Friday, September 24, 2010

Eight Amazing Stories of Freedom!

Graduates of Mercy Ministries each have a unique and powerful story of transformation. Despair turns to hope, fear to power, and death to life! “Opening up my life to Him and allowing Him to walk me through every hurt was the most liberating experience for me,” said Jessica, one of our most recent graduates. Seven other young women graduated from Mercy along with Jessica this week! Residents, staff, family, and friends came together in Nashville, Lincoln, and St. Louis to celebrate the hope and healing these young women have found in Christ. Here are their powerful stories of transformation:

St. Louis

Elyse

Growing up, I felt like I had to be perfect in order to be accepted and loved, so I wore a lot of masks. After a while, I didn’t know who I was anymore. It seemed that no matter what I did everyone left me and I felt rejected, abandoned and forgotten. My life was spinning out of control, so I began starving myself, abusing laxatives and diet pills, over-exercising, and cutting in order to deal with all the pain and hurt. I cried out to God for help and one night I couldn’t sleep so I downloaded one of Joyce Meyer’s podcasts. She was interviewing Nancy and they were talking about Mercy Ministries and how it was a program for girls who struggled with some of the issues that I was dealing with. I knew Mercy was where I needed to go.

When I first got to Mercy, I tried to act like everything was okay and I would smile all the time but the staff kept encouraging me that it was okay not to be happy and smile and to just be real. It was so freeing! God has totally changed my life and for the first time I have hope for my future. I know now that I don’t have to be perfect in order for God to accept and love me.

My dreams for the future are to go to Bible College to get my bachelors in pastoral ministries, get married and have kids, and one day build an orphanage in Africa.


Joy

Growing up, I was picked on about my weight and the way I looked. I was told by various dance instructors that I would never make it because I wasn’t the right size or shape or because I was “too fat”. I was also sexually abused as a child. I didn’t feel like I mattered to anyone and whenever there were problems, I believed I was to blame. I started drinking, using self-harm, and restricting my food to gain a sense of control because everything else seemed so out of control. I heard about Mercy from a couple of friends and decided to apply because I knew the path I was on would lead to death.

During my time at Mercy, God has shown me who I am in Christ and what true freedom is. God doesn’t look at me and see a mistake, He sees Jesus in me. Now I can go to God without fear and know that He loves me and wants a relationship with me.

When I get home, I’m going back to school to start my bachelor’s in photography/studio art. I would also like to get a second bachelor’s in journalism and work with a travel company or magazine that has Christian values so I could travel on different assignments. And, like most girls, I hope to be married one day to a very godly man.


Lincoln

Jessica

I was sexually abused as a child and felt completely worthless. Secretly, I tried to cope with my pain by using self-harm. As I grew older, I began to numb myself with alcohol and became very depressed. I felt like my life was out of control and I was a hopeless mess when I heard about Mercy Ministries at my church. I wanted to know God personally and how He could heal my past, so I applied.

While at Mercy, I wrestled with God for a few months, but eventually I surrendered and put my trust, hope, and expectation in Him. Opening up my life to Him and allowing Him to walk me through every hurt was the most liberating experience for me. He met my need for unconditional love through the program and the staff and He has shown me that He values me and that I have purpose!

After graduation, I am planning on going to school to become a midwife. I would love to serve on the mission field and someday have my own ministry. I want to do for hurting people, what Mercy did for me.



Kaitlin

Before Mercy I was living on auto pilot. I had no hope and no sense of purpose. I struggled with anorexia, bulimia, and depression and I was so consumed by fear that I did not want to live. I felt like I had to be perfect and I thought I could survive just by looking good on the outside. On the inside, I was desperate and knew God must have more for me. I found Mercy Ministries on the internet and decided to apply.

Since coming to Mercy, God has set me free! His love and grace have allowed me to live in the freedom to fail, grow, and be humbled because He is more then enough for me. All the things I was afraid of before don’t scare me anymore because I know my God is bigger than all of them.

After graduation, I am moving home and applying to colleges. Someday, I hope to get married, have babies, and a house in the country with a swing on the front porch! To all of the staff – Thank you! I love and appreciate you all. The examples you set helped me to see what a godly woman looks like.


Nashville

Beth
 

I was sexually abused at a young age and quickly learned how to keep secrets. I was molested, abused, and raped multiple times throughout my life and used drugs, alcohol, and self-harm to cope. I also attended a strong performance-based school where I developed an eating disorder. I was barely surviving and constantly looking for ways to numb myself, yet I gave off the appearance that I was living the perfect life. I was very alone and isolated by my secret life and was constantly struggling with depression and suicidal ideation. God was someone I knew of, but despised, because so many of my abusers came from the church. I believed the church was my enemy, but I remained active and involved, so I was totally miserable. While at a conference, I met Nancy and heard about Mercy. Mercy seemed to provide something different and it sparked hope deep within me. I wanted the healing and Jesus that Nancy talked about to be true, so I decided to apply.

While at Mercy, I learned that I can choose life and have it more abundantly! I learned to forgive the church, my abusers, and everyone who let me down. I realized God wasn’t the author of my pain, but through Him, I could have power, love, and sound thinking. My relationship with my parents has been restored and God has started building a firm foundation in me.

I plan on taking the next year to just lay low, study the Word of God, and stay active in ministry. In the future, I want to speak to the nations and declare God’s justice to those who are suffering. I want to be a voice that brings change and to see mighty miracles happen throughout the earth. My life has truly been totally transformed!


Kelsey

Because of my relationship with my mom, I grew up having a hard time trusting women. I was constantly bullied at school and no one wanted to hang out with me. In the 8th grade I started self-harming as a way of escape. I was sick and tired of living a lie and wanted to get my life back when I heard about Mercy from a graduate.

Since coming to Mercy, God has taken the place of my desire to self-harm and my identity is in Him, not my issues. I now have total confidence in myself. I’ve learned how to trust people, especially women, and after not having many friends growing up, I now have lots of amazing friends from Mercy!

After graduation, I’m going back to high school and I’m going to tell my story to the girls in my youth group. After graduating high school, I’m going to try out for American Idol! I also want to go to Paul Mitchell cosmetology school


Alexis

As a child, I was sexually abused but I didn’t tell anyone in my family. I was 8 years old when I started restricting my food and by the age of 10, I was using self-harm daily. At 13, I was raped by a group of boys and became pregnant. I miscarried right before my 14th birthday and one week later, I attempted suicide for the first time. When God wouldn’t let me die and all my hope was gone, I went on the internet looking for help. Mercy Ministries was the first place I found. Later, a Mercy graduate came to speak to my church youth group and encouraged me to apply.

During my time at Mercy, God has truly taken me from death to life. He has restored my hope and my relationships. I’ve learned that everything is better when I let God be in control.

After graduation, I want to get a degree in social work and communications. God has put a passion in me for every person who feels like they don’t have a voice. I want to be that voice.


Alishia

I grew up in a tense home environment with an emotionally absent father and a physically ill mother and I felt it was my job to play peacekeeper. Over time, I began to isolate myself. I rarely received affirmation from my father so I convinced myself that I didn’t want or need it. I felt my worth was in performing well in music and academics. I developed an eating disorder at 12, began cutting at 16, and became alcoholic at 19. I spent years in the vicious cycle of these addictions until I was so hopeless that I wanted to die. I purchased Nancy’s book Starved and decided instead to apply to Mercy Ministries.

During my time at Mercy, God has brought me back to life! I had no hope before Mercy, but God has given me new hope and shown me that He has a plan for my life that is so much more amazing than anything I could dream of. I know that He created me for a purpose and I have learned what balance looks like in every area of life.

In the very near future, I plan on working Dave Ramsey’s baby steps to financial peace, so that I can pay off my debt and go back to school to pursue a degree in nursing. I love Mercy Ministries! I am so thankful for this place!

Congratulations ladies! We are so excited to see you leave Mercy with a passion for life and a calling to reach out to others who are in need of His healing! We can’t wait to see what God has in store for you!