Girl Trapped for 3 Days in ISIS Area Rescued
8 May 2017
We thank God for the rescue of a 17-year-old girl, Rahab, who had been trapped in a collapsed building behind ISIS lines for three days. She was rescued on 6 May 2017 by the 1st Battalion of the 36th Brigade, 9th Armored Division of the Iraqi Army, along with elements of an Iraqi fire department. In this area, already 18 civilians have been shot by ISIS and 10 have been killed, one young mother died in my arms. Over 7,000 have fled.
Rahab had been trapped under the rubble of her house during fighting between the advancing Iraqi Army and ISIS. The surviving family members had run a gauntlet of ISIS fire to get to us, and we launched a recon to find the girl on 5 May, confirming she was alive under the rubble. But we would need cutting tools to get her out and a large force to hold off ISIS. Even on the recon we had been immediately attacked by ISIS. As we were running down the street to get back to our Humvee, I looked up and saw a large ISIS flag. We were in their strong point and barely made it out.
We returned to the corner of the city we held and made a plan with generals Kasem and Mustafa of the 9th and 36th, to get her out. We did not know if she would survive another night and prayed she would and that ISIS would not find her. The generals called for an Iraqi civilian search and rescue team that came from Baghdad to help. On 6 May our joint force went back with more support to try to get her out. I prayed in Jesus’ name for a way, and for her life, as Zau Seng, our cameraman, and I joined the rescue team. We went with Col. Arkan, the 1st Battalion commander, in the lead. The rest of our team prepared for medical response and prayed for us. As we approached the building she was trapped in we found our way blocked by obstacles ISIS had put up and rubble from the fighting. We took many wrong turns under ISIS fire to find a way. Col. Arkan remained cool and we finally found a way to get to her.
Once there with our two Humvees we brought up three BMP armored cars to provide security. ISIS attacked us from three sides and the Iraqis fought back as the rescue team, including us, dragged cutting equipment over the collapsed roof and rubble. Under fire, the Iraqis worked to get the girl out. I wondered if she was still alive, then heard her cry out and my heart leaped – she was alive! “Thank you Lord,” I prayed. As the firemen carried her out, ISIS intensified their fire and we had to fight our way out. We got in the Humvees and drove out, but soon were stuck and almost flipped. We backed up and prayed and found another way and everyone got back safely. I was filled with gratitude and was in a kind of wonder – was this real, was she really alive, had we really made it?
I thanked God as our medics worked on her. We loaded Rahab into our ambulance and drove her to a field hospital in the rear. On the way I held her hand and talked to her through Faiz, an Iraqi Army medic. “My name is Rahab,” she said. “I am 17 and God sustained me throughout the time I was trapped. Thank you for helping me. I love you. If you have another daughter please name her after me.” She said this with authority and smiled sweetly.
I laughed and said, “You are a tough lady! Yes I will do that, if we have another daughter. I am your friend forever. I love you too and will help you in any way I can.”
The Iraqi medical staff led by Maj. Muhammad took excellent care of her and I stayed until she was evacuated again an hour later. Even as I type this, I can’t help choking up and tears come to my eyes. My heart is full of gratitude and awe. It still seems too good to be true. In the midst of all the killing we have seen, here is a life snatched from death. To see and be part of seeing Rahab saved is overwhelming. I thank God and you all for this. My message is: thanks for caring, for praying and helping us be here. We cannot do this alone.
Thank you and may God bless you,
Dave and teams