Frontlines of Ministry: Heather Mercer & Dayna Curry
- Friday, August 30, 2002
“I’m speaking generally--there is a minority that would be antagonistic--but they [Afghanis] are so thankful that America came and got rid of the Taliban,” Mercer says. “I’ve heard stories from friends who have gone back that everywhere they go people will say, ‘We are so glad your country came. They were the only ones who would get rid of the Taliban.’ I think for the first time in a long time, there’s a bit of hope in the Afghan heart that freedom might really come.”
Mercer adds that part of the reason Afghanis are so supportive of America is because of the tremendous aid the U.S. government has afforded the people via food and housing, going on to explain that four out of every five women who are widows often have to beg to provide for themselves. So, it would not be accurate to conclude that Mercer and Curry could not be effective merely because they are Americans.
Another possible misconception is that they, as women, were ineffective due to their lowered social status. Since the attacks, we have viewed a good deal of video footage on the abuse women have suffered since the beginning of Taliban rule. Images include everything from being forced to cover themselves with burquas to giving up their jobs and being beaten publicly by any man who feels they are breaking social laws. However, “Being [an American] woman and being single, you have the freedom to come and go and interact and get involved in their lives in a way that many men and women with families wouldn’t have,” Mercer counters.
Finally, Mercer addressed their role as missionaries in a foreign country. From “Dateline’s” portrayal, it appeared as though Mercer and Curry disregarded the culture and cared only about converting as many people as possible to Christianity, throwing caution to the wind, freely showing the Jesus film and handing out literature. According to the two women, this was not the case.
When Mercer left for Afghanistan, she planned at least a three-year commitment; and Curry, who had previously lived there 22 months, returned home just long enough to tell her supporters she planned on another two years. “We wanted to become a part of who they are, their culture, and their way of life in the context of living out our personal faith in Christ,” Mercer says. Curry concurs: “I knew that I could go and love the poor and pray, but I never knew if I was ever going to actually see any results from those prayers. Of course, I looked for opportunities, but there were wide open doors where they [would] flat out ask you what you believe or if you were a Christian or if Christians pray, etc.”
Curry and Mercer say they were not openly and dangerously evangelizing, and Curry explains that they answered questions and talked about their faith when asked and only handed out literature when the risks had been thoroughly discussed. “Before I would give literature, they would have to ask a lot of questions and be really serious,” says Curry. “You wouldn't just give it to them [carelessly], [but] if they’re willing to take the risk, then I was as well,” she adds.
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