Monday, June 30, 2014

Anger, hatred. . . and forgiveness

You may remember the photograph of a young girl running naked down a road in Vietnam, screaming. You may have heard that she later became a UNESCO goodwill ambassador. But have you, I wonder, heard the rest of her story.

Kim Phuc was sheltering with others in a temple in her village near Saigon during the Vietnam War. She was nine years old. A South Vietnamese soldier heard approaching aircraft and advised them to run. A South Vietnamese pilot saw them leaving the temple, mistook them for the enemy, and dropped napalm bombs.

Kim Phuc tore off her blazing clothes. She ran until she couldn't run any more, and then passed out. At hospital, they weren't going to treat her, because they didn't expect her to survive. They were eventually persuaded. She was in hospital 14 months, and had 17 surgical procedures.

She began to study to be a doctor, but the government took her from university because they wanted to use her for propaganda purposes. She was eventually given permission to study in Cuba, where she met another Vietnamese student. They married, and en route to Moscow for their honeymoon, left the plane while it stopped to refuel in Newfoundland and applied for political asylum in Canada, where they now live.

Kim Phuc established a foundation to provide medical and psychological assistance to child victims of war, and travels the world speaking of her experiences. She has received honorary doctorates from three universities. Here's how she describes her life:

The anger inside me was like a hatred as high as a mountain. I hated my life. I hated all people who were normal because I was not normal. I really wanted to die many times.

I spent my daytime in the library to read a lot of religious books to find a purpose for my life. One of the books that I read was the Holy Bible.

At Christmas 1982, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour. It was an amazing turning point in my life. God helped me to learn to forgive - the most difficult of all lessons. It didn't happen in a day and it wasn't easy. But I finally got it.

Forgiveness made me free from hatred. I still have many scars on my body and severe pain most days but my heart is cleansed.

Napalm is very powerful but faith, forgiveness and love are much more powerful. We would not have war at all if everyone would learn to live with true love, hope and forgiveness.

If that little girl in the picture can do it, ask yourself. Can you? 

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