More from Naomi courtesy of seantheblogonaut.com
Here are more words by Naomi Johnson about her Mercy Ministries experience. They originally appeared on seantheblogonaut.com
“The following is a response of sorts to the story aired on Today Tonight, see the youtube video at the end of the response
More musings from me…..
It really hurts to read and hear the outright, bold faced lies that Peter Irvine is willing to purport as truth. It’s shocking to see how venomously Mercy Ministries have struck out, while we may have “exposed” them and caused a “significant disruption”, the truth is we have not come out with claws or hate and slander.
I’ve acknowledged over and over that I do not believe Mercy has intended harm, they do believe that what they are doing is right (which is just scary) but the motive behind the majority of staff is simply one of a desire to help.
Despite Peter’s continuing claim that staff are qualified and hold tertiary level degrees, this is not at all true, not even in part. At best it is a major twisting of words and distorting of facts. At most some of the staff hold bible college degrees, many bible colleges are “accredited” which means one can do a bachelor degree in theology — don’t let the “ology” on the end fool you into thinking its close enough to psychology. Theology is the study of God and the bible, and this is basically the only qualifications held by the staff who have the daily charge and care of the girls in the program.
Peter has also claimed that because we are girls with psychological issues (by our own admission) we are somewhat mentally defective and are simply lying. As I’ve already stated, coming out of the woodworks three years down the track with “lies” would be nothing more than a cry for publicity, yet not one of us are enjoying the media circus, I myself even isolate from the online world… somehow I think “liars” would be relishing the attention!!! And I think you can judge pretty effectively that none of us are mentally defective, indeed the other girls I’ve now made contact with – others who have also stepped forward, are all highly intelligent people.
It makes me cringe that Pastor Brian Houston stood up in church and drew attention to the media outcry… it makes me cringe as all I can think of is the girls in the program right now. They were there sitting in the mercy allocated seating and all attention was being directed toward them.
It makes me feel as horrid for them as I remember what it felt like whenever he decided to point attention toward us when I was in the program. A novelty item on display, not even granted the dignity of being thought of as a human or individual. Many of the girls in the program along with myself suffered social phobias, just being in the crowded building was often traumatic enough than to have all 17,000 eyes turned toward you.
Peter also cited statistics that he knew were false. 90% success rates… only 6 girls ever failed…. I can tell you now far more than 6 are kicked out every year, a great number more than 6 have come forward. Many however are too scared and still in too vulnerable a place to want to identify themselves. I personally know of 5 girls ending up back in hospital after mercy…
I personally know of mercy graduates who have ended up back in hospital, and when they did mercy dropped them in an instant because they were “choosing” to allow the depression, “choosing” to allow the eating disorder take control, “choosing” to suffer with other symptoms of their original illnesses. Only now these issues have been further complicated and confounded by mercy’s words echoing loudly to each of these young women…
They are failures; they should know better, they are CHOOSING to struggle. The guilt and condemnation just complicates matters further, and that guilt and condemnation is coming directly from mercy. Mercy doesn’t believe mental illness is real… it’s a choice or its demonic influences, and allowing demonic influences’ to plague one’s life is a choice anyway!!!
The thing is even now, they believe this. And it just makes me sad… not mad, SAD!!! Its ignorance, and just because they are not motivated by some evil agenda, it does not discount the drastic effect this has had and continues to have on the girls who reached out to them for help.
The Christian church would not say to someone that has cancer that they should forgo surgery, treatment, medical intervention and replace it with only prayer and God… indeed back in the day some did purport such things but pretty quickly thinking changed to “thanking God for the Doctors and medical treatments” and to pray for God to guide the surgeons hands. They certainly do not say to someone who has been in cancer remission then relapsed, that they are sick because they’ve made “wrong choices”.
Yet replace the cancer or other physical illness with something they cannot see, replace physical illness with psychological and all the rules change.
Mental illness is just wrong choices… mental illness can only be fixed with prayer and God because it’s due to spiritual oppression and … wrong choices!!! The notion of psychologist and psychiatrists, professionals is actually met with scorn.
“The world and their (insert cynical and distasteful intonation here) ‘professionals’ cannot help you only God can”
“The world for all their ‘qualifications’ don’t know how to help you, only we can because we have been appointed by God”
Why doesn’t “praying for God to guide the professional to appropriate treatment and intervention” fly in the face of mental illness?? Why do they feel they do not need to be accountable to any governing mental health body?
And why are they ignoring the evidence in front of their faces when they see some of their most “petted graduates” break when back in the real world? They just write them off, with their favourite catch phrase of “you’re making wrong choices”.
There has never been any accountability… Note even when Peter did say a few had not had favorable results he worded it as “failed”… they failed the program. No acknowledgement of “we tried but we just didn’t know how to help you” … its “they failed, they made choices” …. Where is the compassion and unconditional love in these sentiments??
“Mercy a place where unconditional love conquers all”
Three years on and I still yearn for that to be true… I still long for them to love me like they said they would. Instead one lived in constant fear of condemnation and judgment. Constantly asking ourselves… “Why don’t you love me??? Why wasn’t I worth it?? What made me so bad and evil you didn’t want to extend that unconditional love to me… you promised it, it must exist… it was my fault, I was just never good enough or worth it to begin with”
There is a book, “Echoes of Mercy” which tells of success stories from girls in the American mercy… “Echoes of Mercy” means something very different to me these days… my echoes of mercy are the deep deep soul wounds that refuse to heal. Mercy would tell me I’m bitter, but it’s not bitterness I feel, not at all… what I feel is a heartbreaking cry “why wasn’t I worth it???”
Because even though I KNOW that they are ill equipped, the hurt is so deeply imprinted, their words and catch phrases so deeply engrained that even now just makes me ache and sob.
I don’t think that’s the definition of bitterness or lies….
***note I realise that no one here is challenging our stories and indeed have been amazingly receptive and I appreciate that, I think I almost expected that nothing would happen, no one would care, why should they? why would they? That the original SMH articles would be a flash in the pan and not even make a mention… that it did and that people have been widely supportive and respectful of our stories is overwhelming… the above is me just writing out some of my thoughts and more as a response to Peter Irvine’s attempts at discrediting our experiences***”
Original post can be found here.