No matter what you have done, you are precious in the sight of God
Hannah Thompson, a support worker at Mercy Ministries, talks about her admiration for the 'I am Precious Campaign' and the importance of young women knowing who they are in Christ.
The Precious campaign is all about encouraging women to know their self-worth in God. What attracted you to the campaign?
Hannah: It's a brilliant campaign that is needed in today's society and it is just such an honour to be here. I think it's a great message that no matter where you are and no matter what you have done, you are precious in the sight of God. He desires you more than anything you can imagine. Your value is far above rubies and pearls.
How does Mercy Ministries reach out to lost young women?
Hannah: We run a six month residential programme in a little village in West Yorkshire where we work with girls between 18 and 28 who suffer from life controlling issues such as eating disorders, self-harm, effects of abuse, and we take them in free of charge. It's a discipleship programme that looks at practical tools to help set you up for success i.e. commitment to Christ, forgiveness and renewing the mind, as well as addressing the root behind issues. As well as having the home, we have a great support service team. Although we can only take in girls aged 18 to 28, we realise that there are teenagers who also suffer from eating disorders. So we developed a support service team that works outside of our specific agreement.
Roughly how many women do you have coming in every year?
Hannah: We have a 20-bed facility and since opening our doors in 2006 we've had over 150 women come through from all different walks of life with different stories and it is an honour to see these girls come through and find their hope.
How do 21st Century women keep their focus on God and not what the media defines as beautiful and precious?
Hannah: When you get to know God for yourself and purposely choose to pursue him, to pursue his heart I think everything else just falls into place. You realise that Jesus is the answer, that he has such an incredible purpose, such an incredible hope and future for you. Regardless of what the world says, nothing can be what he has for you. I think the journey is incredible.
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I think for me my biggest thing is to just recognise your value. Recognise that you are not defined by what Hello and OK magazine say you are to be. You are not defined by whatever that past boyfriend said. Your value is defined by the King of all kings. He says that you have a purpose, you are loved and have value. He knew you before you were even knitted in your mother's womb. He has an incredible plan not to harm you but to set you up for success.
You've shared your incredible testimony of how God saved you from progressing down the wrong path. If you could meet your teenage self what would you say to her?
Hannah: I would just say surrender. Whatever baggage you're holding on to, whatever has caused you pain, if you hand that over to Jesus, He will do a far greater exchange. I would tell her to be honest and real with Him because He knows it all. There is nothing you can say to Him that will shock Him because He knows. What He does promise is to gently walk you through it and to gently restore you and to rewrite your story. He turns it into something incredible, almost unrecognisable. And I love that through everything, God's not about control. He loves you, he values you, and that he has something far bigger.
How do you stop your relationship with God from running dry?
Hannah: For me it is a daily choice of getting up in morning and saying 'Ok God, on my own I am nothing, without you I have nothing but with you I have everything'. It is a daily choice to dig that bit deeper, to hear his still, small voice in the stillness of the day, to hear his whisper in the chaos of the day. One thing I can say is a journey with God is never boring. It is far from boring; in fact, it is the biggest adventure you will ever have because you will never be the same again.
How important is it to you that young women know their worth?
Hannah: So important! Especially because once you know who you are in Christ, that has a ripple effect on the girls to come after you. I love that at the other side of your freedom, there are girls waiting for you and it is girls waiting to hear the truth. There is somebody right now fighting a battle with an eating disorder who thinks there is no hope but there are girls who have gone before her who have conquered with Jesus. You overcome by the blood of the lamb.