“I remember mom always telling me that all in all in the end the only one you really have is God. I have come to a place in experience where, in every sense of the word, I have surrendered myself to our creator b/c literally there was no one else. + by God + by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall...I have been shown in darkness, light + have learned that even in prison, one can be free. I am grateful.” – Kayla Mueller
Kayla Mueller – since most people have never heard of her, let me share a little with you. Kayla was a human rights activist from Arizona. She was raised a devout Christian and attended Northern Arizona University, where she earned a political science degree in 2009. Upon graduation, Kayla dedicated her life to helping those in regions around the world, mainly the Middle East, where human rights don’t exist. In 2013, Kayla was working in Syria with Doctors Without Borders, an organization providing medical assistance to people in war-torn countries. She was 23 years old.
Late in the summer of that year, Kayla was kidnapped by ISIS. During her year and a half of captivity, Kayla was given multiple chances to denounce her Christianity and convert to Islam. In every instance, not only did she resist, she boldly proclaimed her faith to God instead. As a result, in those dark lonely days, Kayla was beaten, tortured, raped and starved. Yet, she never lost faith. In February 2015, Kayla Mueller was murdered by ISIS.
The excerpt above is from a letter Kayla wrote her parents during captivity. While difficult to comprehend, given the magnitude of what had to be the worst kind of fear, Kayla reveals the life-changing power of faith … even in the most fragile, desperate times of life.
Makes me think of how weak I can be, at times. When compared to the extraordinary faith of Kayla Mueller, it’s fair to say I’m weak most of the time, frankly. Imagine all the things we worry about. We worry about money, job security, health and material things, to name a few. Then imagine how much time we spend uptight about nearly everything in life. We express grievance about who said what and why certain events in life happen – events for which we have no control. We lament not having more in life without stopping to understand how profoundly blessed we are. We create issues where issues don’t exist and, at times, we’re willing to exchange goodness for something worse by letting greed and unforgiveness consume us. Before long, it’s easy to find ourselves at odds with so much and so many in life that life speeds by without us living it.
Kayla Mueller, although young and on earth a short time, defines what it means to live in faith and freedom despite circumstances … including torturous captivity. She provides a clear picture of the value of gratitude and what it means to count faithfulness as our most important attribute. Kayla didn’t just die embodying everything necessary to live a complete life, she found comfort in her faith and was able to boldly claim it, even in the face of death.
Society leaves little room for righteous living. Where decency and care for others once existed, platforms for spewing vitriol and contempt have taken over. Humility has taken a back seat to being seen and heard. Giving has been replaced by an insatiable greed that provokes folks everywhere to do whatever it takes to have more, be known by more and make more, ethics and decency be damned.
The world, not surprisingly, is on tilt. Society has morphed into something more akin to Sodom and Gomorrah and the joy in seeing others do well has evaporated in most places. It doesn’t have to be this way. By changing our way of life and demanding that those in our own circles do the same, we can do better. Taking a break, maybe for good, from the social avenues of nastiness and meaningless debate is something we all should consider. By looking for the good in others rather than leapfrogging to the negative and maybe – just maybe – by giving to others, we can rediscover the kind of society we so desperately want … and need.
Above all, having a heart like Kayla Mueller will not only make our homes and neighborhoods, churches and ballfields, schools and playgrounds places where life is better, that kind of heart will ease the heavy burdens of fear and doubt many drag through life.
So, let’s give it a shot. If we fall short, we’ll still improve. If we succeed, we’ll find the joy God has promised all along.
Scott Brooks is the Publisher of the Waxahachie Sun and may be reached at 972-316-7712 or firstname.lastname@example.org.