The Life and Martyrdom of Kayla Mueller

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Writing to Christians who were facing persecution, the Apostle Peter reminded them that trials prove the genuineness of their faith:

These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (1 Peter 1:7).

The truth of this verse was evident throughout Kayla Mueller’s life. Kayla was an American humanitarian aid worker who, in August of 2013, was taken captive by ISIS while in Syria. Until her reported death in February 2015, Kayla endured torture, verbal abuse, forced slave labor, and repeated raping by ISIS’ top leader. Despite these unimaginable trials, Kayla never wavered in her faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, reports by other hostages who escaped or were released by ISIS, document how she remained strong in her faith. As reported by ABC News:

… her fellow hostages say she never surrendered hope, she selflessly put the welfare of fellow captives above her own and she even stood up to executioner ‘Jihadi John’ to defend her Christian faith.

Kayla’s steadfast commitment to Jesus Christ should be a challenge to determine the strength of our own faith. We may not have to suffer as she did, but when the trials of life do come our way, we can have that same strength she had to stand up and proclaim the name of Jesus Christ.

The book of Hebrews reminds us that a great cloud of witnesses surround us (Hebrews 12:1). Now, one of those witnesses is Kayla Mueller. Her race is over and she is now in the presence of her Lord and Savior. But our race is still going on. The question before us is, “What witness will we leave when our race ends?” I pray that, like Kayla, we will encourage other believers to stand strong in their faith.

Kayla’s Mother Responds to BJ’s Blog

Dear Dr. BJ Rudge,

We thank you for keeping Kayla’s memory alive and I will keep your letter with Kayla’s things. Kayla’s letters showed us her continued love for God and her determination to never give up, no matter what happened to her. They helped keep us strong during her 18 months of captivity and now keep us just as strong to continue on.

Your beautiful words in your blog brought tears to my eyes but also filled my heart with joy. Please keep writing, I do not want the world to forget my Kayla and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your help! We miss her, our hearts ache without her and yet we feel deep within our hearts and minds her presence, her joy for life, her God given gift to make this world better through a just peace for all and she did what she could with her own hands and a heart to just help. She lives on thanks to our Lord. He has given us the strength and courage to go on, to honor who she was by continuing to tell her story and to do our best to live as she did with love, joy, peace and hope, wanting true justice for all.

With respect, Marsha Mueller, Kayla’s mom