NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--A cry for freedom is unfolding in the Middle East and opening doors for the Gospel, Heather Mercer, a former captive in Afghanistan and now an aid worker in Iraq, observed on a recent six-week trip to the region.
"It's such an amazing time to be in the Middle East, especially in light of the assassination of bin Laden. The Middle East will never be the same," Mercer told Baptist Press. "We see the timing of God and the grace of God being released over that part of the world for the cause of freedom."
Mercer returned to the United States May 4 from a trip to northern Iraq, where she found "an overwhelming sense of people speaking more boldly about the cause of freedom" than she has witnessed in the nearly eight years she has been working in the country.
"As we interacted with the local people and the local government, there was a tremendous hunger in the hearts of people to live free," she said.
Along with Dayna Curry and a handful of westerners, Mercer was held captive by the Taliban for 105 days in 2001 before being rescued by U.S. Special Forces. In 2008, Mercer founded Global Hope, an organization with a goal of mobilizing the church to invest in and engage the Islamic world so that Muslims in the toughest of regions will have a chance to hear the Gospel.
"Particularly in the Kurdish area, which is where Global Hope's focus is, people are pursuing change," Mercer said. "They are in a right way challenging their leaders to provide the human liberties that all of us are entitled to, and I think because of the revolutions and the demonstrations that have been going on throughout the Middle East, more and more people are being emboldened to speak for the change that they desire."
While people she encountered in the Middle East are full of hope, at the same time they are cautious, Mercer said.
"They know that anytime change and transformation comes on the horizon, it's like a double-edged sword -- it can go towards good or it can go towards darkness. So the people are crying out for change and for liberty in a way that will bring positive change into the region."
During her trip, a main focus was encouraging Global Hope team members as they work among the locals.
"We have English teachers on the ground that are partnering with a local English school to teach dozens of Kurds and Arabs to speak conversational English, which continues to be one of their greatest felt needs," Mercer, a graduate of Baylor University, said.
"For so many, the ability to speak English is connected to future opportunity and personal freedom.... Read More