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Gracia Burnham - What is she doing now?
« on: June 05, 2007, 01:25:50 PM »
Gracia Burnham and her missionary husband, Martin, were held as prisoners by Islamic terrorists for almost 14 months in the Philippines. During that time Martin and Gracia Burnham were sick and starving, traveling through the jungles of the area with their captors, occasionally facing gun battles between their captors and the government which was trying to rescue them. After being held as hostage from May 27, 2001 to June 7, 2002, Martin and a Filipino nurse, who had also been held as hostage, were killed in one such crossfire, while Gracia was wounded in the leg and evacuated by the military. Gracia Burnham, however, has never stopped sharing her faith with Muslims, says she would consider going back to the Philippines, and says she and her husband learned to forgive their captors.

March 7, 2001did not start out as a day that looked like the Burnhams would become hostages of Filipino Muslims. Martin and Gracia Burnham were vacationing on an Island in the Philippines, celebrating their 18th anniversary. They were a part of a group of 20 people kidnapped from a resort by the Islamic terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf. Most of the hostages were ransomed and set free by November 2001-except for the Burnhams and a Filipino Nurse.

"We are doing great; the kids are doing well," Gracia Burnham says now despite the ordeal she went through. She made the comments on the website of the Martin and Gracia Burnham Foundation. Martin and Gracia had three children-Jeff, Mindy, and Zach. Jeff is at Liberty University, working on getting licenses to be a pilot and got married to the daughter of a missionary. Mindy is a junior in high school. Zach is a sophomore. All three children were born in the Philippines.

Gracia Burnham says since she was held captive by Filipino Muslim terrorists that she has spoken in so many places she can't remember them all--from California to New York, from Texas to Canada, as well as overseas.. She has written a book about her experience, In the Presence of My Enemies that has sold 300,000 copies. She has also written a second book about her experience, To Fly Again.

Despite everything that has happened to her, Gracia Burnham has not stopped sharing her faith with Filipino Muslims, and she forgives those who had once harmed her. The Martin and Gracia Burnham Foundation collects funds and resources to address the needs of addressing the need of more missionary pilots around the world and supporting the work of tribal missionaries. Gracia works specifically to share God's love with the Muslim community and helps those who are imprisoned or persecuted for their faith around the world.

There is no doubt Martin and Gracia did not have it easy for the 14 months they were held captive by Filipino Muslim terrorists. Each day they did not know if they would live or die-possibly at the hand of their captives, possibly in the crossfire of a battle between their captives and government soldiers trying to free them. They were starving and constantly on the run, as their captors were trying to stay ahead of the government troops. Their captors were constantly demanding money for the freedom of the Burnhams. Their encouragement was to recall all of the Bible passages they could remember.

On June 7, 2002, Martin and the Filipino nurse were killed in a crossfire between government troops and the terrorists. Gracia was wounded in the leg by evacuated by the military. After being evacuated to at the U.S. embassy in Manila, Gracia was debriefed and flown home to Kansas to be with her children.

Gracia thanks people around the world for praying for Martin and her. When others tell her their trials are not nearly as bad as what she has been through, Gracia tells them everyone's trials are equal. She says we should all look at God rather than our problems. Gracia says God is a big God and can give us all strength.

While Gracia may now work with her Foundation to share God's love around the world, she says she is open to going back to the Philippines, close to the Muslim terrorists, whom she forgives. She has not yet felt led to go back yet, however. She says she loves the people in the Philippines.

Gracia recalls as she and Martin wadded through waist high swamp water while held captive after fleeing from the 13th gun battle between the terrorists and the government troops, they were comforted by Bible verses: "I love you with an everlasting love." (Jeremiah 31:3); and "If God be for us, who can be against us." (Romans 8:31)

Gracia Burnham says she learned forgiveness toward the Muslim terrorists, because it did not come naturally. At first, she was bitter toward one man who made Martin carry a bag of rice, despite his frail condition from hunger. She also felt compassion after learning that her captors were all killed in prison after they had controlled the prison for a day, because she knew their chance to receive God's grace were over.

Gracia Burnham has no plans to stop sharing her faith with Muslims and others, and she also has no plans to stop showing love toward even those who were her enemies. (By Mike White of associatedcontent.com)


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Romans 10:9
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