'Joyous Day' As President Welcomes 'Two Good Souls'

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:20 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - "It's a wonderful story about prayer -- a faith that can sustain people in good times and bad times," President Bush said as he welcomed newly-freed foreign aid workers Heather Mercer and Dana Curry to the White House Monday morning.

"Their faith led them to Afghanistan...(their) faith in God sustained them throughout their ordeal," the president said. He called it an "uplifting experience" to talk with Heather and Dana about their time in captivity and their faith that God would free them.

President Bush said he was impressed by the fact that people all over the country prayed for the two Americans and six other aid workers while the Taliban held them in jail.

He also remarked on the fact that Heather's father had asked the Taliban to let him trade places with his daughter; and he mentioned the U.S. military's role in getting the women out of the country when they finally were freed.

Mercer called it "a day of great rejoicing for both of us to be back on our homeland and to celebrate with our nation a story of victory."

She called it a privilege to meet with President Bush, whom she described as "a man of God, such a wonderful leader."

Mercer said she and Curry owe their freedom to the prayers of people all over the country and all over the world. "And I think if we had a whole lifetime to say thank you, we wouldn't do it right; we wouldn't say it appropriately."

Curry also thanked the Christians around the world who prayed for them. "We would not be standing here if people hadn't prayed for us. It truly was a miracle."

Curry and Mercer arrived back in the Washington area Sunday, flying into Dulles International Airport, then running into the arms of relatives and friends.

A report in Monday's Washington Post said the two women are talking about using their sudden fame to start a foundation that would help women and children in Afghanistan. They reportedly plan to return there to continue their humanitarian work.

They were part of a group called Shelter Now International when the Taliban arrested them in August on charges of trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.