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Peter Kassig’s Parents Forgive ISIS Killers for Beheading Their Son: 'Our Hearts are Battered, But Will Mend'

( [email protected] ) Nov 27, 2014 06:12 PM EST

Peter Kassig, Beheaded by ISIS
Kassig making a food delivery to refugees in Lebanonâs Bekaa Valley, May 2013. (Kassig Family)

American hostage Peter Kassig, who converted to Islam and changed his name to Abdul-Rahman Kassig while in captivity, was beheaded by Islamic State extremists back on Nov. 16.

His parents, Paula and Ed Kassig, issued a statement on Nov. 17 calling for forgiveness and prayers for their family after a video of their son's death was confirmed as authentic.

"Our hearts are battered, but they will mend. The world is broken, but it will be healed in the end," Paula said in a press conference at her church in Indianapolis. "And good will prevail as the one God of many names will prevail."

The 26-year-old Kassig, an aid worker and former U.S. Army ranger, fell into the hands of ISIS while delivering aid in Syria in Oct. 2013. Despite his harrowing experience, Louise Boyle of the Daily Mail noted that while his parents were "heartbroken" by their son's killing, they are also "incredibly proud" of his humanitarian work.

"In 26 years, he has witnessed and experienced firsthand more of the harsh realities of life than most of us can imagine," Paula said. "But rather than letting the darkness overwhelm him, he has chosen to believe in the good - in himself and in others."

Kassig's mom added that "one person can make a difference," as evidenced by the way he lived his life.

Kassig "lost his life as a result of his love for the Syrian people and his desire to ease their suffering," his parents said.

Brian Eason and John Tuohy of IndyStar noted that Kassig's parents, who have publicly acknowledged their own Christian faith, began their statement with a Bible verse.

"Greater love hath no man than this: than to lay down his life for another," Kassig's father said. "Our hearts, though heavy, are held up by the love and support that has poured into our lives these last few weeks."

According to an article from CNN, Peter felt a higher calling while he was studying political science at Butler University.

"I was going to school with kids who look the same, were the same age as me, but we weren't the same," he told CNN in a 2012 interview. "I wanted more of a challenge, a sense of purpose."

After he received training in emergency medical skills, CNN noted that he formed the nonprofit organization Special Emergency Response and Assistance to deliver humanitarian aid to Syrians affected by the fighting in that Middle Eastern country.

"I am not a doctor. I am not a nurse," Peter said back in 2012. "But I am a guy who can clean up bandages, help clean up patients, swap out bandages, help run IVs, make people's quality of life a little bit better. This is something for me that has meaning, that has purpose."

Kassig knew the risks of working in a war-torn country. However, he added that it was important "to try to do something."

"If I do die, I figure that at least you and I can seek can seek refuge and comfort in knowing that I went out as a result of trying to alleviate suffering and helping those in need," he wrote in a letter to his parents.

Kassig's father asked for prayers not just for his son, but for "all people in Syria, in Iraq, and around the world that are held against their will."

"Lastly, please allow our small family the time and privacy to mourn, cry - and yes, forgive - and begin to heal," his father said.

Kassig was the fifth Westerner to die via beheading at the hands of ISIS.

Tags : Peter Kassig, Paula and Ed Kassig, christian faith, ISIS, Islamic State, ISIS Beheading, ISIL, Forgiveness