VIENNA, Virginia — Over 15 years after she was rescued from a year-long abduction by Islamic terrorists in a Philippine jungle, Kansas missionary Gracia Burnham says her time in captivity showed her how faithless she was as she couldn’t see the bigger plan that God had for her time of trial.
Burnham along with her deceased husband, Martin, both served for New Tribes Mission (now Ethnos360) when they were taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf militants on May 27, 2001. The Burnhams were among a group of 20 hostages kidnapped by the terror group from the Dos Palmas Resort in Palawan.
After 376 days of captivity, Burnham was freed in June 2002 following a gun battle with the Filipino military that resulted in the death of her husband.
The 59-year-old author of two books detailed her experience in captivity with hundreds gathered at the Voice of the Martyrs Advance Conference held at McLean Bible Church outside Washington, D.C.
“I want to thank you for your prayers. Thank you for praying for this loving couple you have never even met before. It seemed like our trial lasted forever and that is how a trial is, isn’t it?” she asked the crowd. “There were days where we felt like everyone had forgotten us and there were days I felt forsaken.”
Burnham said the hardest part of her captivity was not the fact that her feet painfully bled and oozed from the long hikes with no socks and was not the fact that she was forced to sleep at night with only a dirty old rice sack separating her from the creatures crawling around on the jungle floor.
“The hardest thing for me was seeing myself for what I really was,” she said. “When everything was gone, the real me surfaced that I didn’t even want to believe existed. I saw a hateful Gracia. I saw a faithless Gracia. It was shocking.”
In a time of desperation and despair, Burnham said she cried out for God to change her and cried out to ask God how long the trial would last.