Katelyn Hamby is the Executive Assistant to Mercy Ministries Founder & President Nancy Alcorn. In this article she recalls the opportunities that 16 Mercy Ministries graduates and 2 staff members had when they traveled to Uganda in July 2011 to build four classrooms for a school in Uganda.
As Executive Assistant to the Founder and President of Mercy Ministries, a free-of-charge, Christian residential program for girls who are facing difficult life circumstances, I’ve seen hundreds of hurting young women come into the Mercy Ministries program broken by sexual abuse, self-harm, eating disorders and addictions. Many of them have been deemed “hopeless cases” by society, and sometimes even by secular treatment facilities. Yet time after time, I watch just a few months later as these same girls graduate from Mercy Ministries as healthy, happy, and excited about their future – completely transformed by the love of Christ. One by one, the Mercy Ministries staff has counted the successes over the years, but it took a trip halfway around the world for me to realize how incomplete this tally really was. Let me explain…
It was always a dream of ours here at Mercy Ministries to develop an opportunity for our graduates to give back by serving others upon completion of our program. After a year of planning and praying, we finally found the perfect opportunity: partnering with Watoto Ministries to build classrooms for needy Ugandan children orphaned due to the AIDS epidemic. Our Mercy Ministries graduates worked hard to fund the entire trip themselves, including the cost of building materials, and I was excited to accompany them.
I knew this would be a meaningful experience for them, but I had no idea how meaningful it would be to me. I watched as once-troubled young women from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and hometowns work tirelessly in the African heat to build new structures. Everywhere we went, I saw our Mercy Ministries graduates – once desperately in need of prayer for their own lives – praying for the house mom, playing with orphans, sharing their testimonies, and loving on people through a hug or smile. It was clear that God had stirred a strong sense of passion and purpose in their lives, and they were up to the task. What’s more, they were all living, breathing examples of hope restored and lives transformed. If God could bind up the broken hearts of these supposedly “hopeless cases,” he surely could do the same for the Ugandan orphans and their AIDS-ravaged communities!
As I watched our Mercy Ministries graduates pray over the classrooms built by their own hands, I couldn’t help thinking how God multiplies Mercy Ministries. It’s so easy to count the number of girls who’ve graduated from Mercy Ministries, but those numbers don’t give us the full story. When a troubled girl turns around her life, she can help turn around the lives of those in her family, community and future generations. She may even turn around the lives of people living on another continent! There’s no way to measure just how many lives will be saved by a single life transformation – which means there’s no way to count the cost of giving up on someone.
“Hopeless case” is simply a phrase the world can’t afford.