On 9/11, American missionary Heather Mercer was 6,700 miles away from New York City, behind bars in a Kabul, Afghanistan, prison awaiting trial. Weeks earlier in August 2001, the Taliban arrested Mercer and her close friend, Dayna Curry.
The two young women were ministering in Kabul through Shelter Now, a housing outreach organization. In one of the most dramatic stories of the 9/11 era, the Taliban put them and other Western missions staff on trial for spreading Christianity in the Muslim-majority nation.
Weeks later as the Taliban regime was under attack, anti-Taliban fighters freed all of them. Mercer and Curry returned to the U.S. and the Bush White House hosted a celebration of their freedom. In 2003, Mercer decided to relocate to Kurdistan, the autonomous area of northern Iraq. In 2008, she founded Global Hope, a U.S.-based ministry to northern Iraqis. Now married to an Iraqi Christian, she and her husband divide their time between a home in Texas and Kurdistan. Timothy C. Morgan, CT deputy managing editor, interviewed Mercer recently about the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and her goals for Global Hope.
The tenth anniversary of 9/11 is coming up. Your mind must go back to that period frequently. Was it worth your effort going to Afghanistan and being jailed?
There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about it. God sent me to prison to set me free. I don't think I realized how much fear I actually had in my life until I had to confront some of my deepest, darkest fears. When I first set out to go to Afghanistan, I knew it might cost me my life to reach Muslims with the love of Jesus. Then I had this opportunity to face that fear of, "What would I do if someone tried to kill me for sharing the gospel?" God made himself ...1
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