…exposing the truth about Mercy Ministries

Posts tagged “Mercy Ministries International

The Dark Side Of Mercy Ministries

Below you will find a link to an article by Lisa Kerr of mycultlife.com.

This article details exactly what the problem with Mercy Ministries is and we are very much in agreement with Lisa.

The Dark Side Of Mercy Ministries


Lisa’s Story

I was contacted recently by Lisa who told me about her time at Mercy Ministries.
Her story is one that demonstrates very clearly that Mercy Ministries is a cult.
Before you read this please be reminded of the BITE model. This model outlines the 4 main features of a cult:I. Behavior Control

II. Information Control

III. Thought Control

IV. Emotional Control

 

You will find all of these in Lisa’s Story.

“It has been just over 5 years since I left the Mercy Ministries program. I had my 23rd birthday there in the kitchen of the Monroe, Luisiana home. When I first arrived, I found the Mercy staff to be caring and compassionate. The home was clean and well decorated, and the sleeping and bathing facilities were comfortable. I was placed in what is refered to as the maternity room, ideally a three-bed room isolated on one side of the house for pregnant gals. Oddly enough, I found that all new girls were placed in this room for a probationary period of up to three weeks so they could be observed before moved to the general population dorm. I am a social girl and quickly made friends with all of my Mercy housemates. This was discouraged, and caused me a great deal of grief.
    A Mercy girl is expected to behave cordially and respectfully amoung her fellow residents, but is not allowed to share any personal information with the others. We were told that any sharing of personal information, reasons we were seeking treatment, or what we were “working on” in our daily individual treatment programs was strictly forbidden. As a naturally curious gal in a new surrounding, I broke this rule about 800 times. I had quite a bit in common with most of the girls, I was seeking help for an eating disorder, cutting, and suicidal tendencies. I unpurposely brought out the “rebellious side” of many of my roomies, and was immediately pin-pointed as a trouble maker.
    Every month or so we would be corralled into the meeting/classroom area for a graduation ceremony in which one of our housemates would be prayed over, give her testimony, and receive the highly coveted “Mercy Ring” often with her family members present. Then with little time to say goodbye to their friends, they were escorted out directly after the ceremony. This was what we were all working for, the final affirmation that we had “won” our battle with our afflictions and were on our way to living an upstanding and productive life. I didn’t make it to my graduation.
    About four weeks into the program I became acutely aware of the Mercy Ministry programs flaws. The control levels were fanatical. Every moment of our days were scheduled and nothing was done without immediate supervision. Twice a day we were gathered into the classroom area as a group where we “performed” a praise and worship service followed by two hours of video instruction by either Joyce Meyer or Joel Osteen. Praise and worship was a joke, the  more emotional and charismatic the better. Our leaders would dance and hop and shake, screaming and “talking in tongues” and more than encouraged us to do the same. If you were not jumping and muttering than you were taken aside and reprimanded for not participating. We never watched any other speakers with the exception of Nancy Alcorn, and our own house leaders.
    After these classes, we would meet each day with our supposedly liscenced therapist for one on one work. My therapist was two years older than myself and spent our sessions rephrasing my words and telling me that I was being afflicted by satan and until I could break free I would continue on my path of self destruction. I was given homework in the form of handouts and books selected from the house library–all Joyce Meyer, Nancy Alcorn, and Joel Osteen. They were obsessed with “demonic forces on Earth”. One day they even went through the entire house anointing doorways to cast satan out of the house. They carried little bottles of oil and slathered it in a cross shape at the top of each door. This was initiated because one of the leaders was finding it difficult to pray inside the house. Miraclously she was once again unfeddered after the anointings.
    My trouble truly began with a few core friendships. Bored with the constant indoctrination of the “Holy Trio” of video instructors, I took to writing amusing short stories in my notebook during class. My roomies couldn’t get enough of my interactive devotional stories, so I kept them coming. One night at bedtime a leader walked in just as I ended my story and was about to lead my friends in prayer. She freaked out and told us that we were never allowed to pray on our own or with others without having a leader participate. When I asked why, I was told that we never knew where satan was lurking and he may lead us in leading others astray with false prayers or worship. As always, it was pointless to argue, and arguing only led to discipline including but not limited to being singled out in front of the whole house for insubordination, multiple extra chores, restrictions and other devices. Right or wrong, their word was law. They controlled what we ate, when we slept, what amount of physical activity we were allowed, what music and media we were exposed to and even down to the letter we wrote and the relatives we talked to.
    Phone calls were only allowed on weekends, and you were only allowed two 10 minute outgoing phonecalls which had to be from a list of pre-approved contacts. This was strictly limited to family. You were timed and had to talk on a phone set up in the hallway next to the house leader’s office so you could be heard. It was terribly frustrating because if you had a significant other or bestie on the outside you couldn’t talk to them unless they managed to get a call through during the very busy weekend phone time, and still you were monitored. Mail was the same, outgoing mail was read and incoming letters were read and packages opened for you. The leaders decided what you could or couldn’t have, including screening all photographs and all of your items were recorded on a belongings list. If it wasn’t on the list, it didn’t leave the program with you. If you wanted to give an item to a fellow resident, it had to be approved by a leader and given as a “gift”.
    All religious services were mandatory and we sat together as a group every Sunday at a local church. The service was ridden with faith healings, and dramatic faintings refered to as being “slain in the Spirit”. When a woman was “slain” a golden sheet was placed over her for modesty purposes. This was one of the few times a week we were able to leave the house, second only to once a week exercise at a local gym-provided the privilage wasn’t taken from you, and the weekly Walmart/Mall trip (also supervised–with store restrictions and group accountability).They were big on that, you could earn a lot of brownie points that would make life a lot easier if you tattled on your friends. They had “in house” pets that always brought the tiniest of scandals to light.
    To tell my whole story would take ages, even though I only made it through three months. During that time I was made to feel guilty about everything, belive without question everthing I was told by the leaders, and blame others and satan for all of my problems. I was paraded around in the public eye to draw in more money for the Mercy “cause”, forced to wear makeup and inspected appearance-wise daily. I saw a lovely girl struggling with gender issues painted and dolled up in an effort to feminize her and save her from the firey pits of hell, teased and prodded to be the “woman God intended her to be”. Grown women reduced to caddy schoolgirls fighting and backbiting to earn the sparse affection of the house leaders. I witnessed multiple accounts of negative reinforcement, medication witholding, and other illegal activities.
    At the begining of month three, I was brought into the house director’s office and told that I was to be given probation for being a trouble maker, guilty of the crimes of leading prayer, creative writing, unruly behavior, insubordination, and many other horrible sins. My privallages were revoked and my homework load was tripled. I had a constant shadow following me around and supervising my daily tasks. I was told that my mother had been contacted and she was extremely disappointed in me. I was not allowed to talk to her by phone or letter, until I made a public apollogy and was publically reprimanded for my behavior. Also I was to divuldge any information I had on a number of housemates concerning a number of incidents or my Mercy days were over. After many tears and a two-day internal battle my sanity won out and I announced that I owuld be voluntarily removing myself from the program. I was then kept in a small bedroom for 2 days until my travel arrangements were taken care of and was not allowed to speak to any of the other residents as it would upset them. After two days I was smuggled out of the house and dropped of at a bus station. That was the last I saw and heard of Mercy.
    My one regret is and always has been not being able to leave contact info for all of my Mercy buddies. Since leaving I have found a few of the girls I was with in Monroe, and everyone I have talked to, rather they graduated or not, appear to still be struggling with the issues they went into treatment for. I have good memories and bad memories of my time at Mercy, but one thing is clear, Mercy Ministries shows very little Mercy and compassion for those they are entrusted to care for.
–Lisa Hamacher”

Mercy Survivors

Please visit the Mercy Survivors Facebook page where you can find a whole collection of Mercy Ministries related links and articles.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mercy-Survivors/140247172698814


Liz’s Story

I have been contacted by another person who has experienced the horrors of Mercy Ministries first hand. Her story demonstrates the ways Mercy Ministries controls people’s lives. It is so sad to read someone being made to feel so low because of their sexuality. Mercy is supposed to help but for Liz they made things a lot worse. Thanks Liz for sharing your story with us.

(As usual the words below are exactly as they were sent to me and are unedited)

 

“The Lincoln, California home opened in October 2009. I arrived at the home
on September 28th, 2010. I was kicked out on October 28th 2010.
Before I arrived I spent eight months in the application process where I had
to read books and write a page or so on each book. The page I had to write
was supposed to be about why this book was helpful, how I felt about what it
was saying, and anything else related to the book. I also had check in phone
calls every three weeks and they would tell me whether I was “ready” or not
to be placed in a program.

The issues I applied to Mercy were: self harm, victim of sexual abuse,
compulsive over eating disorder, bipolar disorder, and depression. I am also
a lesbian so to them that needed to be “fixed too. I have always been
content with my sexuality. I’m a girl that likes girls and I’m okay with
that. They asked me a lot of questions about my sexuality. They always asked
if I had a girl friend or if I had recently been sexually active with a
girl. By the end of the application process I ended up just lying to them
about my sexuality. I told them that yes I wanted to change and “become
straight and normal” when in reality I did not want that at all. I also kept
telling them that I didn’t have a girl friend and that I hadn’t been
sexually active with a girl in awhile. Those two were huge lies. When I got
accepted I actually did have a girl friend at the time and we were together
through the time I was in the program and about six months after that. We
are no longer together.

I arrived at the air port and was welcomed by what seemed like a nice caring
woman. She drove me to the house. The house in California is pretty big. It
has the capacity for 40 girls and I’m not sure on the number of staff. The
house is two levels. Half of the rooms are upstairs and half of them are
downstairs. There was a laundry room upstairs and one downstairs. You had
assigned days and times to do your laundry and if you missed your time you
were just out of luck. Downstairs includes: the living room, library, the
dinning room and kitchen, the director (Cheryl Bangs) and other staff
members offices, and the lobby. Upstairs includes: the med room, classroom,
and “counselors” offices.

When I arrived at the home I was pretty much immediately welcomed by five
girls and I could see a lot more looking from the living room and some down
from upstairs. They were all nice but I just sensed something wasn’t right
about them.

I was taken to Lara’s office where we were to go through all of my stuff to
make sure I didn’t have anything inappropriate. Lara gave me a binder full
of rules and stuff that was not allowed that I was to read while Lara got
ready to do my check in. There were rules such as: no touching of any kind
(this included hand shakes, hugs, doing each others hair, or anything like
that), you can’t socialize with any of the new residents if you were a new
resident (for example if you had been there under one month you could not
talk to someone who had been there under one month), your bed must be made
by 8 am as well as the blinds in your room open and the door open, you had
to appear at breakfast at a certain time and if you were late or didn’t show
up there would be a punishment (which included an extra assignment), all
your stuff had to be nice and neat in your drawers, you had to take a shower
everyday and had to wash your hair every other day, no cursing, you were to
come to the staff if you have any problems, and other things to that
nature.

When we finally started going through my stuff I was told I wouldn’t be able
to keep some stuff. I had a black tshirt with the nobodies symbol on it
(nobodies from Kingdom Hearts ((the video game))).  They made me tell them
what the symbol was and when I did they told me that I could not keep that
shirt. I also had some bands that I wore. They said: “The only exception”
“Paramore” “Get Low” and “All Time Low.” They let me keep the first two but
not the others. I also had another Kingdom Hearts tshirt that had the
characters on it and they also took that from me. I had a dog tag necklace
that also had some black brass knuckles on it and they told me that unless I
could take the brass knuckles off of it then I couldn’t keep the necklace.
So of course they took that. I also had a Fall Out Boy tshirt that they
somehow missed and didn’t catch for about a week and then they took it from
me.

For meals the kitchen crew for that week announced what we were having and
what size portion of each thing we could have. All the food was organic.
They also made us recite the scripture for the day and someone prayed. Once
we got through the food line there was always a staff member there to check
your plate to make sure you didn’t have too much or too little food. Then
you could go eat. After you ate you had to show a staff member your plate so
they could see that you ate everything and if you didn’t you had to force it
down. It didn’t matter if you liked what we were eating or not you had to
eat it.

There was a morning class and a night class where we would watch videos and
then the staff would talk about the lesson and we had to write a response.
You also had a counceling appointment once a week with a counselor who
wasn’t at all qualified. I always told them when I was depressed and their
answers were always the same: go read your bible, go pray, or go have some
alone time with god. They never once told me coping skills or how to
actually deal with my problems. I was all the time told that I didn’t need
doctors or medicine because only the lord could truly heal me.

Each morning we were to recite a list of scriptures aloud.

In my application process I was always told that the staff would be
accepting of me and they would just try to help me. This was not the case. I
was judged right from the start because of my sexuality and they continually
told me that was wrong and I shouldn’t have those thoughts. I was told that
homosexuality was a demon that needed to be cast out of my life. I was told
that it was the devil trying to control me and lie to me.

I have IBS and have bad stomach problems so whenever I majorly change my
diet my stomach stays upset. Switching from regular food to suddenly organic
was horrible. I was sick every morning and I all the time asked for
medicine. The staff all the time told me that I had to wait until the next
med time to get any medicine. I guess they figured I was faking it because
after the second time I asked to lay down because I didn’t feel good they
wouldn’t let me. They told me I had to do everything that I was supposed to
do and there was no exception.

At night whenever I couldn’t sleep or had a nightmare I would go to the
staff and tell them to see if they could help. They always told me that the
house is a battle field of spiritual warfare and it was just the devil
attacking me and trying to lie and control me. They would pray with me and
send me back to bed.

The first weekend I was there I actually got to meet Nancy Alcorn because we
went to a Joyce Meyer conference there in Sacramento. Nancy went around and
hugged everyone and she just put off this I’m such a nice person and I love
you all vibe but I could tell there was something else there that wasn’t so
nice.

In one of the night classes we had in the house (the series was entitled The
Bait of Satin) the issue of homosexuality came up in the guys lesson. How
all homosexuals are going to burn forever in  @#!*%  and how they were
horrible
people. I just started to cry and had to leave the room. No staff member
checked on me to talk to me about it. They just let me be.

One weekend my mother called and I got angry about what she had said. I went
into my bathroom and punched the wall. I later told staff what I had done
because I wanted to make sure I didn’t break my hand. They were more
concerned about my anger issue than my hand.

Also the same day two other girls punched things. My friend from Australia
(who arrived at the home a few days after me) and this other girl. I shall
call the girl from Australia Brittany. Brittany punched a brick post and her
knuckles got bloodied up pretty bad. The other girl punched a wall or
something and she ended up breaking her hand and wrist. A few days later I
had a meeting with the director and she warned me if I kept doing things
like this I would be put on probation (which means extra assignments, you
weren’t allowed to go to the mall on Fridays, and you had an extra chore for
the house). A few days later I actually did get put on probation for
unwillingness to change.

Before the punching thing when Brittany first came into the home we
immediately became friends. We were suite mates and shared a bathroom. Once
the staff caught on that we were hanging out we were told that we could no
longer talk until we hit our one month date and then we could talk. Brittany
and I found ways to talk. We didn’t really care what Mercy said we were
going to be friends. They eventually moved the house room assignments around
so Brittany and I would no longer be in the next room from each other.

There was a girl there (I’ll call her Mary) that got kicked out a few days
before I did. She had been there for eight or nine months and Mercy told her
that she wasn’t accomplishing break through fast enough for them so she was
kicked out. So apparently all the stuff they say about gods healing takes
time is a complete lie. Because they cast Mary out for not being healed fast
enough.

I had been on probation for about a week and a half when they called me in
to the directors office and asked me about my sexuality. And I of course
told them the truth that I thought it was something I was born with. Cheryl
(the director) told me that I could not be a Christian and be gay. I told
her that I know plenty of gays that are Christians. And she told me that I
know a lot of people who have been deceived. She then told me that they were
discharging me from the program and I would be on the next available flight
home paid for by me of course.

After my meeting Brittany was called into the office and she was too told
that she was being discharged. Brittany wasn’t warned or put on probation
they just told her that she was being discharged.
Brittany and I still talk on a regular basis and she has become one of my
best friend. I’m going to try to get her to tell her story for you guys but
I can’t make any promises.

In my Mercy experience I was brain washed and told I had to be a certain way
or I was going to  @#!*% .”


A New Mercy Survivor Story

I would like to post a link to another personal account of time spent at Mercy Ministries

Mercy Ministries. Shows No Mercy.

Another personal account from a former Mercy Ministries resident

Reproduced below is a letter I recently received from a former Mercy Ministries resident. I have included it exactly as she wrote it and kept her name secret as she wishes to remain anonymous.

“After receiving an email advising of the deaths of two former mercy residents I looked up further postings on Mercy. I came across one posting that showed the material from the Restoring The Foundations mannual all residents worked through. The material was on demonic oppression and it certainly was a real eye opener!

As residents we recieved our copy of the folder and material bit by bit and we were started on the easier to handle subjects like forgiveness, first. We worked through that and then were given the next subject. Upon reflection of this one can’t help but feel that it was done that way to give the staff time to indoctrinate residents into believing that this counselling program was the only way to get better and the only way to feel better. I truly believe that by doing that it caused a lot of residents to feel guilty for feeling like or thinking that something was off or not quite right when they came to the subject of demonic oppression. When a resident did come to that subject they were given a list of stuff to go through for homework and they had to circle or highlight all subjects that applied to them. I remember struggling with it at the time and being very unsure of what to do as I did not know a lot about my family background due to a number of reasons beyond my control. (more…)


A Girl Called Hope, New Zealand: Just As Secretive As Mercy Ministries & Using Exactly The Same Methods

I have recently been in written communication with A Girl Called Hope (AGCH) in New Zealand in a bid to shed some light on exactly what their involvement with Mercy Ministries International is. I have also been trying to establish whether they use the same abusive practices as Mercy Ministries given the fact their “counselling” program is based on “Choices That Bring Change” the programme designed by Mercy Ministries.

So far AGCH have revealed that their program is “founded on the vision and principles of Nancy Alcorn and Mercy Ministries International” and that they changed the name from Mercy Ministries New Zealand to A Girl Called Hope because they “have been unable to Trade Mark the Mercy Ministries name in New Zealand and have overcome this through re-branding”. (more…)


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