If you had told me many years ago when I was watching the news reports of the captured missionaries in the Philippines that one day one of them would be rescued and I would eventually meet them in person, I would have thought you were crazy. Remembering back to the reports of the tragic capturing by a terrorist group of some New Tribes Missionaries, the situation seemed so hopeless, so big and so discouraging. We prayed for those missionaries and so did millions more and through God’s amazing grace, one of the captured was ushered to eternity and the other rescued and brought back to the U.S. Amazing.
Of course I am referring to Martin and Gracia Burnham. If you are not familiar with their amazing story, here is the short version:
For seventeen years Martin & Gracia Burnham served with New Tribes Mission in the Philippines where Martin was a jungle pilot delivering mail, supplies and encouragement to other missionaries and transporting sick and injured patients to medical facilities. Gracia served in various roles supporting the aviation program and also home-schooled their children.
While celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary at a nearby island resort, the Burnhams were kidnapped on May 27, 2001, by a militant group. They seized several more guests and took them to a neighboring stronghold. In the ensuing months some of the hostages were killed, but most were set free. From November 2001, only the Burnhams and one other hostage remained in captivity. During their 376 days of captivity, they faced near starvation, constant exhaustion, frequent gun battles, coldhearted murder-and intense soul-searching about a God who sometimes seemed to have forgotten them.
On June 7, 2002, in a firefight between the Philippine military and the militant group, Martin was killed. Gracia was wounded, but was freed.
Since that time Gracia has authored two books, In The Presence Of My Enemies and To Fly Again. Because of her unique story, Gracia is a popular speaker for churches, conferences and schools. (Adapted from the Martin & Gracia Burnham Foundation website)
This past Sunday we had the opportunity to go to a church in Ohio were Gracia was speaking and while there, represent our mission at her table. We were incredibly honored and thankful to have been asked to do this! All I can say is, if you have never read her books, read them! If you have never heard her speak, track her down!
Tom and I were both incredibly encouraged by what Gracia had to say and left praising the Lord for His faithfulness in her life and the ways He had been using her since her captivity, to bring many to the Lord!