Gracia Burham, Ex-Sayyaf Hostage To Speak In Lisburn: Ulster Star

November 20, 2007 at 8:52 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

AN AMERICAN ex-missionary whose husband was killed while both were hostages for a year in the Phillipines will speak at two events in Lisburn this weekend.

Gracia Burnham, who herself was wounded during a firefight between the Phillipine military and the Abu Sayyaf Group in which her husband Martin was killed, will tell her unique story at Lisburn Baptist Church at 8 pm on Friday night and at Lisburn Cathedral on Sunday morning (November 25) at 11 am.

The event is organised by Friends in Action, a charity that works in Africa to assist missionaries and the people they work with.

Gracia who has three children – Jeff, Mindy and Zach – worked with her husband for 17 years as a missionary.

They served with New Tribes Mission in the Philippines where Martin was a jungle pilot delivering mail, supplies and offering encouragement to other missionaries. He also helped to transport sick and injured patients to medical facilities.

Gracia served in various roles supporting the aviation programme and also home-schooled their children, all of whom were born in the Philippines. It was during their 18th wedding anniversary party on May 27, 2001 at Dos Palmas Resort off Palawan Island, that the Burnhams were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf Group. They also seized guests and took them to Basilan Island, an ASG stronghold.

During their 376 days of captivity other hostages were killed, while some were set free and from November 2001 the Burnhams and one other were the last remaining hostages.

They faced near starvation, constant exhaustion, frequent gun battles, murder and intense soul-searching about a God who sometimes seemed to have forgotten them.

Then on June 7 2002, in a firefight between the Philippine military and the Abu Sayyaf Group, Martin was killed and although Gracia was wounded she and the rest of her family were finally freed.

Since she was set free Gracia has written two books, ‘In the Presence of My Enemies’ and ‘To Fly Again’ and now works a popular church speaker. Her oldest son Jeff is now married and studies missionary aviation at Liberty University. Mindy, Zach and Gracia live in Rose Hill, Kansas.

For more information, please contact Friends in Action on 028 9266 8194


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