Friday, April 30, 2010

Three Mercy Grads Now College Graduates!!

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At Mercy Ministries, we have always emphasized the value of higher education and continue to encourage the girls who go through our program to further their academics. I recently received graduation announcements from three amazing young women who will be receiving their college degrees this spring! I wanted to share their exciting news with you.

1Bethany Solomon sent me this graduation announcement letting me know that she will be graduating from the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine on Thursday, May 13th. I actually had the privilege of visiting Bethany on the Texas A&M campus about three years ago when I was in the area. We had dinner together and then went to a basketball game - it was so fun! I am so proud of Bethany and how she is using her training to go on missions trips overseas to help those who are less fortunate. It has been our joy to sponsor her on the missions trips that she has taken through Texas A&M since graduating from Mercy in 2006. When Bethany was in the program, she used to take care of Jude, our Mercy dog. I couldn't resist scanning this announcement that shows Bethany wearing her white veterinary coat - so exciting!!! It's so fun to see her dreams coming true. Not only is she graduating, but she will also be getting married in June to a wonderful, Godly young man that I had the chance to meet and approve of (ha!). Congratulations, Bethany! I am so proud of you on both of these accomplishments!

4I also want to brag on another graduate named Tina Brown. She graduated from Mercy 2006. Tina sent us her announcement letting us know that she will be graduating from John Brown University and will be attending graduate school at Richmont University in Atlanta. She will be pursuing her Master's in Counseling Psychology. It is so cool to me that Tina has chosen to go into counseling and psychology based on her own personal experience and the issues she courageously faced during her time at Mercy. I know she will be a great counselor! Way to go, Tina! I am so very proud of you.

3Last, but not least, I wanted to tell you about Devin Donohue. She is a beautiful young woman that graduated from Mercy in 2007. Devin just graduated from Sullivan University with an Associate's Degree in Marketing Management. Devin has recently started her own photography business, Legacy Photography (link this to the following: http://legacypics.com/), where she is already able to put her degree to work! Devin also plans to do some traveling now that she is finished with school and hopes to go on a mission trip soon! Well done, Devin! I am so proud of all you have accomplished.


I know that you join me in congratulating Bethany, Tina, and Devin on their graduations. I am so thrilled to see what God will continue to do with their lives!.

Nancy

Mercy Founder Gives Three Graduates a Big Shout Out!

Mercy Ministries recently had a graduation at our Nashville location, and three of our graduates from the past showed up to help us celebrate! We are so proud of all three of these incredible women who are realizing their dreams and fulfilling the purpose God has for them.

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During the graduation ceremony, each of these girls took the time to encourage our Nashville staff and residents with their powerful stories. We wanted to take the time to highlight one of the girls’ stories for you.

Georgianna had graduated from the Nashville home exactly one year ago to the day of the graduation ceremony. She had just flown into Nashville that morning from being at our California home the day before for the graduation of someone she knew. A year ago, one day after Georgianna graduated from Mercy, she had the opportunity to tell another young woman, named Laura, who was desperate and hurting about the Mercy program. Laura had lost all hope and was literally ready to end her life. Because Georgianna took the time to share her story with Laura of how God radically transformed her heart and life, Laura made the decision to apply to Mercy and was one of the first girls accepted to the California home when it opened. Georgianna had the awesome privilege to be at her graduation!

We are so proud of Georgianna for using her story and her life to touch the hearts of others.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Run for Mercy Team Raises Support at Country Music Marathon!

1Even in the drenching rainstorm, Mercy Ministries Nashville residents had a blast cheering for their Run for Mercy team this past weekend at the Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon in Nashville! A total of 60 runners and walkers for Team Mercy joined more than 32,000 people in the half and full marathons that began at Centennial Park and wound through Music City. Many people thanked the Mercy girls for their spirited cheers as they served as an encouragement to everyone crossing the finish line! This year our team raised a total of $20,000!!

As a way to say thank you for Team Mercy’s support, participants received a goody bag that included a Run for Mercy shirt, a pair of sports socks, protein bars, coupons for local restaurants and more!

Babs Murray, a half marathon participant, had this to say about race day:

“I am so glad that I got the opportunity to run for such a great cause like Mercy. I hope that God will continue to bring supporters to this ministry so that they can continue to share the life Jesus offers to girls who are in need.”

The night before the race Mercy graduates, volunteers and residents all gathered for a pre-race pasta party at the Mercy Nashville home. While touring the rooms, everyone had an opportunity to enjoy a fruit smoothie, compliments of 9 Fruits, and several local sponsors including Zoe’s Kitchen, Trader Joe’s and Party City donated refreshments and decorations. During dinner, graduate Georgianna Estell shared her testimony of freedom with the group, and several runners and walkers shared their own words of encouragement.


Here is what a few of the residents had to say about supporting the Run for Mercy team:

Katelynn said, “I loved cheering everyone on. It reminded me of how our supporters, counselors and Mercy staff cheer us on while we are in the program. It was so fun.”

Amanda said, “Cheering for the Run for Mercy team was super fun! I loved watching the runners finish with enthusiasm because they reached their goal. It was such a blessing to see our team run in support of us.”

A big thanks to our top individual sponsor, Mark Black, and our top team sponsor, Team Exodus of Exodus Health Center in Nashville. Many people are committing their resources and time to support the work of Mercy Ministries as runners, sponsors, and volunteers at our Run for Mercy events across the U.S. You still have an opportunity to lace up your sneakers and support Mercy as an individual runner or by joining a team. Register online at www.runformercy.org.



Mercy Ministries Celebrates Eight New Graduates!

Nashville residents and staff joined together with family and friends to celebrate eight more amazing young women as they graduated from Mercy Ministries. These graduates have been given a second chance at life and are experiencing the life-changing power of God’s love. We would like to share their stories with you:


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Sarah

8Before Mercy, I grew up with a solid Christian background, but I didn’t understand what it meant to have a true relationship with Christ. Being born with cerebral palsy made me feel worthless and unusable, and I was convinced God and everyone else hated me because I hated myself. I gave up on God and on my life and began to look for ways to commit suicide because I didn’t want to hurt anymore. Mercy seemed to offer a chance at the abundant life I had heard about all my life and so desperately wanted. I made the decision to apply.

While at Mercy, I learned that God really does have a plan for my life. He loves me uniquely and created me with a specific purpose in mind. He never left me in my suffering and now I realize that “all things work together for my good.” I am called according to His purpose.

After I graduate, I plan on pursuing a degree in English and linguistics and eventually would like to be a career foreign missionary.


St. Louis

Rena

7Before Mercy, I lived in constant fear and I was barely keeping it all together. Shame, hopelessness, anger, abandonment and insecurity plagued my thoughts, and I became very depressed. After my parents divorced, I didn’t have a father figure in my life and this had a huge impact on my sense of self-worth. I decided to apply to Mercy when I was sick of living with constant anxiety. I completed the application and was accepted into the program.

At Mercy, God has given me peace for fear, hope for hopelessness, and joy for my depression! I am secure in who He has created me to be. He has promised that He will never leave me or forsake me, and I know that He has an amazing plan for my life.

After I graduate, I plan on getting involved in my local church and hope to someday help girls who are hurting, the way Mercy helped me. I want young women to know that their hope is in Jesus Christ.

McKenzie

6Before coming to Mercy, my life revolved around buying, selling and using OxyContin. I was losing control of my life – immersed in this accelerating addiction. I didn’t even know who I was anymore and had no idea how to get help. My pastor, Debbie Lindell at James River Assembly, told me about Mercy and encouraged me to apply. I’m so glad I did!

While at Mercy, God has shown Himself to me through the loving staff and incredible counselors. I finally have a real relationship with Jesus and I experience His love everyday. I have hope for my future and know the indescribable joys of living clean from drugs and honoring God in all that I do.

After Mercy, I’m moving back to Springfield to live with my family. I plan to continue walking out everything I learned at Mercy. I also look forward to pursuing a job with Monster Jam, a live motorsport event tour and television show. I’m excited for all that God is going to do!


Hope

3Before Mercy, my life felt pointless and without purpose. Suffering from severe depression and anxiety, I spent most of my time isolated from others, laying on the couch or sleeping all day long. I began using self-harm as a way to cope with this paralyzed existence because my life felt very meaningless. I desperately needed help overcoming my struggles and when my parents encouraged me to apply to Mercy, I knew that I had to dedicate time to my healing.

While I have been at Mercy, God has completely changed me! I have confidence in God’s love for me, and I know that my future is not defined by my past. I know that I am worthy of receiving His love, and I’m so thankful for that. The Mercy staff demonstrated the unconditional love of God and helped me realize His truths! I will never forget this amazing time in my life.

After graduation, I will focus on allowing God to bring healing into my relationships with my family. My future is forever changed.



Lincoln

Heather

2At 4 years of age, I was molested by a trusted church friend, and this deeply impacted my life. As a result of this abuse, I grew up believing that I should be silent and live in fear of others. Later, in my twenties, I experienced more sexual abuse which led to promiscuity and a lack of self-worth. Desperate to be called beautiful, I also battled with anorexia. I was on a destructive path with no way out, and I knew something needed to change so I decided to apply to Mercy.

At Mercy, I have learned that I am deeply loved and valued by God. I was even worth dying for! God has healed my heart and completely transformed my perspective! I am a princess because I am loved by my Father, the King. He has set me free!

After Mercy, I plan to move to Colorado Springs and work as a full time esthetician at a local spa. I know that my Father has a great purpose for my life!


Laura

5Before coming to Mercy, I partied my life away. The party scene and promiscuity took hold of my life, and I felt enslaved by this fallen world. Every day I was addicted to binging and purging and then on the weekends I switched to an all liquid diet called alcohol. I knew that only God’s strength and love could free me from the bondage I was in, so I applied to Mercy Ministries.

While I was at Mercy, God revealed many amazing truths to me. He is captivated by my beauty and He loves me just the way I am. He is the Lover of my soul. Choosing to live without Him is no longer an option because now I truly know He is my only hope! There is no other way!

After graduation, I plan to work at a Christian family camp. Life is exciting when it is in the hands of God. He is bound to take me anywhere and use my life to do anything!



Nashville

Ainsley

1Before Mercy, I was physically and sexually abused by a man in my dad’s church. At that time, I began abusing prescription drugs, self-harming and struggling with suicidal thoughts. Later in high school, I was introduced to harder drugs and alcoholism took over my life. After several failed suicide attempts, I found myself pregnant with twins and desperate for help. Mercy was God’s answer for me.

During my time at Mercy, God has completely transformed my life. He brought me out of death and has given me a new life in Him! Not only that but He has also restored my relationship with my family. I am brand new!

After Mercy, I plan to pursue a degree in Pediatric Nursing. I look forward to all that the future holds.


Kalissa

4After being sexually abused by several men in my life, I began the damaging cycle of self-harm and experienced severe depression. For a long time, I tried to figure out everything on my own, and I didn’t want to have anything to do with God. Life without God is completely dark and hopeless so I knew something had to change. My sister learned about the Mercy program and encouraged me to apply. I’m glad I followed her suggestion.

At Mercy, God has completely changed me from the inside out. I no longer have to live with shame and guilt because I know that everything that has happened will be used for my ultimate good. No matter what happens, God is worthy of my praise. I am so thankful for my time in this program.

After Mercy, I will be returning home and looking for a job. From now on, my life is no longer my own, and I am thrilled about that!


Congratulations Sarah, Rena, McKenzie, Hope, Heather, Laura, Ainsley and Kalissa!! We thank God for what He is doing in each of your lives and look forward to the future He has for you!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Team Supports Mercy at Sacramento’s River City Marathon!

1On Sunday, the residents of the Mercy Ministries’ Lincoln home were excited to cheer on their Run for Mercy team at the starting line for the River City Marathon and Half Marathon in Sacramento. Our amazing team of 21 runners gathered, along with friends, family and volunteers, to set out on the scenic asphalt trail that runs beside the American River to help raise support for Mercy Ministries! A total of $10,000 was raised for the young women we serve!

3All of the runners gathered the night before the race at the Lincoln home for a pre-race pasta party to meet their team members and eat lunch with the Mercy girls. Melissa Babasin, team captain for We Choose Hope, shared what inspired her to run for Mercy and encouraged everyone for race day. A close family friend of the Conk’s who recently lost their daughter Alyse in an accident, Melissa shared with supporters that Alyse was on the waiting list for Mercy Ministries. Melissa and Alyse’s older sister Ashley made the brave decision to form a Run for Mercy team to honor the memory of this beloved young woman and to support Mercy. Here is what Melissa had to say about the race:

“God is so good and I love that He wanted to show up and use me to raise support for Mercy and honor Alyse! God wants to show us He is bigger than we can even imagine. What an awesome experience this has been for me!!”
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Here is what a few of the residents had to say about the encouragement they received during these events:

Jess said, “It is humbling to know what these supporters have done for us. They’ve been thinking about the Mercy girls throughout these several months that they have been training for this race, and that is really cool.”

Prisca said, “I have been very touched by these wonderful people who ran an entire marathon to help raise money for us. They don’t even know me and they are still demonstrating their love and support. I think that is awesome!”


A big thanks to the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento’s NBA All-Star team, for there generous donation to the race! Mercy Ministries would also like to thank all of our runners who brought faith to life with their generosity. They are truly inspiring!

Opportunities are still available to support Mercy Ministries by running or walking for Team Mercy. Register online at www.runformercy.org by joining an existing team, forming a new team, or participating as an individual runner at a race near you.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Power-Packed Weekend – Nancy speaks in Oklahoma!

For Mercy Ministries Founder and President, Nancy Alcorn, this past weekend was filled with many exciting opportunities to speak and share the heart and vision of Mercy throughout the Tulsa and Oklahoma City area.

Nancy considers it a great privilege to have been invited by the Oasis Radio Network out of Tulsa to come by their studio Friday and share her story on their daily radio program. Roadshow host, David Warren, was excited to give Nancy a platform to share how God is using Mercy Ministries to help transform the lives of young women all around the world and equip them for a great future. One St. Louis graduate, Lindsay , also joined Nancy in the studio in order to share her amazing journey from depression and suicidal thoughts to complete freedom in Christ! We hope that as this radio interview airs on many stations around the country, people will be moved to join with us through their prayers and support to see more lives transformed. To learn more about the Worship Radio Network, visit www.oasisnetwork.org.

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Nancy Alcorn pictured with Roadshow host, David Warren

Then on Friday evening, Nancy visited Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, where she was invited to speak at the Shine Women’s Conference hosted by Pastor Sharon Daugherty. This was a powerful time as over 900 women from all ages came together to seek God and focus their hearts towards Him. Many people were touched as Nancy shared a message about the power of the Cross of Christ. She challenged everyone to examine the impact of their choices by asking themselves, “Who is on the other side of your obedience?” As Nancy shared what Christ did in order for us to be forgiven, many people were moved to let go of their past and demonstrate forgiveness in their own lives.

Nancy was joined by other keynote speakers including Sharon Daugherty, Senior Pastor at Victory Christian Center, Sarah Wehrli, Founder of Inspire International, and Ruthie Sanders, Administrative Pastor at Victory Christian Center. To learn more about Victory Christian Center, visit www.victorytulsa.org. To learn more about the Shine Women’s Conference, visit www.shineconference.org.

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On Saturday, Nancy traveled to Oklahoma City for a very special private fundraiser at the home of Bill and Cindy Stewart. The Stewarts have been faithful supporters of Mercy Ministries for many years and adopted their son, Gabe, through our adoption program. We are so thankful that this generous couple opened their home to host this event. Hearts were touched as Nancy shared the vision of Mercy and two graduates shared their powerful testimonies of freedom. With the goal to expand our reach across the nation, Mercy Ministries wants to raise awareness in the Oklahoma area so more people can join us in seeing lives changed!

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Bill and Cindy Stewart, their son Gabe, and Nancy Alcorn

We are excited that churches, ministries and individuals in Oklahoma are embracing the vision of Mercy Ministries and committing their support.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pastor Lindell Cooley Shares a Life-Changing Message in Nashville!

2Mercy Nashville residents and staff were honored to host Lindell Cooley, Pastor of Grace Church in Nashville, Tennessee, as their special guest teacher and worship leader last Tuesday morning. Nancy Alcorn, Founder and President of Mercy Ministries, first met Pastor Cooley in the early 90’s when he led worship at Christ Church in Nashville. Later, when he became the worship leader for Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida, history was made when the church experienced a powerful revival in which many people encountered a mighty move of God in their lives. This revival lasted five consecutive years!

In 2004, Pastor Cooley moved back to Nashville to plant Grace Church. An extremely talented songwriter and musician, he serves as President of Music Missions International (MMI), a nonprofit ministry dedicated to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ through music, ministry, missions and education. Pastor Cooley is known across the country and beyond for his worship leading and for a number of his dynamic recordings.

Pastor Cooley delivered a powerful message that blew everyone away! The message was dynamic and life-changing, yet practical and easy-to-apply. He shared about the power of blessing and explained how vital it is that we speak life and blessing verses death. He shared several examples of blessing and cursing from the Bible. Pastor Cooley challenged everyone to get with someone who is a leader in their life and ask them to verbally bless them. Several of our pregnant residents were empowered to use this opportunity and speak blessing over their babies and dedicate their children’s lives to God! We are excited that many of our residents and staff experienced exciting breakthrough in their Christian walk and were deeply impacted by this awesome time of ministry!

Here is what a few of the girls had to say about Pastor Cooley’s life-changing message:

Cara said, “This was AMAZING! I have learned that my words are so powerful! Now I want to speak blessings over myself, and over other people’s lives.”

Beth said, “Pastor Cooley’s message was life-changing! His message on speaking blessings totally changed my thought life and the words I speak!”


Here is what Nancy Alcorn had to say about this: “I rarely say this, but I absolutely think this is one message that every single person in the whole entire Body of Christ globally needs to listen to. Thanks to the power of the internet, this can be possible for anyone who reads this. Please trust me on this one. You are not only going to want to apply this to your life, but you will want to share with others so they can do the same.”

A huge thanks to Pastor Cooley for bringing this life-breathing and life-giving word to our residents and staff! If you want to check out more about Pastor Lindell Cooley and what he is doing through his church, Grace Church of Nashville, check out their website at www.gracechurchnashville.com.

Click here to download Pastor Cooley’s powerful message!


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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

UK Friends Steve and Charlotte Gambill Spend Day at Mercy...

Over the years, Nancy Alcorn, Founder and President of Mercy Ministries, has developed a very special friendship with Steve and Charlotte Gambill. Steve and Charlotte are from Abundant Life Church in Bradford, England of which Charlotte is the Senior Associate Pastor. Nancy has joined the Gambills at conferences around the world, including Abundant Life’s Rocknations Conference, which empowers young people across the United Kingdom to change their culture for Christ! Charlotte has also come alongside Mercy Ministries to help birth and support the Mercy UK home. This past Thursday, Nashville’s residents and staff were honored to host the Gambills as their special guests for a time of strong encouragement and instructive teaching.

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The day started with Charlotte speaking to all the girls and staff. She shared about being a life-giver, through the words we speak and our attitudes! Charlotte gave the analogy of being a blood donor – when we give blood, we are helping give life to someone else. No one wants tainted blood! We are called to donate life to others, and not junk. When we are life-givers, we have the opportunity to release joy to others just as God breathes life into us! Her message was so timely and encouraging for everyone.

Steve and Charlotte both spoke in the afternoon. While Charlotte did a leadership teaching for all of our staff, Steve was in another part of the home encouraging our girls to build their lives on who Jesus is, and that as they follow Jesus, they will begin to see the impossible become possible. Charlotte spoke to the staff about counting the cost of everything we do and challenging us all to remember that the work we do is for a greater purpose – a Kingdom purpose!

Here is what a few of our residents had to say about these impactful messages:

Sharayah said, “The concept of speaking life over dead situations and relationships that Charlotte talked about was powerful to me. I want to seek out what God is doing in the situations in my life and agree with Him with my words.”

Jen said, “I loved Charlotte! There is life inside of me, and I need to start letting it out and give it away. I’m definitely going to be more mindful of what comes out of my mouth and remember that my words can speak life or death.

Heather said, “Pastor Steve’s message was so encouraging. I was greatly impacted by the interaction between he and his daughter Hope. I will never feel that kind of love and protection from my earthly father but, there is a greater hope being birthed inside of me because God is my Father and His love endures all things and never ceases.”

Kelly said, “I loved how Pastor Steve talked about the impossible being possible if we choose to build our foundation on God. Even ordinary people can do amazing things when they rely on God!”


This was an amazing time of ministry, but one of the highlights for Nancy Alcorn was getting to see Steve and Charlotte’s two kids, Hope (7) and Noah (4)! Hope even wanted to encourage the girls and staff a little bit herself, telling everyone how beautiful they looked! Check out these pictures from our time with the Gambills.

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To learn more about Steve and Charlotte Gambill and Abundant Life Church, visit www.alm.org.uk.

Monday, April 19, 2010

It’s a Boy!! – Mercy Resident Gives Birth to Baby Kayden

1Mercy Ministries is celebrating the birth of a happy and healthy baby boy to Nashville resident, Shelby. Baby Kayden Bentley was born at 12:07 pm on April 4th – Easter Sunday! He weighed 7 pounds and 2 ounces and was 19 inches long. After much prayer, Shelby made the brave choice to place her baby boy for adoption with a loving Christian family. She said, “I placed Kayden because I love him so much, and I want him to have everything he needs. I know that God has a great purpose for his life.”

Because of our supporters, girls like Shelby, who face unplanned pregnancy, can receive the help they need and then choose to parent or place their babies for adoption. We thank God that our supporters work hand in hand to see lives saved and transformed!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Stephen and Candy LaFlora Visit Mercy in Nashville!

1This week, worship leaders, Stephen and Candy LaFlora took time out of their schedules to share with our Nashville residents! The LaFloras have served in worship ministry for over 20 years, working with Christian leaders such as Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Hillsong, Delirious, and others. They are currently serving on Joyce Meyer’s Conference Tour.

Candy led our residents in worship and encouraged the girls to always treat themselves as a valuable treasure, regardless of how others choose to treat them. Stephen followed up by encouraging each resident to stay focused on their journey, especially during their time at Mercy. The LaFlora’s powerful messages about stewardship and value challenged residents to fully surrender to the Lord’s process so they can be fruitful and learn who they are in Christ. Each girl was encouraged in a personal way to continue on her journey of healing during her time at Mercy Ministries.

Many of the girls were touched by what Stephen and Candy had to share. Here is what a few of them had to say about this special visit:

2Pheobe said, “I was really impacted by the LaFloras. They reminded me that my time at Mercy is only for a season, and I must stay focused and not get distracted.”

Heather said, “This was an AMAZING teaching. Understanding how valuable I am helps me move from a place of being wounded to a place where I am healed and whole.”

Jen said, “Stephen said the enemy tries to make us tired so we will give up, but we have to remember that God already has the victory. When I feel like quitting, I must remember that I can keep moving forward, even it is only with small steps.”


To learn more about Stephen and Candy LaFlora, visit their websites at www.stepwool.com or www.myspace.com/steveandcandylaflora.



Thursday, April 15, 2010

Run for Mercy Team Participates in St. Louis Go! Marathon

1On Sunday morning, a Run for Mercy team participated in the St. Louis Go! Marathon and Half-Marathon (www.gostlouis.org) and raised $8,000 for the young women we serve! It was a beautiful morning as our team joined 17,000 runners at the starting line at Soldiers Memorial in downtown St. Louis. Their journey was a 26.2 mile course toward the famous Gateway Arch. The Run for Mercy team completed the marathon while residents from the St. Louis home cheered them on to the finish line.

One Team Mercy participant and St. Louis graduate, Teresa, said, “Running the race to raise funds for Mercy Ministries was a great opportunity for me to give back to the ministry that changed my life. I would not have been able to participate in this race if it were not for the amazing work God did in me during that time, and I want every girl to have the opportunity to experience that kind of freedom!”



2All of the runners, including our Run for Mercy volunteers and several Mercy graduates, gathered the night before the race at the St. Louis Mercy home for a pre-race pasta party sponsored by Faith Family Church of Shiloh, Illinois. While eating dinner, guests had the opportunity to hear testimonies from St. Louis graduates Courtney and Carmen. Courtney had never run a mile in her life before coming to Mercy, but the next day, as a member of Team Mercy, she ran a half-marathon!

Here is what a few of the residents had to say about their Run for Mercy supporters:

Kody said, “Seeing how many people support Mercy Ministries touched my heart. The runners pressed on through the race just as we press on through our journey at Mercy. I’m so thankful for all of them.”

Morgan said, “The pasta party was so much fun! I loved having the opportunity to meet all the kind and generous people who are willing to support my journey here at Mercy. Their willingness to help me without even knowing me is a true testimony to the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.”



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

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Women run marathon to raise money, awareness


Philip Wood -- Gold Country Media
Melissa Babasin, left, and Ashley Conk start out their mornings by training for the upcoming
River City Marathon. The two friends hope to raise money and awareness for Mercy Ministries
group home in Lincoln. The Mercy House helps young women who are going through hard times.


In memory of someone they loved and with a desire to help others in need, two young women will run in this weekend’s 2010 River City Marathon and Half Marathon Run & Walk, to raise money for Lincoln’s Mercy Ministries House.

Ashley Conk and Melissa Babasin are running in Alyse Conk’s memory.

“We wanted to do something in my sister’s name,” Conk said. “Melissa and I talked and did a lot of thinking. Raising money for a group who help young women like Alyse – we thought it’s a very worthy cause.”

Alyse died of accidental drowning in August 2009. Her body was discovered in Loomis Basin Community Park, where she had been camping.

Both her older sister Ashley and family friend Babasin said Alyse had been going through hard times.

“She was really working hard to turn things around,” Babasin said. “Alyse had enrolled as a candidate for Mercy Ministries group home in Lincoln. Had she gotten in, things would have been better for her.”

Mercy Ministries is a free-of-charge residential program that helps young women between the ages of 13-28 who face life-controlling issues such as eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, physical and sexual abuse, depression and unplanned pregnancy.

“It’s a great program and it really would have helped Alyse,” Conk said. “It’s something we need in this day and age, a place where young women can turn to for emotional and spiritual support.”

Babasin said she and Conk felt doing a run for Lincoln’s Mercy home – in Alyse’s memory – was the right thing to do.

“Things took off from there,” Babasin said.

Along with a core group of supporters – some of them attending the Warehouse Christian Ministries in Roseville – Conk and Babasin formed the team “We Choose Hope.”

“Some of them attend the same church that we do,” Conk said. “Some of them also have beliefs different from ours. But what holds us together is Alyse, the impact she had on our lives and how much we want to help the Mercy Ministries house.”

Babasin said when they first formed the team, she thought they would be lucky if they raised a thousand dollars.

“We’ve all ready raised more than $5,000,” she said. “We’re off to a very good start.”

“Of course, we started training for the marathon, which neither of us have ever done before,” Conk said. “We’ve been training for almost 16 weeks. We’re both hurting muscles we never knew we had.”

Both women said there were times they felt pushed to their limits, physically and emotionally.

“It can be draining and even painful,” Babasin said. “If I feel like I’m close to the breaking point, I tell myself who I’m doing this for and why.”

Conk does the same thing.

“This is something Alyse would have wanted and I’m honoring her memory by being in this marathon,” she said. “I’m also helping young women who need a chance to turn their lives around. That’s another thing Alyse would have wanted me to do.”

Babasin and Conk have kept in close contact with the young women now living at the Lincoln Mercy House.

“They’ve been praying for us a lot,” Conk said. “The night before the run, we’re going to have dinner with the girls. It’ll be a good time.”

Aside from Conk and Babasin, other members on the team with be running or walking the course.

“Everyone is pitching in, doing his or her best,” Babasin said. “Everyone is committed to putting in 110 percent.”

Winning the marathon is not even in their minds, Conk said.

“The only winners will be the girls living in the Mercy House,” she said. “Raising money and awareness for Mercy Ministries and the girls they help – they’re the ones who deserve to win.

“It’s what Alyse would have wanted.”


SOURCE: By Brad Smith, The Press Tribune

Sacramento Residents Enjoy a Hike through Historic Auburn Ravine

Our Sacramento residents enjoyed a very special opportunity to explore the California wilderness on a refreshing hike through Auburn Ravine, a small historic town outside of Sacramento, in the beautiful Sierra Nevada foothills.

The scenery along this famous California trail is unique. There are several small waterfalls through large expansive canyons, and it has the best preserved historic downtown in the state. Known as one of the oldest gold mining towns in California, Auburn Ravine still has remnants of stone walls and barriers along the trail, left behind from the Gold Rush. Residents and staff celebrated this opportunity to enjoy the scenery and explore the rich American history available on this nearby trail.

Here is what some of the girls had to say about their weekend hike:

Jess said, “Today was so much fun. I loved being outside in the American wilderness! This area is amazingly beautiful and we loved having a refreshing break from our daily routine.”

Kristin said, “I loved going on our hiking excursion today. The weather was perfect and the scenery was amazing. Being outside brings a sense of peace and serenity that I needed, and I spent a lot of this time in prayer.”

Alicia said, “I always appreciate being able to get out in God’s beautiful creation and marvel over His amazing, indescribable love for us!”

With the weather warming up, it was nice for the Mercy girls to spend time outdoors exploring nature and sightseeing. Check out these pictures from the hike through Auburn Ravine!


Monday, April 12, 2010

Mercy Ministries Celebrates Easter!

This Easter was a busy and fun-filled time for our U.S. homes as we celebrated God’s act of love for us and our new life in Him!

The Nashville residents had a blast helping facilitate Christ Church Nashville’s Children’s Ministry Easter Egg Hunt. Residents loved having the opportunity to get out in the sunshine with the kids! They served by hiding the eggs on the hillside, overseeing the arts and crafts, painting faces, and helping the young children play games.

Here is what a few of the Nashville residents had to say about this volunteer opportunity:

Katie said, “I really enjoyed this event because I was able to share the Easter story with several of the kids. I told them that we were celebrating how much God loves us.

Kelly said, “Helping at the Easter Egg Hunt was so much fun! The children were excited as they played games. It was nice to be able to give back to Christ Church since they give so much to us.”



This past weekend, the St. Louis residents went to the St. Louis Dream Center to attend a community Easter Extravaganza. The Dream Center is an organization partnered with Joyce Meyer Ministries that provides global humanitarian aid to hurting people while incorporating Biblical principles. The Mercy girls assisted with all kinds of fun children’s activities including a petting zoo, cake walk, face painting, and pony rides! They also had the opportunity to enjoy yummy kettle corn, candy and sodas, live music and carnival games. Lots of sunshine made this a perfect day!

Here is what a few of the St. Louis residents said about their time at the Dream Center:

Paula said, “I have never seen so much chocolate in all my life! Spending time with all of the kids in the community was wonderful. What a joy!”

Morgan said, “I loved being able to help with an event that sows so much into kids who otherwise might have very little opportunity to hear the Easter message. I will not forget this time.”



On the other side of the country, our Sacramento residents had the opportunity to observe Easter in a very unique way! On Good Friday, Bayside Church in Sacramento hosted a prayer journey event called “Stations of the Cross.” Mercy Ministries’ residents and staff had the opportunity to walk through several stations on Bayside Church’s campus that powerfully connected believers with the passion of Christ and what His love means for our lives today. Each scene represented a step on the journey from the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was arrested, to Jesus’ trial and eventually to His burial. The Mercy girls were able to use their Bibles, reflective questions, prayer and other hands on activities to reflect on what this season is all about!

Here is what the Sacramento residents had to say about this Easter experience:

Shelby said, “’Stations of the Cross’ was absolutely life changing. Each station reminded me of Christ’s sacrifice and I felt a weight lifted off me as I realized anew how much God truly loves me.”

Esther said, “This event brought the Easter story to life! It opened my eyes to see what Jesus did for me and I feel challenged to lay down my past hurts and live my life to the fullest!”


It is always great when the Mercy girls get to enjoy events and help serve the local community. We are so grateful to the churches and ministries that support our residents and provide opportunities for them to get involved.

To learn more about the St. Louis Dream Center, visit www.stldreamcenter.net.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Singer/Songwriter Dorothy Savage Visits Mercy Ministries in Nashville

1Singer and songwriter, Dorothy Savage visited the Nashville Mercy Ministries home last week to share several songs from her recently released album, “Glorious Mess.” Having overcome a scarred childhood of deprivation and insecurity, Dorothy connects with the heart of Mercy Ministries for hurting young women and attributes her life successes to her close relationship with Jesus. Dorothy sang several songs about her journey in life and then encouraged the residents with her humble message of hope.

Dorothy writes music about her life. Her debut album unfolds like an autobiography that outlines her faith journey from childhood to where she is today. Dorothy sang about learning to live the way God wants us to live knowing that His grace is sufficient to meet all our needs and that His mercies are new every morning.

Dorothy’s message touched the hearts of the residents and staff. Here is what a few of the Mercy girls had to say about Dorothy’s visit:

Kelly said, “So many of the strongholds she shared are the exact same lies I have been dealing with, and it is incredible to see how free she is from those struggles now. It helps me believe I can have freedom too!”

Amanda said, “I absolutely adored her! Her music and her voice give me so much encouragement and I’m definitely inspired to go all out and conquer the world!”

Cara said, “I could tell Dorothy genuinely loves God. She pointed to Christ for all of her successes because she has been made new through Him.”


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It was such a privilege to have Dorothy come and share at Mercy Ministries. To learn more about Dorothy Savage or her debut album, visit her website at www.dorothysavage.com.

Click here to watch the video of Dorothy’s visit at Mercy Ministries!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pastor Cathy Ciaramitaro Shares a Powerful Message in Nashville

2Last week, residents at our Nashville home were excited to welcome Pastor Cathy Ciaramitaro for a special time of Bible study. Pastor Cathy is an inspiring teacher who travels internationally alongside her husband, Pastor Rick Ciaramitaro, President of Open Bible Faith Fellowship of Canada and Senior Pastor of Windsor Christian Fellowship in Ontario, Canada. Pastor Cathy’s powerful teaching on the message of the cross has greatly impacted the lives of many people who have heard her speak or have read her book “The Cross: the Power, the Purpose and the Passion.” She is also recognized for her teachings on leadership training and character development – helping Christians learn the skills they need for effective ministry.

Residents and staff were deeply touched as Pastor Cathy shared an impacting message that allowed them to experience God in a whole new way! Describing the horrible pain Christ suffered on the cross, Pastor Cathy encouraged residents to ask God to give them a new perspective on His heart and His character. She reminded residents that this sacrifice is the beginning of our new life in Christ and then took the time to pray with many of the residents individually.

A big thanks to Pastor Cathy for taking time to stop by the Nashville home to share this priceless message. Here is what a few of the girls had to say about what they learned:

Meagan said, “I absolutely loved this teaching! What happened at the cross is the beginning and the end of everything and is the foundation on which I am able to stand and face each day.”

Jen said, “So often I feel defeated and think life is impossible, but Pastor Cathy reminded me that I will never be defeated because Jesus already won the victory over my life!”

Heather said, “What Christ did on the cross is powerful, and I want to be an ambassador of this message to the world.”


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To learn more about Pastors Rick and Cathy Ciaramitaro and their church, Windsor Christian Fellowship, visit their website at www.windsorchristianfellowship.com.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nancy Alcorn speaks at NCAA Final Four Award Breakfast!

For Mercy Ministries Founder and President, Nancy Alcorn, basketball has always been a passion. As an avid lover of sports, Nancy intended to pursue a career as a basketball coach – either on the high school or college level – but God had a completely different plan for her life!

This past weekend, after attending both NCAA women’s semi-final games, Nancy was honored to be the guest speaker for an Easter Sunday Worship Service and Award Breakfast in San Antonio, Texas sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Over 300 members of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and their families and friends came out to give honor to God and celebrate their sport. Nancy shared a powerful message about victory. Pointing to the cross of Christ, she encouraged guests to live with unwavering faith as they fight their battles from victory rather than for victory. Everyone was reminded that Jesus already paid the price for victory therefore we have already won the game!


Other special guests included Head Women’s University of Nevada Basketball Coach, Jane Albright, and Vice President of the Division 1 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship and FCA’s Coaches’ Ministry Director, Donna Noonan. Worship was led by Jami Smith who is a premier worship leader and recording artist. To learn more about Jami Smith’s music, visit her website at www.jamismith.com.

Another highlight of this trip for Nancy was having the opportunity to see long-time women’s basketball coach Nancy Wilson be presented with the Kay Yow Heart of a Coach Award. This award honors coaches who exemplify Biblical principles throughout their careers and was named after the late North Carolina State coaching icon Kay Yow.

We are excited to see legendary coaches and athletes all come together to connect with each other and their Savior! To learn more about Fellowship of Christian Athletes, visit www.fca.org.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Nine Mercy Graduates Celebrate in Nashville, Lincoln and St. Louis

Nashville, Lincoln and St. Louis residents and staff came together with family and friends this month to celebrate the graduation of nine more incredible women! These ladies have personally experienced God’s life-transforming power and are excited to share their stories.


Nashville

Nicole

7Before Mercy, I grew up dealing with depression and anger as a result of being sexually abused by several family members. Eventually, I began struggling with self-harm, an eating disorder, and drug addiction. Confronting suicidal thoughts every day, I desperately needed to find a way out of the darkness I was living in. When I found out about Mercy from a friend, I finally caught a glimpse of hope for my healing.

At Mercy, God has given me joy and has proven how faithful He is to fulfill the promises He has made to me. I have learned how to forgive others and have also received a greater revelation of God’s grace and unconditional love for me.

When I return home, I plan to get involved in my local church and help on the worship team, and I would also like to pursue a college degree. I am so excited to see where the Lord is going to take me.


Jessica

3For most of my life, I felt like I was screaming for help but no one could hear me. I felt very alone, abandoned and rejected. I began to take drastic measures in order to get attention and landed myself in the hospital. After being sexually abused by a trusted doctor, I became very depressed. I had a huge fear of authority and no sense of self worth, and attempted to end my life several times. My life became consumed by my struggles with bulimia, over-exercising, and self-harm. This chaos led me to hit rock bottom. That is when I decided to apply to Mercy Ministries.

Wow! Since being at Mercy, I have learned to trust again - both in the people around me and in the Lord. God has filled the empty places in my heart that I had so desperately been trying to fill myself. He restored a joy for living that I haven’t experienced in a long time.

After Mercy, I plan to attend Baylor University to pursue a degree in social work. I am looking forward to getting involved in missions work and would like to minister to victims of human trafficking.


Melody

6Early on in my life, I learned that self-harm could help me gain control over my emotions. My mother was an alcoholic and my father also struggled with self-harm. The emotional and verbal abuse I received left me hating myself and I believed I was predestined for failure. I attempted suicide several times before finally seeking help. My social worker gave me the information I needed to apply to Mercy Ministries.

While at Mercy, I learned that God loves me. Now I know I am likeable and that I have hope for the future. I no longer turn to self-harm as a means to cope with my emotions. To God be the glory! I know I am a mighty woman of God and that I will help bring people out of darkness and into His light.

After graduation, I am excited to be attending Jacksonville State University on a scholarship and will be pursuing a degree in music education. I hope to use my degree to become a music teacher. Eventually, I would also like to pursue a degree in counseling so I can help other young women who have experienced similar childhood abuse.


Lincoln

Amanda

1Growing up was difficult for me because I experienced abuse, abandonment, and the death of several loved ones. I turned to drugs, alcohol and promiscuity to ease the pain and depression. I desired to numb myself to everything and not face any of my issues directly. The life I was living was killing me. I knew I needed to do something different and a friend shared with me how many girls had found hope at Mercy Ministries, so I applied.

My time at Mercy has been completely miraculous. God has given me an understanding of who I am in Him and I now have a genuine love for myself and for others. I am not afraid to love anymore, and I am excited about my life!

After I graduate, I want to tell others about the hope that I have in Christ because that is my passion for the future.


Beth

2My life before Mercy was out of control. I had been physically, sexually, and emotionally abused which led to many of my struggles. I was constantly looking for ways to fill the void in my heart and self-harm, alcoholism, and an eating disorder were symptoms of this overwhelming emptiness. I was lost. I felt like no one was there to help me and that I deserved to suffer. Suicidal and at the end of myself, I applied to Mercy Ministries as my last hope.

During my time at Mercy, God totally revealed Himself to me and set me free from all of my issues. He has shown me how much He loves and adores me. I am running full force toward God and learning to rely on Him for everything.

After Mercy, I plan to take part in a 9 month internship at The Rock of Roseville Church near Sacramento, California. I also want to pursue a degree in sports education and hope to one day work for Mercy Ministries.


Lily

5Before Mercy, I was full of anger due to a childhood of physical and emotional abuse. At first, food restriction was a method I used to calm myself down and cope with this pain. Eventually it became a way to lose weight and succeed at something. Anorexia, self-harm, and over-exercising allowed me to have power over my life. My issues made me feel unique and negative attention felt better than being ignored. Ironically, I came across Mercy Ministries when I was looking online for a treatment option for a friend. Later, when I was trying to get sponsorship for the 2008 Run for Mercy in California, a friend told me that they would only donate if I was a resident! I agreed and applied to the program soon after.

Because of my time at Mercy, I now know who I am in Christ – capable, approved, accepted, joyful, strong, confident, healed, and God’s unique handiwork. Christ was nailed to the cross so that I can live FREE, not just coping or existing. I don’t have to live like a victim anymore.

After Mercy, I plan to find a job and pursue a degree in dietetics. I’m looking forward to getting plugged in to a local church where I can build Godly relationships.


St. Louis

Teresa

9My parents were emotionally absent throughout most of my childhood so I never felt loved or accepted. A sexually abusive relationship with a boyfriend led me to obsess about my body because I felt like I was not good enough. I believed that my entire worth was dependent on my physical appearance and my accomplishments. When I got involved in basketball, I strived for perfection that I could never obtain. I was constantly trying to earn God’s love. My eating disorder and uncertainty about my relationship with God made me feel hopeless and suicidal. After reading the book Mercy for Eating Disorders, I decided I either had to apply to Mercy Ministries or take my own life. I’m so glad I made the decision to apply.

At Mercy, I have learned that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I no longer have to try to change myself on my own because I am now submitting to God daily and relying on Him to transform me. I am embracing God’s love which enables me to truly love others, and am no longer ruled by fear, guilt and condemnation.

After I graduate, I plan to get involved in my local church in St. Louis and eventually pursue a Master’s Degree in psychology or sociology. I hope to one day work with other women with life-controlling issues.


Lauren

4Before coming to Mercy, I struggled with anorexia, depression and self-harm. I believed God was a demanding task master who was always disappointed in me and would never love me unless I was perfect. With the mindset that I could never be healed, I became interested in Mercy Ministries because I believed the program would teach me life skills. The truth is that I was in bondage and could not continue living the same way, so I applied.

God spoke to me at Mercy and revealed Himself in a way that I never thought was possible. I do not have to be ashamed or hate myself because I was made beautiful in His image. God continues to restore the joy and love inside of me that I thought was dead. I am so thankful for learning the truth!

After graduation, I plan to reconcile with my family and be the daughter and sister that was lost for so many years. I want to live my life helping others who need to find new life.


Tasha

8I grew up feeling very numb and emotionless because I had suffered physical abuse at the hands of a close family member. I felt dead, so I naturally did not really care to live. I wanted to die. I isolated myself from others feeling as if I was never going to be good enough for anyone to accept or to love me. I was tired of waking up over and over again in the same horrible situation. When I found myself hopeless, I learned about Mercy Ministries, and made the decision to apply.

God has completely transformed my self-perception since being at Mercy. I know I am not worthless because God loves me and I can do anything with Him at the center of my life. The enemy no longer has a hold on me and he has been defeated!

After Mercy, I plan to pursue a degree in Pediatric Cardiology and hope to use public speaking in my ministry. I am excited about my future!


We are very proud of you and your accomplishments! You’ve shown heart and determination in the journey to regain your life and we are very excited to see you live out your freedom.