TULSA, Okla. (BP)–Four years ago, a young college student sat in international missions training preparing for what she called in 1997 “an exciting journey” — a mission trip to Budapest, Hungary. Today, 24-year-old Heather Mercer’s journey has taken her to Afghanistan where she and seven other foreign workers with Shelter Now Germany await a Taliban trial for allegedly sharing their Christian faith with Muslims.
In 1997, Mercer trained with Awe Star Ministries, a Tulsa, Okla.,-based youth missions organization, for her first overseas mission trip to Hungary. Her present imprisonment in Afghanistan has humbled many who worked with her.
“One of my joys is not only training students, but also ministering alongside young missionaries like Heather,” Walker Moore, president of Awe Star, said. “I am fortunate to see their passion grow as they discover God’s purpose for their lives and choose to live according to that.”
Awe Star’s student missionary application process included an autobiographical sketch. The words Mercer wrote as a 20-year-old college student remain powerful today and, Moore believes, will encourage and inspire those seeking to live every day for the glory of God. Mercer’s autobiography, titled “The Story of My Christian Life,” describes a journey that began in frustration, continued with surrender to Christ and left a future wide open for God to use her to change others’ lives as he did hers.
“God has healed me of past hurts, brought freedom from unforgiveness, and allowed me to accept myself as the precious creation he made me to be,” she wrote. “I am learning every day what it means to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength,’ and to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ I believe these two Scriptures are foundational to the Christian life.”
Before Mercer became a Christian, she said she wanted to maintain sole control of her life.
“I struggled with ‘fitting in’ with my peers, and I often found myself unhappy and frustrated,” she wrote, “wondering that there had to be more to life. If there wasn’t, I was ready for it to be over. Little did I know that Jesus was the solution to my desperate life.”
Mercer wrote that at age 15 she chose to “actively accept the salvation [she] was so desperately seeking,” and thereafter her life was never the same. She wrote of living in total abandonment for Jesus and a desire to “experience fully the power of Jesus Christ.”
Moore said he saw in her a pure passion. He believes that passion probably led her to meet the needs of hurting people in Afghanistan.
“She’s a self-starter, totally motivated by the Lord,” he said. “She saw what needed to be done, and she did it.”
Moore believes the words written in 1997 foreshadowed the life Mercer was to lead. Her words, he said, “are ironically prophetic of where she is now.”
“… it is my desire that I would lay down whatever is to my profit and consider it loss for the sake of Jesus Christ my Lord,” Mercer wrote. “I am learning what it means to be satisfied in the presence of Jesus Christ alone and to offer my life as a living sacrifice to Him.”
It is clear through her words, Moore said, that she “took seriously the call of Christ to Christians everywhere. She approached each day seeking God’s will.”
“God has clearly called me to a life of mission work, though I am still uncertain as to what nation He is calling me to,” Mercer wrote. “As I stand today, Christ has called me to go and make disciples of all nations. His return is very near, and so many still need to know of His love for them. It is my desire to share that love with the people in Budapest, Hungary.”
Now in 2001, God has called Heather to stand for his name in Afghanistan, Moore said. Her willingness to be where God wants her is evident in every word she wrote, Moore said.
“Heather’s example ought to be a challenge to all believers, regardless of age,” Moore said. “Because of her passion which is reflective of many students in this generation, I am faithfully confident that God will continue to use this generation to reach the world.”
Moore said Awe Star’s schedule for next year — which includes mission trips to Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, The Gambia, Uganda, Peru, Panama, Mexico, Italy and Spain — will go on as planned.
“We’ll be moved by faith, not fear,” he said.
For more information about Awe Star, call 1-800-AWE-STAR or logon to www.awestar.org.
Fernandez is director of publications for Awe Star Ministries. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: AT 20, ON MISSION.