It's been more than 10 years now since former missionary to the Philippines Gracia Burnham and her husband, Martin, were held hostage in the jungle by Islamic militants.
The 13-month nightmare began when the Burnhams were kidnapped from their hotel room in May 2001. They'd been celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary on an island resort in the southern Philippines, a rare treat for these parents of three teenage kids. For years, Martin had worked as a jungle pilot in Southeast Asia while Gracia homeschooled their kids, ministered to neighbors and worked as Martin's radio operator on the ground.
As hostages of the Islamic terrorist organization Abu Sayyaf, the Burnhams battled starvation and depression, going as long as nine days at one point without a solid meal and living in filthy outdoor lodgings. During their entire captivity, they never had access to a toilet. Their gruesome ordeal ended in a botched rescue attempt by the Armed Forces of the Phillipines that left Gracia wounded and her husband, Martin, shot dead, along with a third hostage who also was fatally injured during gunfire.
Reconnecting with Her Captors
Now, more than a decade later, a remarkable story of grace, forgiveness, and redemption has unfolded. Gracia has written two books about her experience. She's returned to the Philippines to testify against some of her former kidnappers, and has begun speaking about her ordeal to churches, schools, and mission groups across the country.1