Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Special Day with Friends from the UK!

We had the awesome privilege today of hosting some very special guests here at Mercy in Nashville all the way from the United Kingdom. Ben and Deb Cooley are the Founders of Hope for Justice (www.hopeforjustice.org.uk), a non-profit ministry in the UK that exists to rescue victims caught in human trafficking, see their lives restored, and pursue justice by prosecuting those responsible for this horrible crime. This amazing couple told our girls and staff about their ministry, including some of the heart-wrenching stories of some of the girls they have worked with. Everyone was stirred as Ben shared how he and his team literally go into some of the darkest places to rescue those trapped in sex slavery. As we at Mercy become even more intentional about serving young women who have been victimized by trafficking, it is so exciting and humbling to see how God is connecting us with people all around the world who share the same heart and spirit.

Me with Ben and Deb Cooley

Then, this afternoon our residents had the wonderful opportunity to hear from International speaker, author, and Founder and Director of Heartcry for Change Ministries (www.heartcry.co.uk), Rachel Hickson. After almost losing her life in a horrific car accident in Zimbabwe, she was miraculously healed and God birthed in her heart a desire to pray, train others to pray, and see cities transformed by the power of prayer and evangelism. Based out of Oxford, England, Heartcry’s aim is to encourage the local church to connect with their community and bring a practical message of hope to those in need.

Rachel Hickson, Me, and Helen Azer

I am so blessed to partner with amazing people like Ben and Deb Cooley and Rachel Hickson in the work they are doing. I thought you would like to see some pictures of their time with us today.

Rachel signing books for our girls

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mercy Graduate Stops In for a Visit!

When Kara came to Mercy in February 2008, she was dealing with an unplanned pregnancy as well as the effects of a past filled with rejection and pain. While at Mercy, Kara surrendered her life to Christ and underwent an amazing transformation. Through much prayer and counseling, she decided to parent her son. After graduating from Mercy, Kara moved back to California with her newborn baby Elijah, ready to be a great mom and also pursue her dreams. I recently received this exciting update from Kara and wanted to share it with you.
Hi Nancy!

Well I did it! I graduated college last month as a clinical medical assistant (an Associates Degree) from Empire College in Santa Rosa, California. I'm certified in everything - Phlebotomy, EKG, Injections, CPR and First Aid, Front and Back Office Procedure, Vitals, everything you can possibly think of - its crazy! I graduated with president's honors for having a 3.86 GPA. Woo Hoo! All I know is I couldn't have done it with God and all the support from my friends and family.

God knows my heart, my dreams, and my desires. He has made me the woman I am today, and I continue to boast daily about the work he did in me at Mercy, and how far he's brought me as a child of God, as a mother, as a daughter, as a sister, and as a friend (and hopefully someday I can say as a wife too!)

Now my little boy Elijah and I am moving back to Orange County, CA to live with my parents while I search for a job and get on my feet. I'm praying for God's favor in this and in helping me find a great daycare/school for Elijah, and a place for us to live. Well, just wanted to update you, and thank you once again for everything. I love you love you love you!
Just yesterday, Kara was in Nashville and she came by the Nashville home to attend a graduation and say hello. It was so great to see Kara and Elijah – he is such a beautiful little boy! Here is a picture of us after graduation yesterday.

I am so proud of how far Kara has come and am excited to see all that God has in store for her!

Hope you have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mercy Graduates on Mission Around the World!

Just this week, we had the privilege of sending out support checks for four of our graduates who are preparing to go on the mission field! It is such a joy for us to see our graduates going out into the world to make a difference. Last year we had over 20 Mercy graduates serving in various locations around the world, and we got to be a part of sending them through our financial support. I thought you might like to see the most recent four girls that we have helped sponsor, and hear about where each of them will be going and what they will be doing.

Lindsay – St. Louis Graduate, 2009

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

Danielle – Nashville Graduate, 2009

Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine myself traveling to China and Thailand one year ago. But, here I am today, transformed and renewed by God's overwhelming Mercy, ready to travel across the world to share His Love. On April 11, my team and I here at Youth with a Mission Discipleship Training School will be leaving on an 8 week mission trip to China and Thailand! Although China is one of the most populous nations on Earth, only 7% of the people are Christian. It is illegal to openly evangelize in China, however we have an incredible opportunity to present the Gospel through the area in the public schools and universities. Thailand, on the other hand, has remained captive to the traditions and practices of Buddhism for hundreds of years. We will target specific border villages that are in need of the Gospel and we will partner with long-term ministries in the cities which reach out to the slums, prisons, and orphanages. We have this unique opportunity to be God’s hands extended to these nations.

Danielle pictured far right with her small group

Cailee – Nashville Graduate, 2008

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

Chantelle – Nashville Graduate 2009

I am very excited to share with you the life-changing opportunity that I have with Teen Mania Ministries to serve as a missionary in the U.S. and abroad. During my year at the Honor Academy, I will be ministering to the young people of America, helping with Acquire the Fire events and Teen Mania mission trips. This experience with Honor Academy will begin in August 2010 and will focus on leadership development, apologetics, growth in character, integrity, knowledge of world missions, and will conclude with a 2 month Global Missions Expedition. I sense God’s leading toward missions as a possible vocation and this seems like the right next step for me.
I love that these young women aren’t allowing anything to stand in the way of their destiny in Christ. I am so very proud of each of them and what they are doing to pour into the lives of others. Please be in prayer for them, as will we, and be looking for blog updates as they return with testimonies and pictures. Hope you are having a great week!



Monday, March 22, 2010

March Madness!

Hey Everyone!

I hope you all had a great weekend – we had the first official day of Spring and March Madness is upon us! If you’ve been following the NCAA Tournaments, I know there were a lot of upsets this weekend, however, March Madness has only just begun and anything can happen! I am actually getting to see some of the action in person! I’d love to hear who you’re going for - both on the men’s and women’s side - so leave a comment and let me know!

As excited as I get about tournament time, there is nothing more exciting than the miracle of a transformed heart and life! I never get tired of hearing from the young women who have come through the doors of Mercy, graduated, and gone on to start new lives. I love hearing of God’s redemption and how He wastes nothing. These brave girls come to Mercy, broken and bound, but willing to face their issues in hopes of finding lasting freedom. To see them leave healed, equipped, and ready to move forward into their destiny is so exciting.

When Pamela came to Mercy in 1996, she was pregnant with a little girl. After going through a process of determining what would be best for her, she decided to parent her child. That child, who she named Destiny, is now a very happy teenager. Pamela and her husband Kevin also have another little boy named Ethan. We were so excited to recently receive the following email from her.

It's been a while since I have written and just wanted to give you an update on my family. Kevin, the kids and I are all doing well. Destiny just turned 13 this past January. I can't believe it's been 13 years since I was at Mercy! I miss you guys and think of you often. I hope to come and visit soon. Ethan will be 3 in May and keeps me busy. I have recently taken a full-time position at our church childcare facility. I am still singing at church and am also working with our Worship and Arts Pastor as his assistant, and am assisting our Youth Pastor as well. Kevin and I volunteer every week at our Youth services. We run a cafe and feed the kids, and are there to minister/pray over the kids. I love that. I especially love ministering to the girls. I feel like I have a gift to speak into them. Anyway, I love my church and am so thankful that I can give back what has been poured into me each week. I'm so glad that I have had a good foundation to keep me focused and grounded. Love you! I've also attached a current picture of Destiny and Ethan, both growing up too fast!
I thought you might like to see this picture she sent of her beautiful daughter Destiny and her son Ethan.

I am so proud of Pamela, of the choice she made to come to Mercy almost 14 years ago, and of the choices she is continuing to make to serve God with all her heart.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Miracle in the Making!

When Crystal came to Mercy in 2005, she was battling for her life. Having struggled with a severe eating disorder for 8 years, past sexual abuse and self-harm, Crystal was desperate for freedom. While at Mercy, she found her healing and value in Christ, and today she is walking in complete freedom! After graduating from Louisiana Tech University in 2006 with her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics, she went on to work at St. Francis Medical Center as a Registered Dietician and Licensed Nutritionist. In 2009, we at Mercy were so blessed to have Crystal join our staff in Monroe as our Fitness and Nutrition Manager! She now has also received her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics. I just received an update from Crystal with some very exciting news and wanted to share it with you...


I just wanted to share some amazing news with you. Sunday, my husband and I found out we are having our first baby, which is a miracle. I am due November 24th. It is truly a miracle because in the past doctors have told me I may not be able to conceive or have a child due to my tilted uterus and all that my body had been through from an 8 year battle with a severe eating disorder. I am so amazed!!! God has truly brought me full circle.

My husband is amazing as well. I used to say that I would never take any man’s last name due to all that I had gone through, but through the healing power and love of Christ, my heart and life were changed and I met my wonderful husband over 3 years ago. He loves me and honors me and is such a godly man. He is also in the ministry working with youth and has the most amazing heart I’ve ever seen in a man. I truly cannot believe my life; I am so overwhelmed with God’s love, favor, and goodness! I am so grateful and blessed that God has used you and Mercy in such an amazing way in my life and now I get the privilege of giving back by working here at Mercy in Monroe and allowing God to work through me and pour out all He has poured into me. What an honor! I am so overwhelmed with His goodness and restorative power! Just wanted to share. :) I pray blessings, favor, strength and wisdom for you!

I am always amazed at how God can take a broken and messed up past and turn it around for His glory. Crystal has a restored life because of the love and power of Christ, and every day she gets to share that love with others. I am so proud of her and celebrate this new season of her life with her. I hope Crystal’s testimony encourages you and reminds you that God is truly our Healer and Redeemer! Nothing is impossible with Him! Have a great weekend!



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Special Visit from a Mercy Baby…who’s not a baby anymore!!

19 years ago, I had the awesome privilege of getting to know a young woman who came to Mercy as a result of an unplanned pregnancy. Through much soul-searching and prayer, this young woman made the decision to place her baby for adoption…she walked away with the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, knowing that she had done what God wanted her to do.

Fast forward all these years later, and the baby that was born to that courageous young woman is now 18 years old. She just happened to be in Tennessee with seven of her close friends on Spring Break, so she contacted me and asked if she and her friends could come by and tour our Nashville facilities. I was overjoyed to see Brightie, and so amazed at the beautiful and strong young woman she has become. It turns out that Brightie and all of her friends that came by today are all a part of the same youth group at their church in Indiana. We had a great visit, and I thought you might want to see what Brightie looks like today. Every life is precious, and every life matters!

Even though I did not see Brightie’s birthmother today, I walked away from today’s visit feeling very thankful for her decision to choose life and for your support that makes it all possible. I hope you are blessed by these pictures. It is so very cool!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Great Weekend in North Carolina!

I just wanted to share about a really cool church I had the privilege of speaking at over the weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina. Pastors Matt and Martha Fry founded C3 Church just over 10 years ago, and it is absolutely astounding to me what they have accomplished in such a short time. The church itself is located on an old 47-acre tobacco farm, but you would never know that if you went there today. The facilities are fabulous, but the best part about it is the heart and spirit of the church itself. Pastors Matt and Martha have created a tremendous church culture that is so warm and inviting, and they have a huge heart and passion to share the unconditional love of Christ with their community and beyond.

Me pictured with Pastor Matt Fry

Me pictured with Pastor Martha Fry

Check out their website at www.c3church.com. If you are ever in the Raleigh area, I highly recommend this church! I want to say a special thanks to Pastors Matt and Martha, as well as their great leadership team for inviting me to be a part of their weekend worship services. It was a great privilege and honor, and I am so pumped about my new friends!!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mercy Graduate Suzanne Now Director of Glenwood Tutoring Program in North Carolina!

When Suzanne came to Mercy in Monroe in 2007, she was bound by grief from the trauma of abuse, and was filled with hopelessness and depression. Through Mercy, God restored the life of this young woman and after 6 months, she graduated, set free and ready to move into her future! We recently received this awesome update from her.
This June will be my 3rd year anniversary from Mercy Ministries. :) Since graduating, I have returned to live and work in the Inner City of Greensboro, NC with the youth in the Glenwood Neighborhood. Currently I am the Director of the Glenwood Tutoring Program and of Glenwood Dance Ministry. Things are going well here and I am blessed daily to be a living witness of the power of our Savior Jesus Christ. It is definitely a battle against the evil one. I have had quite a few days these past months when I have seen that only through the grace of Jesus can we be free and minister freedom to the children here. In the hard times it has been a blessing to be reminded that I cannot rely on myself or my own strength, but must daily surrender to my Lord and through Him, continue to press on.

I will look forward to hearing from you. Have a great day!

Suzanne Mathis
I never get tired of seeing how God restores broken lives so that they can in turn go and help restore the lives of others. I thought you might like to see this picture Suzanne sent with one of the many students she teaches. We are so proud of her and excited to see what the Lord has in store for her future!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pictures and Update from Last Night’s Benefit Concert!

On Monday, I shared with you about an awesome benefit concert that took place here in Nashville last night as the kick-off for the First Annual Christian Trafficking Shelter Association (CTSA) conference.

Natalie Grant opened up the night along with the director of The Home Foundation, Stacia Freeman. Natalie and Stacia discussed how sex trafficking is not only an international issue, but one that happens every day here in the U.S., even in our own backyards. They shared that the number of trafficked victims around the world is a staggering 27 million, but that together, we can take action to make a difference. Mercy is excited to partner with Natalie Grant's Home Foundation, CTSA, and others to bring healing and restoration to the victims of sex trafficking.

Featured artists Brandon Heath, Britt Nicole, Tenth Avenue North, Phillip LaRue, and Audrey Assad all donated their time to support this cause. It was an awesome night! We thought you might like to see some of the pictures…

Please be praying for the CTSA Conference that is happening all day tomorrow as we learn more about how Mercy Ministries can continue to reach these girls.

Nashville Mercy Ministries Community Relations Manager, Whitney Nall,
Natalie Grant, and Mercy Ministries Development Director, Selah Hirsch

Natalie Grant performing

Director of the Home Foundation, Stacia Freeman, Selah Hirsch,
Mercy Ministries' Intern Emma Boyd, and Whitney Nall

Monday, March 8, 2010

Benefit Concert Tomorrow Night!!

I am very excited about a concert that is happening here in Nashville tomorrow night to kick off the First Annual Christian Trafficking Shelter Association (CTSA) Conference. Mercy Ministries is thrilled to partner with Natalie Grant’s Home Foundation and CTSA to restore lives of victims of domestic sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is a huge issue in the United States, and the effects it has on its victims are devastating. Mercy Ministries knows this firsthand as we already serve this population in our current facilities. As this horrific abuse becomes more prevalent, we are committed to being very intentional about serving the young women who have been victimized by trafficking.

This benefit concert will be held here in Nashville tomorrow night (Tuesday, March 9) at the Historic Belcourt Theater. With host and headliner Natalie Grant, other featured artists will be Brandon Heath, Brit Nicole, Tenth Avenue North, Phillip LaRue, and Audrey Assad. This night should prove to be one to remember! If you are interested in attending this concert, you can purchase tickets at www.belcourt.org or at the door.

We hope to see you there!

Brandon Heath

Brit Nicole

Tenth Avenue North

Phillip LaRue

Audrey Assad

Friday, March 5, 2010

Trip to the UK!

I just got back earlier this week from the UK, where we had an amazing fundraising gala for Mercy UK last Friday night, and then I had the privilege of speaking at Abundant Life Church (www.alm.org.uk) on Sunday evening.

Guests gathered from all over the UK and Europe to celebrate the ongoing success of Mercy Ministries in the UK. The evening was hosted by UK Executive Director, Arianna Walker, who started the evening by welcoming and greeting the people. After a great dinner, Pastor Paul Scanlon of Abundant Life Church shared about how our paths first crossed at Hillsong in Australia in 1999, and from that point on, we began the journey to where we are today.

It was an honor for me to be asked to give our guests an overview of what Mercy does and how we’ve progressed over the years.

We had 30 of our former residents/graduates come back to be a part of the event – it was so powerful! They shared their testimonies by holding up posters that defined their lives before and after Mercy. For example, one girl’s poster said, “Violated by many,” and then when she flipped it over, it said “Rescued by One!” Another one said, “My issues were destroying my marriage and my life.” Then her husband joined her on stage as she flipped her poster over – her poster read, “God gave me my life back!” And her husband’s poster read, “And God gave me my wife back!” (pictured below – couple before and couple after)

There was not a dry eye in the house as girl after girl gave glory to God for the miracle of her transformed life. We also announced that we are currently expanding our UK facilities so that we can double our capacity, and the renovations are set to begin in April. It was such an exciting event!

For me, the highlight of the evening was being able to see and talk to all of the girls from years past. We had some time together after the event to catch up and take some photos. Then, many of the former residents came back for services at Abundant Life Church on Sunday. It was altogether a great Mercy family weekend!

I’m so proud of our UK team for all of their hard work, not only with this awesome event, but also for the great job they do working with the girls we serve on a daily basis. I’m very excited about the way God is moving there!

I thought you might like to see some of the pictures from my trip. Hope you have a great weekend!!