A Johannesburg woman who lived in torment for 18 years because of a rape and abortion experience when she was a teenager is being used by God to bring hope to hurting people.
Mercia Scharneck who launched her restoration, teaching and charitable ministry, Mercia Scharneck Ministries, in Cape Town earlier this month, said she is totally free and fulfilled in Christ today and that “God can bring turn-around, breakthrough, deliverance and healing into even the worst of life’s situations”.
Sharing her testimony with Gateway News, Scharneck said: “I grew up in Pine Road, Woodstock in Cape Town 51 years ago, surrounded by gangs and alcohol. At school, my teacher called me a dunce and said that I would amount to nothing. I struggled at school and quit in Standard 7 (Grade 9) believing what the teacher had confessed over me.”
Tragically, Scharneck was raped at the age of 19 and fell pregnant as a consequence. She then decided to have an abortion. For many years afterwards she struggled to forgive herself. This led to feelings of guilt, condemnation, fear, unforgiveness, bitterness and low self esteem. She tried to forget the ordeals but they haunted her, eventually leading to drinking and wild parties.
A few years after the abortion Scharneck decided to leave Cape Town and start her life afresh in Johannesburg, hoping to forget the past. That was 31 years ago. She continued drinking for a few more years until she met and married Mark Scharneck, to whom she’s been married to for 29 years. She said that because of the unresolved guilt she carried all her bitterness and condemnation into her marriage and almost ruined a perfectly good marriage and family.
“I was an angry, Mad Black Woman and treated my husband so badly, although he would just walk away and say ‘Mercia be angry on your own’. He would take our two daughters and just go and have fun with them”, said Scharneck
Calling on God
One day, 14 years ago, after another emotional outburst, screaming at her husband and children about how she hated them, she came to her senses and pleaded with God to show her that He was real by setting her free from the terrible state that she was in. At that moment Scharneck said that God spoke to her and told her that He wanted to change her life.
“Things didn’t change instantly for me. It was a process but my life is so much better today than it has ever been. God helped me to forgive myself, forgive the rapist and then to ask my husband for forgiveness,” she said.
She experienced real freedom as she started spending time in God’s word. “ I searched scriptures and found out that God loved me. His desire is to fellowship with me and that He wants me to prosper in every area of my life and that He is all for me”, said Scharneck. Even though she had rededicated her life to Jesus and things were beginning to change, she felt that she was not progressing spiritually enough. She then enrolled at a Bible School and did a one year Christian counselling course. One of her course assignments was to write about her life story. As she prepared for this assignment, she reflected on the emotional abuse of her teacher and the horrible ordeal of her rape. Her thoughts went to the day she found out that she was pregnant and to making the decision to have an abortion.
“All my life I was saving myself for the man I would marry and now it was taken away from me. I felt that I couldn’t keep the baby because everyone would know and I wasn’t going to embarrass my family. Looking back, I realise that I could have spoken to them, they would not have condoned abortion and they would have supported me. I come from a closely knit family and they have always impacted my life positively. I will say to anyone out there, do not have an abortion, you might think you will get over it but you never will…it will haunt you all your life. God will help you support your child, if you trust Him to do that,” said Scharneck.
An everlasting love
“I realised that God was not holding out on me. He was never distant from me but I had hindered my own progress because although I had rededicated my life to Him, I was holding back. At that moment I felt His loving arms around me and a burden was lifted off my shoulders and I felt so free. At that point I knew God loved me with an everlasting love, that He never holds out on me and that He was there with me when I was raped. He saw the abortion. He knew everything I went through and He was reaching out to me, to bring beauty for ashes and joy for mourning. God is real and if you’re struggling with something more painful than I have, our God that created you, can bring about total restoration in your life”, Scharneck said with conviction.
After she completed the assignment of writing about her life story, she said that God prompted her to tell her husband all about it. She recalls: “My husband just held me and told me he loved me and that he knows God has forgiven me. Later I had the opportunity to share with my daughters everything. My eldest daughter said ‘Mommy, it would have been nice to have an older sister’, and they wanted to know how old she would have been, so for the first time I sat calculating the age”.
When she rededicated her life to Christ about 14 years ago, Scharneck said she told God that that she would serve Him and do all that He has called her to do. She also asked that He save her husband, Mark ( who was an atheist) , so that they could go to church together, pray together and trust in God together. When she tried to encourage her husband to go to church he said: “ Mercia, I don’t mind you and the girls going to church, but don’t come to me with that happy clappy stuff “.
Great new things
“God continued to prompt me to only pray for him, and not to preach to him about Jesus, because He was working in Mark. It was approximately two years later, when the girls and I were getting ready to go to church; Mark asked if we could wait for him. He said that he would love to go to church with us. I had tears in my eyes. My youngest daughter was in the room at the time and she held her thumb up saying ‘Mommy, God answered our prayer’. That was the beginning of great new things. Mark committed his life to Christ and from that day until this day we go to church together, pray together, stand in agreement in trusting God for big things in our lives”, said Scharneck.
Two years ago, Scharneck started her ministry in her home in Johannesburg. It began as a ministry to women only, called “Gods Girls”. This year God told her to open the bible teaching to men as well.
In 2013, she registered Mercia Scharneck Ministries, as a non -profit organisation and she launched the ministry on Saturday, October 5, 2013 at the Claremont Hall in Cape Town. Mercia Scharneck Ministries is involved in feeding schemes for the homeless. “On a monthly basis we go and prepare a large supper for abused young girls and relieve the staff of their duties. We also support another charity organisation financially and through donations of clothing.” She said any donations to the ministry are used only to feed the homeless and to assist families in need.
She said: “My desire is to go into many different denominations; Anglican, Catholic, New Apostolic and many different churches to share this marvelous gospel of Christ”.
Today, Scharneck is a free woman in Christ, loving herself, as well as enjoying the call on her life. “God has been good to me and I want others to know it doesn’t matter at what stage you are in your life, God can heal and restore. It’s been many years now since my freedom and I’ve fallen in love with my husband all over again and love my two daughters, who are such a blessing to us. We also have our fair share of trials and tribulation, but God said ‘I will never leave you, nor forsake you’. He brings the victory in every challenge that we commit to Him,”said Scharneck.