Friday, April 3, 2009

All Things Made New

For several years, Mercy Ministries has had a relationship with the Oral Roberts University missions department in which every year a team of female students choose to give up their spring break to come and serve in all of our U.S. homes—they clean, organize, work in various offices, and help with whatever is needed. They also take time to encourage the residents and share their individual testimonies. This year we were so excited to hear that one of our very own Mercy graduates, Erin, who is now attending ORU, was going to be coming back to serve in our Nashville home as a volunteer. Her story of God’s redemption and restoration is absolutely amazing – check it out for yourself…

“When I arrived at Mercy on June 19, 2007 I was angry, hurting and wanting to die. For the past six years I had been battling anorexia, addiction to exercise, self harm, depression, and suicidal thoughts. I had been in the hospitalized twice and fed through a tube in my nose. I was told that I would never recover. They said once an anorexic, always an anorexic.

During the Spring of 2007, I hit rock bottom. I was attending Oral Roberts University, and I was supposed to be going on a spring break mission's trip to Mercy Ministries in Nashville; instead I was told that I was too sick to go. Not only was I kicked off of the mission team, but the Dean of Women told me I had to move out of the dorms as well. The doctors were hesitant to treat me because I was severely malnourished, which meant I was a liability.

I was hurting so badly on the inside! Anorexia was my way of showing my pain to others. I wanted God to let me die. I remember one night I was running, and I cried out to God, "Let me have a heart attack and die, God why won't you let me die?!" I did not, and could not live with an eating disorder anymore. I couldn't seem to live, but I couldn't seem to die either. My parents could not afford to get me help, and nobody else offered any help. I was in a downward spiral, and I was going to die. I had no hope. At one point I thought I would go to Mercy Ministries as a volunteer, but soon I realized that I needed to apply to the program for myself.

After going through the application process, I arrived at Mercy Ministries in Monroe angry, scared and discouraged. The eating disorder had a strong hold on my life, and it would not let go without a fight. It took me a few months to soften and finally decide to surrender, but I did and this time there was a true heart change. I had a vision of Jesus taking out my old broken, bruised, hardened heart, and putting in a fresh clean heart. The new heart He gave me was soft and moldable. I finally realized that He loves me! From that point on, God transformed my life. It was hard, but this time it was different…my heart had changed. I never thought freedom was possible. I thought I would always count calories, always "have" to exercise, and always be defined by an eating disorder.

I graduated from the Mercy program on December 19, 2007, completely changed from the INSIDE OUT. I arrived home on December 21, and spent Christmas with my family. On January 5, 2008 I reentered Oral Roberts University and moved back into the dorms.

Let me tell you about the "coolness" of God. In February of 2008, only a few weeks after graduating from Mercy, I became a Resident Advisor in the dorms! I was the leader on a floor of thirty girls!!!!! Just the year before (2007) I was asked to move out of the dorms, and one year later, in 2008, I was in leadership! WOW! God is amazing. At the end of the year, during the Resident Advisors banquet, I received the award for most valuable RA. Over the summer I worked as a nanny, and this year I am back at ORU. I am the RA of a floor called Zoe ß Zoe, which means life!!!!!

Over Spring Break this year, I led a team of five women to the Mercy home in Nashville to volunteer our time! The same trip I was kicked off of in the spring of 2007, I am leading in 2009!!!!! God restores!!!!!

I am not going to lie, and say it has been easy. It has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do. God NEVER said that it was going to be easy; He just said that it would be worth it!! God has transformed my life. The "old" Erin has passed away, and behold all things are new! I am no longer bound by depression, anorexia and self-hatred. I am a beautiful daughter of God and He is enthralled with my beauty.

It is all about choices. I choose life!!!!!! I am walking in freedom! When I step back and look at where I am today there are no words. I stand in awe of my Creator.

Thank you God, thank you Nancy, and thank you Mercy Ministries! I realize that Mercy is not the healer, but in my case Mercy was the vessel God used so I could receive my freedom!

To the staff: Thank you for your hard work and dedication. The seeds that you sow are producing a harvest. Do not become discourage in well doing because in the end you will reap a reward!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Chris Tomlin's song says it best:
My chains are gone,
I have been set free.
My God, my Savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood His mercy reigns.
Unending love; Amazing Grace!”

For all who are out there reading this, please remember that God can take your mess and turn it into a message!! You will actually use the very thing that tried to destroy you as an encouragement to help others who are going through the same thing. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Have a great weekend!


Christian Kaye said...

I was able to be part of this team that Erin led to Nashville Mercy this year. I was so blessed to see what God is doing in the lives of these girls. Erin was a great leader and a tremendous asset to the team. Having been a part of Mercy's program, she had a great amount of knowledge and was able to tell us what to "expect" (even though you can never fully expect anything). What I as a team member realized through Erin's leadership is that there is truly restoration happening through Mercy Ministries that can last a lifetime! It was such a pleasure to meet the girls in the Nashville home and be able to serve the staff! Every girl on the team's life was impacted from the trip. For me, my perception of hope emerging from the ashes was the biggest revelation I received during my week at Mercy. I want to thank you for continuing to allow girls from ORU to come into the homes each year to serve those in it! Grace and Peace!

Kristin Stegent said...

That's awesome! Erin's words make me smile! :)