I am thankful that Missy Paul is safe. Missy was kidnapped by Boko Haram and survived a harrowing ordeal in which her school was burned to the ground in Nigeria. With a gun to her head, she was forced into the back of a truck with thugs who said they intended to “marry” her. As the truck sped her away from safety, from her school, and from her friends, she made the decision to jump. She was warned they would shoot her if she tried to escape, but she chose to tumble into the bush at a high-speed rather than become prisoner.
Missy is a survivor. She survived the kidnapping and the deaths of her friends. She survived as a Christian amidst the chaos of religious extremism so intolerant it would rape, savage, and butcher people of another faith.
I am thankful to my friends Doug and Myriam Wead for bringing Missy Paul to America and giving her a chance. The Weads have provided Missy with a full scholarship to a Christian school in Oregon. When I met Missy, I sensed that she was beginning to understand the possibility of hope, but I also sensed that it would take a while for her to believe that she is truly safe.
I asked Missy about her dreams for the future. Her dream, she said, is to become a doctor.
Amidst so much violence, hatred, and cruelty, miracles do occur. Einstein wrote that you have a choice—you can view life as if miracles are everywhere, or as if they are nowhere. I choose to acknowledge the miracles and truly believe that if we allow ourselves to be blinded by conflict and carnage, we will miss the God-given goodness that surrounds us.
Evil can and is overcome every minute of every day. If we paid more attention to the hope that emanates from the tentative smile of Missy Paul, maybe then, evil would begin to lose its grip. As my time with Missy Paul came to an end, I told her, “We share the same last name. We must be relatives.” I smiled, “I want you to know that in America, you have a relative and you can count on me if you ever need help.”
I am thankful every day for my wife Kelley, my sons William, Duncan and Robert and all of my family and friends who bless my life every day. I am thankful to have the honor to fight for the people of Kentucky and for the causes I believe in as a U.S. Senator from Kentucky. I am thankful for America. I am thankful for this great nation that acts as a beacon of hope for those that are oppressed throughout the world. And this year, I am most thankful for Missy’s safety and her promising future.
*Missy’s name was changed to protect her identity.
Rand Paul is the junior U.S. Senator from Kentucky.