Say Yes: The Birth of Mercy Ministries Canada



I am convinced the essence of all leadership is the ability to influence others to rise and do what they could never imagine doing on their own. The magnificent Nancy Alcorn, founder and director of Mercy Ministries, is a leader like that. My life was forever changed the day our paths crossed.

I remember the day I listened intently to the story of her life and how, 20 years earlier, she saw a need and bravely stepped into a ministry for young, troubled women dealing with life-controlling issues. Deep in my heart I knew we so needed to build a home for young women in Canada too, but to do it seemed completely impossible.

It all came to a head one day during the annual women’s conference I host in our city. Nancy was a guest speaker that year. As she shared the miracle story of Mercy, my heart was beating wildly and I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing.

I knew I had to say yes, but what would my husband say? What would our church leadership say? Who would help me? Where would the money come from?

There were so many reasons to ignore the promptings of the voice of God and to just say no. But my heart said yes. And so many yeses from others followed after mine.

You see, years earlier, our beautiful daughter Danica was drowning in the depths of a debilitating eating disorder. There were so many times in those dark days that we desperately dreamed about a place were she could go to find help and refuge. As her parents, we felt so inadequate and helpless. Thankfully she eventually overcame, but it was a long journey of more than 10 years.

Imagine if we could be a part of the answer for other young women and for the families who were desperate to help them? Imagine if we could build a place where young women could come to a beautiful home to live, free-of-charge, and have their lives and dreams restored.

So on a Friday during the afternoon break of that conference, I summoned the courage to speak to my husband and share the desire of my heart, which scared me to the core.

“John, I feel like God is asking us to bring Mercy to Canada. He is asking us to build a home.”

He looked at me like I might be a little crazy and reminded me of all we had on our hands to do at the moment with pastoring and building a church, along with a number of other things we were already doing.

But after a few minutes, he simply said, “Yes. I trust you and I trust your ability to hear from God. I believe God is in this and if He is, He will lead us forward to bring it all together.”

By that evening, we stood together on the platform of our church alongside Nancy and others, and made the announcement that we were committing to bring Mercy to Canada. That was 10 years ago. Since then we have had the privilege of seeing miracle after miracle happen in the lives of so many young women who have literally been rescued from the depths of hell on earth to see a new day dawn, filled with hope and promise. We have witnessed the wonder of others who have rallied to serve this amazing cause by giving sacrificially in so many ways.

As I reflect back on that day, I am so grateful for a woman named Nancy, who simply said yes, and went to work to build something great.

It prompted me to put up my hand and say yes, and in doing that I said yes on behalf of many others who have also put their hand to the task to be led and to lead others themselves.

To be a leader is to influence others to also lead. As we walk on a pathway of life, we become a way of life for others too.

I love Proverbs 29:18 in The Message: “If people can’t see what God is doing,
 they stumble all over themselves;
 but when they attend to what He reveals,
 they are most blessed.”

I know the Holy Spirit is always gently leading us all forward and revealing opportunities to step into God-ordained moments that open a pathway of life for others. Most people whom we consider renown history-makers today would never have realized the impact of their unselfish choices at the time they were making them.

Great leaders are never about lifting themselves up and trying to elevate their own influence; great leaders seek to lift up others and make the world a better place for them.

The greatest leader who ever was and will be is Jesus, who humbly showed us that if we really want to be great we must learn to be the servant of all.


Dear SheLoves friends, we’d love to know: 

What is God whispering into your heart today?
Where can you say yes and rise up to lead?
Where is a life you can influence beautifully with your big, open heart?


Image courtesy: Mercy Ministries

Helen Burns

Helen Burns

Helen Burns and her husband, John, speak around the world on the topic of relationships. They host the popular TV show “Relate with John and Helen.”
Helen Burns
Helen Burns

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