Watch the full Tough Mercy Presentation

Read selected chapters from the book.
  Chapter 1 – Arrival
  Chapter 4 – Origins
  Chapter 5 – Belonging
  Chapter 8 - Summer

Tough Mercy

TOUGH MERCY is the story of a remarkable orphanage where children of despair move to joy during the Great Depression.

It is 1934 and three brothers are let down into a legion of 540 children like them with one or both parents dead. Immediately the boys are taken to be fed. The next day they are fitted for new clothes.

Soon the boys belong. They believe. They play games. They work. They study. They have fun. They learn to swim and to sing. They are cared for - body and soul.

They go on picnics, spend hours at the library, go to church, cook fudge in the woods on Sunday afternoons from purloined sugar and cocoa, poke around in a murky swamp filled with leeches and on Tuesday and Thursday evenings assemble at The Valley as part of a large family. As the day breaks up boys and girls linger long enough in the shadows to steal a kiss or two before meandering homeward.

Death visits and friends are let down into new graves at God’s Acre. War comes, causing an exodus of older boys. Thirteen die in the conflict. At Homecoming alumni by the hundreds arrive to check out the progress of their younger brothers and sisters.

With these high spots, the rich tapestry of TOUGH MERCY shines as a symbol of America’s goodness. Further, as children matured through shared experiences, they came to acknowledge the power of a shared vision, made evident through a success rate for becoming responsible citizens that approached 100 percent.

The Greatness of America, The Goodness of the Church

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there. In the fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there. In her rich mines and her vast world commerce and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits, aflame with righteousness, did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 - 1859) Source: Tocqueville in Democracy in America, 1835

When the Civil War ended in 1865 the defeated Southern states were left with economic and social devastation. Many families were left in disarray and without the ability to provide nurture and support for their children. Huge numbers of orphaned and destitute children were put on “orphan trains” and sent west or left to fend for themselves wandering the country as tramps, prostitutes, and thieves, dying in their desperation. Society had no means or ability to overcome this disaster.

Then, the church, led by John Mills, leaped across centuries of conceptual theology and performed a transcendental deed for thousands of these children. They created homes, calling them orphanages, supplying orphans with food, clothing, schooling, and unconditional love. The children flourished and become whole as they established footholds in a new reality, evolving and becoming teachers, nurses, soldiers, sailors, marines, doctors, lawyers, All-American athletes, and business people in many walks of life. The goodness of the Church succeeded when society failed and through this act the greatness of America was displayed.

The beauty of the Orphanage Story is more than a story of warehousing children. It is a story of transcendence, a story beyond the power of words to describe, a story where God as Creator proves His love as a universal truth evidenced by the actions of His Church. The Christian Church, established through the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus, stepped into the breech and provided the Abundant Life for children who were falling into despair, obeying the command of Jesus, “Suffer the children to come to me and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God.”

Today, America’s Greatness is being squandered on a massive scale through the effect on family life of diet-related diseases. Millions of children are now victims of poor dietary choices (theirs and their parent’s) leading to the plague of childhood obesity. Children who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem. Obese young people are more likely than children of normal weight to become overweight or obese adults, and therefore more at risk for associated adult health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. And, despite a massive social, medical, and governmental effort to stop childhood obesity the crisis continues to worsen each year.

Science can give a diagnosis of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, but science cannot touch the grief and despair of a single child.
Only the Church can do this!
Only the Church!
Will the Church do its job, as it once did, and rescue the children of America from grief and despair? Will the Church rise up and overcome the failure of society and the sin within its own doors? Or, will children suffer and die an early death because no one came to rescue them?

What will be your response?

Do your part to overcome the growing national epidemic of poor health and childhood obesity.

Two areas of involvement.
  1. You and your family

  2. Your Church
You and your family
  1. Go to the Online Resources section of the website and learn about the 4 Principles of Healthy Living. Start practicing them TODAY.
  2. Study the Resurrection Kitchen section of the website and start involving your family in the process of healthy eating.

Your church
Go to the Dare To Be A Healthy Christian tab. Watch the presentations and learn about the program. If you feel led, ask your church leaders about showing the presentation. Challenge your church to be an example of healthy living to the community.

If you would like to learn more about the miracle of Tough Mercy found at the Mills Home Orphanage read selected chapters from the book included on the website or Email us to see about getting a copy of the book.

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