The thing that strikes you most about Dayna Curry, 30, and Heather Mercer, 25, is how unlikely they seem to be the kind of women who'd become pawns in the war on terrorism. Or that they'd be the central figures in a controversy over a missionary's role in a country that outlaws proselytizing. Today, as they curl up on a couch in a hotel room in their hometown of Waco, Texas, for their TCW interview, they're more like the girls next door.
That girl-next-door image has been reinforced by countless media stories. Yet as the women reflect on the 105 days they spent in the custody of the Taliban in Afghanistan for sharing their Christian faith, a more complex picture emerges. It becomes apparent their troubled pasts led each into a life-changing relationship with Jesusand to the kind of risk-taking faith that motivated them to serve the "poorest of the poor" in Afghanistan with the relief agency Shelter Germany.
While Heather seriously questioned God during captivity and readily admits "prison was devastatingly hard," she and Dayna still wrote and sang praise songs amidst the mice and filth to the God they'd already seen perform miracles in Afghanistan, to the God they hoped would perform just one more on their behalf.
What hasn't often been discussed is how Heather and Dayna, often shown smiling with arms linked, experienced periods of friction in prison due to the different ways they responded to the crisis of their imprisonment. Yet today they hold a united front when answering tough questions about the "real agenda" of their work in Afghanistan, a controversy stirred by Heather's mother's appearance on Dateline NBC to protest what she considered an illegal mission from the outset. They also speak in unison about their desire to go back to the country where they ironically claim they experienced the greatest sense of freedom ever.1