Where were you on 9/11?

"Where were you on 9/11?" Continued...

Issue: "Remembering 9/11," Sept. 10, 2011

As the United States began bombing Taliban strongholds on Oct. 7, Mercer would not learn what actually happened on 9/11 until the women received a new cellmate, British journalist Yvonne Ridley, captured by the Taliban near the Pakistan border but let out of the prison three days later. In November Afghan opposition forces entered Kabul, and the Taliban forced the aid workers to flee as they retreated in the middle of the night. The aid workers slept outside the city in a metal shipping container, where opposition forces discovered and rescued them. Awaiting a U.S. helicopter, they set afire their head coverings as beacons, and were flown to safety by U.S. Special Forces.

The days surrounding 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, and our subsequent, heroic rescue changed all of our lives forever. In 10 years, not one day has passed without my feeling the impact of that experience. People often ask me how I recovered, and my response is simple: the grace of God, the prayers of the saints, and the healing community of God's people.

Upon our return to the United States, we received a joyous welcome. Friends and strangers alike conveyed the depth of prayer and support offered up for us, the nation, and the people of Afghanistan during those dark days. It is as incomprehensible to me today as it was then to learn of the millions of people who prayed for our release. Though we were merely small characters catapulted into a global script, it seemed our rescue brought a glimmer of hope to our nation that for more than two months groped for any signs of victory. We were honored that our rescue proved that not all hope was lost.

Personally, God sent me to prison to set me free-free from fear, fear of the unknown, fear of harm, and ultimately the fear of losing control. The crisis exposed the weakness of my flesh, and proved that God's power is truly perfected in weakness. I learned my life is not my own; I belong to Jesus, and I can trust Him with anything, no matter what comes.

For a brief and epic time, God allowed Dayna and me to have a front-row seat to the immense suffering of a people, previously unknown to most of the world. I would not trade for all the riches of this world the moments with the resilient and courageous Afghan women who shared our prison cell. For the first time, we not only heard their stories, but we lived them.

I have continued to work in the Middle East doing relief and development. Interestingly enough, none of us eight aid workers relinquished our calling to love and serve Muslims in the world's most dangerous places. The crisis solidified for all of us our resolve and the importance of the work, and affirmed that no matter the cost, God's presence is always more than enough to sustain us.

Throughout the Muslim world, there are only three Christian workers serving among every 1 million Muslims-and 88 percent of Muslims have never met a follower of Jesus. Now more than ever the world is desperate for an authentic witness of God's love expressed through Jesus Christ. It is this, not religion or politics, that will ultimately win the war on terror.

More memories of 9/11: Diane Langberg | Michael Leary | Bill Bangham | Wendy Merdian | Laurie Mylroie

Where were you on 9/11? Share remembrances with your fellow WORLD readers and view a slideshow of images from Sept. 11, 2001, featured in WORLD's Remembering 9/11 10th Anniversary Special Issue.


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