Napalm girl: ‘Those bombs led me to Christ’

In 1972, at the height of the Vietnam War, a picture of a young girl shocked the world.

She had torn her burning clothes from her skin, and was screaming in agony as the napalm continued to burn into her flesh.

But Kim Phuc Phan Thi survived the napalm attack and has now explained how her horrific experience brought her to Christ.


Aged just nine at the time of the attack, Phuc endured temperatures of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit which caused severe burns to her back, shoulders and arm.

The napalm bombs killed her cousin and decimated her home. The girl herself was left for dead.

She awoke in a morgue, and was rescued by her parents, but her agony would continue. The daily therapeutic baths she had to take in hospital caused such pain as to make her pass out.

She was also ostracised when she returned to her village because of her disfigurement.

When Phuc attempted to study medicine at university, Vietnamese government officials would frequently pull her from classes to act as a propaganda tool.

Inner hurt

Dejected, she wrote in her book Fire Road: “The searing fire that penetrated my body, the ensuing burn baths; the dry and itchy skin; the inability to sweat, which turned my flesh into an oven in Vietnam’s sweltering heat.

“The lack of pain pills, the lack of ice, the lack of acceptance, the lack of love, the killing of my hope – what could hurt worse than these hurts?”

She initially prayed to the gods of Cao Dai, the religion of her family, but received no response.

“After years of unanswered prayers, it was clear to me that either they were non-existent or they did not care”.

John 14:6

One day, Phuc happened upon a copy of the New Testament, and was astounded by what she read.

“Despite all that I had learned through Cao Dai – that there were many gods, that there were many paths to holiness, that so much of my ‘success’ in religion rested atop my own weary, slumped shoulders – Jesus presented himself as the way, the truth and the life”.

Her world was turned on its head as she encountered the risen Christ Jesus.

“If it was accurate that this Jesus was uniquely able to connect me to God, to truth, to nothing short of life, then I had spent nineteen years worshipping the wrong gods”.

She concluded that Jesus was indeed God, and soon after began attending a church, eventually giving her life to Christ.

God’s plan

Phuc married, moved to Canada, had two children and was made a UNESCO ambassador in 1997.

Recalling an event in Paris in 2002, she says she met many people who said her picture had driven them to prayer.

“Had my suffering actually been the catalyst to bring me into God’s family? Could such a thing be true?

“In my heart I knew the answer. Those bombs led me to Christ.”

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