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"Girl in the Picture" Now a Portrait of Peace

Aimee Herd : Jun 8, 2012
Emily Wierenga – Faith Today, Christianity.Ca

"Had it not been for the war, I would not value peace.
"Had it not been for pain, I would not know the healing power of love.
"Had it not been for hatred, I would never have learned to forgive.
"Had it not been for imprisonment, I would not value freedom.
"Had it not been for living in want, I would not value everything I have.
"Had it not been for fear, I would not value peace." -Kim Phuc

FOUNDING EDITOR'S NOTE: I well remember the weekly body count of 500+ killed-in-action Americans not to mention the millions that died in that war. Now, 40 years later, the famous burned little girl who (in my opinion) helped to end the Vietnam War, says she is a Christian. She was hit with Napalm (a gel like substance that burned everything it came in contact with). For the younger generation, our American "boys" were being drafted by lottery. My birth date came up, but just in time the war ended and I didn't have to be drafted at 18 or 19 years of age. –Steve Shultz, BCN.

(Ontario, Canada)—Most of those old enough to remember the stunningly graphic photo taken 40 years ago of children running from their village in flames during the Vietnam War, probably don't know the name of the naked child in agony in the center.

She is Phan Thi Kim Phuc—known for years as simply "the girl in the picture."

When her village was bombed with napalm, her clothes literally melted on her body as everything around her was consumed in flame.

Kim Phuc As she and her brother joined others running from the destruction, AP photographer, Nick Ut snapped a picture that later would become a Pulitzer Prize winning shot, and would be a catalyst in bringing the war to an end. (Photo by: Nick Ut)

He then ran to help the screaming 9-year-old girl, who amazingly survived the third-degree burns over much of her body.

"Napalm is the most terrible pain you can imagine," Kim described in a Faith Today article, written by Emily Wierenga. "Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius. Napalm generates temperatures of 800 to 1,200 degrees Celsius."

After 17 surgeries, Kim just wanted to be "a normal kid again." But, while she had a goal of studying to become a doctor, the Vietnamese government wanted to use her as their "National Symbol of War" and she was made to leave school and take part in their propaganda campaigns.

In the interview, Kim describes the darkness and bitterness that surrounded her in those days, as she admits "I didn't want to live anymore."

Kim wasn't allowed to attend school, but she was still a seeker of truth, so she became engrossed in books at the library. It was there that she stumbled upon the Bible, and "I couldn't stop reading it," she says.

Eventually Kim attended a church. "I heard the Gospel explained to me for the first time. The love of God changed my life. I knew that Jesus died on the cross and paid for my sins. So I asked God, 'Do You forgive me?'"

Kim Phuc today Still struggling with anger and sorrow over her life up to that point, which she describes as a cup of bitter, dark coffee, Kim says she asked the Lord, "How can I clean everything in my heart if it's full of coffee?" Kim found that the answer was in pouring out that cup each day "until it became empty and God spilled His love into my cup." (Photo: KIM Foundation International)

After being allowed to study in Cuba for a time, she met and married fellow Vietnamese student Bui Huy Toan, and after honeymooning in Moscow, the couple grabbed their chance at freedom. As their plane stopped for fuel in Newfoundland, the two defected and began a new life together in Ontario, Canada, according to the Faith Today report.

In 1996, Kim spoke at the Veteran's Day ceremonies in Washington, DC, expressing forgiveness for the soldiers. While there, she met one of the pilots who had bombed her village. After assuring him of her forgiveness, he told her "This is the happiest day of my life."

Named a Goodwill Ambassador for Peace by UNESCO in 1997, Kim says, "I am not involved in politics or religion. I just let them know it's about the love of God and the love of people. That is more powerful than any weapon of war."

This Friday, June 8th will mark the 40-year anniversary of the infamous photo.