I was familiar with the story of the Burnhams from news reports post 9-11, praying for them, and then hearing of Martin’s death and Gracia’s rescue. However, after hearing Gracia speak at a Voice of the Martyrs “Advance” conference, I knew I had to read the detailed account!
What a story of grace! 13 months in captivity. Emotional ups and downs. Constant moving and hiking. Running from gunfire often. Hopes of rescue or release dashed frequently. The hardship of living outdoors with no normal comforts. The tricky task of relating to your captors and fellow captees. The struggle to maintain faith. The hundreds of questions to God. The homesickness. The worry for kids and family.
And finally, the day the gun battle broke out between the Abu Sayyaf and the Philippine army. Both Burnhams were shot in the chaos. Only Gracia survived.
Rescued. Freed. Hospitalized. Recovered. Debriefed. Reunited with family, friends, and church. The Lord answered the prayers of so many!
Almost. Why did Martin have to die? Why was he not rescued as well?
No one will ever know the answers to these kinds of questions. This we do know though. Before this tragic, horrendous nightmare, only a few people knew the Burnhams. Now thousands know them. Before, Gracia was not one to be in front of crowds. Now she shares their story, God’s grace, the gospel, and the call to missions over and over and over again.
The Lord took one simple, Jesus-loving, not so well-known missionary couple, allowed them to endure the painstaking trial of being kidnapped, brought Martin to Himself and Gracia to her family, and now missions is being fueled ten times over!
It’s a great testimony – to persevering faith, sustaining grace, and the task of world missions.
“I wasn’t called to be a missionary. I wasn’t called to the Philippines. I was just called to follow Christ and that’s what I’m doing.” Martin Burnham