The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) confirmed American humanitarian worker Kayla Mueller’s death in February. Since then, her family revealed that her Christian faith kept her going through the hell the terrorist group put her through.
Mueller joins a long line of devout Christian women who suffered at the hands of the enemy simply because of their faith. In their Caliphate, ISIS terrorists threaten to execute Christians if they do not convert to Islam. Their persecution tactics often resemble those of the Roman Empire during the early years of the faith.
The Roman Empire tortured Blandina in 177 C.E. for being a Christian. After inflicting the worst on her, they fed her to lions. The diary of Perpetua “is the first writing extant by a Christian woman.” Her father, a pagan, begged her to renounce her faith to save her life. She refused to abandon her faith.
It is believed Perpetua “experienced a series of heavenly visions” in prison. Perpetua gained more love for God. She wrote that the Lord reassured “her of his strength and presence.” She used this to comfort and ease the pain of her fellow prisoners. She did not show hatred or anger towards her captors, a story similar to anecdotes of Mueller also attempting to teach the men origami.
Catherine of Alexandria attempted to persuade Emperor Maxentius to stop persecuting Christians. He sent hundreds of scholars to convince her to shed her faith, but they all failed and most converted. After that, Maxentius imprisoned and tortured her. She remained strong and even converted all her visitors, including Maxentius’s wife. The emperor executed every visitor. Maxentius offered the young woman a royal wedding and all the riches if she left behind her faith. She refused, and he sentenced her to death on a breaking wheel, which broke when she touched it. Frustrated, Maxentius beheaded her.
Other similar martyrs include Apollonia, who lost all her teeth after an official hit her in the face. Officials under Emperor Claudius beat, starved, and flogged Prisca, who was only a teenager, because of her Christian faith. No matter what they did, she refused to renounce Christianity.
Last Friday, Mueller’s parents disclosed that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi kept her as his personal sex slave at the home of another militant with teenage Yazidi sex slaves. She immediately protected the young girls from the beasts.
But Mueller was the prize possession: an American Christian. The girls confirmed that Mueller disappeared whenever al-Baghdadi visited the house. But when Mueller came back to her room, she was “distressed and crying.” She confirmed that ISIS forced her to marry the vicious leader.
“I saw him often, he came there often,” she described. “And every time he came, he took Kayla away. She would always come back after.”
Mueller risked her life to protect the Yazidis. The teenager who told her story escaped with her sister in October, but Mueller decided to stay because she thought “her foreign appearance would put them in danger while on the run.”
“Kayla tried to protect these young girls,” explained Mrs. Mueller. “She was like a mother figure to them.”
ISIS captured Kayla Mueller in August 2013. The jihadists claimed an airstrike by Jordan killed her, but have only published a photo of rubble in Syria as proof of her death. A few days later, however, her parents in Arizona confirmed her death. The terrorists sent them pictures to prove she was deceased. Officials told ABC News that no one truly knows how Mueller died.
Despite the abuse she endured, Mueller told her parents everything only strengthened her Christian faith:
She wrote, “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.”
She added, “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 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.”