Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mercy Graduates Share “A Night of Hope”

Over the weekend, three Mercy Ministries graduates were invited to share their testimonies at the 2nd annual “A Night of Hope” in Priceville, AL. Jessica, Ainsley, and Abigail are all from the Alabama area and each of them made the trip to share the freedom and transformation they experienced at Mercy.

Student Minister of Shiloh Baptist Church, Michael Walters, started this event last year when he saw how many of his youth were struggling with suicide, depression, self-harm, and addiction. Over 400 people, mostly youth, came on Saturday night to hear the message of healing, grace, and hope. Founder of the non-profit organization, To Write Love on Her Arms, Jamie Tworkowski, was the featured speaker at the event and loved spending time with the Mercy girls. Nandi Pryce, Coordinator of the Ambassador Program at Mercy Ministries, was there to cast the vision of Mercy and introduce the graduates. Here’s what she had to say about the event:

“A Night of Hope” was incredible! Graduates Jessica, Ainsley and Abigail shared the healing that they received in Christ when they were at Mercy. All three of them talked about the labels that people had put on them, and told their peers that they can make the choice to ask God to heal their hearts. It was powerful!


Mercy graduates pictured from left to right, Abigail, Jessica, and Ainsley

Abigail, Jessica, and Ainsley with Jamie Tworkowski, Founder of To Write Love on Her Arms

Monday, August 30, 2010

Meet our Medical Staff!!!

We recently did an article on our Mercy Ministries Intake Staff and it was such a hit, we decided to highlight another amazing group, the Directors of Medical Services! Although Mercy Ministries is not a medical facility, some of the girls who enter the program have medical issues related to their struggles. The Nashville, Lincoln, and St. Louis homes all have licensed RN’s on staff.

These amazing nurses take the girls to medical and dental appointments, monitor medications, and see the girls on an as needed basis. But physical healing isn’t the only thing these amazing staff members desire. They love the girls in a way that encourages the spiritual healing the residents need as well. We want to give you a personal inside look at who they are as individuals. Here is what they wanted to share with our friends and supporters:

Christy Tullos

I grew up in Memphis, TN, a preacher’s daughter. I was blessed to have this upbringing and being raised in church stirred in me a heart for ministry and a desire for the things of God. I attended the University of Arkansas, and obtained my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Labor and Delivery was my first job in the nursing field. In 2000, I moved to Nashville, where I continued to work in Labor and Delivery at Vanderbilt. After doing a brief travel nursing assignment to California, the position for Director of Medical Services at Mercy opened up.

I have been a part of the Mercy team since September of 2006. I found out about Mercy through attending Christ Church. It is very rewarding to see how God takes someone from such brokenness and transforms her into such beauty. Mercy is such a testimony to the goodness of God and how He cares about each detail that concerns us. I get to see it again and again, day after day.

I still have the opportunity to work an occasional weekend at Vanderbilt. This is awesome because the Mercy girls who have a baby often deliver there and I know all the ins and outs! In my spare time, I enjoy dinners with friends, movies, long walks along scenic paths and training for half-marathons.

Christa Marler

I have always been a resident of St. Louis and have been at my home church, South County Christian Center, for twenty eight years. I have served most of those years on the worship team as well as in women’s ministry. I also attended Missouri Baptist College and School of Nursing where I obtained my RN.

My introduction to Mercy was as a volunteer worship leader for nearly three years. It was thrilling to see visible changes like the smiles on the faces of the girls each week as God worked in their hearts. In December of 2008, I was offered the job of my dreams as a part of Mercy and joined the staff as Director of Medical Services in St. Louis. After working in intensive care for fifteen years, coming to Mercy was like coming home! I feel very privileged to work in a ministry that functions like a Spiritual Intensive Care, focusing on acute spiritual healing for hurting young women. I am also blessed to be the worship leader in the St. Louis home. The presence of God is so sweet in our times of worship together as His healing power breathes life. I still marvel at the miracles of hope I see God doing and I am very honored to be a part of what God is doing today!

I have been happily married to Nick Marler for seventeen years and I take great delight in our children Abby, Danielle, and Joel. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family, writing music, and fishing.

Tammy Danks—Lincoln

I found out about Mercy through the group Point of Grace many years ago and distinctly remember purchasing The Mercy Project CD to support them. I never dreamed I would one day need Mercy for myself! I thought I had it all together, but eventually my issues became too much for me to bear and I began the application process. I was accepted and graduated from the Nashville home in 2005.

God used Mercy to open my eyes to His truth and love, and I began to walk out what I was learning. When I came home to Northern California, I went to nursing school and earned my nursing degree. After graduation, I moved to Southern California to work at City of Hope, an NCI Cancer Center. While working with cancer patients, God taught me so much about life. I’ve learned to never take life or health for granted and have come away from that experience with a whole new outlook. I started working for Mercy Ministries in February 2010. Coming to work at Mercy has truly felt like coming home. I love these girls and I can relate to where they are. Getting to watch and be a part of the transformations that happen here has been such a blessing to me!


We are so grateful for the amazing job these ladies do to promote physical and spiritual healing for the hurting young women who come to Mercy. We are so proud of our entire staff! Look for future stories highlighting other team members!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mercy Ministries Residents Get Makeovers!!!

Last week, several of the Nashville residents were blessed with makeovers at the Origina AVEDA Spa and Salon in Cool Springs! Several of the stylists generously gave of their time and talents to cut and style the girls’ hair and do their makeup! The girls were so blessed by the opportunity and had a lot of fun! One resident in particular, Heidi, was speechless when she saw herself in the mirror for the first time. Here’s what some of the other girls had to say about the experience:

Janice Y- “It was so awesome to walk into the salon and see all of the staff welcoming us with smiles and wanting to bless us by cutting our hair and doing our makeup. They really cared and wanted to spend time with us.”

Beth R- “The girls at the salon were so nice. They gave us each such awesome haircuts. My stylist really fit my personality and transformed my hair. It was fun getting our makeup done and hanging out with my Mercy sisters. I loved being pampered. I had so much fun and felt so loved.”

Thanks to everyone at Origina AVEDA Spa and Salon for making these young women from Mercy Ministries feel so special! Check out this video of the girls getting their makeovers:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Some Will Go Far to Bless Mercy Ministries

Several members of the First Assembly of God Church in Union City, TN recently surprised residents of the Nashville home with some special gifts. These amazing women first learned about Mercy Ministries at the Dare to Dream Conference in July hosted by Shelayne McDaniel, Director of One Heart. The freedom and transformation they saw in the residents made such an impression, they went home and immediately started thinking of ways to bless the brave young women at Mercy Ministries!!

Last week, the group made the three hour trip to Nashville to tour the home and present their special gifts to the girls. Check out this video of their visit:



Thanks to the women of First Assembly of God in Union City for your support of Mercy Ministries!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mercy Ministries Celebrates Three More Transformed Lives!

This week at Mercy Ministries, family, friends and staff came together with the residents in the Monroe and Lincoln homes to celebrate the graduation of three amazing young women. These ladies have personally experienced God’s life-transforming power and are excited to share their stories!

Monroe

Katie W

Before I came to Mercy, I worked as a clinical pharmacist in a hospital but my life was debilitated by depression. I did not go one day without binging and purging or self-harming. All my vacation and sick time at work was spent on inpatient admissions to psychiatric units or in doctor’s offices. I spent hundreds of dollars every month on treatment, hospital bills, doctor visits, and medication. My life was a living nightmare. I wanted to die every moment of the day, and no amount of therapy seemed to help. I heard about Mercy from my friend Crystal who is on staff at Mercy.

During my time at Mercy, I found that God was the only one who could rescue and deliver me. Now my identity is in Christ instead of what the world says about me or my accomplishments. The Lord has restored my hope for a future and has put new dreams in my heart.

After graduation, I will move in with my parents and look for an institutional or retail pharmacy position. I hope to get certified in psychiatric pharmacy so I can teach other medical professionals about appropriate use of psychotropic medications and medication monitoring.

Lincoln

Stacy L

I was sexually abused between the ages of 14 and 18 which left me angry, bitter and numb. Soon after, my father passed away and my depression got worse. My life felt so dark and I didn’t care about anything. I have a daughter and I wanted to be a good mom but I was barely living. I heard about Mercy Ministries when Nancy Alcorn came and spoke at my church and I knew it was the place for me.

While at Mercy, I learned to feel again. I was finally able to grieve the loss of my dad and have been set free from the chains of my past. I have a reason to live and my daughter and I have the bond that I wanted. I feel so alive!

After graduation, I am going to college to get my Associates Degree in Child Development. I am also taking a class at the Art Institute for Photography and plan to get involved with my college group at church. Thank you so much to everyone at Mercy Ministries for all you have done in my life! This has been the best thing that I have ever done!

Daniele B

Before coming to Mercy I had a serious alcohol addiction. I really didn’t care about anything and was disconnected from the rest of the world. I was binge drinking to the point of blacking out and wouldn’t remember anything from the night before. I was out of control but I knew I needed help. A friend told me about Mercy and I decided to apply.

While at Mercy, God has restored my heart and my mind. I’ve learned that my past is not who I am and that I need to forgive myself. I am enjoying my life now!

After graduation, I plan to work and get involved in my church. I also want to go back to college in January to get a degree in Business.

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

Check out this video of Daniele's family:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mercy Ministries Open House and Rededication in Monroe

The very first Mercy Ministries home was purchased in Monroe, Louisiana in 1983. This year, the home received a much needed makeover with renovations including new furniture, paint, and appliances as well as beautiful landscaping and a brand new sign. Providing a beautiful home for the girls speaks to the value we place on the lives of the young women we serve. A first class facility communicates that they are loved and worthy.

It was standing room only on Sunday, August 22nd when over 250 people came to celebrate the rededication of our Monroe home. Founding Board Members, Susan Cordell and Jerry Hightower, were both there to help celebrate, as well as long time supporters, Patty and Quincy Doles (originally from Monroe), who came all the way from their home in Olympia, Washington for the event! Tours were given for the first time in Monroe during an Open House and the residents enjoyed showing off their new home.

President and Founder of Mercy Ministries, Nancy Alcorn, was there to thank the members of the Monroe community for their support and to reunite with some old friends. Several “Mercy babies,” now all grown up, were there with their adoptive parents to visit with Nancy and celebrate the rededication. President of the Community Board, Pastor Sam Carr and his wife, Becky, led the rededication ceremony with prayer and asked for the continued support of Mercy Ministries. Check out these great pictures of the newly renovated home:


A welcoming entrance...


Nancy was greeted at the door by Isaiah and Israel.


The Monroe Classroom



The Library


A comfortable living room



Beautiful, inviting bedrooms


The new pool landscaping looks like a resort!


Nancy casting the vision


Standing Room Only!


While the renovations at the Monroe home are such a blessing, there is still more work to be done! In fact, there are still room sponsorships available as well as much needed support for our current operations! Contact hrobinson@mercyministries.com for more information about the many ways you can get involved and support Mercy Ministries.

With the help of faithful supporters who are the lifeline of Mercy Ministries, we are able to give hurting young women the help they so desperately need. Thank you!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Christian Rock Band, Circleslide, Visits Mercy Ministries

Last week, residents at the Nashville home were so excited to have up and coming Christian rock band, Circleslide, visit the home. Members of the band, Gabe Martinez (guitar, lead vocals, harmonica), Eric Vickers (bass, vocals), Jonathan DeAnda (electric guitar, vocals), and Lee Yoder (drums) toured the home Thursday morning and performed their soon to be released single “Looking Up” at the opening of the graduation ceremony. Here’s what lead singer, Gabe Martinez had to say about the experience:

"The band and I were not prepared for the life-changing event that was our visit to Mercy Ministries. Touring the facilities, meeting the wonderful staff, and participating in the graduation will not soon be forgotten. Etched in our memory is the way the Mercy staff pours into each girl in the program with attentiveness to their uniqueness and personality. The time of worship was sweet and rich, radiating with each girls individual story and reminding me of the power of God's redemption. We were so humbled by the experience and each of us walked away in awe of how God’s grace has the ability to restore us all.”
-Gabe Martinez

“From the moment I walked in the doors at Mercy Ministries, I knew God's work was being done there. The thought that kept running through my mind as we were touring the facilities and then sitting in the graduation ceremony was ‘This feels like home.’ To hear the stories, and see pictures of where Amanda, Sarah, and Kara (the graduates) were before coming to Mercy brought tears to nearly everyone’s eyes. But as the girls finished their testimonies, those tears of disgust and sorrow turned into tears of joy and praise to God, because the healing that took place in the girls’ lives was so undeniable. I've always known that Love is a powerful thing. I have an even better grip on how powerful it is now. After seeing the lives changed, because of the love displayed to "the least of these," I would encourage everyone who has thought about it, to invest into Mercy Ministries!”
- Lee Yoder

Check out this video of the band performing at the graduation ceremony:



For more information about Circleslide, go to www.circleslide.net!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Six Graduates Celebrate Transformation at Mercy Ministries!

Residents and staff came together with family and friends at our St. Louis and Nashville homes today in order to celebrate the remarkable transformations of six more Mercy Ministries graduates! These young women have found freedom from their life-controlling issues. Check out their stories:

St. Louis

Melissa C

I grew up in a family that was very distant, controlling, and verbally abusive. My parents spent most of their time caring for my oldest brother who is mentally handicapped. I learned to become independent at an early age and often felt isolated and abandoned. Between the ages of 9 and 13, I was sexually molested. I felt ashamed and believed it was my fault so I turned to anorexia to gain some control of my life. I also turned to drugs, alcohol, and homosexuality to fill the void in my heart. These things only created more confusion, anger, and depression. I lost my job in 2009 and hit rock bottom. That was when I applied to Mercy Ministries. I entered the doors of Mercy feeling worthless.

While at Mercy, I have built a strong foundation in Christ. I have a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him than I ever have. I have found that along with faith and obedience comes freedom. For the first time in my life I feel beautiful. I like my body, I like myself, and I genuinely like other people. I realize that I was not created to be independent and alone, but I was created for fellowship. God has also continued to restore my family.

Mercy is only the beginning of my journey. I plan to move to Texas, look for a part-time job and complete my degree in Dietetics. I am looking forward to being involved in my local church where I can stay connected with a body of believers and get involved in reaching out to others. Above all, I am excited to go deeper in my relationship with God because I know that He is my ultimate joy and strength.

Theresa B

I grew up in a home that was filled with arguing, criticism, and conditional love. We went to church every Sunday, but to me, God was someone peering down from Heaven watching every wrong move I made. I became a perfectionist which led to self-hatred, self-harm, and an eating disorder. My counselor gave me Mercy for Eating Disorders by Nancy Alcorn. I knew that I needed help and a Christ-centered home so I decided to apply.

During my time at Mercy, God has taught me that only He can heal me. I know that I can come to Him just as I am and still be fully accepted. He has shown me who He created me to be and awakened dreams in my heart. He has given me hope!

In the future, I hope to open a boutique, and be a voice of true beauty. I would also like to work with young people and do missions work. I have been incredibly blessed! It is a privilege to be loved and taken care of by God! I am SO grateful!

Brittany S

I struggled with an addiction to alcohol for 13 years. I was in a deep depression and had no desire to live. I felt my life was empty and meaningless and I was angry with God. I was overwhelmed and did not see any way out of my despair when I heard about Mercy from a friend who knew a graduate of Mercy Ministries.

During my time at Mercy, God has given me new life, hope, joy, peace, and dreams for the future. I have learned how to make good choices in everything I do, say, and think. I have also learned the power of God's Word and how to replace all the lies I believed with God's truth.

After graduation, I am going home to look for a job and attend college where I would like to major in Early Childhood Education. I plan to live life to the fullest and pursue my dreams of teaching children on the mission field.

Nashville

Amanda L

Before Mercy, I had no desire to live. My parents divorced when I was very young and my father moved across the country. I tried to make up for his rejection by striving for acceptance from others. This desire to please people led to anorexia, bulimia, and an addiction to exercise and pro-anorexia websites. Further social rejection led to self-harm and I eventually became suicidal. I hit rock bottom when a failed suicide attempt landed me in the hospital. My parents told me about Mercy Ministries and I didn’t know much about the program but I knew I wanted to be free, so I decided to apply.

During my stay at Mercy, God has opened my eyes to His truth. Not only am I beautiful and truly treasured but He really does have a plan to prosper me. God has brought me to such an intimate place with Him and I can’t wait to walk out the path He has laid before me.

After Mercy, I’m going to return home and make up for lost time with my family. I’m planning on taking some time off before going to college where I hope to major in Music Business.


Cara E

At the age of four I remember looking in the mirror and thinking my legs and stomach looked fat, and by the time I was eleven I stopped eating. I loved sports and would exercise constantly. My parents took me to a doctor who diagnosed me with anorexia. I believe I developed anorexia because it was my way to be noticed and cared for. My family was very loving, but I felt I needed to get extra attention. I entered a different treatment program with the hope that I would be free. The counselors there told me I would never be free of anorexia and would deal with it for the rest of my life. I only got worse and learned how to hide my anorexia better. My life was horrible and I wanted to die because I was so miserable! Finally, a mentor told me about Mercy Ministries. I knew that God was the only one who could heal me, so I applied in the hopes that I would finally be free.

Since coming to Mercy, God has rocked my world! I’ve learned He does love me and He was with me through every struggle. I learned that He made me and I am beautiful. I am not a mistake! I know now that I do not need to control my eating and exercise with a strict regimen. God has given me hunger and fullness, and exercise is no longer compulsive, it’s fun! I know my identity is in Christ. I am free!

After graduation, I’m going back to high school for my junior year. I’m going to spend time with my family and start rebuilding relationships. I really can’t wait to play sports again too! Thank you to all the staff! You guys love us so much and believe in us. And thank you to all the benefactors. Without you, I don’t know if I’d be alive and Nancy, you are my hero! Thanks for giving your life to God’s will!

Sarah S

I was physically and sexually abused from a very young age. By the time I was 13, I developed an eating disorder. While in high school, I started to self-harm, tried to commit suicide, and was in and out of hospitals and treatment centers. I eventually went to college, but one night at a party I was sexually abused by an older student. Things got worse from there and I ended up leaving school. I heard about Mercy from a friend and decided to apply because I knew I needed to deal with the root of my issues.

While at Mercy, I learned who I am in Christ. I know that my past doesn’t dictate my future and that my moods don’t have to depend on a number on the scale. I am who God says I am.

After graduation, I plan to finish my degree in psychology and get a job working with special needs children. I also have a dream to be a foster mom one day. I am so grateful to Mercy for giving me this opportunity and believing in me.


Congratulations ladies! We are so proud of you and we can’t wait to see what God has in store for you. Your testimonies are going to have a ripple effect on future generations.

Check out this video from the Nashville graduation:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Finding Freedom

Natasha Files sits in the lounge of the newly renovated Mercy Ministries, a home for young women with life-controlling issues.
Doug Shanks photo

By Hannah Sutherland - Peace Arch News
Published: August 17, 2010 11:00 AM
Updated: August 17, 2010 1:25 PM

Two years after first developing an eating disorder, Natasha Files exhibited full-blown symptoms of bulimia and anorexia.

She was just 15 years old.

Files recalls vomiting more than 20 times a day, and being so afraid of having anything in her stomach, she would throw up water. Some days she didn’t eat at all.

While also struggling with depression and self-harm, the now 24-year-old says she gained little from local community support programs.

It was through U.S.-based Mercy Ministries – a free Christian program for women “seeking freedom from life-controlling issues” – that Files saw a chance to recover.

In 2007, the former White Rock resident travelled to the group’s St. Louis, Mo. location, as Mercy Ministries Canada had yet to open a treatment facility at the time. For 6½ months, Files lived in a home with 30 other young women dealing with various issues, such as addiction, depression, unplanned pregnancy and physical and sexual abuse.

While there, she and the others were responsible for cooking meals, completing chores and attending daily classes where they were taught life skills. The women participated in recreational activities – going to the YMCA to exercise and walking the trails around the house – and had downtime on weekends when they could go to baseball games or the mall. They also took part in individual and group counselling sessions, where Files says she began to learn about her issues.

“I learned how to deal with healthy ways of coping,” she said. “I noticed a complete shift in who I was.

“I came home, and all of a sudden I was a girl with a strong foundation.”

Files – who noted she believes being adopted at birth had left her feeling rejected – said her “transformation” was all the more possible due to the facility’s comforting environment.

“It felt like a really big home,” she said. “I didn’t go into it with a mindset that ‘I’m sick, I need to be in hospital.’”

It’s that same sense of “home” the very first Canadian treatment facility is aiming for. After seven years in the making, Mercy Ministries Canada plans to open its doors this month in South Surrey to women 19-28 years old who will no longer have to travel to the U.S. for the program.

According to director Helen Burns, there are 11 applicants from across the country ready to move into the local house, at 19465 16 Ave., and 40 more are currently going through intake.

Burns expects the first group of 20 girls – a new group will begin roughly every six months – to arrive by the end of the month.

Burns – pastor of Relate Church in Surrey – said she was inspired to open the local non-profit residential home eight years ago, when she heard Mercy Ministries founder Nancy Alcorn speak at a conference.

Burns thought of her own daughter, who struggled with eating disorders for 10 years.

“I wondered what it would have been like had she been able to (go),” she said. “When I heard about Mercy, I thought we could fast track a very difficult process.”

Burns began speaking about the program – which also has facilities in New Zealand and the U.K. – and received a positive response from the public. Within six months, a non-profit society was established. Seven years later, the vision has become reality, with private funding paying for the 4.3-acre South Surrey property, the house and the salaries of 16 staff members, including counsellors, a nutritionist, a registered nurse and a household manager.

That funding also means the program and its offerings – such as food and counselling – are free of charge.

Burns said touring the home – which she did earlier this month during an open house – is that much more meaningful considering her daughter, Danica Goward, designed the interior.

Goward said she created a place she would’ve wanted to live had she been able to attend the recovery program for her own eating disorder.

“I love that she built it for girls,” Burns said, noting the stylish, modern decor. “It’s like walking into a dream. I can hardly come here without feeling overwhelmed because I know we’re going to save lives.”

The house includes a large kitchen; classroom area; staff and counselling offices; dining room; patio; gathering room; nursing station; washroom and separate shower room; an office fit with a bed for night staff; and multiple shared bedrooms, all decorated in a different theme.

There is also a “blessings closet” filled with donated clothing and accessories, where young women who gain or lose weight during their stay can pick out new garments.

Burns said many materials were donated, such as cabinets, drywall and flooring.

“So many people gave at-cost or donated,” she said, noting the cause is close to many people’s hearts. “Everyone I think has a girl in their world who could’ve used help.”

Files – who is now a youth worker for Township of Langley and is studying to become a counsellor – will join other program graduates in visiting the South Surrey facility and speaking with the new charges. Files said the message she hopes to get across is a strong one.

“Recovery is possible,” she said. “If I can transform my life, anyone can.”

For more information, visit mercyministries.ca

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mercy Ministries Cheers for TN Diamonds Softball Team

Members from the Tennessee Diamonds softball team recently attended a Friends of Mercy luncheon at the Nashville home, and were so inspired by the work being done at Mercy Ministries!! These ladies immediately signed up for the Nashville Run For Mercy 5K and Family Walk to be held on Saturday, October 30th at Shelby Bottoms Greenway.

The residents of the Nashville home were invited to be the Diamonds’ special guests on Saturday, August 14th for “Pink Out the Park Night” in a game against the Akron Racers. The Diamonds held a silent auction of items worn and signed by the players and a percentage of the proceeds will go to Mercy Ministries.

The girls had a great time cheering on the Diamonds and resident Cara was invited to throw the first pitch! Check out the pictures and this video of the girls having a blast at the game:


The Mercy Girls with the TN Diamonds Softball Team


Some of the items being auctioned off for Mercy


Nashville resident Cara showing off her souvenirs

We would like to thank the Diamonds for their support and look forward to seeing Team TN Diamonds at the Run For Mercy 5K in October! If you would like to join Team TN Diamonds, create a team of your own, or sign up as an individual runner, go to http://www.runformercy.org/.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mercy Ministries Resident Gives Birth

Current Nashville Mercy Ministries resident, Sarah, gave birth to a healthy baby boy on Sunday morning! Rainey Miles was born at 1:50 AM yesterday weighing 6 pounds 14 ounces and measuring 19 inches long. Both mom and baby are healthy and we are so excited to celebrate this new life with Sarah!! Please pray for Sarah as she begins this new season in her life of being a mom. Several of our staff and girls have had the opportunity to visit Sarah in the hospital, and this is what Sarah had to say:

“This is an amazing experience to be able to embrace! My heart has been open and this experience has been so peaceful.” – Sarah

We are so thankful to all of our supporters who make it possible for young women like Sarah to come to Mercy and give them a practical way to choose life! You are helping save lives!!!


Friday, August 13, 2010

Volleyball Fun With Jude at the Nashville Home!

At Mercy Ministries, we provide a variety of recreational activities to help the girls develop a fun and healthy view of exercise. One of our Nashville residents, Amanda, rediscovered her love for volleyball while at Mercy. Check out this video of Amanda playing volleyball with some of the girls as well as Jude, the Mercy dog, joining in on the fun!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Private Concert with Jonny Diaz!

Mercy Ministries Artist Partner, Jonny Diaz, came by the Nashville home today to hand deliver several copies of his book, “More Beautiful You – A Study in True Beauty” and share a couple of songs with our girls! Jonny partnered with his mother, Gwendolyn Diaz, to write the book after receiving an overwhelming response to his song, “More Beautiful You.” Both the song and the book aim to tell young women of how they were beautifully created by God for a specific purpose and that they are loved just as they are. Jonny performed at our Chattanooga Friends of Mercy Luncheon in July and we are so excited to add his book to the libraries in each of the Mercy Ministries homes.

Check out this video of Jonny Diaz putting on an impromptu concert for the girls:

For more information about Jonny Diaz and how you can purchase a copy of the book, go to www.jonnydiaz.com.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Meet Our Intake Staff!!!

We thought it would be cool for you to meet the Mercy Ministries Intake staff. They work tirelessly, answering the desperate cries for help that we receive on a daily basis, an average of 1,500 calls each month! The Intake Department has gone above and beyond to meet the needs of the young women we exist to serve, and we want to give them a big shout out!

The Director of Intake, Rebekah Adams, has a Master’s Degree in Counseling. She started out as a volunteer and worked countless hours exemplifying the passion she has for hurting young women. Two graduates of Mercy Ministries are also a part of this talented team - Sara, a 1997 graduate, and Kathryne, who graduated from the program in 2002, bring a unique perspective that the other members of the team do not have. Denise, one of the other Intake Coordinators, and her family have supported Mercy since Denise was a little girl and it is so great to have her as a part of the team. Besides Rebekah, Sara, Denise, and Kathryne, we also have Brandy who serves the department as the receptionist. We want to give you a personal inside look at who they are as individuals. Here is what they wanted to share with our friends and supporters:

Rebekah Adams – Director of Intake

I started in this position in September of 2009 and I will never be able to fully express to you just how thankful I am for my job! I count it as a gift and a treasure to be a small part of seeing young women's hearts, minds, and lives restored by the power of Jesus Christ! Yeah!!!!

I was raised in a tiny little town called Rensselaer, Indiana, (if you look close enough you might see it on the map). I'm the youngest of 4 girls, (seriously, we're like the book "Little Women"... best friends!). I moved to Nashville in 2000 to go to Trevecca Nazarene University where I graduated with a Bachelor's in Social Work and a Bachelor's in Interpersonal Communications. I then continued on to get my Master's Degree in Counseling. Soon after completing school, I met my soon-to-be husband at church and we were married in September of 2008. He is truly the Lord's perfect provision for me and he was well worth the wait!!!! I love spending time with my husband (he’s hilarious!), shopping for great deals (just ask the Intake team), interior decorating, and singing.

Sara Opperman – Intake Coordinator

I have been part of the Mercy family for thirteen years. I initially found out about Mercy Ministries through a magazine article when I was sixteen, unexpectedly pregnant, and looking for a place to get help. Mercy Ministries provided an environment for me to draw closer to God, hear His voice through the challenging circumstances, and find clear direction and peace about the life-changing decision I had to make. I graduated from the program in 1997, and went back home with my beautiful baby girl, Alexis.

I have now worked in the Intake Department for almost three years, and feel honored to be a part of what God is doing in young women’s lives through this ministry. I am thankful for the opportunity to encourage them through the challenges they face, while also sharing my personal story of God’s amazing grace, love, forgiveness, and restoration. I feel blessed beyond measure for all that God has done in my life and continues to do - He is so faithful! Being a mom is by far my favorite role in life! Together, Alexis and I enjoy horseback riding, basketball, water skiing, and playing with our little dog, Rosie. I also enjoy playing soccer, cycling, ballroom dancing, and spending time with friends and family.

Denise Ramsey – Intake Coordinator

I have been at Mercy for almost 2 years and love it every day. Since high school, I have felt like God put a calling on my life to help girls that are dealing with the many issues that young girls face in society today. I was born and raised in Nashville, TN. I went to college at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where I majored in Child and Family Studies with a minor in Psychology. I have a wonderful family and friends that have supported me through my life and have helped me develop a deeper relationship with Jesus. I have a sister and a brother who I am really close with, and I love going to football games, cooking, and going to the lake.


Kathryne Coonce – Intake Coordinator

I have been working at Mercy for almost 2 years now, and I love it! Mercy has a very special place in my heart, especially since I am a Mercy grad! Yep, I am a Mercy alum… graduated in 2002 after having an unplanned pregnancy. Mercy was such a blessing to me and helped me through so many hard issues that I needed to work through! Most importantly, I developed a real relationship with my Savior, which changed my life! I never really thought I would end up working at Mercy, but God put it on my heart about 5 years after my stay there, and soon after, He opened the door! I feel blessed to be able to give back to a ministry that gave me so much!

I graduated from College of Charleston with a degree in Psychology, and then moved back home to Franklin, TN where I was born and raised. I have 2 brothers and a sister, and lots of nieces and nephews whom I adore! I have been married for 2 years now and I love my husband! I want to have a big family, so we are hoping to have children in the near future. I love to cook and hang out with friends and my family... and I love girly movies. That’s me… 


Brandy Vancil – Intake Coordinator

I grew up in a small town in Virginia and went to college at Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA. I am married to a great man named Nick and we have a wild and wonderful black and white cocker spaniel named Buddy. I enjoy creative writing, songwriting, leading worship with my husband, traveling, and taking part in Bible studies with good friends.

The passion of my heart is to see people’s lives radically transformed by the saving and redeeming power of Jesus Christ. I hope to one day finish up my Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling in order to further walk out the passions God has given me. It is a true joy and humbling experience to walk alongside the brave young women who seek help from Mercy Ministries as they take active steps to walk out the freedom and healing Christ has for their lives.

We really wanted to brag on this group. We are so proud of our entire staff, and will be highlighting more departments from time to time in the future…

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mercy Residents Love Their Neighborhood!

Mercy Ministries residents from the St. Louis home recently spent some time sorting clothes at the St. Louis Family Church. On Saturday, they helped distribute those clothes along with shoes and school supplies at a “Love the Neighborhood” community outreach. It was a memorable day for the girls as well as the people of the 27th Ward area. Here’s what one of the residents had to say about the event:

Casey: I’ve never done anything like this before! To see all the little kids and their snow cone stained smiles melted my heart. This will have a lasting impact not only on their lives, but my own as well.


Everyone enjoyed the games, inflatables, and live bands, as well as a special message from guest speaker Reinhard Bonnke. Check out this video and these pictures of the St. Louis residents giving back!

Mercy Resident, Marcy, Loving on a Little One


Handing out supplies

Guest speaker, Reinhard Bonnke

St. Louis Residents and Staff

Monday, August 9, 2010

St. Louis and Lincoln Graduates Celebrate Their Freedom!

Residents and staff came together at the St. Louis and Lincoln homes today to celebrate the transformation of three Mercy Ministries graduates. These amazing young women have faced their issues head-on and have found freedom from their life-controlling issues! Here are their stories:

St. Louis

Morgan

I lived in a Christian home but I grew up feeling like I could never be quite “good enough”. At a young age, I was sexually molested and was too ashamed to tell my parents. I was also teased about my body, which eventually led to a full-blown eating disorder by age seven. As a teenager, I dated an older boy who was often verbally and physically abusive and I began to use self-harm to relieve my pain. I was in and out of treatment between the ages of 6 and 26 and was looking for a job in ministry when I came across the Mercy Ministries website. I needed a place that was free of charge where I could rest and my heart could be gently, yet radically transformed.

I knew when I walked through the doors of Mercy Ministries that I was ready for change. God was faithful to teach me about His gentleness and loving discipline. He showed me how to walk confidently in forgiveness and hope, and He reminded me that He did not give me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control. I am so excited to share that which I've been given to others who are lost, needy, and broken.

After graduation, I plan to return home and live with my sister. I want to work in ministry, as well as volunteer with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.


Jodi

I was born and raised in a Christian family and felt very safe and loved. At age four, I was sexually molested. I felt ashamed, guilty, and I lost my sense of security. By my teenage years, I became aware of my body changing, and I didn’t like it. Boys would tease and make fun of me, making me feel more insecure and disgusted with myself. I became sexually active, started drinking and smoking, and developed an eating disorder. By age 20, I became pregnant and chose to have an abortion. Shortly after, I was hospitalized and dropped down to ninety pounds, believing my identity was found in how thin I was. In 2007, I heard about Mercy Ministries through a family friend. I checked it out, but it wasn’t until three years later that I chose to surrender my life and trust God. On February 26, 2010, I entered the doors of Mercy Ministries feeling insecure and unworthy.
During my time at Mercy, I came to realize that God loves me unconditionally! I learned that I need Him to be my foundation and that He will guide me in freedom and truth. I learned that the Word of God is powerful and the truth has set me free. I can’t express how grateful I am to God, Nancy Alcorn, and the staff who loved me unconditionally. God bless you!

After graduating, I plan to go home to work and save money. I may go back to school for nursing, but I also have a dream of one day opening a Bed and Breakfast. I want to be in God’s will so wherever He leads me I want to be obedient.

Lincoln

Dayna

Before coming to Mercy Ministries, I had no peace. I had been sexually abused and became very depressed. I developed an eating disorder, began over-exercising, and used relationships with men to try and deal with my feelings. My life was a wreck and I felt like I was worthless, having no desire to live. I knew I couldn’t continue living that way any longer when my mom heard about Mercy Ministries from a friend, so I decided to apply for the program.

Since coming to Mercy, God has renewed my mind and transformed my heart. I now have a personal and intimate relationship with Him that sustains me. God has shown me His heart for me and that my worth is in Him as I am a beautiful daughter of the King.

In the future, I would like to pursue a job in the medical field and become either a paramedic or a physician’s assistant.

Congratulations ladies! We are so proud of your determination and can’t wait to see you live out your freedom! Check out this video of our new graduates!



Friday, August 6, 2010

An Inside Look to Our New Canadian Home!

We are so excited about our new Mercy Ministries Canadian home. The furnishings are so beautiful that we thought you might enjoy seeing some of the rooms so we’ve posted them here for you. Special shout out to Pastors John and Helen Burns and the Canadian team for a job well done. The Mercy journey is so exciting and we love it that every room is so beautiful because it speaks to the value that we place on the lives of the young women we serve who have been through such devastation.
Founder, Nancy Alcorn, partnered with Pastors John and Helen Burns
to bring Mercy to Canada. Here is Nancy and the Burns’ pictured
with our Canadian staff on our Grand Dedication weekend.


Part of the Classroom


Counseling Room

The Gathering Room


Dining Room
Kitchen
Each room has unique artwork as well.