For a sister I never knew

Several months ago, a dear sister of mine passed on. Kayla Mueller, a devoted humanitarian and activist, was taken captive in August of 2013 by ISIS while serving refugees in Syria. She was held hostage in a Syrian jail by ISIS for over a year. Kayla was allegedly killed on February 6th during a Jordanian airstrike in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. To read more of her story and to read her last letter, visit her website here:

I never met this woman, but she was a sister of mine. This is my letter to her. 

Dear Kayla,

I never did, but I have always known you. I read your words, the thoughts and prayers of a modern-day Paul, and they resound off the walls of my soul. They were new, but familiar. I’ve heard them before. They have always been wandering in the recesses of my mind, dandelion tufts to the wind that have suddenly taken root. Stories of old have revealed this mysterious, quiet place to me. I've visited it before in dreams. They are fleeting moments, hazy and indistinct. You brought me to this sacred place through your words. 

Maybe you and I once knew each other. Maybe in a different time and place we were, are, or will be friends, sisters, beloved daughters together.

Maybe we passed by each other on some faraway city street, eyes locking for a split second, and then the moment passed. Maybe we brushed sides working our way through a crowded rural market in another hemisphere, another home. Maybe your smile was in the background of a photograph of mine long ago, or mine in yours. Maybe our boots pounded the same gravel up the side of a rugged mountain, both seeking something higher still. 

Perhaps the words of Mother Teresa stirred in both of us: "Calcuttas are everywhere if only we have eyes to see. Find your Calcutta."

Or maybe Shane Claiborne spoke to us both through, “I have come to see that we Christians are not called to safety, but we are promised that God will be with us when we are in danger, and there is no better place to be than in the hands of God."

Maybe when we read Jim Elliot’s prophetic thoughts, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose" we felt the same quickening heartbeat. Maybe we were both so terrified of what God was calling us into, yet we took heart, trusting that He is glorified in our weakness. Maybe our hands brushed over these hallowed words on tear-stained pages simultaneously. Maybe we were thousands of miles apart, yet our hearts sang in unison, “If this is the Way, I will walk in it, my Jesus."

Maybe our tears for this world are caught in the same jar. Maybe it is here that we have known each other. Your heart is our Father’s heart— a lion’s heart, a heart of gold, a heart that knows fear and darkness and pain, but chooses His will above all else. My greatest desire is to draw near to His heart, so maybe it is here that I met you, and keep finding you tucked tightly into Him. Your heart pulsed to the rhythm of “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

As another dear sister of mine often says when tragedies like this happen, “They cannot kill us fast enough.” Jesus, I pray You keep stirring up hearts. Keep waging war against the darkness. Use us in the trenches Lord; use us at the front lines of Your Kingdom. For every one of us killed in Your name, may hundreds, may thousands more, answer the call. 

In your honor Kayla, and the many others who have given their lives in the name of Christ, we must do the hard thing. We must pray for our enemies. I pray for the hands that wield swords. I pray for those we call “the others”. I pray for those who commit unspeakable acts. I pray with all the grace that God gives me that they may know that same grace a thousand fold—may it bring them to their knees in awe of Your glory. I pray that through your story Kayla, the whole world will also know the greatest Story ever told. 

I long for the day that we can sit together at the foot of our Father and hear your wild stories. Your name will surely ring forever in the halls of His heavenly Kingdom. You will always be Family to me, dear Kayla. 

In Christ,


Sisters, this is what we are made for. This is the life we are called to. May we remember Kayla and the many others who have gone before us, and may we press on, because it is surely all gain. 

- Katy // @katethegrate_ful