Martin and Gracia Burnham have been missionaries within the Philippines for 16 years till a weekend getaway changed into a world information story. The Burnhams, together with a couple of others, have been kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf terrorists and whisked into the jungle the place they’d spend the subsequent 376 days on the run from the Filipino army.
The Burnhams’ three kids have been rushed again to grandparents in Kansas for his or her security. Regardless of repeated requests, advocacy and even a ransom fee, the Abu Sayyaf refused to launch the couple. On June 7, 2002, the seventeenth and closing gun battle the Burnhams would expertise started. When the weapons lastly stopped, Gracia was freed, however Martin had been killed.
Gracia returned house to Kansas and was reunited together with her kids. Over 2,500 folks, together with two congressmen and the Philippines ambassador, attended Martin’s funeral. Within the years since her captivity, Gracia has spoken extensively about her ordeal and wrote two books: “Within the Presence of My Enemies” and “To Fly Once more.”
1. Inform us about your time within the Philippines earlier than being captured.
Martin and I had been within the Philippines for 16 years. Martin was a jungle pilot for New Tribes Mission, now Ethnos360. Our missions company works with folks in hard-to-reach locations — typically the place no roads go. For a missionary household to entry these distant locations would take days of mountaineering with many river crossings. We’ve got realized over time that aviation can hold households provided and permit tribal missionaries to spend their power within the village quite than in getting there.
We cherished our ministry! Martin was born to fly within the jungle. He might put a loaded Cessna down on a brief jungle strip and get it stopped within the subsequent few hundred ft, and by God’s grace did that mishap-free for a few years. We labored as a household to run the flight program, delivering folks and provides and doing medical evacuations and aid flying into a number of the most primitive locations on the planet. Our three kids have been born within the Philippines.
Then got here our yr of captivity. Martin needed to go to a southern island to fly, so I cleared my schedule and left our kids with our neighbors, aspiring to be gone for one week. Whereas we have been on Palawan our anniversary rolled round, so we went to the seashore. And that began that terrible yr.
2. What has occurred in your story because you returned house and wrote your first e book?
I actually thought that after I bought house, I’d inform my story for a couple of months and do a couple of interviews, after which curiosity in our story would all go away. Nicely, that didn’t occur! Twenty years later, I’m nonetheless touring and talking. There may be at all times somebody within the crowd who prayed for me and is so comfortable that I’m there — or is going through some traumatic hardship and simply wants to listen to a phrase of hope.
The actually neat factor is that, by means of an American couple who does jail ministry within the Philippines, I’ve discovered a number of the guys who held me hostage. About 23 of them are in a maximum-security jail for the remainder of their lives. It’s a protracted story, however I’ve been capable of talk with a few of them, and we have now finished initiatives within the jail and discovered methods to get the gospel in to them. To this point, I hear that 4 of them have come to know the Lord. Had we recognized that any of them would turn out to be believers in Jesus due to our expertise, the times would have been simpler to bear throughout that lengthy yr! God can take any scenario and make it end up properly. He promised that “all issues work collectively for good to those that love God.” That’s completely true.
God put forgiveness in my coronary heart for these guys throughout our yr of captivity. It was an unimaginable factor. God did it — ‘trigger I requested Him to. Scripture says that God has began a good work in us and He’ll excellent it. It’s laborious to forgive somebody who hurts you time and again and over. The pure factor for us to really feel in the direction of them is hatred — wanting revenge, wishing them lifeless, or no matter. However these of us who know the Lord have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, so we don’t need to have the pure, sinful response. Once I noticed my pure self rearing its ugly head time and again, I simply requested God to place His love, pleasure, peace and forgiveness in my coronary heart. And He did it! He’s superior that approach.
Our youngsters have been 13, 11, and 10 after we have been taken hostage. They realized numerous necessary life classes going by means of this as properly. They’re grown now, and I’ve seven grandchildren. My oldest, Jeff, is a pilot like his dad was. My daughter, Mindy, is married to a man who grew up on the mission discipline in Paraguay. They’re in ministry in Wichita. My youngest, Zachary, works in Kansas Metropolis. So grateful for these youngsters. They’re what stored me going after I bought house from that ordeal.
3. Whilst you have been within the jungle, numerous church buildings, households and faculties have been praying on your secure launch. But Martin didn’t return house. How have you ever wrestled by means of trusting God when your life circumstances aren’t what you hoped for?
We love to inform God what to do. We’ve got a beautiful plan for our lives that doesn’t contain hardship and ache. I like how Christ sits on the proper hand of God praying for us. We pray as we predict we ought, however typically we don’t even know the best way to pray. However Jesus — He is aware of the best way to pray! And he prays for us. So after we get “no” for a solution to a fervent prayer, we all know that God hasn’t made a mistake and that He’s working regardless of every part. And as we see His hand in our lives and we be taught to belief Him extra, we develop. I watched everybody in our household undergo that wrestle when our prayers weren’t answered the way in which we wished them to be. If we all know the reply — if we will see how issues are alleged to be — it wouldn’t be religion. We stroll by religion in a devoted God.
4. What recommendation would you share about looking for God’s main? How did you and Martin know you have been known as to be missionaries?
I really feel like God known as me to Martin. He didn’t essentially name me to missions. I used to be satisfied that I used to be alleged to marry Martin, and I’d have been proud of no matter God known as him to do.
So far as the main of God goes, you may’t be led when you don’t comply with the chief. It’s not so necessary what you do in 5 years when you’re able to comply with God. It is vital what you do at the moment. You comply with God at the moment. And then you definitely comply with Him the subsequent day, and out of the blue 5 years down the highway, you’ll look again and see how God led you as you took child steps in strolling with Him.
This technology typically talks about “following your goals,” “when you can dream it, you are able to do it,” and “do what you’re captivated with.” That sounds good, however in actuality what’s necessary just isn’t our goals. In no way. What’s necessary is God’s glory. What’s necessary is determining what God is captivated with and becoming in to His will on your life.
I hear on a regular basis, “I assumed God wished me to be a missionary, however it simply by no means occurred as a result of …” Following God is rarely going to only “occur.” You’ll have to intentionally hand over your will and comply with God’s will. You might need a “good” life following your goals and your passions, as a result of God is nice and likes to bless His kids. However when you actually need to be a very good disciple, you deny your self. You’re taking up your cross (not your dream) and also you comply with God regardless of the fee. Following God and being a very good disciple of His goes to be pricey. You’ll get scars. However additionally, you will in the future hear, “Nicely finished, good and devoted servant.”
5. You and Martin have been married for 19 years. What are a number of the challenges you face being single after so a few years of marriage? From this attitude, what encouragement or recommendation would you provide to singles?
Being single just isn’t at all times enjoyable. However there may very well be a lot worse issues than being single — like dwelling with somebody who isn’t the proper one for the remainder of your life. Or deciding that you just aren’t going to dwell anymore with the one you married. Life isn’t about happiness; it’s about obedience. Once I discover myself lonely and wishing that issues are completely different, I don’t pray for a husband — ‘trigger I believe if I actually wanted one, God would give me one. I don’t know what’s finest for me. God does. So when I’m lonely, I pray, “Lord, I need your will. Your shall be finished. No matter that’s.” If His will implies that I’m lonely typically, that’s OK with me.
Copyright 2021 Lauren Dunn. All rights reserved.