 37 years in full time global ministry through travel, world-wide television broadcasting, internet outreach, audio and visual resources and a monthly magazine, this dynamic couple maintains a very busy schedule, but always finds time to encourage our residents.

Last week, the residents and staff made a road trip to Living Bread Church in Washington, Missouri to hear Jesse Duplantis speak at their Wednesday night service. Brother Jesse shared an incredible message about jealousy and the story of the prodigal son and his angry brother. He explained how jealousy often turns up in churches and ministries and he encouraged listeners to keep their hearts and minds in check.

The girls had a wonderful time hearing Brother Jesse teach at Living Bread Church. Here is what some of them had to say about their experience:

Rena said, “His message was very timely and I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in a long time!”

Mary said, “The presence of God was incredible at Living Bread Church. I loved being reminded that all God wants to do is bless us through our obedience.”

Brittany said, “Jesse was hilarious! I really enjoyed getting to hear him speak in person. He has a way of reaching people who are resistant to traditional sermons.”


We are grateful for the many years that Jesse and Cathy have supported Mercy Ministries and how they have poured into the lives of our residents and staff. To learn more about Jesse and Cathy Duplantis, visit their website at www.jdm.org.

To learn more about Living Bread Church, visit www.livingbread.us.

Oral Roberts University Students Volunteer in St. Louis

Last week, a group of Oral Roberts University students challenged the norm by using their Spring Break to reach out to the young women in our Mercy Ministries St. Louis home. While most college students were relaxing in the sun, this group of 6 female interns escaped the busyness of their academic semesters to offer their hearts and hands in service to our girls and staff!

For several years Mercy Ministries has had a relationship with the ORU Missions Department, which has been faithful to send a team of students to serve once a year in our homes. This year, these dedicated students organized the Mercy library, cleaned and organized the file room, and joined the residents for a major cleaning day. They helped scrub floors, clean bathrooms, vacuum, and pitch in with whatever else was needed. They also took time to share their individual testimonies, which was very encouraging to our girls. They finished off the week by having a bonfire for the girls, complete with smores!

Residents and staff alike continue to be touched by the selfless outreach of the students at ORU. We hope they know how much we value their support!

Here is what a few of the residents had to say about the time they spent with these young women:

Teresa said, “I was so touched that they were vulnerable with us and shared their testimonies. They have been a blessing all week and I have appreciated them.”

McKenzie said, “Their visit helped me to realize that I am not alone and that everyone has gone through heartache in their life. I appreciate them for spending the week with us.”

Meghan said, “One of the interns told me that I taught her joy this week and I’ve never been referred to as a joyful person before so that touched me and showed me that God is working in my life.”


To learn more about Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, visit www.oru.edu.



Monday, March 29, 2010

Baby Justine Arrives – Mercy Ministries Celebrates New Life!

1We are so excited to celebrate the birth of a beautiful baby girl, Justine Rae. Baby Justine was born on March 9, 2010 weighing 6.9 lbs and measuring 19.5 inches long. Justine’s mother made the brave decision to come to Mercy Ministries, choose life for her baby, and place her child with a loving Christian family. She said, “God took a devastating circumstance and turned it into an incredible blessing. I have learned about true sacrifice in love and God’s value for every single life.”

We are so thankful to all of our supporters. The value of your support is immeasurable!



Friday, March 26, 2010

Four Lincoln and Monroe Graduates Celebrate Hope for the Future!

Family, friends and staff came together with the residents in Lincoln, CA and Monroe, LA to celebrate four beautiful young women as they graduated from Mercy Ministries. Here are their testimonies of freedom:


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Cari

3Before Mercy Ministries, I struggled with a severe eating disorder, self-harm, and depression. I had no hope for my future. Without a healthy way to cope with all my negative emotions, I became suicidal. I needed help, and when a friend told me about a Christ-centered program for young women, I knew I was finally ready to find real freedom.

Since being at Mercy, God has healed my heart and delivered me from bondage to my issues. He has shown me who I really am and that I have a special purpose that only I can fulfill. Now, I know I am loved and look forward to the future ahead of me.

After graduation, I plan to go back to school in the fall to pursue a degree in Environmental Science. I’m secure in knowing that my life is in God’s hands!


Amy

1My life before Mercy felt like a rollercoaster. Anorexia and bulimia became a symptom of my self-hatred, and deep seated feelings of rejection controlled my life. At the peak of my depression, suicide appeared to be my only option. After a Mercy graduate shared her story of transformation with me, I decided to apply to the program so I would be able to deal with the pain I was carrying.

At Mercy, God restored me and made me completely whole! I know that my issues don’t have to control my life and I can walk in miraculous freedom. God has revealed His heart and unfailing love to me.

After I graduate, I plan to work towards a Master’s Degree in Theology. Thank you Mercy staff for giving me the tools to live an uncompromised life and be a light to everyone God puts in my path.


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Elise

4Before coming to Mercy, I was in a relationship with a boyfriend who was manipulative and dishonest. Feeling as if he was all I could depend on, I moved in with him and eventually became the victim of abuse. Drug issues began to develop as I tried to deal with stressful emotions, and before I knew it, I was in over my head! I didn’t know what to do. I knew my lifestyle was going to kill me if I didn’t get help. My mother gave me an application for Mercy, and I decided the program was my last hope.

During my time at Mercy, God gave me my life back. I am no longer dependent on drugs or medications and He is restoring my relationship with my family. I never knew God was such a personal friend and now I am in a love relationship with Him! I’ve also been equipped with all the tools I need to truly succeed in life.

Now, I plan to enroll in college because I know God wants me to further my education. I’m not sure what degree to pursue, but I’m excited to see what God is doing in my life.


Brittany

2My dad left our family when I was three years old and I was left confused with feelings of rejection and abandonment. This chaos led to anxiety and an obsessive compulsive disorder. When I couldn’t live up to my own standard of perfection, I resorted to self-harm and bulimia in order to gain control over my life. My addictions became severe in high school and my freshman year of college. After being hospitalized, I decided living life my way was completely getting me nowhere and I desperately wanted God’s intervention. Mercy was the best option for help.

God has definitely done a work in me since I’ve been at Mercy. I have learned who I am in Christ, and I know God will never leave me or forsake me. I am completely free from my issues because I’m a totally new person!

After graduation, I am going to pursue a degree in English and hope to one day share the message of God’s love in China by teaching English as a second language. I want to thank the staff at Mercy Ministries for following God’s leading and helping me learn so much!


Congratulations Cari, Amy, Elise and Brittany! We are very proud of you and the commitment that you have shown. Your positive choices, growing faith and ongoing transformation are so evident and we look forward to seeing your futures unfold.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Special Visit from Jared and Megan Anderson

1Last week, Nashville residents and staff had the awesome opportunity to spend the morning with Jared and Megan Anderson from New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. While serving full-time on the worship team at New Life Church, Jared has written and composed songs that are now sung in churches worldwide, such as “Amazed” and “Promises.” He led the girls in an intimate time of worship and then Megan shared her own incredible testimony of redemption and transformation. The couple spent the rest of the morning praying with several of the residents individually. They were deeply touched by the ministry they received through this powerful couple.

Before they left, the Anderson’s generously gifted each resident with Jared’s new album, “Jared Anderson Live from My Church,” and a t-shirt that highlights a song off one of his albums.

Thank you Jared and Megan for taking the time to come and bless our residents and staff! Here is what a few of the Mercy girls had to say in response to the Anderson’s time at Mercy Ministries:

Katie said, “Megan spoke with such open and precious vulnerability. Her story encouraged me about my future! I had believed that I could never have a husband or children because of my past, but she reminded me that God has planned great things for my future which include a Godly husband.”

Justine said, “I was overwhelmed my Megan and Jared’s testimony and touched by Megan’s unbelievable wholeness and joy. I am asking God for renewed hope and asking for His presence to move in my life.”

Crysania said, “I relate to Megan because she experienced a lot of sexual abuse. Just like her, God has a different plan for my life. I’m thankful that I’m here at Mercy taking time to seek God’s healing power.’

Kalissa said, “I loved hearing Jared’s music this morning! He has a humble heart for worship and is a great example of an awesome man of God!”

To learn more about Jared Anderson and his new album,” visit his website at www.jaredanderson.com.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Author and Speaker Anne Jackson Visits Nashville Home

Our Nashville team was honored to have author, speaker, and social change activist, Anne Jackson, as our guest speaker on Monday. Growing up the daughter of a pastor, Anne experienced firsthand the stress and struggle church leaders sometimes face, which led her to write the book Mad Church Disease – Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic. Anne travels all over the world telling stories of hope about church health, addiction and overcoming, confession, and God’s heart for the poor. As a Nashville native and supporter of Mercy Ministries, she wanted to stop by and spend time encouraging our girls and staff.

Anne shared openly and vulnerably with the girls her own story of overcoming addiction as a result of the pain of past sexual abuse. Because Anne has overcome so much in her life and is very honest about her struggles, she was quick to tell the girls that secrets keep us paralyzed and confession is the beginning of transformation and healing. She encouraged the residents to use wisdom and stay away from the things that trigger addiction.

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We would like to thank Anne for her support and love for Mercy Ministries! Here is what a few of the residents had to say about her visit:

Shelby said, “Anne really helped me see that I don’t have to be ashamed of what I have done in my past. I know that God has made me a brand new creation.”

Meagan said, “It was so moving to hear her testimony and the transformation God has done and continues doing in her life. She helped me realize that shame causes a fear of rejection which leads to complacency in my life.”

Phoebe said, “Her story was very powerful. I’m praying for the strength to be open and honest with a safe accountability partner because I don’t want my mistakes and fears to paralyze me. The Lord has already forgiven me!”


If you would like to know more about Anne Jackson, visit her website at www.flowerdust.com.

Event-Filled Weekend in North Carolina!

We are excited that churches, ministries and businesses across the state of North Carolina are embracing the vision of Mercy Ministries and committing their support for a future home in Charlotte! Last week, Founder and President of Mercy Ministries, Nancy Alcorn, had the opportunity to connect with several of these friends and supporters.

First, on Thursday, Mercy Ministries hosted a Business Professionals’ Luncheon in Charlotte. Over 100 local business leaders gathered to learn about how they can get involved in supporting the young women we serve. Mercy supporter and keynote speaker, Jim Noble, owner of Noble’s Restaurant in Charlotte, shared how he has built his business on biblical principles and gave credit to Nancy Alcorn for doing the same as she continues offering help to hurting young women completely free of charge. Community Board Member and local business owner, Paul Boccolucci, also rallied support for Mercy by sharing his story as a committed donor for the past 12 years! We are so thankful for the $4,500 that was raised at this event!

On Saturday, Mercy Ministries hosted a fundraising and awareness brunch for area supporters at the Carolina Country Club in Raleigh, North Carolina. Over 200 people, including 19 table sponsors and their guests, attended the brunch and $32,000 was raised in support of Mercy Ministries.

Nancy Alcorn shared her testimony of how she was called to develop a Christ-centered home for young women and she cast the vision for the ministry’s future growth to North Carolina. Guests also had the opportunity to hear life-transforming testimonies from 2006 graduate, Nicole Paquette, and 2009 graduate, Rachel Dunn. These young women were both excited to share their powerful stories as a means to touch the Raleigh community and encourage support for Mercy!

We would like to thank host committee members Anna Fonville, Janel Dinley and Aliene Thompson, whose participation made this event a success. Special thanks to our banquet sponsors, Pam Winters and Renate Snipes, whose faithful contributions play a critical part in maintaining our presence in North Carolina.

We wanted to share this slideshow of pictures from this special time we had at the Raleigh brunch. Thanks to Jenna Markiewicz for taking the time to capture every memorable moment in the pictures.


In addition to these two great events, Nancy Alcorn, had the privilege of speaking at C3 Church in Raleigh at the Saturday evening and Sunday morning worship services. Pastors Matt and Martha Fry founded C3 Church just over 10 years ago, and since that time the church has grown to 3,500 in regular attendance. Nancy delivered a faith-stirring message that challenged the congregation to practice love that is genuine and impactful!

Here is what Nancy had to say about her visit at C3 Church:

The best part about being there was the heart and spirit of the church itself. Pastors Matt and Martha have created a tremendous church culture that is so warm and inviting, and they have a huge heart and passion to share the unconditional love of Christ with their community and beyond. I want to say a special thanks to Pastors Matt and Martha, as well as to their great leadership team, for inviting me to be a part of their weekend worship services. It was a great privilege and honor, and I am so pumped about my new friends!!

Check out these pictures from Nancy’s time at C3 Church:

Nancy Alcorn pictured with Pastor Matt Fry

Nancy Alcorn pictured with Pastor Martha Fry

To learn more about C3 Church, visit www.c3church.com. If you would like more information or would like to offer support for the developing home in Charlotte, please email Whitney Cantrell at wcantrell@mercyministries.com.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Activists Unite to Help Bring Hope and Healing to Domestic Sex Trafficking Victims

Sex trafficking is not just an international issue. It is happening right here in the U.S. and is becoming more and more prevalent. The abuse involved in this trade is horrific and the effects sex trafficking has on its victims are devastating. Mercy Ministries knows this firsthand because we already serve some of these young women in our current facilities.

We at Mercy are excited to partner with organizations like Natalie Grant’s Home Foundation and the CTSA, (Christian Trafficking Shelter Association), to develop specialized residential homes dedicated to restoring the lives of these young women who have suffered abuse. The CTSA exists to connect organizations in order to insure best possible standards of care for trafficked victims so they are taken care of emotionally, physically and spiritually, and The Home Foundation is a non-profit charitable foundation dedicated to the eradication of human trafficking both domestically and abroad. Through advocacy, education and relief efforts, the Home Foundation is committed to end the suffering of women and children sold into sexual slavery. Last week was an exciting milestone in the fight against sex trafficking in the United States and the care for its victims.

On Tuesday, musicians Brandon Heath, Britt Nicole, Tenth Avenue North, Phillip LaRue and Audrey Assad lent their talents in order to benefit the efforts of The Home Foundation and the CTSA. Artists gathered at Belcourt Theater in Nashville, Tennessee, in order to deliver an eclectic concert with a united heart for ministry. Natalie Grant, Founder of The Home Foundation, shared her vision and explained that trafficking is not only an international issue but often happens in our own backyards. Concert-goers were encouraged to take action, bring light to this issue, and support the cause through prayer and finances.



On Thursday, the first Christian Trafficking Shelters Association Conference united activists and ministry leaders concerned with helping reach sex trafficked victims. The CTSA conference was a huge success, serving as a platform for important conversation, education, and unity in this cause. Natalie Grant was joined by several keynote speakers that are passionate about the issue of sex trafficking in the United States. Dr. Laura Lederer worked for years with the state department to pass laws and legislature regulating this issue. Former District Attorney of New York, Dr. Bob Flores, helped guests understand law enforcement in the realm of sex trafficking. Special guest, Lisa Thompson, with the Salvation Army, discussed the history of abolitionist movements in the United States in order to motivate strategy for change. And Nancy Alcorn, Founder and President of Mercy Ministries, spoke about her work in juvenile detention centers and how she stepped out in faith to answer God’s plan to help hurting young women.

Here is what Nancy Alcorn had to say about this timely partnership through the CTSA:

“We have seen girls find hope and healing in our program, and as awareness grows about sex trafficking, we have received more calls for help. We are ready to focus on this issue and we are excited to partner with Natalie Grant’s Home Foundation, CTSA, and others to extend our ability to serve these girls. These young women deserve the best care that we can offer them.”




This was truly a powerful week dedicated to rejecting apathy and demonstrating compassion for young girls in extreme need. We would like to thank Stacia Freeman, Director of The Home Foundation, for coordinating all the details of these events.

It’s never too early to begin praying for the many victims of trafficking that may one day enter a Mercy Ministries home. We are so excited for what God is doing and we thank you for sharing the vision with us! If you are interested in knowing how you can support this effort, please contact Selah Hirsch at shirsch@mercyministries.com. We thank God for our donors, and so do the girls that your support is saving and transforming.

To learn more about The Home Foundation or the CTSA, visit their website at www.thehomefoundation.net.



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dave Ramsey Gives Generously to our Mercy Ministries Residents and Graduates!

1Financial Peace University is a life-changing program developed by money management expert Dave Ramsey. Through this program, Dave teaches people how to achieve their financial goals by eliminating debt, saving for the future, and giving money away to bless others. People from all walks of life have achieved amazing results through FPU and are experiencing financial freedom! For example, FPU participants, on average, pay off $5,300 in debt and save $2,700 in only 13 weeks.

As long-time supporters of Mercy Ministries, Dave and Sharon Ramsey have generously donated their expertise and resources to the residents at Mercy Ministries. Before graduating from the Mercy program, all of our residents complete Financial Peace University and are equipped to make smart money decisions for their futures. The girls learn how to balance a checkbook, make a budget, save, eliminate debt, find bargains, build wealth and experience the joy of giving.

Recently, Dave and Sharon made the charitable decision to continue blessing our residents once they graduate from our program by providing them with the Financial Peace University lifetime membership kit. They each receive all the course materials and they (along with their spouse if they are married) can attend an FPU class in their area. Now our graduates will continue to gain the practical knowledge they need to avoid financial hardship and experience abundance in their finances!

Here is what a few of our current residents had to say about what they are learning through FPU:

Ally said, “We need to be good stewards of our money. I look forward to teaching my children about work ethic, honesty, and financial stewardship in order to help them make positive decisions. I’m so thankful for what I’m learning in this class.”

Jessica said, “I really like Financial Peace University because it is helping me plan for my future once I leave Mercy. I need to have a plan for my finances and I’m excited to walk in wisdom in these decisions!”

Alexis said, “Dave Ramsey makes me laugh and he also speaks the truth! I am so glad that I am learning these lessons now instead of years down the road. This information is invaluable, especially to a young person.”


Mercy Ministries would like to thank Dave and Sharon Ramsey for their overwhelming generosity and huge hearts! Their investment of time, expertise, materials, and financial resources in Mercy Ministries has literally been life-changing for our residents. We are so grateful that these resources will continue to empower our young women after they graduate!

To learn more about Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University, visit his website at www.daveramsey.com.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Youth Pastor Marcia Bethke Visits Sacramento Home

2This week, residents at our Sacramento home enjoyed meeting Marcia Bethke, a young woman with a huge heart for young people. Marcia and her husband Kyle oversee the student ministries at Sunset Christian Center in Rocklin, California. Marcia and Kyle fell in love with our ministry to hurting young women and wanted to get involved!

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Sunset Christian Center has come alongside Mercy Ministries in a number of ways. The Bethkes head up an internship program through their church that two of our graduates have become a part of, and Marcia has worked with the counseling staff at Mercy Ministries to help establish accountability partners for the girls when they graduate from our program.

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During her visit, Marcia encouraged our residents to develop a hunger for God’s Word and emphasized what we at Mercy call the four “stay ins,” which help to set our girls up for success as they continue to walk out their freedom after they leave Mercy - stay in God’s Word, stay in prayer, stay in fellowship, and stay in church. The girls were deeply encouraged by her powerful message and loved her sweet personality.

To learn more about Marcia Bethke and Sunset Christian Center, visit www.sunsetchristiancenter.org.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

St. Louis Graduates Celebrate their Freedom!

St. Louis staff and residents came together with family and friends to celebrate seven amazing young women as they graduated from the Mercy Ministries program. Here are their stories of freedom:


Bryanna

4Before Mercy, I believed that I had a death-sentence because of my addiction to self-harm and my borderline personality disorder. I allowed anger and manipulation to control my life, and I believed everything and everyone should revolve around my needs. I hated my family and I didn’t know how to be a friend. I was desperate for healing and when my parents told me about Mercy Ministries, I made the decision to apply.

While at Mercy, God has set me free from addiction! I am no longer depressed because I know I am a child of God. Hope and healing are my new testimony and I’m so thankful for this experience!

After graduation, I plan to pursue a degree in Art with a minor in Psychology. It is my hope that I will someday use art therapy to help people learn about the heart of God.


Amy

2Before coming to Mercy, I struggled with a 6-year eating disorder, alcoholism, obsessive compulsive disorder, and self-harm. Childhood emotional abuse left me hating myself and filled with insecurity. I believed nobody loved me. Addiction seemed to be the only way to gain control over my life when, in reality, everything was completely out of control. I knew I needed change, and I wanted to do it with God’s help, so I applied to Mercy.

Since I have been at Mercy, God has shown me His unconditional love and acceptance. I am His precious daughter, and no issue or disease will ever define who I am. There is so much freedom in submitting to His will! My life is truly changed forever.

After Mercy, I plan to go back to college and pursue a career in Nursing. My future is filled with God’s promises!


DeJon

5My life before Mercy was a mess. Choosing to do things my way created a lot of struggle and hardship and eventually, I ended up homeless. Every single day, I woke up feeling miserable, as if my life had no purpose.

During my time at Mercy, God has given me joy that is amazing and powerful! I don’t have to be ashamed of my past because I am a NEW creation in Christ. Following the crowd always left my life in shambles, but I now realize that when I follow Jesus, my life will always be full of peace.

After Mercy, I plan to work as a medical receptionist at a local doctor’s office and eventually pursue a college degree in Criminal Justice.


Abigail

1My life before Mercy was filled with uncontrollable anger. I was afraid to fail as a mother which made me feel alone, tired and hopeless. Frantic to escape all my shame and guilt, I exhausted all available resources. At the end of myself, I knew I needed God to open a door for me. I know He made the way for me to go to Mercy.

At Mercy, God has made His awesome presence known in my life! He has broken the cycle of shame and failure and freed me from bondage to my issues. I have learned that my identity is in Christ alone, that my purpose is to further His Kingdom, and that in Him I have full authority over the enemy. I’m also so thankful for the bold and anointed women on staff at Mercy who have made a profound impact on my life!

After graduation, I will teach what I have learned at Mercy to both of my beautiful daughters. I plan to pursue a college degree in the fall and look forward to becoming actively involved in a local church.


Katie

6I grew up in a loving, stable, Christian home and my life was devoted to excelling at sports. The approval and acceptance I received for my athletic accomplishments fueled my desire to experience perfection in all areas of my life. After developing insecurities about my body, the pressure to be a perfect daughter, role model, and athlete manifested into anorexia and eventually depression. I applied to Mercy because I knew in my heart that only God could make me whole again.

While at Mercy, God totally transformed my understanding of who He is and who I am in Him. He showed me that the lies I had believed produced a performance driven, legalistic people-pleasing mentality. I am so thankful that God looks at my heart! He patiently and lovingly revealed that He delights in me just the way I am! Applying to Mercy was the best decision I have ever made.

After Mercy, I plan to return home to my awesome parents and be an adoring aunt to my future niece or nephew! I also plan to attend college in the fall.


Ana

3Before Mercy, I grew up in a loving home, but my safety net completely shattered when my parents divorced. I began self-harming to cope with my pain and self-hatred and eventually developed an eating disorder and a severe drug and alcohol addiction. After experiencing the heartbreak of losing a child to abortion and damaging close relationships through my chaotic lifestyle, I became severely depressed. Mercy Ministries was my last hope.

At Mercy, I have learned how to love and accept myself the way God does. This has been essential to my healing. For the first time since I was young, I feel whole and full of peace. I am totally convinced that God saved my life through this ministry.

After I graduate, I will go back to school to finish my Psychology degree. I am looking forward to using my career to help people who have experienced the same pain I’ve been through find hope and healing in Christ.


Kelsey

7Before I came to Mercy, I was very rebellious. Experimenting with drugs at a young age, I became addicted to all kinds of substances. Eventually, I gave my body away to men in order to support my habit. Completely broken, I tried secular programs for healing, but these programs left me in disbelief that I could ever be free from my addictions. After my mother read the book, “Trapped: Mercy for Addictions” by Nancy Alcorn, she recommended that I apply to Mercy. I was excited to have a real relationship with Christ!

During my time at Mercy, God has shown me that His love is unconditional even when I mess up. I have been healed from grief, depression, promiscuity, co-dependency, addiction and low self-esteem. I also received the encouragement that I needed to have the confidence to walk out my freedom!

After graduation, I plan to pursue a career in the medical field. I’m excited to see how my life will be used to encourage others.


Congratulations ladies! We are so proud of your bravery and maturity and can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for you on your new journey with Him.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Women’s Wellness Weekend – Health Enthusiast Partners with Mercy Ministries

This past weekend, Mercy Ministries had the awesome opportunity to partner with Broccoli Cupcake, a two-day women’s wellness event designed to inspire and educate women to build a healthier life for themselves. After seeing the new BarlowGirl video on our website, they invited us to come and set up a booth to provide our resources and information about our program to the guests attending the event. Wellness enthusiast Cali Shackleford opened Broccoli Cupcake to offer women information and encouragement for a balanced life. Many women came out to enjoy the inspiring speakers, worship, resource fair, and generous giveaways.

The keynote speaker was Jana Joshu, Founder of Middle Tennessee Center for Alternative Medicine. She was joined by Suzanne Baker, Founder of The Spiritual Spa, and special guests from the television series The Biggest Loser. Mercy Ministries’ information and resource giveaways were woven throughout the event to present the message of healing and transformation through Christ.

Here is what Cali Shackleford had to say about her involvement with Mercy Ministries:

"The thing that really attracted me is their holistic approach. I love that Mercy goes beyond the traditional practices found in a secular treatment center to include teaching the girls how to cook healthy and eat organic foods, plus they focus on emotional and spiritual healing! I’m looking forward to supporting them as they are a much needed resource to women in our community and beyond."

Mercy Ministries would like to thank Broccoli Cupcake for their love and support.

To learn more about Broccoli Cupcake and their Women’s Wellness Weekends, visit http://www.broccolicupcake.com/.

Special Visit from Musicians Grant and Brooke Norsworthy

3Last Wednesday, Nashville staff and residents were excited to host special guests Grant and Brooke Norsworthy. Originally from Australia, Grant is a Grammy nominated and Dove Award winning musician who originally came to the public’s attention as bass guitarist for the popular Paul Coleman Trio in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Grant also spent the last 3 ½ years as the bassist for the widely known worship rock band Sonicflood. Most recently, he has been gaining a reputation as a speaker - he describes his ministry as a “word and song” ministry which combines his passion to teach with his musical talent. His wife Brooke, also a talented vocalist, accompanied her husband in leading worship together.

Here is what some of the residents had to say in response to their time with the Norsworthys:

Kelly said, “I absolutely loved hearing from Grant and Brooke! Their music and teaching really spoke to me and I was reminded to let there be more of God and less of me.”

Amanda said, “I loved these two! They totally opened my eyes to the fact that my healing isn’t about me stifling my fears and addictions, but instead, it’s about allowing God to fill my emptiness.”

Jessica said, “This was an amazing class. I’m so glad that they shared a message about God’s powerful love. His love is the only thing that can change me and I need to surrender to it.”


To learn more about Grant Norsworthy and his “Word and Song” ministry, visit his website at www.grantnorsworthy.com. Check out some of the pictures from their visit:

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Private Concert with The Katinas!

This week, Samoa-born brothers Sam, Joe, Jesse, John, and James, collectively known as The Katinas, showed their love and support for Mercy Ministries with a special private concert at our Sacramento home! Over the past 15 years, the Katinas have become a favorite among Christian audiences across the country, performing hundreds of concerts each year. These tight-knit brothers have an amazing bond that really exemplified to our residents and staff the power of unity.

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Not only did they share their inspiring music, but the brothers took time to challenge the Mercy girls to do away with regrets and allow God to forgive their past mistakes. Residents were encouraged to let go of their past and move forward toward fulfilling their destinies. The men explained that God is pleased by our faith, and not by perfection. Our residents really engaged in the worship and connected with the Katina’s heart for God and the sincerity that they pour into their lyrics and testimony.

Here is what a few of the girls had to say about their private concert with the Katinas:

Haley said, “I thought they were great! They reminded me that it is God who brings transformation and I need to recognize all the things He is doing in my life.”

Beth said, “They shared a message about forgiveness. When I don’t forgive myself, I am saying to Jesus that what He did was not enough. I appreciate this valuable reminder.”

Cari said, “I loved having the Katina’s here. They took time to bless us with their music and we all felt really special.”


To learn more about The Katinas or their new album, “Still,” visit their website at www.thekatinas.com.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rubies and Pearls – A Great Success!!

Mercy Ministries Founder and President, Nancy Alcorn, recently visited the UK to attend a major fundraising gala for Mercy UK to celebrate the success of the home thus far and to cast the vision for the future. While she was there, Nancy also had the privilege of speaking that same weekend at Abundant Life Church in Bradford, England.

On Friday evening, February 26, guests gathered from all over the UK and Europe for the Rubies and Pearls Fundraising Gala. The gala was hosted by UK Executive Director, Arianna Walker, who started the evening by warmly welcoming the guests. After a great dinner, Pastor Paul Scanlon of Abundant Life Church shared about how he and Nancy Alcorn first crossed paths at Hillsong Church in Australia in 1999. From that point on, the entire Scanlon family and Abundant Life Church have partnered with Mercy Ministries to see the lives of hurting young women in the UK restored and transformed.

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30 former Mercy residents came back to be a part of this awesome event. They shared their testimonies by holding up posters that defined their lives before and after Mercy. For example, one girl’s poster said, “Violated by many,” and when she flipped the poster over it said, “Rescued by One!” Girl after girl gave glory to God for the miracle of transformation that has taken place in her life. Mercy Ministries also announced that the UK facilities will be expanded in order to double their capacity, and renovations are set to begin in April 2010!

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Here is what Nancy Alcorn had to say about this special Mercy UK event:

“On this special night, it was an honor for me to be asked to give our guests an overview of what Mercy does and how we’ve progressed over the years. For me, the highlight of the evening was being able to see and talk to several of the girls from years past. We had some time together after the event to catch up and take some photos. Then, many of the former residents came back for services at Abundant Life Church on Sunday. I’m so proud of our UK team for all their hard work, not only with this awesome event, but also for the great job they do working with the girls we serve on a daily basis. I’m very excited about the way God is moving there! It was altogether a great Mercy family weekend!”

To learn more about Mercy Ministries UK, visit their website at http://www.mercyministries.co.uk/. To learn more about Abundant Life Church and the Scanlon family, visit http://www.alm.org.uk/.

Check out these pictures from Nancy’s trip to the UK!

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