Christianity Today Catches Up with Heather Mercer 10 Years After Capture by Taliban

A month before the 9/11 attacks, American missionaries Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry were captured and imprisoned by the Taliban.

Their detention and subsequent rescue by American troops in November 2001 received extensive media coverage at the time, including criticism by "Dateline" correspondent John Larson about their proselytizing in a Muslim country.

So far, however, it seems no mainstream media outlet has caught up with Mercer or Curry for a ten-year anniversary retrospective.

Fortunately Timothy C. Morgan of Christianity Today did. You can read his interview here.

I've included excerpts below (emphasis indicates Morgan's questions):

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 known in such a profound way that now, what do I have to fear?

There must have been some very hard times for you after 9/11.

When we came out of that experience, there was this grace cloud that followed us everywhere. Antioch Community Church in Waco [Texas] cared for us, pastored us through. Healing came in telling in the story over and over. Through the telling, I was able to see the good that came out of the bad. Eventually, the good overshadowed the bad. Today, I can look back and feel like I've learned a million times more than anything I ever lost.

Back in 2001, there were Christian nay-sayers out there who said, "You were naïve, and you probably did break the law." Would you do things differently if you were going into Afghanistan today?

In terms of our purpose for being there and sharing the gospel, no, I wouldn't do anything differently. There's no other reason to be in a place like Afghanistan if you can't offer the only source of hope to people who have no hope.

Are you any wiser today than you were 10 years ago?

Maybe wiser in understanding an Islamic worldview, how to approach someone with that worldview with the message of Jesus. We were very aware of the risks, dangers, and challenges. The only way to really understand an Islamic worldview is to live in it. As an American, I took things at face value. Now, 10 years later, having worked in the Islamic world all this time, I understand more when I'm speaking to a Muslim what's really going on.

Do you stay in contact with Dayna Curry and others from Shelter Now?

Dayna and I remain very close. Everyone that was involved in that experience continues to serve Jesus among Muslims, which is just a fabulous testimony.


What can American Christians do to better understand Muslims?

Muslims are people just like us. They have the same desires, the same ambitions. They want to raise their family to be healthy, happy, and whole. The first point is bringing a human face to Muslims. Many Muslims are god-fearing people. They believe in a monotheistic God. They want to experience the promise of eternal life. But they have been handed a religious system and tradition that does not allow them to know the God we know.

Photo of Mercer via Liberty University.

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