On August 4, 2013, American Kayla Mueller, 24, from Prescott, Arizona was working as a humanitarian aid worker in Syria when ISIL captured her and a friend, Omar Alkhani, as they were leaving a Doctors without Borders hospital in Aleppo.
Omar who was a contractor for Doctors without Borders was released a few weeks later.
Meanwhile, hoping for a ransom, ISIS moved Kayla to various locations throughout Syria. In 2014, the Islamic extremists notified Kayla’s parents of their daughter’s kidnapping. However, nothing could be worked out and after 18 months in a brutal captivity, Kayla died in February 2015 after an air strike by the Jordanian air force.
Recently in an interview with ABC’s news program 20/20, four hostages who shared a cell with Kayla came forward with a story about her remarkable faith in Christ.
It appears ISIL was purposefully trying to force Kayla to recant her faith. But in the face of the unrelenting torture, Kayla remained strong to the end.
According to ABC, her torture included “verbal abuse, prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation, stress positions, forced labor or sexual assault.” As well, loudspeakers blared songs of martyrdom and death day and night.
Fellow captors — Peruvian Patricia Chavez and Frida Saide of Sweden who shared a cell with Kayla — said it seemed that ISIL targeted Kayla more than any of the other women, perhaps due to her faith.
Saide said Kayla had “a strong faith that gave her a lot of strength. As a person, she was a very good friend. She was smart. She was fun to be with. She was very kind, extremely generous.”
One of the men who tortured Kayla was none other than the notorious Jihadi John who treated Kayla as his personal sex slave. Originally from England, he was a particularly brutal ISIL commander who would later be featured in a decapitation video.
Fellow captive, Dutch freelance photographer Daniel Ottosen told of a day in 2014 when guards marched Kayla into a cell he shared with three other men.
The commander told the captive men Kayla had converted to Islam. She immediately contradicted the man saying bluntly, “NO I DIDN’T!” Ottosen admitted Kayla showed more bravery at that moment than he would have.
Despite the torture, Kayla maintained a cheerful outlook and even cared for others who were also imprisoned. This included a young Shiite girl, 14.
In their own act of bravery, at their release Chavez and Saide smuggled out a letter Kayla had written while in captivity. In the letter, Kayla mentioned she was only able to write one paragraph at a time for fear of getting caught by the guards.
On the back, she asked that it be delivered to her parents and others including Arizona University Campus minister Kathleen Day who had impacted Kayla.
The letter spoke of Kayla’s faith in God through the suffering. The following is brief excerpt:
“If you could say I have ‘suffered’ at all throughout this whole experience it is only in knowing how much suffering I have put you all through; I will never ask you to forgive me as I do not deserve forgiveness.
“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 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.
“I have come to see that there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it. I pray each each day that if nothing else, you have felt a certain closeness + surrender to God as well + have formed a bond of love + support amongst one another…
None of us could have known it would be this long but know I am also fighting from my side in the ways I am able + I have a lot of fight left inside of me….
Please be patient, give your pain to God.
I know you would want me to remain strong. That is exactly what I am doing.
Do not fear for me, continue to pray as will I + by God’s will we will be together soon.
All my everything,
It is difficult to wrap your mind around the fact that an American would be tortured for her faith in the 21st century. But here it is.
One of the major themes of the Book of Revelation addresses the end-times persecution of the saints. It talks of economic repression (Revelation 13:17) and physical persecution and uses a variety of terms to describe the latter:
- Suffering and imprisonment and in this context speaks of it as a future event (Revelation 2:10);
- “Blood” that speaks of violence (Revelation 6:10; Revelation 17:6);
- The words “death” and “dead” tell of martyrdom (Revelation 14:13; Revelation 1:5, 18);
- Other descriptions include “killing” (Revelation 13:15), “murder” (Revelation 9:21) and “murderers” (Revelation 21:8);
- “Slaughter” perhaps indicating mass killings (Revelation 6:9), and
- “Beheadings” (Revelation 20:4).
The Bible is telling us these things so we won’t be shocked when it happens. God wants believers to prepare their hearts.
- Meet the Christian woman who boldy witnessed to Jihad John before her death: Charisma News
- Kayla Mueller in Captivity: Courage, Selflessness as She Defended Christian Faith to ISIS Executioner ‘Jihadi John’: ABC News
- First witness accounts: ISIL raped and tortured Kayal Mueller but she refused to renounce Christ: National Post
- American hostage Kayla Mueller defended Christian faith to ISIL executioner: Gospel Herald