Yesterday was probably one of the most emotionally filled days we’ve had at Mercy for a while.
Former Resident Rebecca Graham shared her testimony and graduated from Mercy yesterday, seven months after leaving for medical reasons.
Former resident Rebecca Graham returned to Mercy to tell her story of restoration and to encourage current residents through their process of healing. Accompanied by her loving husband Darryl, Rebecca led residents and staff in worship before she described her journey of healing through the Mercy Ministries program.
To understand the miracle of the moment you’d have to understand how far Rebecca has come to get to this point. Rebecca is a living testimony of what God can do with a life surrendered to Him.
A Life Transformed
Rebecca came to Mercy Ministries, last year because she had been battling an eating disorder for years and had been hospitalized because her heart was giving out. During her time at Mercy Ministries she finally confronted the root cause of her emotional turmoil. Rebecca had been severely sexually and physically abused as a child and had never told anyone what had happened to her.
As a result of the abuse Rebecca turned to a variety of dysfunctional behaviors including, promiscuity, heavy drinking and the eating disorder that eventually consumed her life, threatened her marriage and kept her from caring for her children.
Current Program Director Rachelle Ashbee, was Rebecca’s counselor during her time at Mercy, and tried to put in words the change in Rebecca since she first met her.
Rachelle, celebrates with Rebecca and Nicola Bartel after her surprise graduation
“Where to begin? Rebecca is why Mercy exists. From the fragile, broken-hearted, woman who walked through the doors, to the confident woman, there is no comparison. I always knew that God was the God of the impossible, but she is evidence of this. What God can do when one surrenders. Rebecca should not be a healthy, functional, thriving woman able to love and be loved. She should not be where she is today, it is only by God’s grace and mercy.
Although she states that she will never understand why she went through what she did, she has made peace with her past and put it to rest. She is NOT the product of her past; her past has not defined or limited her. Rebecca is one of the most courageous and determined woman I know, who has needed her “fight” to survive what life has thrown at her. But oh what God can do with that fight now that she has surrendered to Him.
She no longer has to fight to survive, fight to keep people away, fight to make it look like she has it all together. Rebecca can now fight for mercy, fight for justice, fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. There is a voice that has arisen out of Rebecca that will not be silenced, that will not be put to shame, that will not stop proclaiming what God has done in her life.”
Rebecca’s time at Mercy came to an abrupt end, because she was medically discharged from the program, but yesterday, she formally graduated from Mercy Ministries in a surprise graduation ceremony led by her former counselor Rachelle.
Asked for his thoughts about their journey to restoration together Darryl simply states “I got my wife, I never had her or knew her prior to Mercy.” Rebecca explained:
“We’ve never really had a marriage because I had all these walls up because I thought people would eventually hurt you. Now we do have a marriage, I can say I love my husband. He’s supported me every step of the way.” Addressing her husband, Rebecca continued “Isaiah 61:7 says ‘…instead of shame and dishonor you will enjoy a double share of honor’ Darryl you are my double share of honor.”
Later in the afternoon, Pastor John Burns led the couple in a simple ceremony to renew their marriage vows, marking the start of a new life together in Christ. There was not a dry eye in the room.
Darryl embraces Rebecca after they renewed their vows (photograph by Rachel Ray Photography)
Rebecca has her second chance at life, a chance to be the mom that she always desired to be but was never capable of; a chance to be a wife to her husband, not out of obligation but out of desire. God is taking Rebecca on a wild journey where He is teaching her about family and motherhood and being a Godly woman. She is now able to live out the potential that God put in her; she is now able to be who God has called her to be and to be used by him. What Satan meant to take her out has only made her stronger.