TRANG BANG, VIETNAM – On June 8, 1972, a South Vietnamese pilot mistook a group of villagers from the village of Trang Bang. Believing them to be North Vietnamese military, he dropped his load of napalm bombs on the already frightened villagers.The tragedy wrought on those innocent citizens that day would have been entirely indescribable had it not been for the infamous image taken by photographer Nick Ut that would be published in newspapers around the globe. Ut was awarded a Pulitzer prize for the dramatic photo of the horrified children with Kim Phuc as the focal point.
Have you ever wondered what happened to that innocent little, nine-year-old girl at the center of the picture whose body had been so severely burned?
Ut himself carried Kim Phuc and the other children to a hospital in Saigon. Over a third of her skin, along with collagen and muscle, had been consumed by the fiery napalm. Doctors gave her little chance of survival.
The Lord had a different plan.
Kim underwent 17 surgeries during her agonizing 14 months in the Saigon hospital. However, it was not until 1982 that additional operations gave her the ability to move her body normally again.
Kim Phuc will be 56 years old in April 2020 and is now a citizen of Canada. She still recalls the terror that had overtaken her when Ut captured her image. She was screaming, “Too hot! Too hot!” over and over again.
She still lives with pain born out of those burns. But she has also found a peace that passes all understanding. It is a peace that the world cannot give nor can it take away because it comes from knowing Jesus Christ as her personal Savior.
Browsing through a library in 1982, she came across a New Testament. Being raised in the Cao Dai religion, she had been taught that all the gods are the same, and there are many ways to holiness. You just had to work at it. That’s why she was profoundly changed when she read John 14:6, where Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by me.”
Kim committed her life to Jesus Christ in 1982 while attending a Christmas Eve church service in which the pastor explained that Christmas is about God’s gift of His Son for us.
In 2017, Tyndale published Kim’s story in Fire Road: The Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness, and Peace.
Today, despite still enduring far more physical pain that most of us will ever have to endure, Kim is a messenger of the hope and peace that can only be found in Jesus, and about the companions of forgiveness and healing. Her Kim Foundation International is an FBO dedicated to healing children of war.
A testimonial on the KFI website reads, “Your painful journey through life and to Canada coupled with your Christian message of forgiveness was an inspiration to all who heard and met you that memorable evening.” May it be an inspiration to all who read this story.
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- All Things Interesting, The True Story Of Phan Thi Kim Phuc, The “Napalm Girl”
- PRI, How the Vietnam War’s Napalm Girl found hope after tragedy
- Herald Net, ‘Napalm Girl’ no more: Iconic Vietnam War child shares faith
- The Irish Times, Kim Phuc, the napalm girl: ‘Love is more powerful than any weapon’
- CBN News, Redemption: 45 Years Later, Vietnam War’s ‘Napalm Girl’ Shares Her Journey to Christ (video)
- Christianity Today, ‘These Bombs Led Me to Christ’
- Kim Foundation International, Official Website
- Flickr, CC 2.0, Nick Ut / The Associated Press (Cropped)