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Missionary Heather Mercer tells story of captivity in Afghanistan

Liberty University’s Missions Emphasis Week (MEW) began today with a Parade of the Nations ceremony at the start of Monday’s convocation. Many of Liberty’s international students participated by reciting Scripture in their native languages and performing special music and dances.

MEW is hosted each semester by LU’s Center for Global Ministries with the goal of connecting students with missionaries so that they may better understand the part they need to play in the Great Commission.

Heather Mercer, founder and president of Global Hope, was the first guest speaker for the week. She testified about the three months she spent in captivity by the Taliban and how she was rescued.

“My hope this morning is that God would stir your hearts for a reality and a dream that He carries deeply in his heart,” she said.

Describing Rev. 7:9 as “the anthem of all Scripture,” Mercer said while reading this passage it became clear to her that God wants people who will deliver the message of the Gospel around the world. (Rev. 7:9 reads: “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” NIV)

“I came to discover the ultimate message of God is that he is looking for people who will say, ‘I will waste my life on the purposes of your heart,’” she said.

A Virginia native, Mercer graduated from Baylor University with a degree in German. After graduation she joined Shelter Now International and in March of 2001 traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan to work and spread the Gospel. Her decision was met by much criticism.

“As we pursue the dreams of God, there is often a choir of voices that begin to emerge and say things like, ‘Are you crazy? Have you lost your mind?’” said Mercer. But, she went on to say, “Persecution is part of carrying the Gospel.”

On August 3, 2001, Mercer, along with five other women and two men, was arrested by the Taliban for spreading the Gospel, a capital crime in Afghanistan. After September 11, 2001, she and the others were put on trial. Some were sentenced to death.

Mercer said the members of the Taliban considered the Bible dangerous. They knew the people of Afghanistan would read about Jesus and believe.

“There is power in the word of God. There is power in the name of Jesus,” she said.

Throughout her captivity, Mercer said she read the passage in Matt 16:25 where Jesus says, “for whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it,” and she knew God was asking her if she would put her trust in Him.

“Those days were the most precious days of my entire life,” she said.

Mercer closed by telling of her rescue by Northern Alliance Forces on Nov. 15, 2001, 105 days after she was taken captive.

She encouraged students to make the decision to answer God’s call on their lives.

“The Great Commission is not just a commission to be for self. It is a command to be obeyed. God has called us to go; there is no other option,” she said. “What would your life look like if you had nothing to lose? What would your life look like if you had nothing to prove? That’s the call of God on your life.”


With the theme of “By All Means,” this semester’s MEW will also feature guest speakers Luis Palau, world evangelist and author of “A Friendly Dialogue between an Atheist and a Christian,” scheduled for Wednesday convocation, and Brad Buser, of New Tribes Bible Institute at Friday’s convocation. Throughout the week missionary leaders on campus will be joining with representatives from Liberty’s six mission agency partners to help students learn how they can play a more active role in missions.


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