Thursday, March 31, 2011

Four More Graduates Ready To Pay It Forward

“I had a feeling God was the answer, and I needed a place where I could get to know the Father, Healer and Restorer of my soul. Mercy Ministries has been that place,” said graduate Kristin. Four more amazing young women have had their lives transformed and hope restored through the unconditional love of Christ. Residents, staff, family and friends gathered together at the St. Louis and Sacramento homes to celebrate their graduations, and we want to share their incredible stories of freedom with you:

St. Louis

Bethany

Before coming to Mercy, I did not see the point in living anymore. I felt abandoned and rejected. I believed I was not good enough and that no one would ever love me or find me beautiful. I struggled every day with an eating disorder and self-harm, but it was never enough to get rid of the pain of my past. I wanted to give up, but then I heard about Mercy from my pastor, and I decided to apply.

During my time at Mercy, God showed me that He knows me inside and out, and He loves me. He proved Himself trustworthy and gave me hope for the future . He taught me to surrender control to Him, because His way is better than mine. He healed me and filled me with joy, and I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I want to thank the staff for their hard work and for all the love that they have shown me.

After graduation, I will be going back to college to complete my bachelor’s degree in human services and minors in psychology and sociology. I also look forward to going back to work at my church’s preschool.

Sacramento

Heather

My life before Mercy was very unstable. My dad was in jail and I grew up in an environment that was physically and verbally abusive. I felt rejected, and at times I wanted to die. My heart was broken, so to try and feel loved, I became promiscuous. I also struggled with an eating disorder, depression and anxiety. I heard about Mercy at church and then when I called the National Eating Disorders Association, they suggested Mercy, so I decided to apply.

While at Mercy, God has shown me how to have balance and how to set and respect boundaries. I have also learned to renew my mind with God’s Word. He has calmed my anxious heart and helped me to trust Him, because I know He cares for me. He has been stable in the storms of my life.

After graduation, I am going to get an associate’s degree and then transfer to a four-year university to get a degree in art therapy. I would like to one day work at Minirth-Meier Christian Treatment Center, helping others see God’s mercy. My prayer is that other young women might find hope by hearing my testimony. I would also like to get married and have a family someday.

Kelly

I was raised in a legalistic and abusive atmosphere and felt very abandoned. From a young age, I was sexually abused and had a deep fear and loathing for authority as a result. I thought the things I suffered were my fault, and I developed ways of coping through an eating disorder, self-harm and sexual promiscuity. I was filled with self-hatred, suicidal thoughts and depression. I heard about Mercy from my aunt, and I knew God was calling me there. I wanted freedom from my issues, so I decided to apply.

While at Mercy, God revealed His unconditional love for me and taught me to walk in freedom and forgiveness. He showed me that I am His daughter, He is my protector and He will never abandon me. I am healed, whole and forgiven. I am beautiful. I have a hope and a future.

After graduation, I will be going to nursing school to become a registered midwife. I also want to pursue music and write worship songs. I plan to take all of my skills to the mission field and fight against sex trafficking.


Kristin

My life before Mercy was in complete darkness. I endured all kinds of abuse which led to a 13-year battle with an eating disorder. I lived a life full of self-hatred and lies. I felt isolated, trapped and totally cut off from those that loved me the most. I heard about Mercy from a friend and decided to apply. I had a feeling God was the answer, and I needed a place where I could get to know the Father, Healer and Restorer of my soul. Mercy has been that place.

While at Mercy, God has transformed me in ways I never thought were possible. He has shown me that I am beautiful, loved and accepted just as He created me. God will never leave me nor forsake me and my faith is built on that. I have a hope for my future that I’ve never had before. I trust in God and His sovereign plan for my life.

At the end of May 2011, I will start a one-year internship at the Dream Center in Los Angeles, CA. I can’t wait to serve God during this next chapter of my life and see what further plans He has for me. With God, I am able to dream again.


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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Two NFL Greats Speak at St. Louis Luncheon!

Jeff Fisher and Steve Spagnuolo
Only a very special cause could bring two veteran NFL coaches together on the same stage to show their support. Mercy Ministries was honored to have featured speaker, Steve Spagnuolo, head coach of the St. Louis Rams, and special guest, Jeff Fisher, 16-year head coach of the Tennessee Titans, at yesterday’s Mercy in the Community Luncheon in St. Louis.

Getting this special event off to a great start, Mercy supporters Price and Tammy Woodward welcomed everyone, and the blessing was given by former NBA player, Steve Stipanovich. Steve and his wife Terri are faithful supporters of Mercy through our “Sponsor a Girl” program and have opened their home to several Mercy girls who needed a place to live following graduation.

Mercy Supporter Tammy Woodward
Former NBA player, Steve Stipanovich
Founder and President of Mercy Ministries, Nancy Alcorn, then spoke about the struggles and frustration she faced working in a girls’ juvenile correctional facility and not being allowed to share Christ. Nancy shared her heart for the countless young women who need to know there is a God who loves them unconditionally and freedom from life-controlling issues is absolutely possible.

Nancy Alcorn
In a powerful demonstration of that freedom, two graduates shared their incredible stories of healing and transformation. 2006 graduate, Kristin, came to Mercy struggling with self-harm, a severe eating disorder and a $7,000 per month drug addiction that she paid for by stripping. 2010 graduate, Priscilla, was a victim of sex trafficking, abused and held captive for four years by a former boyfriend who turned out to be a pimp/trafficker.  This man is now serving a life sentence in prison, and we are happy to report that Priscilla is walking in complete and total freedom.  Each girl emphasized that she could not have gotten the help she so desperately needed if she had to pay, and generous Mercy supporters helped save their lives.

2006 Graduate Kristin
2010 Graduate Priscilla
 After leading a standing ovation for these incredible young women, our special guest, Jeff Fisher, shared that while the pressure of coaching in the NFL is huge, it is nothing compared to the life and death issues faced by the young women who come to Mercy Ministries. Coach Fisher is a faithful Mercy supporter and graciously honored his longtime friend, Nancy Alcorn, for her obedience in following God’s calling to help hurting young women like Kristin and Priscilla.

Jeff Fisher with Nancy
Jeff Fisher introduces Coach Steve Spagnuolo
Coach Fisher then introduced our featured speaker, Coach Steve Spagnuolo, who shared his inspirational four pillars of leadership: faith, character, core values and team first. He talked about what it meant to be an everyday hero, pointing out the Mercy girls, staff, and Nancy as examples. He encouraged everyone that they too could be an everyday hero by supporting the work being done at Mercy Ministries.

Featured Speaker, Coach Steve Spagnuolo
Nancy with Jeff Fisher and Steve and Maria Spagnuolo
It was an unforgettable day for all who attended the luncheon and we were so honored to have the support of these amazing coaches. Our special thanks to Coach Steve Spagnuolo and his beautiful wife Maria for helping us spread the word to the St. Louis community about the work being done at Mercy. Special thanks also to Coach Jeff Fisher for his friendship and support and for travelling to St. Louis especially for this event.
The St. Louis Community shows their support
We would also like to thank all of the volunteers and supporters who helped make this event possible. If you would like more information about how you can support Mercy Ministries or would like to attend an event in your area, go to www.mercyministries.com.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Marathoners Running for Mercy!!!

Runners across the nation are lacing up their shoes and hitting the pavement to show their love and support for the young women of Mercy Ministries! Last month, Elizabeth Baldwin ran for Mercy in the Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth, TX! We wanted to share what she had to say about her experience:

I decided to participate in Run for Mercy because of my cousin Tara, a graduate of the program. I was so amazed at her transformation while at Mercy Ministries and was impressed that it was Christ-centered. Ever since Tara graduated, running for Mercy Ministries had always been in the back of my mind, so last December I signed up for my first marathon and got started on my fundraising.

The Run for Mercy website was a huge help in raising funds. I emailed everyone I knew about what I was doing, sent out “training updates” and used Facebook to bring awareness to my run. I was so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family to support me, and I was able to raise $1,100 for Mercy Ministries!

When race day finally came, I was so nervous and excited all at once! I prayed and prayed and prayed, “Oh dear Lord, please let me finish. Even if I have to crawl across the finish line, just help me finish!” Finally, the horn blared and I was off and running!

My aunt had given me some of Nancy Alcorn’s teachings, which I uploaded to my iPod, and listened to during most of the race. I was able to draw so much strength and encouragement from listening to her speak. I hit the dreaded “wall” at mile 22 and felt like the energy instantly drained from my body, but I kept thinking about Tara and all of the young women who are at Mercy Ministries. They are what got me through those last few miles. Crossing the finish line was amazing, and I felt so privileged that I was able to Run for Mercy!

Great job Elizabeth! Your heart for Mercy is encouraging and inspiring!

Another team of dedicated supporters will be running in the upcoming Country Music Marathon in Nashville on April 30th. If you live in the Nashville area, be sure and tune in to “Better Nashville” on Channel 4 this Thursday, March 31st at 10:00 AM to hear Trish Squittieri share why she and her team are running for Mercy and how you can help.

Any race across the nation can be an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for Mercy Ministries. If you would like to Run for Mercy, go to www.runformercy.org to find a race near you, or contact Melanie Blair at (615)831-6987 or mblair@mercyministries.com to Run for Mercy in a race not listed on our website.

Monday, March 28, 2011

North Carolina Shows Support at Mercy in the Community Luncheon

We are excited that churches, ministries and businesses across the state of North Carolina are embracing the vision of Mercy Ministries and showing their support. Founder and President of Mercy Ministries, Nancy Alcorn, recently had the opportunity to connect with several of these friends and supporters at a Mercy in the Community luncheon at the beautiful Carolina Country Club in Raleigh, North Carolina. More than 200 people came to hear about the life-changing work being done at Mercy!

Event Host, Anna Dunn Fonville, welcomed everyone and Pastor Steve Caronna from Living Word Family Church gave the blessing. He shared about how his church has been supporting Mercy for years and said that they have supported different organizations through the years and Mercy is the "real deal.”

Nancy with Pastor Steve Caronna
Nancy Alcorn spoke of her experience in government programs and God’s calling to build a home where women could hear the message that freedom can be found in the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. Nancy cast the vision for Mercy Ministries’ future growth in North Carolina.

Guests also had the opportunity to hear life-transforming testimonies from Mercy graduates, Suzanne Mathis and Alison Singewald. These young women were both excited to share their powerful stories of transformation with the Raleigh community and encourage support for Mercy!

Graduates Suzanne (left) and Alison (right)
Event Host and father of Anna Dunn Fonville, Tommy Fonville, closed with a reminder that the young women at Mercy come free of charge and Mercy Ministries does not accept any government funding that might interfere with the ability to share Christ. "So they are depending on us - families, businesses and churches," he said.

Event Hosts Anna Dunn Fonville and her father, Tommy Fonville
The luncheon ended with an incredible performance by Christian recording artist Jacob Taylor.

Jacob Taylor
We would like to thank Event Sponsors, Larry and Pam Winters and the Fonville family who have all been incredible longtime supporters of Mercy. We would also like to thank Patron Sponsors, Danny and Renate Snipes and Jim and Aliene Thompson as well as all the Friend of Mercy sponsors and table sponsors whose faithful contributions play a critical part in maintaining our presence in North Carolina. Your support is essential to seeing the lives of hurting young women restored! Finally, thanks to Jenna Markiewicz for taking the time to capture every memorable moment in pictures so we could share them with you:

Nancy with Pam Winters
Nancy with Marybeth Markiewicz

More than 200 people attended

Graduates Alison and Suzanne shared their stories

To find a Mercy fundraiser near you, go to http://www.mercyministries.org/HowToHelp/Events.aspx.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mercy Graduation Inspires “Flood Song”

Jordan Abina
It took Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie several months to write “We Are the World.” It took members of the band Survivor one day to write “Eye of the Tiger.” It took Neil Diamond one hour to write “Sweet Caroline.” It took Jordan Abina 10 minutes to write his band’s newest hit, “Flood Song,” inspired by a Mercy graduation he attended at the California home.

“I was talking about Mercy that day and went to sleep that night, and God literally put every single word of that song in my heart…I walked from my bed to my office, and 10 minutes later, it was done,” said Jordan.

A youth pastor at Sunset Christian Center, Jordan has been leading worship at Mercy since his church decided to partner with the ministry, but attending graduation was what really moved him. “I could barely keep it together. The stuff that this girl had gone through was just unbelievable...It just rocked my world, and it continues to do so.”

Kingdom Band, which consists of Jordan Abina, Chase Merrell, Sean Aspenlind, and a few rotating members, finished recording the song in January and blessed the Mercy girls with copies. They especially love how the lyrics of “Flood Song” really exemplify the journey of a Mercy girl.

Kingdom Band
In your power, we’re untamable
In your grace, we’re unshameable
In your peace, we’re unshakable
In your love, we’re unbreakable
In your hands, we are capable
Like a flood, you cover us.

The single is now available for download on iTunes, and Kingdom Band hopes to release an EP including “Flood Song” soon. They have already found local success — after winning KKFS The Fish’s Battle of the Bands contest, they opened for the Rock and Worship Roadshow tour with MercyMe on March 12. At that show, they shared the story of “Flood Song” with more than 10,000 fans.

“I’ve been in church a long time — my whole life — but nothing shows God’s love like what they’re doing at the Mercy home. What they’re doing is just — it’s awesome,” Jordan said. “God’s love is just incredible.”

You can download the single “Flood Song” on iTunes here, and follow them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/kingdomband) or Twitter (@kingdomband) for information about their upcoming EP.  Check out this video of the Kingdom Band performing LIVE on the radio:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mercy Hosts Freedom Forum at Tennessee State University

Mercy Ministries has been helping victims of sex trafficking for several years, and we continue to receive more and more calls for help. For the past couple of years, we have felt a tug in our hearts to get more involved in fighting this horrific issue. Mercy wants to be a voice that brings light to the disturbing fact that sex trafficking is happening in the U.S. – right in our own backyard.

Last week, Mercy Ministries hit the campus of Tennessee State University to increase awareness on college campuses and inspire young leaders to get involved in the fight against sex trafficking. Dave and Kristy Spring, Mercy’s Volunteer Directors of Student Relations, attended a fashion show hosted by Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority and invited everyone to attend a panel discussion on domestic sex trafficking the following afternoon.

TSU students enjoying the fashion show


Over 700 students attended

Mercy graduate Sandra with Mercy volunteer Sjhira Ellzey

Dave Spring talks about Mercy and the Freedom Forum

More than 50 passionate young activists came to the Freedom Forum to hear more about what Mercy Ministries is doing to help victims of sex trafficking. The forum began with a viewing of The Candy Shop, a powerful film about the issue of domestic sex trafficking, which was followed by an open discussion with our panel of experts. The students had many questions for the panel and were moved to action by what they heard.

Dave Spring addresses the TSU students at the Freedom Forum

Nicole Garcia shares important domestic sex trafficking statistics and findings

We are so excited to see student leaders who are passionate about joining the fight to end sex trafficking, one victim at a time. To find out more about how you can get involved or to see a clip from the film, The Candy Shop, go to http://www.endsextrafficking.com./ Together we can bring hope and healing to these victims and ultimately save lives!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Redeeming Lives, One Can at a Time for Mercy Ministries

If there’s one verse Barb Murphy lives by, it’s Zechariah 4:10: "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin (NLT)." This was her motto when she saw Founder and President of Mercy Ministries, Nancy Alcorn, being interviewed on Enjoying Everyday Life with Joyce Meyer. Having struggled with an eating disorder for 30 years, Barb couldn’t believe there was a place where girls could get help free of charge. “I want to sow into that,” she thought, and immediately started giving what she could to Mercy from her salary as a bus driver in Colorado.

But Barb wanted to do more. “I started asking God, ‘How can I help? How can I come up with more money when the economy is so bad?” she said. That’s when Barb got the vision to recycle cans. She says that when she sees a can, to her it represents a life. “We’re a little banged up, and some of us are really smashed, like some cans are. But you can send a can off somewhere, and it comes back shiny and new. No matter how bad it is, it comes back shiny and new. And I said, ‘That’s what I want to do for hurting young women. I want to recycle their lives.’”

Barb calls her ministry Cans for Hope.  She started small, collecting pop cans and turning them into cash. Now she loads her truck full of scrap metal, collects used batteries from several local businesses and recycles used appliances. She distributes 33-gallon containers in more than three dozen drop-off locations, including Denver-area residences, churches, banks and other businesses.

Cans for Hope now sponsors two girls through Mercy Ministries’ Sponsor a Girl program. “Not only do I know that when I send a check every month, a girl’s getting taken care of free of charge and she’s finding out about Jesus, but I don’t have to worry about the doors closing due to lack of funding.” Barb’s dream is to sponsor an entire Mercy home, but even then she won’t be satisfied. “I had some people ask me, ‘When will the [donations] be enough?’ I said, ‘Never. Not until all the girls are taken care of. All.’”

Words can’t adequately express how grateful we are for Barb’s dedication and support. Her heart for hurting young women is inspirational and we are so thankful for her time and sacrifice. To find out more about Barb Murphy and Cans for Hope, visit the website at http://www.cansforhope.org/ or call (303) 875-5700. Click here to find out how you can Sponsor a Girl at Mercy Ministries.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Matthew West Invites Mercy Residents To Be His Special Guests!

Matthew and Emily West
The Nashville residents were so excited to be the special guests of Grammy nominated songwriter Matthew West for The Story of Your Life Tour last week. Matthew and his beautiful wife Emily have become great friends and supporters of Mercy Ministries; Matthew is one of Mercy’s Artist Partners and Emily volunteers at the corporate offices every week!

Before the concert, the girls had a special private “meet and greet” with Matthew and enjoyed snacks that Emily made herself, especially for them! Matthew spoke to the girls about how the past does not determine their future and encouraged them that their stories are worth telling. Many of the residents shared how much his music has meant to them on their journey toward healing and freedom and during the concert, they sang along with every word. Here are some photos from this incredible night of fun and fellowship:

Enjoying Emily's homemade snacks

Matthew shares an encouraging word




Residents enjoying the concert


West’s latest album points to the issues young women face and encourages them that in Christ, they can have healing and restoration. This is the heart of Mercy Ministries, and we are so grateful for Matthew and Emily’s friendship and support as they go beyond the music and seek to help hurting young women get the counsel, resources and freedom they so desperately need! Thank you!

If you are interested in becoming a Mercy Ministries Artist Partner, contact Eve Annunziato at 615-831-6987 or eannunziato@mercyministries.com.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen Bring Message of Hope to Nashville Mercy Residents

Residents at the Nashville home were so encouraged by the messages given by Pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen at “A Night of Hope” this past weekend! Pastors Joel and Victoria of Lakewood Church in Houston, TX encouraged everyone to believe that 2011 can be a year of new beginnings, better relationships, better lives and hope for the future. What an incredible and appropriate message for the young women at Mercy Ministries!

Pastor Joel had all the Nashville residents stand for a special introduction along with his good friend and Founder and President of Mercy Ministries, Nancy Alcorn.  Director of Music and Worship for Joel Osteen Ministries and Lakewood Church, Cindy Ratcliff, shared her personal story of adopting twins born to a young woman at Mercy Ministries who made the brave decision to choose life for her babies and place them with a loving Christian family. It was an incredible time of teaching and fellowship for all of the residents and staff who attended. Here’s what some of the girls had to say about the event:

Pastor Joel was speaking to my heart! The Lord showed me so many things through his teaching. It was awesome! - Ashley


Every single word that was spoken was so relevant, I felt like God was speaking directly to me. The Biblical examples and analogies about persevering were incredible. I definitely left feeling so encouraged. - Amanda

Pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen and Lakewood Church are generous supporters of Mercy Ministries, and we are so grateful for their partnership. Lakewood Church is one of America's largest and fastest growing churches with more than 45,000 attendees and television broadcasts to nearly 100 nations worldwide. To find out more about Joel Osteen Ministries and Lakewood Church, go to http://www.joelosteen.com/ or http://www.lakewood.cc/.


Pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen


Cindy and Marcus with the birthmother and kids!
Some of the Nashville residents enjoying worship
Nancy with Joel and Victoria Osteen

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sex Trafficking In The Headlines And What Mercy Is Doing About It


Third person charged for sex trafficking in Gaithersburg
by Danielle E. Gaines, Gazette.net

Gaithersburg, MD – March 17, 2011 - The United States Attorney's Office has charged a third person suspected of participating in a sex trafficking group that was caught in a police sting in Gaithersburg's Toys "R" Us parking lot last April.

James Monroe Davis, 24, of Washington, D.C., met a 15-year-old girl in spring 2010 and recruited her to work for him as a prostitute, according to court documents.

The 15-year-old girl was reported missing by her family on April 22, 2010, the same day Davis sent a text message to Mason stating "I got one ... I'm trying to put to work," according to the statement of facts that Mason agreed to as part of his plea.

READ MORE…

Delta Air Lines Signs Tourism Code of Conduct, Joining ECPAT-USA in Fight Against Child Trafficking

March 17, 2011 – New York, NY – ECPAT-USA, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies to protect sexually exploited children, announced that Delta Air Lines has become the first major airline in the world to enter the fight against the commercial sexual exploitation of children by signing the tourism Code of Conduct (The Code). The Code specifically focuses on the protection of children from sexual exploitation in the travel and tourism industries. While The Code has been signed by almost 1,000 travel industry members worldwide, Delta is the first U.S. air carrier and the third U.S. organization to sign.

As a subscriber to The Code, Delta will implement policies that condemn child trafficking and provide training to help their employees identify and report trafficking activities. Delta will also raise awareness among customers by including information about ECPAT and the Code in its Sky magazine and delta.com website.

READ MORE…
 
Domestic sex trafficking is a growing epidemic, but there is good news. As awareness grows, more and more people are getting involved. Mercy Ministries hit the campus of Tennessee State University this week to share what college students can do to help end sex trafficking, one victim at a time. Mercy Ministries Volunteer Directors of Student Relations, Dave and Kristy Spring, hosted a forum yesterday with a panel of experts on sex trafficking in the U.S. Stay tuned for more on that event in next week’s news. For more information about what Mercy Ministries is doing to help victims of sex trafficking, go to www.endsextrafficking.com. Together, we can help these hurting young women have their lives transformed and hope restored.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nine More Graduates Restored and Free!

Nine more amazing young women who came to Mercy Ministries feeling worthless and rejected are graduating from the program knowing God’s unconditional love and acceptance. Staff, family and friends gathered in Nashville, Monroe, and St. Louis on Tuesday to celebrate their healing and transformation. Each girl told her incredible story of moving from death into life and we wanted to share their powerful testimonies with you.

Nashville

Jena

Before coming to Mercy, I had a very distorted view of God. I was sexually abused throughout junior high and heading into high school. I started using drugs in sixth grade to cope with the shame, fear and guilt I carried. I repeatedly overdosed and ended up in the hospital and various treatment programs, but nothing seemed to help. I attempted suicide when the drugs could no longer numb the pain. Eventually I moved in with a boyfriend, and we planned to get married. Those plans were shattered when he and his mother were killed during a robbery. When they died, I wanted to die too. I started hanging out with drug dealers and pimps and began selling drugs as well as my body. One night, I began to cry thinking about how disgusted I was with myself when I remembered my pastor telling me about Mercy Ministries. I checked out the website, read a few of the testimonies and decided to apply.

Days before arriving at Mercy, I was in a major car accident where I broke my back and pelvis. The enemy tried to stop me, but I am so glad I came anyway. God has done a MAJOR work in my heart and life. He has given me beauty for my ashes. I now know that I am clean and pure and He loves every single part of me. He has given me purpose, and a reason to live. God has restored everything that the enemy stole from me sevenfold, and I know that He will use every bit of the pain I experienced to help other hurting people be set free.

After graduation, I plan to attend college and pursue a degree in Christian counseling. I want to help rescue and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking!

Heather

Before coming to Mercy, my parents divorced. I moved to a different state and my dad wasn’t really involved in my life anymore. I would go to school, not talk to anyone, come home, binge and then sleep the rest of the day. I felt like nothing around me was stable or consistent. I became depressed and was very disrespectful and rebellious. I would constantly lie about anything and everything. I wore so many masks and had put up so many walls, I didn’t know who I was anymore. A few girls I knew that had graduated from Mercy called me and said that I should really consider applying, so I did.

While at Mercy, the biggest thing I learned is how much God loves me. He has been with me, holding my hand through all the things that I have been through. He has shown me grace and mercy and continues to restore my relationship with my family. I have learned how to truly forgive. He has also shown me that I really am beautiful because I was made in His image. Through Christ, I am loved, secure, and accepted.

After graduation, I will finish high school and go to college. I would like to pursue a career in special education. Eventually, I would love to get married and do missions work overseas with my husband.

Jessica

I grew up in a very legalistic, controlling Christian family. I was emotionally abused and grew up not having any sense of value or self-esteem. I struggled with depression and self-harm and started drinking and chatting with men online for attention. I hated myself. I just wanted to die and not have to pretend everything was okay in my life anymore. I worked at a library and someone returned the book “Cut: Mercy for Self-Harm” by Nancy Alcorn. I took it home and read it and decided to apply. I knew God was the only way to freedom.

While at Mercy, God has placed such a joy and peace inside me and such a deep love for others in my heart. I know I have worth and value and I know God loves me and will always love me no matter what I do. I know He has a purpose and plan for my life and I am so excited. Mercy has been amazing. Gods’ presence is so strong in this house. All the staff really loves us and shows us God’s love and mercy.

After graduation, I plan to go back to my job at the library and search for an apartment and roommate closer to my church. In the fall, I am planning to go to college and get an associate’s degree in ASL/Interpreting.



Monroe

Kimmy

I was sexually abused by a family friend from the age of six to 16. Rejection was always a part of my life, and I never felt like I was able to measure up. I was always worried about image and began restricting my food and binging and purging. I thought if I could not control what happened to me, I could at least control myself. I felt like I would never be free from my past. I did not want to live anymore. I heard about Mercy from my sister and knew that God was my only hope.

While at Mercy, God has shown me that my past does not determine my future. I can choose to live in bondage or choose to be free. (Deuteronomy 30:19) God created me. I am His beloved, and He values me as much as he does everyone else. God has amazing plans for me, and my past has not disqualified me from His calling.



Anita

Before coming to Mercy, I struggled with perfectionism and wore many masks. I started struggling with eating disorder behavior at the age of 12. I always tried to seek the approval and acceptance of others, but I never felt loved or accepted. I grew up in church, but over time I became very legalistic and religious and felt like I could never measure up spiritually. For the last two years before coming to Mercy, I struggled with depression daily. I was desperate for help, and when my aunt and uncle told me about Mercy, I decided to apply.

While at Mercy, God has done so much for me! He has given me freedom from eating disorder behavior! I have found my confidence in Him alone. My view of God has changed dramatically, and our relationship has grown so strong. I have learned how to set healthy boundaries in relationships. I’ve also learned how much freedom there is in forgiveness.

After graduation, my plan is to serve God with all my heart. I will be going to school to earn a teaching degree and plan to get involved in my local church. I am very, very grateful for Mercy! I met Jesus here, and He changed my world. He is the reason I’m alive. Thank you to Nancy and the Mercy staff for being the hands and feet of Jesus!


St. Louis

Angela

Growing up, I never knew who my biological father was. The father that claimed me left when I was five years old, after abusing me physically and sexually. I never felt like I belonged and ended up using drugs during my teenage years to escape the pain. I was devastated at age 16 when this father legally signed off his parental rights. My drug dependency grew worse, and I gave myself away physically to boyfriends in hopes that I would somehow feel loved. At 20 years old, God intervened and my life was turned around, but I found I was still haunted by my past. I heard about Mercy from a graduate and decided to apply.

While at Mercy, God has shown me that He is my true Father and He is everything I need. He has shown me that He is not like my earthly fathers and that He will never leave me or give up on me. I know that He is the answer to any problem or issue that I will ever face and that I can fully trust Him and His Word. He has freed me once and for all and has healed my deepest wounds. This season has refined me and strengthened me to go and reach the lost and hurting.

After graduation, I plan to go to Bible college and continue in my studies. Then my plan is to go to a university and major in counseling and adoptions/social work. I am also interested in church planting and missions that help orphans.


Audrey

Before Mercy, I was depressed, anxious, self-harming, and deeply struggling with anorexia and bulimia. I was barely functioning in my job as a veterinarian or as a wife. Every day, I flirted with death and had thoughts of suicide. I didn't value my life, nor did I take God at His Word. I heard about Mercy from a friend who graduated from the program and decided to apply, because I was scared for my life.

While at Mercy, I have realized Christ's love for me. I now know that I don’t have to be perfect. I have been able to forgive people who have hurt me in the past and have found His joy again.

In the future, I plan to get a job in the veterinary medical field and enjoy one day at a time with my husband, Ben.

Elizabeth

My life before Mercy was a huge struggle, I had debilitating depression, and I hated myself. Not only was my life in turmoil, but so was everyone around me. I was not taking care of my son, and there were days that I just could not get out of bed. My life needed to change, not just for my sake but for my son’s sake as well. A friend from church told me about Mercy, and I decided to apply.

While at Mercy, God has taught me so much. He has shown me that He can handle whatever issues I may have. I’m not depressed, and I don’t hate myself anymore. He has healed me! I also learned that God is forgiving, and He loves me no matter what. I am a new creation in Christ.

After graduation, I plan to go home and be a good mom. I also want to go back to school and get a degree in either nursing or social work. I would love to help children and go on a mission trip.

Camillia

Life before Mercy was a nightmare. My father committed suicide, and I was angry and bitter. I had no concept of the grace of God. I lived in continual shame because of the choices I made. My view of God was that He was a taskmaster, and I felt that I constantly had to perform in order for Him to accept me. I viewed myself as defective, and it only made sense to me that everyone else would view me the same way. Because of my fear of rejection, I would isolate myself. I self-medicated with alcohol and marijuana and suffered from anxiety and depression. I learned about Mercy from a Joyce Meyer magazine and decided to apply.

While at Mercy, I have learned of God’s relentless unconditional love for me. I now know that He loves me and that His love is not based on my performance. He has COMPLETELY transformed my mind and heart. I have learned how to forgive, how to have healthy relationships and how to love myself. I now look forward to the future and trust God and His Word. God has truly changed me from the inside out.

Once I graduate, I plan to seek employment, build my own marketing business and help others through my church.


Congratulations ladies! We are so proud of you and the commitment that you have shown. Your growing faith and desire to help others is so evident, and we look forward to seeing your futures unfold. We know God has amazing plans for you!