Wednesday, April 26, 2017

An ISIS Victim Clings to the Truth of God’s Love

Emergency Field Hospital Iraq
After being injured by an ISIS attack while trying to escape, a young woman wants to know whether she’s still beautiful.

It’s my nature to ask questions, but I’ve learned that it’s never the question that leaves an impact. It’s always the answer. It’s the answer that gives you a glimpse into someone’s heart. As a writer, I’m normally the one asking the questions, and I count it a privilege when someone genuinely answers them and allows me to hear their story.

Khayla*, a patient at the Emergency Field Hospital, gave me this opportunity. She welcomed me to sit at her bedside and hear her heart. Khayla was severely injured when she tried to escape Mosul. She was knocked unconscious and has no memory of what happened. Medical staff think she was likely involved in an explosion given the deep cuts and burns that cover her face.

Emergency Field Hospital Iraq

As we wrapped up our interview, Khayla turned the tables on me. She had a request—to ask me just one question and receive an honest answer. Having no idea what question to expect, I boldly promised to be truthful.


Khayla fiercely grabbed my hand and placed it on her face—a face covered in stitches, with one eye swollen shut and dried blood circling her lips, a face bearing the physical scars of the brutality of ISIS.

With desperation in her eyes, she asked her question—“Am I still beautiful?”

My heart ached with her as I saw the pain and desperation in her eyes, but I knew the answer. I knew she was still beautiful.

She is still beautiful.

Without a doubt in my soul, I saw her beauty. I saw past the bruises, blood, and stitches, and I saw a daughter of the King. I saw a woman created in the image of God. In that moment, I caught a glimpse of how Jesus sees us. He doesn’t see our scars. He sees our beauty.

He sees us as made in His image.

Emergency Field Hospital Iraq

He sees us as fearfully and wonderfully made.

He sees us as His beloved.

Khayla’s entire identity was hanging on the words coming out of my mouth. Her question was raw and genuine—was she still beautiful?

As I knelt at her bedside, we wept together, and I declared Scripture over her life. She is beautiful because she is created in the image of God. She is beautiful because she is fearfully and wonderfully made. She is beautiful because Christ calls her His beloved.

Khayla clung to my hands as I spoke these truths. The promises of God washed over her like water in a desert. She asked the question, but she desperately needed to hear the answer.

“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (Psalm 139:13-14, NKJV).

*Name changed for protection.

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