Skip to comments.'Our ladies' of Antioch: Waco church rejoicing following rescue of captive missionaries
Posted on 11/16/2001 9:21:11 PM PST by Weirdad
'Our ladies' of Antioch: Waco church rejoicing following rescue of captive missionariesBy TERRI JO RYAN Tribune-Herald staff writer
In a rescue described as a "miracle" by one aid worker, and as thrill-a-minute as any spy novel, eight employees of Shelter Now International were liberated from a Ghazni, Afghanistan, prison Wednesday morning by anti-Taliban rebels shooting the locks off the doors.
It was a Northern Alliance force and they were suddenly liberated by an armed man shouting: Azad! Azad! Free! Free!
The astonished detainees were led into the streets, where friendly crowds thronged around them, offering food and the women clothing. Ghazni is located about 50 miles from Kabul, where they had been held for most of their 105-day confinement.
As they waited for the U.S. helicopters to take them to freedom, the eight aid workers were concerned they could not been seen on the ground. It was plucky American Heather Mercer's idea to remove their Islamic head scarves and full-body burkas and use them to start a small brush fire that became a beacon for their liberators.
It was like a miracle, Georg Taubmann said of the rescue. Taubmann, Kabul manager of Shelter Now International, and his comrades in the German-based charity were reunited early Thursday with relatives in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, after spending Wednesday night at an undisclosed air base.
"Thanksgiving has come early to Islamabad, Pakistan," reported a jubilant Jimmy Seibert, pastor of Antioch Community Church in Waco.
Speaking to two dozen reporters from across the nation Thursday morning, Seibert who left for Pakistan late Thursday for a weekend reunion with Mercer, 24, and Dayna Curry, 30 related the jubilation of his 1,100-member congregation, which had maintained a 24-hour prayer vigil for the safe return of the two missionaries.
"It was wonderful to see with our own eyes the answers to our prayers," he said, noting the television coverage of the captives' release.
Seibert said he learned some of the harrowing details of the imprisonment from the women in a 20-minute phone call he made Thursday morning. It is a narrative, the pastor said, that is as action-packed and tension-filled as any Hollywood movie.
After being removed from the prison in Kabul, an action they initially thought meant their imminent release, the detainees were driven several hours south of the former Taliban capital. In Wardak Province, they were locked overnight into a steel shipping container with no blankets to fight the cold. The containers, war correspondents report, are remnants of the once thriving smuggling trade and the kind of place that Taliban forces have used to torture and suffocate prisoners in.
Until the aid workers climbed aboard the helicopters for the flight to Pakistan, they really didn't feel free, he said. Curry and Mercer, both Baylor University graduates, couldn't sleep for all the excitement surrounding their release. But they showered and and "got their hair done," Seibert said.
They cannot comprehend that their confinement became an international news event, and that two women from Waco could generate this much attention, he said. "I told them, 'Hey guys, remember, whatever you say the whole world is listening'," Seibert said. He reported they laughed at the very thought.
The regular Wednesday night service at Antioch Community Church turning into "two hours of shoutin' and dancin' and praise," with all the good news, Seibert said. But even that gathering offered just a small taste of the warm welcome his congregation will offer upon the return of Mercer and Curry.
The two Central Texans will likely return to their hometowns for a visit after Thanksgiving day, and Seibert said he hopes they will return to Waco for a community homecoming sometime in December.
Kevin Johnson, an associate pastor at Antioch, said "We'll be sure to have a hoe-down celebration."
Danny Mulkey, another associate pastor at Antioch, was in Afghanistan and Pakistan for more than eight weeks, seeking Mercer and Curry's release. Seibert said Mulkey would be headed home soon, and could be back in Waco by Wednesday just in time for Thanksgiving dinner with his family and football on TV.
A season ticket-holder for Baylor football, Mulkey will be able to catch the last game of the 2001 season at noon Nov. 24 in Waco against Southern Illinois.
Seibert reached Mulkey before the church's man in Islamabad went to bed. Mulkey reported that everyone was feeling well-fed after dinner at the German ambassador's home, and that the captives, who hadn't slept for three days, were finally ready to close their eyes. Before they left, though, Mercer and Curry sang some of the songs they had composed in their 105 days as prisoners of the Taliban.
Shelter Now detainee Silke Duerrkopf said the group sang religious songs and made up other, less pious tunes. One, by the Americans, featured the refrain, I hate this place, I wanna go home!
Curry and Mercer had also received a "very fatherly, loving and compassionate" telephone call from President George W. Bush early in the day, Johnson said. Mulkey reported that the women were ebullient.
In a news conference Thursday at Crawford High School, near his ranch, Bush whom Seibert praised as a "man of prayer" who had "carried the girls in his heart" during their three-month confinement hailed the dramatic turn of events.
They both said to say thanks to everybody for their prayers, Bush said of his conversation with Mercer and Curry. "They realized there is a good and gracious God. Their spirits were high and they love America.
Seibert said the two Americans and their families will be taken to a location in Central Europe where they will meet with a team of professional counselors for a "de-briefing."
"And then we'll see what the Lord has for them next," he said.
The pastor would not name the exact location, saying the Currys and Mercers need time out of the media glare to process all that has happened to them. He explained that they will have an opportunity to work through their feelings and learn to deal with their new-found "notoriety." While it is not the first time his organization has had to de-brief missionaries returning from the field, he said, it is certainly the most in-depth case he's had to handle yet.
The co-director of Shelter Now International, Joachim Jager, said in Germany that the eight aid workers planned to take a few weeks to recover from their ordeal.
Johnson said the experts from Shelter Now are orchestrating the de-briefing, because they have experience "in extreme situations, such as these." The families all agree with this decision for a retreat from the spotlight, he said.
While the women had been warned that Afghanistan was a volatile place, and that they were placing themselves in danger, Johnson said, even local church leaders didn't realize the full extent of the hazards involved.
Asked if the two Americans will head back to Afghanistan and the missionary life, Seibert replied, "We haven't gotten into that yet."
Seibert said his mental state has traveled from sober reality to intoxicating joy. He said he wasn't able to fall asleep until 4 a.m. Thursday grinning as he hit the pillow and rising up with a smile a few short hours later.
In addition to Taubmann and Duerrkopf, the other employees of Germany-based Shelter Now International who were captured after Mercer and Curry were arrested Aug. 3 by the Taliban were Germans Margrit Stebnar and Kati Jelinek, and Australians Peter Bunch and Diana Thomas. The 16 Afghan natives arrested in August with them were released after the Taliban fled Kabul, wire reports say.
For all the Taliban has put his group through, Taubmann said, We are Christians and the Bible tells us we must forgive them. Some people have been very bad to us, but we dont want to see any revenge.
As Seibert put it Thursday at the news conference: "We aren't against anyone, we're for Jesus."
Taubmann said the group intended to resume its work once security is restored.
Terri Jo Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or at 757-5746. The Associated Press and Cox News Service contributed to this story.
© 2001 Cox Newspapers, Inc.
Link to original provided. Cached for search, education and discussion.
"In addition to Taubmann and Duerrkopf, the other employees of Germany-based Shelter Now International who were captured after Mercer and Curry were arrested Aug. 3 by the Taliban were Germans Margrit Stebnar and Kati Jelinek, and Australians Peter Bunch and Diana Thomas. The 16 Afghan natives arrested in August with them were released after the Taliban fled Kabul, wire reports say."
It's almost like... justice.
The Atheists (personally and individually, deep down) are really threatened by functioning Christianity.
Before the rescue, 80% of the informational/encouragement posts on the subject of the aid workers brought out comments by a FEW that were void of feeling for those affected by the situation, and were virtually gloating that the American women were going to die. They were also outraged that the US forces might try to save them. (Guess they wanted to separate church and state?) Any possibility for the workers getting out safely was discounted, and there were taunting comments along the lines of "well if you think your God is so powerful then they don't need the military's help anyway, right?"
But after the miracle those few 'atheists' (in the roughest sense) are much more silent on the rescue, and those who do speak are giving the Glory to people rather than to God.
So BEFORE they tell you "no way they will live," but AFTER they tell you to thank the military and not God.
As recorded in the Book of Matthew 11:15-19 (NIV Translation) Jesus said:
He who has ears, let him hear. 16 "To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: 17 "'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.' 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' But wisdom is proved right by her actions."
They won't recognize God, so they can't explain the safe return of the hostages.
In reviewing the various stories on the matter, it seems to me that ordinary soldiers who happened to be under the command of the Taleban took the aid workers from Kabul.
They protected the workers from harm on what was truly a battlefield when they locked them up in that IC.
God, through the ages, has revealed a number of what we call Divine Truths to humanity. He has worked through various prophets and teachers, in many ways, in many places. Many believe that God can directly counsel a man's mind to do right.
There in Afghanistan, a wild land full of wild men, God's counsel would appear to be in short supply, yet ordinary soldiers in the service of our enemy chose not to kill non-combatants.
A thought - where was it these rough men heard God? Who taught them?
More accurately, it says it all.
Hope my daughters turn out to be half the women these two are.
The one thing which strikes me about her is that gorgeous smile. My wife, who adores her, says that when Sxxxxx smiles the whole room brightens. I truly believe one can see Christ in her eyes and smile.
It's not too early to pray for 100's and 1,000's of others to be in similar situations in coming months. . . the prayer bank is always open--and prayers for preventative actions on the part of various leaders in and out of The Church are also possible.
BUT THE ABIDING TRUTH IS:
GRADUATION FROM THIS LIFE will be a celebration for those who truly Love God, live under the Redemptive forgiveness and covering of His Son's Blood and walk in His Spirit listening attentively and obediently to His Voice.
Praises with Thankgivings unto our Jesus!!
Amen,...........More Grace and Mercy,...........In Jesus' Precious Name, Amen!!!
(Remembering Ted Maher too!!)
It took enormous courage for these missionaries, and their families, to even walk the path. God has truly smiled on them.
"I slept and dreamed that life was beauty. I awoke -- and found that life was duty."
-Ellen Stugis Hooper
Your words are the kind of words that we like to hear others express when we ourselves have looked at something amazing, something that stirs the souls of men.
When a group of people, hiking, come out of thick wood, upon the edge of a canyon, over which the sun is setting, and everyone stops and looks and takes in the miracle, when someone finally speaks, what do they say? And when you talk about the moment over coffee a week later back at home, how do you then describe the moment? Different people see different aspects of the miracle, and when we hear those word, we relive it in a new way.
When God helps people to see Him a little more clearly, and to follow their consciences despite how seared they have become in an atmosphere like Afghanistan, it's just as much of a miracle as when he walks upon the water, and I appreciate you bringing that out with your keen observation. It is indeed a beautiful miracle.
I think that Jesus is the Way, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. But the Lord Jesus is as near to all people as they will let Him be, even those yet unsaved. And He is standing at the door knocking, and ready to come in to any heart that will have Him.
These wild men of Afghanistan, presumably without much knowledge of Jesus, ignored the prevailing unholy group-think in that land, listened to the nature that God gave them, and did very well.
The Apostle Paul, inspired by God, in his letter to the Romans [2:12-15 (NIV translation)] said:
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)
All men know what is right, and sometimes we do it, usually when God helps us to do it. But since no one even lives up to his own standards, without Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins, and without us each agreeing to permit Him to make that payment on our behalf, we are all lost. Praise Jesus for making a Way.
So "where was it these rough men heard God? Who taught them?" God taught them. They did well. I pray they keep listening and seeking.
I hope for revival in our land, and hope that we all keep praying. A small group of determined people can do a lot. A large group of praying Christians has even greater results.
I still contend that prayer, when everything is said and done in our era, prayer will turn out to be the or near the most powerful force in these years. Another will be Love. Another will be The Voice of God directly and through specially anointed humble individuals.
This is something that struck me about the whole affair, as well.
Those girls were not killed. Those girls were not raped. Those girls were not beaten. The Taliban didn't do any of those things directly, and the Taliban didn't do them indirectly by imprisoning the girls with some scummy thugs who would brutalize them...
These are interesting facts given our media's passion for characterizing the Taliban as monsters, and for everyone up to the First Lady for singling out the Taliban's treatment of women.
These girls got through their ordeal with less fuss than many girls endure on a bad Friday night date in America.
I knew before this, from other prayers answered, that God is able -- that the God who created us and this universe so wonderfully is able to save. But it would seem I needed to KNOW it even more, to have more faith. He is building us up, may we be strong for whatever comes.
Re: "prayers for preventative actions" from post 16 -- I've been praying for people to be alert and wise in going about their daily tasks to head off or mitigate any future attacks.
YES -- I was, too. They are beautiful smiles and glowing faces, aren't they?
I was impressed from the earliest sketchiest views of Dayna & Heather (couldn't see much of the others, sorry) that they were smiling and apparently quite gracious and patient even on the helicopter rescue, despite the terror, fatigue, and hunger. YES, what examples! Not only do I want my precious daughters to be like that -- I want me to be more like that. More like Jesus every day.
In a war torn country in which 4 journalists were picked out & killed, 8 + 16 Christians were released -- against all odds, against all conventional wisdom.
God is able. We praise Him, and thank Him. In Jesus' Name, Amen.