Friday, May 28, 2010

Jaime Jamgochian Visits the California Home!

Worship artist and host of the “Modest is Hottest” conferences, Jaime Jamgochian, has visited our Nashville home several times. Recently, Jaime was in Rocklin, CA leading worship with our good friends and ministry partners, Sunset Christian Church. Sunset Christian Church is also the home church of the residents in our California home. Jaime stopped by Mercy to have lunch with the girls and treat them to a special time of worship. In 2006, Jaime first met Nancy Alcorn, the Founder and President of Mercy Ministries, on the "Girls of Grace" tour. Jaime says of Nancy, "I was taken by her passion to see girls walk in the divine destiny and freedom Jesus has for each of us."

Jaime came to know Christ during her college years and admits to making her share of mistakes. Because of her testimony, Jaime feels a passion to talk with girls about modesty and purity. She challenged the Mercy girls to live in a way that reveals security in who God says we are and how He is reflected in all areas of our lives.

Jaime’s music is about escaping life's noise and passionately seeking God in the midst of distraction. Our residents engaged in Jaime's passion for worship and were encouraged by the insightful lyrics from her latest album, "Above the Noise." She sang about how loving God is not a complicated ritualistic thing, but it is about receiving His unconditional love.

Jaime’s sincerity is poured into her lyrics and has touched the hearts of the Mercy girls. Here is what a few of the girls had to say about Jaime’s visit to Mercy:

“I felt extremely blessed and grateful for the opportunity to hear Jaime’s testimony and worship with her. God really used the song she sang about Him seeing each one of us as beautiful and precious in His eyes, to speak to my heart and teach me about His love for me. I’m so grateful for God allowing me this opportunity for Jaime to speak hope into my life and show the love of Christ to us girls.” –Alicia

“Jaime was such an encouragement. She has such an incredible spirit and spoke so much hope and encouragement into my spirit. I really look up to her and I know that same spirit that dwells in her dwells in me.” – Dayna

“I thought it was great for Jaime to take time out of her busy schedule to come and speak some love and encouragement into our lives. It means a lot when we get to meet our supporters face to face and see their passion for us and for Mercy. She had a great story that touched us all in some way.” – Sarah

Mercy Ministries is thankful to have the love and support from such amazing people like Jaime Jamgochian. Their heart and willingness to give of themselves is part of what continues to grow this ministry and allows us to see the lives of so many girls transformed.

To learn more about Jaime and her latest album, "Above the Noise," visit her website at www.jaimejam.com.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mercy in the Evening Dinner Event

Mercy Ministries of America hosts special event to support homes for troubled young women

(PRWEB) May 27, 2010 -- Nancy Alcorn, Founder and President of Mercy Ministries, will be keynote speaker at the Mercy in the Evening dinner event on Thursday, June 17, with a reception beginning at 6:30pm at The Blackstone Renaissance Hotel in downtown Chicago, IL. The dinner, in support of Mercy Ministries of America, will also include the musical talent of native Chicago band, BarlowGirl, and powerful testimonies of young women who have graduated from the nonprofit Christian residential program.

Mercy Ministries of America helps young women between the ages of 13–28 who face life-controlling issues such as eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, depression and unplanned pregnancy. Mercy Ministries also serves young women who have been physically and sexually abused, including victims of sex-trafficking.

Nancy Alcorn has authored several books covering these topics, as well as the amazing story of how Mercy Ministries began. She has made appearances on many television and radio shows and speaks to audiences all over the world. Her message of transformation and life-change is powerful and dynamic.

Over 500 young women are currently in the process of applying to the Mercy Ministries program to be placed in one of the four residential homes in the U.S. With the numbers of applicants continuing to grow, Mercy Ministries looks to the Chicago community to help with funding, volunteering and awareness.

As long time supporters of Mercy Ministries, Christian rock band, BarlowGirl (www.barlowgirl.com), hopes to raise awareness to partners and spread the word to people that they can join Mercy in helping to change lives. They had this to say about their involvement in the upcoming Chicago event:

“Issues of eating disorders and self-harm have personally touched our family, and so we have a passion to see girls set free from these terrible chains. We love that Mercy trusts God to bring in the money so they can offer free, loving care for girls in need. It is a blessing for us to be partners.”

To purchase tickets for $125 per person or to find out about sponsorship opportunities for this event, please contact Selah Hirsch at (636) 209-0601. Guests will also have the opportunity to view and purchase works of art titled “Portraits of Mercy” created by residents of the St. Louis home.

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

###

Contact Information:
Selah Hirsch
(636) 209-0601
shirsch@mercyministries.com

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Nancy Alcorn Speaks in Northern Ireland


This past weekend, beginning Thursday, May 19 through Sunday, May 23, Nancy had the privilege of speaking in Northern Ireland at the Emerge Conference hosted by Green Pastures Church. (pictured right) Other speakers at the conference included Pastor Bill Wilson from Metro Ministries in Brooklyn, NY, and Northern Ireland native Pastor James McConnell of Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle. The opening message Thursday night was given by host Pastor Jeff Wright, Founder of Green Pastures Church.

When we asked Nancy to share her thoughts about the weekend, this is what she had to say: “First of all, I felt such a heart connection with Pastors Jeff and Lorraine, and I am in awe of the size and influence of this church since it started only 3 years ago. That says a lot about who they are as people and their ability to lead.”


Nancy pictured with Pastors Jeff and Lorraine and
Mercy Ministries United Kingdom Executive Director, Arianna Walker


“Another huge highlight for me was being reconnected with my dear friend Bill Wilson in New York City. (pictured left) For anyone who is not familiar with what Bill does, he pastors the world’s largest Sunday School with over 25,000 kids every weekend. Metro Ministries is headquartered in Brooklyn, NY, but there are numerous international locations as well (www.metroministries.org). I was deeply and profoundly impacted by what Bill shared during the conference. I do not know anyone alive today who has given more or sacrificed more on a personal level for the sake of the Gospel. He is so inspiring to me, and I am proud to call him my friend. To say it was an honor to share the platform with Bill is an understatement.”

“Another highlight of the weekend for me was spending time with Arianna Walker, who is our Executive Director for Mercy Ministries in the United Kingdom. Arianna is not only a great speaker herself, but she is a great leader. I am so proud of the work she is doing. It was fun and meaningful for us to be together and hang out.”

“Last but not least, it was such a joy for me to connect with Lisamarie Stewart who I first met 11 years ago when she walked through the doors of Mercy Ministries a very broken young woman. Now 11 years later she is happily married to Stephen, who she met several years ago when they were both training for ministry through YWAM."


Nancy pictured with Lisamarie, Stephen and Levi

"It was also such a joy to meet Levi, Lisamarie and Stephen’s third child who is only 5 months old. (pictured right) Today Lisamarie and Stephen are happily married with 3 children and serve together as YWAM staffers in Belfast. It was so wonderful to have Lisamarie join me onstage to share her story with her husband and 5 month old child. It’s really hard to express all that happened, but it was such a meaningful and powerful weekend.”

We hope that you enjoyed hearing the highlights of Nancy’s trip to Ireland. We also hope you realize that your prayers and support are having impact in various places around the world. Thank you for your friendship, your partnership and your support!!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Recent Graduate Celebrates a New Addition!


We are so excited to celebrate the birth of a beautiful baby girl, Willow. Baby Willow was born on May 22nd, 2010 weighing 5 lbs, 14 oz. Recent graduate Phoebe, made the brave decision to come to Mercy Ministries and choose life for her baby. We are so thankful to all of our supporters who make it possible for young women like Phoebe to come to Mercy when facing unplanned pregnancy.

Phoebe and Willow will be returning home where they will begin their incredible journey together as mother and daughter. Thank you again, for helping us save lives!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mercy Ministries Runs Across the Country

Mercy supporters love to show their support by their actions! So for the past several years, Mercy Ministries has held annual 5K Family Run/Walk events, as well as hosted marathon teams to run established races in cities across the country. Since 2008 Mercy has been represented in over 15 cities across the country, with 1,200 participants on more than 100 racing teams. These runners have helped raise over $200,000 the Mercy Ministries program by lacing up their shoes and hitting the pavement in support of the girls who come to Mercy.

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 at Mercy , and I want every girl to have the opportunity to experience that kind of freedom!”

If you would like to find out more about how you can participate in these fun events, visit www.RunforMercy.org. You will see multiple business partnerships, individual teams and other ways to get involved – you can even participate without leaving your couch by becoming a virtual runner – there is something for everyone!

Below is the latest list of events coming this year:

Below is a taste of what to expect at one of Mercy Ministries’ 5K Family Run/Walk events.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nancy Alcorn and Graduate Lindsay Whitehouse Interviewed on Oasis Radio Network


This week Oasis Radio Network aired an incredible hour long interview with Nancy Alcorn and 2009 Mercy graduate, Lindsay Whitehouse and her mother, Jan Whitehouse. This interview, with host David Warren, could be heard on Oasis’ program, “The Roadshow”; a daily, one-hour radio program designed to inspire and motivate the listener and demonstrate the truth that "with God all things are possible."

In case you missed the interview, you can still listen to it. Click on the player below to listen to it or click here to download.

Adopted Mercy Baby, Now High School Graduate, is Awarded a College Scholarship!


Eighteen years ago, Merri Duff’s birthmother came to Mercy Ministries facing an unplanned pregnancy. While in the program, she made the difficult decision to place her child for adoption and hoped to find a loving family to care for Merri. She was very involved in the adoption process, even making a list of things she had in her heart for Merri’s adoptive family to be. God provided a wonderful family that matched her list and they adopted Merri.

Since her adoption, Merri and her adoptive family have stayed very involved with Mercy. When Merri was a baby, she and her new family attended the groundbreaking for the Nashville home. Here, Merri is pictured with Mercy Ministries Founder and President, Nancy Alcorn and several other adopted babies from Mercy who were also at the event.



As Merri grew older, she began volunteering at Mercy Ministries, even spending a large part of her summer vacation helping in the Nashville office. Merri has a huge heart for Mercy and cares very deeply for the young women currently in the program.

This year, Merri is graduating from high school and it is inspiring to see the beautiful young woman that she has become! Her servant heart is not only a blessing to Mercy Ministries but also to the church she attends in Nashville, Christ Church. Each year, Christ Church awards the Emmy and Eric Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to distinguished students who demonstrate a “love of service to the Lord and love of scholarship and learning.” Merri is one of three recipients of the award this year which will help provide her with a college education.



We are so proud of Merri and the amazing young woman she has grown to be! We look forward to all God has in store for her. Congratulations Merri!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Encouraging Video Testimony - Celebrating 4 Years of Freedom!

Hannah came to Mercy Ministries full of brokenness and pain from the sexual abuse she had suffered as a young child. She had pushed that pain so far down inside of her that her way of coping with it was to harm herself and binge and purge. Because there were people like you willing to support Mercy, she had a place to find hope and freedom; and now she is helping others do the same. Four years later, after graduating from Mercy in June 2006, Hannah is making a difference by sharing her story of freedom and encouraging others who are desperate for hope and healing – we call it the ripple effect.

Hannah and her mother recorded this video which is now being shown on ShareWIK.com, a website that provides health information as well as stories of people overcoming difficult issues.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mercy Celebrates the Graduation of Six Beautiful Young Women!


This week at Mercy Ministries, family, friends and staff came together with the residents in St. Louis, MO and Nashville, TN to celebrate the graduation of six beautiful young women. Here are their testimonies of freedom:

St. Louis

Danielle

Ever since I was a little girl, I struggled with depression, insecurity, hopelessness and fear. I doubted my ability to succeed in everything, and had the tendency to run from my problems instead of learning how to face them. I also had sexual abuse in my life that led to a lot of perversion. When I was a teenager I began struggling with self-harm and while I had no hope in my life, I still desired a deeper knowledge of God and healing from my past hurts.

During my time at Mercy, God has done a lot of amazing things in my life. He has given me confidence and security. He has helped me to endure the hard times. God has purified me inside and out and I am beautiful in His sight. I am no longer a victim but a victor.

After Mercy, I want to take some college art classes. I am going to live with a friend from my church and will serve in the children’s ministry of our church while I return to work in the cleaning industry.


Grace

Before Mercy, I was struggling with daily depression and suicidal thoughts. I had been sexually, physically, emotionally, and verbally abused. I was on a variety of medications, but they weren’t working, so I turned to alcohol to numb the pain.

During my time at Mercy, I have learned that I’m perfectly normal. God’s love has given me the confidence to be both a child of God and a strong woman. Greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world! I had medical debt before I came to Mercy, but through His grace, the debt was forgiven by the hospital! I have also been able to come off some of the medications I had been on for years.

After graduation, I plan to move back home in with my loving family for a little while, get a part time job and save money. I also am going back to school for either Radiology or to become a Veterinary Technician, and plan to be more active in my church.


Nashville

Christin

Before Mercy my biggest dream was to die. I came to the end of myself, standing face to face with a failed attempt to end my life and decided to come to Mercy only to give God a second chance. In reality, He has been the one to give me another chance. I grew up in a rough environment surrounded by physical and emotional abuse. After high school, I left home, always bouncing from place to place, struggling with self-injury, an eating disorder, depression, drugs and alcohol, and suicidal thoughts.

Since coming to Mercy I’ve learned that I am worthy to be loved and I know God loves me unconditionally. I have also learned to dream, and to dream with the confidence that I can do all things through Christ. God has completely changed my dreams from death to life!

After Mercy I am moving to St. Louis, where I plan to attend college for Fashion and Interior Design and Child Psychology. I hope to eventually open my own business and become a foster parent!


Lauren

I experienced a lot of rejection and verbal abuse while growing up. This created a drive within me to be perfect, so I started binging, restricting and compulsively exercising just trying to obtain the “perfect” body. I always felt like I was falling short and I self-harmed as a way to cope with the pain I was holding inside. Eventually I tried to commit suicide and it was after the attempt that I realized I needed to get help.

Since I have been at Mercy, I now have an incredible walk with God and my relationships have been completely restored. I know what true love is and it’s by God’s unending, unfailing love that I’m healed.

After Mercy I plan to finish high school and go to college, where I plan to get a master’s degree in psychology. I hope to one day work with victims of sex-trafficking.


Meagan

I grew up in a Christian home but didn’t understand the importance of a personal relationship with God. At a young age, I struggled with fear, anxiety and a sense of being out of control. In an attempt to control things, I began restricting my food. This led to a 12 year battle with anorexia. I went to extremes to find security in both in my eating disorder and relationships, which only led to a further loss of self, sexual assault, shame, and fear.

During my time at Mercy, God has shown me I am worthy and accepted because I am His. Although I may face struggle and temptation, it doesn’t mean I’m not free. It is what I choose to do in that time of struggle and temptation that determines my freedom. He has also shown me that I am “beautiful beyond compare” and only I can fit into the mold He created just for me!

After graduating, I will transition to the real world while staying at my parents. In the fall, I plan to finish my last year of school, get involved at the Village Church and keep my heart open to what God has in store for me next.


Alexa-Jo

Before coming to Mercy, I was a people-pleaser. I had fallen away from Christ and was seeking love and acceptance from the wrong sources. I became very promiscuous, joined the party scene and ran away from home. I was empty and had no hope, which caused me to fall into a deep depression. I questioned if life was even worth living.

Since coming to Mercy, God has wrapped me in His loving arms and has never let me go! He has shown me that I am beautiful, wonderful and His alone! I only seek to please Him!

After Mercy, I plan to attend the Honors Academy in Texas and then do a one year internship and IHOP University.


Congratulations, Danielle, Grace, Christin, Lauren, Meagan and Alexa-Jo! We are so proud of the courage and determination you have shown on this journey! We are cheering you on as you take hold of the abundant life God has for you!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

St. Louis Residents Spend National Day of Prayer at the Illinois State Capitol


On Thursday, May 6, the National Day of Prayer, the St. Louis residents were invited to spend the day at the Illinois State Capitol as guests of Mercy supporters, Illinois State Senator Kyle McCarter and his wife, Victoria. The McCarters are very involved in the work of Mercy as they both serve on the St. Louis Community Board and can often be found volunteering in the St. Louis home. They are beloved by the residents and staff alike!

Mercy girls and staff spent the morning seeing the sights of Springfield, IL, including the Capitol Building, President Abraham Lincoln’s home, the Governor’s Mansion as well as a tour of the Senate floor. The Mercy girls especially loved getting a surprise personal tour of the Governor’s office in the Senate – this private space is usually closed to tour groups! They were also able to sit in on a Senate session, which was a very special experience that everyone enjoyed.

The highlight of the day was the time the girls spent at the National Day of Prayer Rally in front of the Capitol building. They were led in worship by a local band and were able to pray as a group for our country and its leaders. It was a powerful time of corporate prayer. The resident’s host for the day, Victoria McCarter was one of the featured speakers who offered a compelling prayer for the nation.

Victoria was so generous with her time, spending the entire day with the girls, leading them on sightseeing tours and introducing them to several local politicians, such as Senator Bill Brady and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno. Senator Radogno took the time to speak a personal word of encouragement to the girls, telling them that as women, they should aspire to achieve great success in their lives, careers and family. Also guests of the McCarter’s that day were longtime friends of Mercy, Rick and Marjie Hufton, pastors of Faith Family Church in Shiloh, IL.

Afterward, Senator McCarter also took time to address the group, reminding them that God can do anything and telling them, “Don’t limit God”! It was a very special time of fellowship and the girls were so thankful that these respected politicians took the time to speak to and encourage them.

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

“The McCarters made me feel so special by planning this event for all of us. Seeing a godly man in office and being able to have corporate prayer outside the capitol gives me hope for the future of our nation. It was a powerful experience and made me realize I do have a voice and my vote does make a difference. Thank you, Senator & Mrs. McCarter!” – Melissa C.

“It was selfless of the McCarters to include us in their state’s public display of honoring God on the National Day of Prayer. The time they took out of their busy schedule to show us their capitol, the Governor’s Mansion and Abraham Lincoln’s home created lasting memories for us all. Worshiping outside the capitol building with many other believers was very powerful and a time I will never forget!” - Sherri

“It was a very surreal and solemn moment for me as I walked through Lincoln’s home and neighborhood. I stood in the same rooms that our beloved president once stood, prayed, wrote his speeches and loved his family. I enjoyed every moment of it!” – Kody

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mercy Ministries Staff and Volunteers Help in Nashville’s Flood

Middle Tennessee and surrounding areas suffered the worst flood ever recorded in history on the weekend of May 2 and 3. The devastation is vast with thousands of homes destroyed and multiple families having lost nearly everything they own. Entire communities were completely wiped out as well as the downtown area of Nashville sustaining major damage – (click here to view slideshow from The Tennessean.com).

Through the efforts of the people of Nashville as well as many area churches, many families are slowly getting the help they so desperately need. The Mercy Ministries staff were spared any major damage, yet we knew we must reach out to the community and assist with the monumental flood relief efforts.

This past weekend, some of our Mercy Ministries staff, volunteers and community board members partnered with Cross Point Church to assist in the clean-up efforts. We are so blessed to live in a community that comes together to help one another and were grateful to do a small part to help. Mercy staff plan to assist on other work days in the coming weeks as well.

“Saturday is a day I'll never forget. I've been a part of teams that have served around the world - but never have I seen, felt, or smelled anything like I did in my own backyard. My heart was full of joy to see so many volunteers come together to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the flood victims in Nashville.”, Whitney Nall, Community Relations Manager for Mercy Ministries

“So excited that Mercy Ministries partnered with Cross Point Church in this flood relief effort. The outpouring of volunteers has been such a blessing.”, Pete Wilson, Senior Pastor of Cross Point Church

Relief efforts are still underway in Nashville and surrounding areas and will be going on for months. The damage to Nashville alone hit $1.5 billion. To find out how you can help, visit Cross Point Church’s flood relief page: https://secure3.agroup.com/crosspoint/flood_fund.html

Faith shapes developer Oates' mark on area

Published: Sunday, May. 9, 2010 - 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 9, 2010 - 3:51 pm

Buzz Oates can't sleep. He is up most nights in his spacious Sacramento home, watching preachers on late-night TV or reading Scripture. Often, one of the wealthiest men in the area ponders his legacy.

On a day after another restless night, Oates drove down a rain-slicked Fulton Avenue in his black Mercedes-Benz S550. He pointed to an empty lot.

"See that?" he said, smiling. "We just bought it." He barely slowed down. At 86, he is still moving ahead.

Oates made his estimated $500 million fortune in real estate, and his developments dot the Sacramento landscape. For more than half a century, he has been one of the premier developers in the Sacramento region. Oates is also a Christian whose devout faith has influenced the area as much as his office buildings.

Thousands worship in church buildings donated by Oates or on land he sold at a reduced rate. Pastors credit him for paying for their education, sponsoring missionaries and giving to Bible colleges.

Last year, after a cancer scare, the man Forbes magazine listed in 2005 as one of the 400 richest Americans realized that the building he is most proud of is not an office park or a warehouse.

It is a safehouse.

Oates drove up to the beige two-story building in a quiet Lincoln residential neighborhood. Mercy Ministries, a Christian-based group home for women, opened last fall.

About 40 women, recovering from drug addiction, sexual abuse and other problems, find sanctuary there. They receive free room, board and counseling. Oates gave more than $3 million.

Kathy Fairrington, the youngest of Oates' five children, greeted him. She sits on the board of Oates' $17 million charitable trust and helps determine which groups receive his money. The two walked through the group home.

"After all these years doing this, this is the building that means the most," said Oates. "The people here are doing God's work, and that's what I'm thinking about most these days."

Behind the scenes

Critics often blame him and other developers for causing the region's sprawl and making money off it. Ask around town, though, and others who have worked with Oates see him differently. "A smart businessman," said Joe Benvenuti, a developer who has known Oates since 1949.

"He loves his work, he loves this city, and he loves making a deal," said Christo Bardis, a former partner, who won a lawsuit against Oates and now calls him his friend.

What is less well known is the role Oates has in the faith community.

"People have no idea what a difference he has made," said Scott Hagen, founding pastor of Harvest Church in Elk Grove. Oates gave a bowling alley on Grant Line Road to Harvest. He also sold church leaders 22 acres nearby at a reduced price.

Hagen said Oates does more than write checks. "He calls church leaders with ideas," said Hagen, now pastor of Mars Hill Community Hills Church. "Buzz is always looking for ways to help the kingdom."

The troubled women seeking help at Mercy Ministries find first-rate accommodations, with comfortable bedrooms and the latest in multimedia equipment. "Why not give them the best of the best?" Oates said. "They've been through a lot."

Kaci Davis, who works at Mercy Ministries and is a member of Abundant Life Fellowship in Roseville, said Oates' philanthropic acts have influenced churches all over Sacramento. "He has been very generous," Davis said.

Oates said he hasn't always put his faith in God first. "I've left him at times in my life," he said. "But he has never left me."

Larry Allbaugh, CEO of the Buzz Oates Group of Companies, has known Oates for 20 years. "He is a dichotomy," he said. "He can be a tough businessman, but he is also not afraid to talk about his faith. … He is a very humble man."

Building the deals

Marvin "Buzz" Oates is a fourth-generation Sacramentan, one of two children. His father was a sheet-metal worker for the Southern Pacific Railroad, and his mother was a homemaker.

Oates was a bombardier in the Army Air Corps in World War II. He returned home to open a locksmith business.

Oates loved to talk with his customers, many of them builders. Oates' business, A&A Building Supply, grew and, eventually through his contacts, Oates started building.

Benvenuti met Oates at Bethel Church after the war. They worked on some of the area's biggest land deals. Benvenuti said Oates' faith has influenced how he approaches business. Benvenuti said a handshake struck the deal.

"We never had any problems," Benvenuti said. The two have remained great friends, said Benvenuti, "even though he built five times more than I did."

Oates' company is now a diversified conglomerate that manages more than 24 million square feet of commercial property and owns most of it. It owns land in California, Texas, Arizona and Utah and also operates a commercial real estate agency.

Average annual revenue exceeds $75 million, according to Allbaugh. The recession hit the company, which laid off half its employees over the past two years.

Oates' management team now runs the firm, but he still heads into the office daily. He has no plans to retire.

He has become less business-oriented and more interested in his spiritual growth.

"That's what I want now," said Oates, smiling. "To love and serve the Lord."

Bumps in the road

Oates has had his share of business troubles. In October 2002, a Sacramento Superior Court jury found Oates had committed fraud against his former partners Bardis, Lloyd and Nancy Arnold and Frank C. Ramos in a $71 million deal.

The jury imposed a $7 million verdict, later reduced to $1.5 million, against Oates.

Oates called the verdict devastating. "It really shook me up," he said. Last year, Oates and Bardis ran into each other at the Zinfandel Grille in Sacramento and renewed their friendship.

"It was a misunderstanding between two stubborn people," Bardis said. "In hindsight, I wish I hadn't brought the lawsuit. Buzz is a good guy, a generous man. I would do business with him again."

Oates was also sued by a church he once tried to help. In 2003, Tony Cunningham, pastor of Radiant Life Church in Elk Grove, sued Oates for fraud. Church leaders later agreed to drop the suit and took out a full-page ad in The Bee apologizing to Oates.

"I don't wish him ill," said Oates. "Life is too short for grudges."

Fairrington said her father has mellowed in recent years. "He spends more time with the family, and he's also become a more spiritual man," Fairrington said.

She is married to the Rev. Greg Fairrington, senior pastor of Sunset Christian Center in Rocklin. Every week the extended family gathers there for church. Her father rarely misses attending.

"I don't think he's ever been happier," she said.

Eye of a needle

Oates has all the trappings of wealth, but his material success is not what he values.

He lives in a 5,000-square-foot home. He uses only a few rooms – the kitchen where he prepares his morning cereal, the elevator, the master bedroom and his office where he reads his Bible.

Oates has been married twice. His first marriage ended in divorce 35 years ago. His second wife died from cancer in 1992. His house is rarely empty. His daughters and their families often visit.

On a recent afternoon, Oates walked into a room near the entry. "This is the Africa room," he said, beaming. It is decorated with art he collected on his African trips.

He owns four or five houses. "I can't remember how many exactly," he said. They include a 5,000-square-foot home in Rocklin that he has stayed in once. He owns several cars and a Cessna Citation, which Oates and family flew to see superstar preacher and family friend Joel Osteen preach at Dodger Stadium.

Oates has been generous to family and friends, although he is also thrifty, shopping at Smart & Final for groceries and stepping off the accelerator in his Mercedes to save gas. Two years ago, he flew 43 members of his family to Hawaii. "Did I pay for that? You know, I don't know," he said.

People often ask him for money. "He has a hard time saying no," Fairrington said. He now tells people to contact the board, which makes the final decision and distributes $850,000 annually.

Oates has diabetes and injects himself daily with insulin. He had most of his pancreas removed last year after doctors thought he had cancer. His hearing is not what it used to be. Still, Oates described his health as good.

"I guess I have the same things other people my age have," he said, laughing. "I'm just getting old."

On those sleepless nights, when he is up until 4 a.m., he thinks about the past and the road ahead. His thoughts often drift to Matthew 19.

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

The deal maker knows it well.

"When I pray, I say, well, God, are you going to let me in?"

In God's house

Last Sunday morning at Sunset Christian Center, Oates surveyed his surroundings.

He saw the praise band on stage, worshippers standing with arms raised, and his extended family in the front rows.

The women from Mercy Ministries waved from a few rows over.

Halfway through, Oates sat, unable to stand any longer. He closed his eyes and thanked God for his blessings.


Original Article here

Friday, May 7, 2010

Seven New Graduates – Seven More Lives Transformed!

Residents and staff came together at our Monroe, St.Louis and Lincoln homes to celebrate the remarkable transformation of seven young ladies’ lives! Check out these incredible stories from our newest graduates:


Monroe

Brittany J

Before I came to Mercy Ministries, I struggled with an eating disorder for four years. I was spiraling into a deep depression and didn’t know where to turn. Eventually, in order to cope with my life, alcoholism became a growing problem and almost killed me. I desperately needed healing, and when my mom told me about Mercy, I knew I had to apply.

Since I have been at Mercy, I have received healing and freedom! I am a new creation, and am complete in Christ. My past does not determine who I am today or what my future will look like. I have to continue to press forward to fulfill the destiny that God created for me.

After graduation, I will return home to continue pursuing a degree in Nursing. I’m so thankful that I have been given the gift of new life in Christ because I am forever changed.


Brittany H

My life before Mercy was hopeless. I was emotionally, physically, and sexually abused throughout most of my childhood and this left me with an identity defined by guilt and shame. Hoping I wouldn’t have to suffer anymore, I often asked God to let me die. When I was 12 years old, six members of my family died within a single year. My life quickly spiraled out of control and anorexia and bulimia became my coping mechanism. I attempted suicide several times, but God always intervened and saved my life. Almost totally hopeless, yet desperate for healing, I applied to Mercy and found the true source of freedom.

God has done more in my life while at Mercy than I could have ever hoped for or imagined. I never thought I could be happy again or live free from my issues, but I can honestly say that I am free! I have a much deeper and more intimate relationship with God, and we are closer than we have ever been. It is absolutely amazing. God has truly done a miracle in my life!

After Mercy, I plan to complete my degree in music education. I also want to use my musical gifts and talents in ministry and travel to other countries. I plan to do everything unto the Lord because He has given me my life back. This is a better life than I have ever known before.


St. Louis

Danielle

My life was a mess before Mercy. I didn’t know who I was and without an identity. I was apathetic about everything. In a desperate attempt to control and handle the intense depression and anger I was feeling, I turned to self-harm. I wanted to die, and I remember thinking that if I didn’t get accepted into the Mercy program, that I would defiantly not make it. I’m so glad God had a different plan for me.

At Mercy, I learned who I am in Christ. I am a beauty waiting to be unveiled to the world. I no longer need the world’s approval because I am a confident world-changer. I have complete freedom from depression and self-harm!

After graduation, I plan to travel abroad and pursue a life of full-time ministry. I am not certain what that will look like, but I am completely trusting God with my next step!


Paula

I hit rock bottom before coming to Mercy. The emotional and physical abuse I experienced at home left me depressed and wanting to die. Suicide is all I thought about because I didn’t see myself having a future. I found out about Mercy and knew it was my last chance to receive healing from my life-controlling issues.

While at Mercy, God has taught me that I am beautiful and He is jealous for me. He radically loves me and has a specific plan for my life. Now, I know I have a purpose! I don’t even know who that girl is that walked into Mercy a few months ago because I have been made brand new!

After I graduate, I plan to get involved with the children ministry at my church and pursue a career as an EMT. I’m excited about my future!


Ileana

Before my time at Mercy, I spent three years of my childhood in a Romanian orphanage. I was eventually adopted, but when they divorced, I was absolutely devastated.. The pain from that experience felt like too much to bear and I became emotionally numb. I started cutting and planning my suicide. In a last effort to live, I applied to Mercy.

During my time at Mercy, God became real to me. He turned my “light” on, and instead of feeling dead, I know I am alive with a purpose! I still have so much to learn, but I have spiritual weapons that I can use each day in order to walk in my freedom.

After graduation, I would like to pursue a degree in Psychology or Photography. I also have a heart for missions and would like to eventually be involved with Youth with a Mission. I will follow God’s leading.


Lincoln

Hayley

I was physically and sexually abused as a child and was later bullied in school. After experiencing this abuse, I was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder and was in and out of counseling and behavior modification programs. I began cutting and restricting food when I was 13 years old. After being admitted to the psych ward on several occasions, I overdosed on Prozac and became suicidal. Finally, I learned about Mercy at a Point of Grace concert and decided to seek help.

Since being at Mercy, God has delivered me! He has calmed my fears and healed me of my insecurities. He has brought me out of isolation and shown me that I am capable of having friendships. I now have a hope for the future!

After graduation, I plan to pursue a degree in music or Biblical Studies at William Jessup University. I’m also excited about writing a book, traveling and doing mission work. I am extremely grateful for this new chance at life!


Shelby

My life before Mercy was dark. I was consumed with thoughts about my weight and appearance. My identity was completely wrapped up in a eating disorder and I found comfort in the arms of men. I needed to get attention from anyone who would give it to me. My body was wasting away, and I knew I needed a miracle.After my uncle told me about Mercy, I knew in my heart that this was God’s plan for me.

While at Mercy, God has transformed me from the inside out! I realize now that it doesn’t matter what people think about me because He thinks I’m beautiful and wonderful. I am His radiant bride, His beloved! Instead of finding comfort in the arms of a man, I now run into the arms of God. My identity is in Him alone.

After I graduate, I am returning to Colorado to attend Desperation Leadership Academy. Mercy is truly a place that makes a difference in peoples lives. My life will never be the same!


We are so proud of all that our graduates have accomplished during their time at Mercy! No doubt God has big plans for each of them. Their gifts and talents will be so valuable for the Kingdom!

Nancy Alcorn Speaks At Sacramento National Day of Prayer Breakfast!


On Thursday May 6, 2010, Mercy Ministries Founder and President, Nancy Alcorn, was honored to be the keynote speaker for the 5th annual South Placer County National Day of Prayer Breakfast in Rocklin, California. This event, hosted by William Jessup University, is the largest National Day of Prayer observation in the state of California with more than 700 people gathering to pray for America’s military, our schools and our places of worship.

Speaking in the Sacramento area was a special honor for Nancy as the first West Coast Mercy Ministries’ home opened in October of last year in Lincoln, CA. Click here to read a story about Mercy Ministries’ new home and benefactor Buzz Oates. Many of the very people who made the opening of that home possible were present to hear Nancy speak and come together as a community in prayer for our nation.

After opening remarks and invocation led by the university’s President, Dr. Bryce Jessup, Nancy shared the story of Mercy Ministries and how prayer changes lives. She challenged the audience to remember September 11 when we as a nation called on Christ unashamedly in our time of need. She encouraged everyone to always remember His provision!

Nancy shared about the struggle she faced working in a girls’ correctional facility and how she could not share Christ because of government regulations. However, with the freedom that Mercy Ministries brings, she can share with young women that God loves them and has a plan for their lives!

Nancy left the audience with a final declaration: God is faithful and will provide for every need! A big thanks to John Allard, Chairman of the South Placer breakfast, for the special invitation for Nancy to speak and be a part of this great event!



The National Day of Prayer, created in 1952, is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May. It is a day when people from all faiths are asked to join together to pray for our nation. To learn more about The National Day of Prayer, visit www.nationaldayofprayer.org.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Branch Family Church Volunteers in Nashville!

1This past week, Nashville residents and staff were honored by a special visit from The Branch Family Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Senior Pastor Derek Turner and his wife Sarah passionately support the work of Mercy Ministries through spreading the vision of Mercy. Their church has donated 8 acres of beautiful countryside property for a future Mercy Ministries home in Charlotte!

This year, an amazing group of seven ladies from The Branch Family Church offered the Nashville home a week of their time to lend a helping hand. They organized filing rooms, the CD library, and inventoried the blessings and donations closet, and the kitchen and food storage. Our residents and staff were so thankful for the Branch ladies’ help and for their hearts to serve Mercy.

Here is what a few of the residents had to say about these special visitors:

Kelsey said, “I love how caring these women were toward us. They barely knew us, yet served us anyway. I wish they could have stayed longer!”

Jen said, “The Branch ladies were awesome! They were so friendly and loving and went out of their way to get to know us personally. I was so blessed by their time here.”


We are so grateful to Derek and Sarah Turner and to all of the volunteers from The Branch Family Church. Thank you again for extending mercy and compassion through your willingness to serve.

Here is what some of the volunteers had to say about their time at the Nashville home:

Tori said, “As soon as I walked through the door of the home, I was flooded with the love and joy of the Lord. The girls were so friendly and excited to have us there. What a work that Mercy is doing by sharing the forgiveness and freedom found only in Christ! Each time I spoke with the girls, I was amazed by the light in their eyes despite what they had been through. They have a hope for a future! We came to serve them and help around the house, but I left with a greater understanding of how much God truly loves and desires us. I can’t wait to come back!”

Michelle said, “I was overwhelmed by the joy these girls have in spite of the circumstances they came from. The love poured into the residents by the staff is truly incredible. The minute you walk into the Mercy home you can feel God’s touch. I am so thankful I was able to witness such awesome works that God is doing in each of these girl’s lives!”


To learn more about The Branch Family Church, visit their website www.branchchurch.org.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mercy Graduates on Mission Around the World!


Many of our girls who graduate from Mercy Ministries have a heart to give back and share the hope they have found by traveling on national and international mission trips. Last year we had over 20 Mercy graduates serving others in various locations globally. It is such a privilege to support these young women on the mission field financially and in prayer We thought you would enjoying reading about the most recent four girls that Mercy has sponsored:



Lindsay – St. Louis Graduate, 2009


“I have been given the opportunity to go to Kosovo on a mission trip this summer through Service International in Chesterfield, MO. While in Kosovo, we will be sharing God’s Word with children from all backgrounds, to give them a better understanding of their heavenly Father’s unconditional love and mercy. The passion and yearning to eliminate injustice burns in my heart far beyond what words can express. God has called me to help the hurting by speaking life into those who are depressed and afraid; holding the broken-hearted, praying for the sick, and loving the unloved.”




Danielle – Nashville Graduate, 2009


“Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined myself traveling to China and Thailand one year ago. But here I am today, transformed and renewed by God’s overwhelming mercy, ready to travel across the world to share His love. In April, my team and I here at Youth with a Mission Discipleship Training School will be leaving on an 8 week mission trip to China and Thailand! Although China is one of the most populous nations on earth, only 7% of the people are Christian. It is illegal to openly evangelize in China; however, we have an incredible opportunity to present the Gospel through public schools and universities. Thailand, on the other hand, has remained captive to the traditions and practices of Buddhism for hundreds of years. We will target specific border villages that are in need of the Gospel and we will partner with long-term ministries in the cities which reach out to the slums, prisons, and orphanages. We have this unique opportunity to be God’s hands extended to these nations.”


Cailee – Nashville Graduate, 2008

“I will be traveling with No Boundaries International in August of 2010 to Mexico to spread the love of Christ. That is exactly what I want to do. I am only 15, but I feel a call on my life to fulfill Mark 16:15 and go into the world and preach the Gospel to all creation! I have a passion for the lost and hurting people of this world and I want to show them that God’s love can overcome anything. I want to make a difference and show people the love of Christ.”

Chantelle – Nashville Graduate, 2009

“I am very excited to share with you the life-changing opportunity that I have with Teen Mania Ministries - to serve as a missionary in the U.S. and abroad. During my year at the Honor Academy, I will be ministering to the young people of America, helping with Acquire the Fire events and Teen Mania mission trips. This experience with Honor Academy will begin in August 2010 and will focus on leadership development, apologetics, growth in character, integrity, knowledge of world missions, and will conclude with a 2 month global mission expedition. I sense God’s leading toward missions as a possible vocation and this seems like the right next step for me.”

We are so proud of each of these graduates who are using their own personal stories of freedom to extend hope to a hurting world.These young young women leave Mercy transformed, with fresh hope for the future. Their passion for life is contagious as they reach out to those in need of healing. Please be in prayer for them and be looking for blog updates as they return with testimonies and pictures.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Nashville Predators Score for Mercy Ministries!

Over the years, the Nashville Predators Hockey Team has generously supported Mercy Ministries in a very unique way! Partnering with their official office supplier, DEX Imaging and Mailing, the Predators’ DEX Score and Win Program connects their charitable contributions to each player’s personal achievements.

1

For every goal scored by a certain forward or a win by a goaltender, DEX contributed $100 to Mercy Ministries. They also contributed $150 for goals scored by a certain defenseman and they threw in a $200 bonus for hat tricks and shutouts!

J P Dumont and Teemu Lasco were the Predators assigned to Mercy Ministries throughout the 2009-10 season. Through their goals and hockey tricks, DEX contributed $1,900 to Mercy Ministries! Sometimes the Mercy girls were invited to personally cheer their players on to victory. A big thanks to the Predators for providing tickets for our Nashville residents and staff to attend several games this season.

2

Recently, GNASH, the Predators’ spunky and fun-loving mascot, wanted to come by Mercy Ministries Nashville Corporate offices to meet some of our residents and personally deliver the generous donation! Thank you to the Nashville Predators Foundation, J P Dumont, Teemu Lasco, and DEX Imaging and Mailing for all their support!

GO PREDS!