Monday, August 27, 2012

My prayer for Nancy Alcorn

I am currently working on a piece for my other website about praying for one's enemies, and in the spirit of that piece, I wanted to share what I have been praying for Nancy Alcorn, founder of Mercy Ministries.

In that piece, I state that I do not consider any person to be my enemy.  But when heeding the commandment of Jesus to pray for my enemies, I take a very broad approach, and as such, Nancy Alcorn is among those whom I pray for regularly.

Some Christians consider enemies as those who do not agree with them, those who may have criticism (however valid) of their words or behaviour.  So when they reflect on say the Psalms of David, they apply the "righteous" category to themselves and the "wicked" category to any who oppose them.  But I don't believe this means that someone who is at odds with the actions of a person or ministry is an enemy of God. 

When we consider God being on our side, yes God is on our side in that He wants the best for us, just as He does for all of His children.  But this does not mean He necessarily takes "sides" in a disagreement.

With regard to God protecting us from our enemies, yes God does protect us from legitimate harm, and He does walk with us through difficult trials.  However, God loves all of us too much to leave us trapped in our sin.  If a person is in sin, His will is not to protect them from consequences or from their sin being pointed out.  God wants to deal with sin.  He wants to deal with my sin, Nancy's sin, and everyone else's sin, in a loving and gentle way (although not always pleasant), so that we may receive His grace, walk in freedom and be more like Jesus.

In short, God loves all of his creations, including those we have been hurt by the most, and He wants the best for all of us. 

Some believe that praying for your enemies means that you must ask God to grant them financial prosperity, broader influence, and "divine connections".  Whilst it can't hurt to pray in this way (and it is a helpful exercise to put to death anything in you that would wish the opposite upon them), I believe that praying for our enemies goes much deeper than these relatively unimportant things.

Before I launch into any type of prayer, I first take a moment to sense what the Holy Spirit wants me to pray.  If I am not being led by the Spirit, then I am probably not praying the prayer that God wants me to pray for that person.

So in general, my prayers for Nancy are along these lines:

* I pray that her eyes, ears and heart would be more open to the WHOLE truth
* I ask God to give her the ability and willingness to overcome areas of sin
* I ask God to heal her from the wounds that may still be causing her to speak and behave in ungodly ways towards others
* I ask God to give her the self-insight she needs to bring her to repentance of the hurts she has had any part in
* I ask God that she would also have insight into the impact her words and behaviour has had on those she has hurt.
* I ask that in her repentance, that she would know God's love and grace like never before
* I ask that if this was possible, that He would bring correction into her ministry and steer it in the direction that He originally intended it to go in
* I ask that no more young women would be traumatised and hurt by Nancy or her ministry
* I ask that those who have been hurt would find it in their hearts to forgive Nancy, and that God would gently work in their hearts to the point that some day, they would also be able to join me in prayer for her

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Learning to boil water at Mercy Ministries

There has been a situation on my mind that I would like to share.  It happened when I was in the Mercy Ministries Sydney home, and for whatever reason this story has not yet made it's way into my blogs on the subject of Mercy.

Hillsong Church annually hosts a women's conference called Colour Conference, and another big conference called Hillsong Conference.  The Mercy Ministries Sydney home and Hillsong Church were somewhat intertwined.  As far as I am aware, the financial relationship between Mercy Ministries Australia and Hillsong began and ended with Hillsong being a large financial partner, however on a personal level, most staff in both the program and corporate facets of Mercy Ministries in Sydney attended Hillsong Church, or were involved with Hillsong in some way, such as being a Hillsong Bible College student, or being in some way connected to a Hillsong "big wig".  For a long time, Mark and Darlene Zschech were involved with Mercy Ministries at a managerial level right from the early days.  Among the board members were some prominent leaders at Hillsong.  One was an elder and pastor at Hillsong.  There was another woman who was married to a Hillsong elder, and I think she may have been on the board as well.  One of the later "managerials" at Mercy Ministries, Peter Irvine, was a co-owner of Gloria Jeans Coffees, and was involved at Hillsong Church, although I am not sure in what capacity exactly.

Hillsong was hosting their Colour Conference in the beginning of 2006.  During Hillsong Conference and Colour Conference, our normally fiercely private homestead was opened up to hundreds of strangers who would tour the home, poking their heads into our bedrooms and gazing at us sympathetically.  We were the Mercy Girls.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

"Touch not the Lord's anointed" - the doctrine of immunity

This piece is the third in a series called "The language of Mercy".  Please click here to read my disclaimer.  I have deviated slightly from my original plan for the series with this piece. It is structured around the use of loaded language, but focuses more on the “fruit” of the principles represented by the language.

My experiences relate to Mercy Ministries Australia, however women from the Mercy homes abroad may identify with aspects of this piece.

Please note that as I share my encounters with Mercy staff members, I do so to illustrate the dynamics being discussed in this piece that were operational in the program, and not to bring condemnation on those who acted these dynamics out.  I have no malice in my heart toward them and I sincerely hope they have since had the opportunity to gain some freedom from their own issues which were evidenced by their actions.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"You are unwilling to change"

This piece is the second in a series called "The language of Mercy".  Please click on this link to read my disclaimer.

Throughout my recovery, I have benefited immensly from various cognitive therapies as well as improving my communication skills through boundary awareness.

CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) helped me to become aware of faulty thinking patterns.[1]  Among them are mind reading (assuming another's motives or thoughts), "black-and-white" thinking (polarised good/evil, all/nothing mindsets) and emotional reasoning ("i feel ______ so strongly that it must be true").[2]

Healthy and functional communication involves being able to share the impact of another's behaviour, or hear the impact of your behaviour, in a mutual, boundary-respecting way that is free of emotional manipulation or control.  Using "I" statements ensures that we take ownership of our own thoughts, feelings, beliefs and wishes when expressing them to another.  Healthy communication is clean in that it distinguishing between objective observation and subjective experience of that observation so as not to enmesh the two.

When communicating, a person with healthy boundaries might say "when I did not see you look in my direction when I said "hello", i felt sad" rather than "you made me feel sad when you deliberately ignored me".

A highly respected book called "Boundaries"[3] written by two Christian psychologists taught me that I was entitled to my own thoughts, feelings and opinions, and for those to be interfered with or overridden by another's subjective experience (for example, an accusation of having a particular thought/feeling/motive) would constitute a violation of my boundaries.  This book also discussed manipulation and what this might look like in various settings.  Ironically, we worked through this book and its study companion as part of group therapy at Mercy Ministries.

"You are unwilling to change"

In this piece, I discuss the dysfunctional and oppressive nature of the communication style used by Mercy Ministries staff which can be captured in the phrase "you are unwilling to change".

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Mercy appropriate"

This piece is the first in a series called "The language of Mercy".  Please click on this link to read my disclaimer.

Some of the words and phrases used at Mercy Ministries were ambiguous in meaning.  Because of this, they could be used as blanket words to avoid reasonable explanation, or they could change meaning easily depending on the situation or to whom they were being applied.  They could be applied as heavily or lightly, as broadly or specifically as desired by a given staff member.

"Mercy appropriate" was one such example.

Mercy appropriate

The word "Mercy appropriate" set the word "appropriate" apart from the limited application it might have in the real world.  The idea of it was to make the environment as safe and untriggering as possible.  But because of it's ambiguous nature, the meaning changed depending on the subjective understanding of the staff member on duty, what mood they were in and whether or not they liked you.  Obviously, each staff member was different so not all of them would favour one girl over another or take their moods out on people, but it was certainly an option available that was exercised by those who did.