Illinois: Tyndale Momentum, 2017

On 8 June 1972 Kim’s life changed when South Vietnamese planes dropped napalm on fleeing villagers. Kim was nine years when she endured the terrible burning agony which would not go away. She became famous as ‘The Girl in the Picture’ – naked, terrified, and fleeing as fast as her legs and her failing stamina would carry her. When kind people tried to alleviate her pain with water, they made it worse, as napalm partially combusts oxygen.

Raised in the universal faith of CaoDai (pronounced ‘cow-die’), Kim Phuc worshipped all gods, including human notables such as Victor Hugo. But she has become a Christian who wants to testify of God’s peace (Philippians 4:7). In Vietnamese the surname comes first i.e. Phan Thi Kim Phuc, but Kim simplified it for Westerners. It is pronounced Kim Fook, and means ‘golden happiness’.

Being left for dead, Kim was placed inside the morgue at the First Children’s Hospital in Saigon. When it was found that she was alive, she commenced excruciating treatment, and the knowledge that she would be scarred for life, and in pain for life. Long sleeves became her best friend – or her needed friend. With the Communist victory, she was used for propaganda purposes (‘fake news’) to proclaim the brutality of the American forces and the kindness of the Communists.

Hiding one miserable Saturday afternoon in Saigon’s central library, she came across a New Testament, and later a Pastor Anh, and later still a woman called Thuy at church. By 1983 she had to return to her family to confess that she no longer followed Caodaism, but worshipped Christ as the way, the truth and the life. Her family in effect disowned her. In Havanna she met a North Vietnamese man named Toan, and after prayer accepted his marriage proposal, despite the fact that, then at least, he was not a Christian, indeed a strong sceptic who was too fond of the drink.

One might cringe a little at her theology, but it is a wonderful story. Reading Luke 6:27-28 led her to pray for her enemies. As Solzhenitsyn came to bless God for the prison that had been in his life, so Kim came to thank God even for ‘that road’. She had been led to realise that ‘Those bombs led me to Christ.’

Fire Road

The Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness & Peace

Kim Phuc Phan Thi | Tyndale Momentum