Young woman's faith helps get her through most harrowing experience.
“In the end, the only one you really have is God.”
A mother’s words to her daughter reverberated from childhood and were amplified in the emptiness of her captivity somewhere in the Middle East.
And now those words are echoing throughout the world as the contents of Kayla Muller’s last letter home were made public this week.
The White House confirmed Mueller’s death Tuesday. The US and Jordan denied the Islamic State group’s claims that she died during a Jordanian airstrike of an ISIS target.
The Islamic State group had held her captive since August 2013, when the young, idealistic volunteer was abducted in Aleppo, Syria.
Mueller’s short life had been packed with activity on behalf of others around the world she had seen as suffering. Much of that charity was directed toward people of the Islamic faith. Since her college days, she attempted to organize efforts on behalf of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba, where the United States continues to hold suspected Islamic terrorists, and people in the Palestinian territories, where Mueller traveled in 2010 to help with the International Solidarity Movement.
Kathleen Day, head of the United Christian ministry at Northern Arizona University, told the New York Times about how Mueller used her blog as a way to encourage her peers to get involved. She did not just write a blog post and leave it at that: She sent it to friends and family, asking them to forward it to others and to take action.
“It’s not that she’s so angelic,” Day said. “She saw things and did what she could, whatever she could, however she could.”
Kayla’s grieving family, who live in Prescott, Arizona, after receiving confirmation of their 26-year-old daughter’s death in Syria, released a letter she had smuggled out of ISIS captivity in November 2014. It was written by hand, with close script and abbreviations. Here is a transcript:
Everyone, If you are receiving this letter it means I am still detained but my cell mates (starting from 11/2/2014) have been released. I have asked them to contact you + send you this letter. It’s hard to know what to say. Please know that I am in a safe location, completely unharmed + healthy (put on weight in fact); I have been treated w/ the utmost respect + kindness. I wanted to write you all a well thought out letter (but I didn’t know if my cell mates would be leaving in the coming days or the coming months restricting my time but primarily) I could only but write the letter a paragraph at a time, just the thought of you all sends me into a fit of tears. 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 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 … I miss you all as if it has been a decade of forced separation. I have had many a long hour to think, to think of all the things I will do w/ Lex, our first family camping trip, the first meeting @ the airport. I have had many hours to think how only in your absence have I finally @ 25 years old come to realize your place in my life. The gift that is each one of you + the person I could + could not be if you were not a part of my life, my family, my support. I DO NOT want the negotiations for my release to be your duty, if there is any other option take it, even if it takes more time. This should never have become your burden. I have asked these women to support you; please seek their advice. If you have not done so already, [REDACTED] can contact [REDACTED] who may have a certain level of experience with these people. None of us could have known it would be this long but I know I am also fighting from my side in the ways I am able + I have a lot of fight left inside of me. I am not breaking down + I will not give in no matter how long it takes. I wrote a song some months ago that says, ‘The part of me that pains the most also gets me out of bed, w/out your hope there would be nothing left …’ aka- The thought of your pain is the source of my own, simultaneously the hope of our reunion is the source of my strength. 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.