Soon after People in Glass Houses was released, I was contacted anonymously by a small group of frightened and traumatised women. They had been in a rehab facility which originated in the US and had been introduced to Australia through Darlene and Mark Zschech. In all of my time working with those who escaped Hillsong and its offshoot organisations, and in working as a social worker with people who've suffered trauma, I have personally never seen people as terrified and traumatised by treatment as these women were. And after having spent 9-12 months being told they were possessed by demons by the volunteers who worked with them, that result is unsurprising.
The program, which had started to help 'girls in trouble' , that is, pregnant, had expanded to offer services for women with eating disorders, psychological issues, and other trauma related conditions. They were promised professionals. They were given bible college students and exorcisms. For most participants, their symptoms worsened.
They very bravely gave their stories to the Sydney Morning Herald's Ruth Pollard, who conducted a thorough investigation, and by the end of 2009, Mercy Ministries had closed in Australia.
It rebranded in the US and is now known as Mercy Multiplied. However that's the only thing that has changed, and in a recent Slate report, the damage is still as extensive.
Here's my take on how Mercy Ministries was used by Hillsong to make more money. The human cost is irrelevant, and lives that were lost to suicide or overdose due to the abuse at the organisation are never counted.