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“Just as some people are motivated in their vocations by political ideology or patriotism, we were motivated to serve the poor by our love for Jesus. He loved us enough to rescue us from our destructive behaviors, selfishness, bitterness, and isolation. He was a faithful friend who protected and provided for us. We wanted to do the things that he considered important." -Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer (emphasis added)
What happens when we take Jesus seriously? How different would our lives be if we actually laid them down, took up our cross, and followed Him? (Matthew 16:24)
What happens when two Baylor students, from middle America, through inspiration from their local church, develop a heart for Afghanistan? Such is the story of Prisoners of Hope written by Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer.
Many young people take summer mission trips to difficult locales. Most return home to pick up life where they left off. Hopefully their hearts have been touched and the spirits awakened to the global nature of the Kingdom. God is not just building an American version of the church. His call to His disciples was to, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations..." (Matthew 28!9, NASB)
Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer did not just pick back up from where they started when they came back. Instead they prepared and went back to Afghanistan to live and serve the people. This was in the days of strict Taliban control. They knew they were in a hostile Muslim country that did not tolerate proselytizing. But they went anyway. This book tells their story of living in Afghanistan and being sent to prison for their work among the people.
There were many aspects of Prisoner of Hope I found fascinating. Here are a few:
- Afghanistan has been in the news since 9/11.The cities of Kabul and Kandahar, for which I now have very different associations, are the sites of this story. It is heartbreaking to think of how war has torn the country apart. I found this book informative to better understand the factions that are still in conflict.
- I was challenged by the faith of these two girls that compelled them to live in a place so hostile to their faith. I like to think I will go wherever Jesus calls. But to Afghanistan? That is a challenge!
- As the story of their captivity unfolds the authors are very honest about the reality of the emotional struggles endured. They hint of the discord that occurred between them. The pressure of imprisonment revealed these issues and Heather especially struggled. We all like to think we would handle difficulties with courage and fortitude, but we truly have no idea how we would respond. I am glad they didn’t leave these out.
- The 9/11 attacks occur while these girls are in captivity. Reading about the attacks from the perspective of the Afghans was informative.
- This story reinforced my pride in being an American. These girls and the other workers (9 total) were rescued dramatically by American Special Forces. I am proud to be from a country that would go to such lengths for her citizens and which has to capacity to successfully pull it off.
Recommendation : Recommended
I was inspired by the commitment of these young ladies to trust the Lord and obey His call. Would I follow Jesus when the possible outcome is prison? I want the answer to be yes, and it is books like this that fortify my soul to follow wherever my Lord leads.
My only criticism is that there is occasionally a lack of linear story telling that can make the story hard to follow. And because it is going back and forth between on girl and another, with occasionally both writing, it can be a bit hard to follow.
Here is one more quote from their final note to the reader:
- “No matter how desperate our situation looked at different points along the way, God always came near to comfort us. Still, we believe this story of God’s love has a purpose that reaches beyond our lives. By demonstrating his love and rescuing us while we were in peril, we believe God desired to express his heart for all people. Through his son Jesus, God is setting people free from prisons even today- the prisons in our hearts. No prison is too dark for the unconditional love of God to overcome.” (emphasis added)
Prisoners of Hope: The Story of Our Captivity and Freedom in Afghanistan Author: Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer Publisher: Waterbrook Pages: 320
If you read this book, please leave a comment below and tell me what you think!