Sunday, 25 August 2013

Do you know what happened to the girl in this iconic Pulitzer prize winning photo from the Vietnam War?

On 8 June 1972, a plane bombed the village of Trang Bang, near Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) in South Vietnam after the South Vietnamese pilot mistook a group of civilians leaving the temple for enemy troops.

The bombs contained napalm, a highly flammable fuel, which killed and badly burned the people on the ground.

The iconic black-and-white image taken of children fleeing the scene won the Pulitzer Prize and was chosen as the World Press Photo of the Year in 1972.

It communicated the horrors of the Vietnam War in a way words never could, helping to end one of the most divisive wars in American history and later becoming a symbol of the cruelty of all wars for children and civilian victims.

In the centre of the photo was a nine year old girl, who ran naked down the highway after stripping off her burning clothes.

Kim Phuc Phan Thi was with her family at the pagoda attending a religious celebration when the plane struck and lost several relatives in the attack. The children running with her were her own brothers and sisters.

I had the privilege of hearing Kim speak at a meeting in New Zealand a few years ago and the 40th anniversary of the bombing was commemorated last year.

She said, looking back, that three miracles happened on that dreadful day.

The first was that, despite suffering extensive third degree burns to her left arm, back and side, the soles of her feet were not burnt and she could run.

The second was that after she collapsed and lost consciousness the photographer, Nick Ut, took her to Barsky Hospital in Saigon.

The third was that her own mother found her there later that day whilst searching for her children.

Kim remained hospitalized for 14 months, and underwent 17 surgical procedures, until she recovered from the burns.

Grateful for the care she had received she later decided to study medicine but struggled to come to terms with her deep physical and psychological scars.

‘My heart was exactly like a black coffee cup,’ she said. ‘I wished I died in that attack with my cousin. I wish I died at that time so I won’t suffer like that anymore ... it was so hard for me to carry all that burden with that hatred, with that anger and bitterness.’

But it was as a second year medical student in Saigon that she discovered a New Testament in the university library, committed her life to following Jesus Christ, and realised that God had a plan for her life.
 
Kim never finished medical school as the communist government of Vietnam realised the value of the ‘napalm girl’ value as a propaganda symbol.

She believed that no man could ever love her with her disfigurement but later studied in Cuba where she met Bui Huy Toan, another Vietnamese student whom she married in 1992.  
Kim and Toan went on their honeymoon in Moscow. During a refuelling stop in Gander, Newfoundland, they left the plane and asked for political asylum in Canada, which was granted. 

In 1994, UNESCO designated her a Goodwill Ambassador for Peace.

In 1997 she established the first Kim Phuc Foundation in the US, with the aim of providing medical and psychological assistance to child victims of war. Later, other foundations were set up, with the same name, under an umbrella organization, Kim Foundation International.

Her biography, The Girl in the Picture, written by Denise Chong was published in 1999.
 
In 2004, Kim spoke at the University of Connecticut about her life and experience, learning how to be ‘strong in the face of pain’ and how compassion and love helped her heal.

On 28 December 2009, National Public Radio broadcast her spoken essay, ‘The Long Road to Forgiveness’.

Kim Phuc, now 50, lives near Toronto, Canada, with her husband and two children, Thomas and Stephen.

She has dedicated her life to promoting peace and providing medical and psychological support to help children who are victims of war in Uganda, East Timor, Romania, Tajikistan, Kenya, Ghana and Afghanistan.

‘Forgiveness made me free from hatred. I still have many scars on my body and severe pain most days but my heart is cleansed. Napalm is very powerful, but faith, forgiveness, and love are much more powerful. We would not have war at all if everyone could learn how to live with true love, hope, and forgiveness. If that little girl in the picture can do it, ask yourself: Can you?’ (Kim Phuc, 2008)



I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27)

References

73 comments:

  1. It is beautiful she has become a Christian despite having been bombarded by an allegedly Christian nation.


    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

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    1. I was not aware that South Vietnam was considered a Christian Nation in 1972.

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    2. Napalm was made in the USA and dropped by US made planes and flown by American trained pilots

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    3. Roni, do you stay up nights thinking of ways to ruin a beautiful story, or is it a special gift you've developed while attending a progressive university like Columbia and these thoughts just flow perfect mind? I feel bad for you when I think you go through life like that. You're so smart, yet utterly clueless.

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    4. Chill

      Roni's just replying to James.

      James had mis-understood Lothat's comment.

      That is all.

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    5. Why do you have to involve religion with everything?

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    6. IDK because it was posted on a christian site and a christian FB account and the original comment stated how she became religious. Just... kinda makes sense that religion is about religion.

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    7. James did not misunderstand Lothar's comment. Lothar misunderstood the article. The very first sentence in this article says "the South Vietnamese pilot mistook a group of civilians leaving the temple for enemy troops."

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    8. So do any of you thank Jesus for the United States' part in ending the tyranny of Adolf Hitler... considering we are a "Christian" nation?

      Or maybe you should thank a Christian that you don't heil Hitler

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  2. It was a South Vietnamese who mistook the group and dropped the napalm.

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    1. Napalm was made in the USA and dropped by US made planes

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    2. No, South Vietnam Air Force also flew American manufactured aircraft as well, America and South Vietnam were allies and both dropped many kinds of weapons together, including napalm. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phan_Thi_Kim_Phuc

      The image here is of a South Vietnam Air Force A-1 Skyraider making a Napalm attack. The South Vietnamese Air Force used the American emblem but with the colors yellow and red. http://imgc.artprintimages.com/images/art-print/larry-burrows-american-jets-dropping-napalm-on-viet-cong-positions-early-in-the-vietnam-conflict_i-G-26-2695-N4OUD00Z.jpg?

      Also see this video as this shows footage of the exact South Vietnamese A-1 Skyraiders dropping napalm: http://youtu.be/kSN9UKDp3AA

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    3. Beautiful story.. I am so glad she was able to live in Canada. I wonder if some of the crass comments are being made by people who weren't even alive then.. That war was a stupid thing.. entered in because of a treaty with France and excused because of the fear of communism.

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  3. yea right . but nobody mention or say anything when the states was the one invading in the name of "peace"

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    1. as a Vietnamese grown up in Vietnam. I hoped the US had stayed to kill off all the communists.

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  4. amazing, sweet story. thank the Lord Jesus for His great rescue

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  5. She was injured by bomb made by Christians (Napalm was made in the USA), dropped by planes made by Christians. She was later cared for and educated by the communists and then decided that the practice of medicine is more profitable in a Christian nation....

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    1. You sound like a broken record. The U.S. was founded on Christian principles but is far from Christian. What she found was hope, love, and forgiveness through a Savior Who also suffered innocently, yet chose to forgive, and also offer life to all who would embrace it.

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    2. Roni, How do you know what faith of the people that made Napalm or made these planes were? Did you know all of those people personally? Are you just making an assumption based on your own prejudices and bias against Christians? Many people in the US and Canada do not have faith in Christ, but you assume that these particular people did? I wonder if you know what being a Christian means. For the sake of argument: Even if they ALL were firm believers in Jesus, does that make them no longer human or unable to make mistakes? Christianity is about a relationship with a risen Christ who forgives us.

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    3. I wonder who this Roni is? Seems he/she is missing the point that there has been healing in kim's heart and isn't that something we should all be happy about? I was 19 when this happened and it broke my heart then and now but I am so happy for her that her life is good. Oh, and Roni, she never finished med school so making money as a doctor never entered the equation. You almost sound like NVC.

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    4. @Anonyomous - Well said...

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    5. But it wasn't a bombing from America.

      I just want to see Roni say the same crap again like he/she is trying to make a point.

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    6. I am a Christian. The US was a nation that, at its inception, had official policies to exterminate the native population of the land Europeans had invaded - I am European, by the way. It had an industry kidnapping Africans from their native land, and enslaved them. Now, if you think these are congruent with Christian principles, then you don't know Christianity from a can of paint. The Vietnam war was not just some mistake, it was an outgrowth of the military-industrial complex, which not only did not care about the murder of Vietnameses civilians, it did not nor does it now care about the US servicemen it is sacrificing to fill its coffers. As a Christian, I am appalled that we have engaged in such horrific atrocities, and if it happened to be one of our allies who we trained and armed, don't go saying it wasn't us. It was us, and it is a miracle that this woman came to faith in our Lord, after she was disfigured by a "supposedly" Christian nation, and she saw her relatives killed by, killed by terrorists.

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    7. @roni: meaningless hatred brings nothing but hatred.

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    8. Even before I became a Christian I was against the war in Nam. I joined the Air Force because I figured my odds of having to kill someone would be lowered.
      As an American I was against the war but did not want to go to jail for evading the draft.
      In my opinion all wars are for economic reasons and the citizens of various countries get used as cannon fodder to promote them.
      Jesus Christ is the Prince Of Peace. His message is love and forgiveness.
      Wars are part of our sin nature and they will be with us till the War of Armageddon.
      That war will be the true "War to end all Wars" (not WWII).

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  6. What happened to the rest of the children?

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  7. Praise the Lord for her life! May God continue to use her to minister to the war victims especially the children.

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    1. Many thanks to the doctors who saved her.

      -D

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    2. I second that emotion.

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  8. The Lord was pleased to have mercy on me and saved me the night I heard this woman's testimony and the Gospel for the first time!(November 7, 2003). Powerful stuff!

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  9. Praise God; He is always in control and uses ALL things to accomplish His purpose

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    1. It is all God's will. And yet it's not his fault. He gave human beings freedom of choice, and we all in one way or another chose things other than Him, and so He gave us over to our decisions. And yet He is still there throughout all of time and eternity inviting mankind to return to choosing Him, not under compulsion, but through mankind's free choice. Maybe you should be asking why mankind doesn't freely choose peace.

      -Daniel

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    2. But it is His will to make sure thousands there will suffer. :(
      I am human but I will not "will" the suffering of innocents.

      - D

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  10. Praise the lord for allowing this young innocent girl to be severely burnt with napalm. You are lucky to be in gods divine plan. I hope I am blessed also like this one day Amen Hallaluya. Stupid Christians

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    1. I hope there are more of her.
      But it takes more wars and more deaths to have an outcome like this.

      - D

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    2. Both of you fail to account mankind's culpability in this whole process. Yes God allowed it, and that is the price of giving us free will, even the will to not choose to follow him. That makes our choice to kill OUR fault. Not stupid Christians. Not God's fault. Mankind's fault. Stupid mankind.

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    3. I totally agree with you (except for the God part)!
      When will we humans evolve to be better people?

      - D

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    4. The Bible speaks of God's sorry at what mankind has become. I praise God that He is a God of Love, but in that Love He also gave us the power of choice. Without it we would just be puppets. Yes, we make tremendous mistakes and the hearts of so many have turned cold. I am so happy that this girl lived. I thank God for that regardless of who helped her. God has promised that someday all this pain and suffering will be over. I'm so happy for the human race that there is a happy tomorrow for those who do care about others. I might add that to be a Christian means to be "Christ like". A tremendous about of Christians only wear the name but live for their ways. There are many non-christians that have a christian heart and don't even know it. I'm sure they will be saved also....along with Christians that do live up to the name they bare. There is hope for tomorrow, Praise God!! marie

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  11. I was there Roni and the South did drop napalm even tho it was made in the us many of our alies have weapons made here. But the point is it was a mistake not intentional. And napalm has long since been banned. but there are many worst ways to hurt people like (-11 for one how would you like to jump from the twin towers to escape theflames pretty hot huh

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    1. And now the people of are suffering the same way, it is intentional. What will history say of them?

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    2. Yeah, I think Agent Orange is much worse than Napalm.
      I'm not sure if this is true but I read some news about mutations in Vietnam due to Agent Orange exposure.

      Agent Orange is the combination of the code names for Herbicide Orange (HO) and Agent LNX, one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. military as part of its chemical warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971. Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with birth defects as a result of its use

      Source:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_Orange

      - D

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    3. Well at least we get this one good story here.

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    4. Yeah, if only mankind would choose peace and not war. To think if we had all freely chosen peace, we'd have BILLIONS of stories of peace to write about. That's not God's fault. That's man's.

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  12. The story touched my heart. God is love and love covers a multitude of sins. God bless her and her family. What a testimony for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who saved this young girl.

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    1. ... and condemned the rest. :(

      - D

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  13. What a journey she travelled . What an impact she is making. We should all aspire to have a great purpuse fror good Christian or not. I for one am a Christian!

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    1. We should all aspire to be good people. Not Christians, but people.
      Even if all Christians are good, what if we get attacked by other people of different religions? Then there will be war again.

      - D

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    2. Try as we might, in God's sight (due to our wrongs) we'll never be good people. For the good of society, be good. But for the sake of your soul, receive Christ. Then you will love your neighbor and it will count.

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    3. Nah, I can be good without religion.
      Your statement boarders on condemning half the world's population.

      - D

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  14. May god continue to allow her to shine her light before others.it is indeed serve as a courageous story

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    1. Very nice story.

      ...(Lucy) 0948-237-8544

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  15. For the life of me, I do not understand people like Roni, who do all they can to turn such an amazing story into a den of vitriol. He is trying to be like the yeast of the pharisees here. I'm glad to see that it was overcome by Love.

    He obviously has some sort of anti christian progressive communist chip on his shoulder. I invite him to go live in north korea where his exact belief set is set on a pedestal.

    Vietnam had many tragedies. But he ignores the unspeakable tragedies perpetrated by the communists. Additionally we did not "invade". we were asked by the government of south vietnam to protect south vietnam from the north. The north infiltrated, invaded, and eventually consumed the south because they felt that getting rid of wealth and making everyone the same was more valuable than personal freedom. they succeeded.

    If communism was so great, why did she want to escape to Canada, where people live free?

    If you want to see what freedom does to a people vs. what communism does. look at south korea vs north korea. the south, with freedom and MANY christians, has become a powerhouse both economically and culturally speaking (dramas, kpop, etc). North Korea lives in utter darkness.

    I'm sorry, but your arguments are laughable.

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  16. So the photographer took a photo first before helping her?

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    1. I believe the photographer did more good than harm by taking this picture. "The pen is mightier than the sword" as they say.

      Totally different than what happened with Princess Diana.

      - D

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  17. Thats what i was going to say Tony .Stop taking the pictures and help that poor girl .

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  18. Internet trolls are all over the place, they won't even spare a beautiful and meaningful article like this.

    Admin should just ban Roni's IP from accessing this site

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  19. GOD HELP US...

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  20. As u can see from the various comments, this world is quite screwed up.. due to serious lack of understanding, wisdom and reflection. First, the US has done good things but equally they have done many bad things too. Second, as Christians think their God is the real one, there are many more who think theirs are the real one. It all depends on where you are born and born into. And it's all part and parcel of life subjected to the law of nature. Nothing more. Nothing less.

    Just think why the whites simply look down on the blacks, when everyone on earth is a human being. Why Christians think their God is the one and only, and in every situation they have a reason for it.. whether it's good or bad.. and still praise God? But all these reasons were made by... human themselves.

    But i still like this true story. It is inspiring. Indeed hatred for someone who did really bad things on you is not something one can forgiven easily. In fact, it usually drives radical behavioral response.

    i agree with the guy who questioned why the photographer is able to take such a nice picture in such a tense situation. I had thought he would have helped her first.. perhaps a professional photographer can take the picture first and fast before helping people. i don't know how.

    Lastly, any war, whether it's for religious or sovereignty reasons, should never be supported and started.

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    1. "Lastly, any war, whether it's for religious or sovereignty reasons, should never be supported and started."

      Very well said sir/ma'am.

      - D

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    2. If Christians didn't think that our God was the real one, we wouldn't be Christians, now would we? God is good, and the devil is bad, he is the one who is trying to destroy the people. God sent Jesus Christ to die to save people from their sins and He is going to send Jesus back to the earth soon to save us from the planet before He executes judgement on all the evil. Then He will make the earth new after the final judgement and destroy all evil. In the meanwhile we have a responsibility to try to live in peace and teach as many people about Jesus and the way to salvation as possible. We know not everyone will accept and we are told to live in peace with all mankind as far as possible. But not everybody who calls themselves a Christian really is a Christian, but even Christians are human beings and we make mistakes and do things we shouldn't do and don't do things we should. This is the nature of man. Every human being has worth, Christian or not and the world needs to learn to respect all people.

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    3. "If Christians didn't think that our God was the real one, we wouldn't be Christians, now would we?"

      Most people here are Christians because their parents are Christians or they grew up in a Christian community.

      Most people in Saudi Arabia are Muslims because their parents are Muslims or they grew up in a Muslim community.

      Both believe their God is the real God.

      Heck we might be worshiping Odin or Zeus if we were born in the past.

      Religion is good if it makes people good. But it is not necessary for one to be a good person.

      - D

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  21. Medical attention could not be provided by the photographer, the kids had to be taken to a hospital which it says that he did do. But by taking the photo, he documented their plight... so that today we can know about it and what happened there, and what has happened to the girl in the photo since. (It was a humanitarian thing to do, to expose the bigger picture – which is what he was sent to do- so that hopefully people could learn from it). Just as the Holocaust was documented so that people could not deny its existence... or what happened in Rawanda ... or Cambodia, or Uganda...(incidentally by their own governments) - man's own inhumanity to man. All people have been guilty for being less than they should be -and much worse- just as they have been great . These are things that should make us reflective of our motivations and actions. True faith brings us to a proper order and priority of life, while any deviation is just that- a deviation of what life can and should be.

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    1. so i think that's why he's a professional photographer. A normal person would probably be either freezed by what he sees, or put away his camera and go help the victims without second thoughts.. At such times, it's not about whether one can give medical attention not. It's about being there to help in any way... like taking someone to hospital.. like being there listening to them... or talking to them to divert their attention to lessen their pain...

      Depending on what one think true faith is, and it is this 'true' faith that brings wars and pain and death to mankind. Faith and belief are powerful tools of the mind that can build as well as destroy life. All wars including those in the name of religion are wrong. Of course if you think your religion is the one and you have greater arms power, then you can conquer people and states and then you can bring proper your law and order. But is this right? Will this bring new order in today's world? Many people still thinks the old ways will solve today's problem. But the truth is that that was so passe. Thanks to Internet and high tech and low cost flying. There's no boundary anymore. It's silly to think in terms of states and religions.

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  22. I love her will to survive and be an inspiration to everyone.

    Maria Lourdes from Manila
    0916-306-2226

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  23. The Bible speaks of God's sorrow at what mankind has become. I praise God that He is a God of Love, but in that Love He also gave us the power of choice. Without it we would just be puppets. Yes, we make tremendous mistakes and the hearts of so many have turned cold. I am so happy that this girl lived. I thank God for that regardless of who helped her. God has promised that someday all this pain and suffering will be over. I'm so happy for the human race that there is a happy tomorrow for those who do care about others. I might add that to be a Christian means to be "Christ like". A tremendous about of Christians only wear the name but live for their ways. There are many non-christians that have a christian heart and don't even know it. They will be saved also....along with Christians that do live up to the name they bare. There is hope for tomorrow, Praise God!!
    This article shows much pain and resentment after all these years. It was a awful thing, the reason for it was even more awful and no one was innocent except those poor people that were caught in the middle. It was all wrong. But without forgiveness of the past our future will be painful and bitter. For our owe sake we need to forgive and "walk on". marie

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