Kim Phuc had no peace in her life and endured so much misery she wished she could just disappear or be dead, so her suffering â€“ mentally, physically or emotionally, would be over. Given what she had been through, she was quite sure life would never be normal and sheâ€™d never be loved. Perhaps you know someone who is plagued by similar thoughts; maybe even your own mind has gone down such dark alleys.
Young Life Falls Apart
She was only nine years old when her life was shattered. With the war raging between North and South Vietnam, her family had fled to the Cao Dai temple for shelter. A soldier warned the villagers that planes would bomb the temple and that they should all run. Nine year old Kim ran outside as the bomber plane was quickly descending toward the town.
Four napalm bombs had been dropped â€“ a flammable liquid that clings to human skin and burns with intense heat. She was on fire. Her left arm was burning as she tore off all her burning clothes.
The Photograph and Photographer
Nick Ut, a 21 year old Associated Press photographer was covering the war. Out of the dark billowing smoke, Kim and other children ran and instinctively he took pictures. The young journalist said parts of Kimâ€™s skin were falling off. Crying over the horrific sight of the burning young girl, he put his camera down. He rushed her to a little hospital.
Slow Recovery and an Uncertain Future
Fourteen months and seventeen surgeries later, Kim was able to leave the hospital. But her life wouldnâ€™t be easy. Pain and extreme headaches would afflict her every day and under the new government regime, drugs and treatment were very expensive. She committed herself to studying and school work, and focused on her goal of becoming a doctor. She was accepted into medical school but life was about to change again.
The photograph that Nick Ut had taken had become famous (PulitzerÂ Prize) and the Vietnamese government decided to capitalize on the famous picture by turning Kim Phuc into a National War Symbol. She was forced to leave school to become a representative for her government.
Hating Life and Wanting to Die
The moment she received Christ as her Saviour, Kim, as a new Christian, asked God to help her to forgive others and to move on in her life.Not surprisingly, Kim was bitter, angry, and unhappy and felt totally empty and lost.
Before we go any further with this story, how is your life? Have you found the answers to the big questions or are you still searching?
Kim was searching for answers to her emotional pain. Living with her sister in Saigon, she started visiting the library on a spiritual search. On one of those visits, Kim came across the Bible and she started to read it.
Finding the Truth
In the New Testament she read about Jesus and His story resonated in her heart. She quickly concluded that He was unlike any other person she had ever heard about. Her search became more focused and her thirst to know Christ became more intense.
Finding Forgiveness and Peace
She personally received Jesus as her Saviour at age 19. Having experienced Godâ€™s forgiveness of her own sins the moment she received Christ as her Saviour, Kim, as a new Christian, asked God to help her to forgive others and to move on in her life.
In an interview with CNN she said: â€œAnd from that point, I learned to forgive.â€ The CNN journalist said: â€œNow Phuc radiates an unmistakeable poise and peace when she tells her story. She says she sees that famous picture as just one of many blessings.â€
Today and Forever
Today Kim and her husband live near Toronto, Ontario in Canada where they raised their two boys. Yes, she has met many people since she was that badly burned, naked and screaming nine year old girl running down Route 1, the supply road between Saigon and Phnom Penh. She has mingled with royalty, prime ministers and presidents but the meeting that changed her life and brought her lasting peace and inner joy was her encounter by faith with the Lord Jesus Christ in Saigon, Vietnam as a young adult.
What about you? Have you found peace and joy? Have you appreciated that God loves you and that Christ died for your sins? Are you a possessor of eternal life? Do you have the wonderful relationship with God through Christ of which Kim spoke?
â€œYou will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.â€ (Jeremiah 29:13)
â€œI have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.â€ (John 12:46)
â€œGod so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.â€ (John 3:16)
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