Grace in the jungle
is the widow of Martin Burnham, who served for 17 years as a
missionary pilot in the Philippines. The Burnhams were kidnapped
and held as hostages in the jungle for more than a year by a
radical terrorist group before Martin was killed in a rescue
attempt in the summer of 2002. Gracia spoke recently with Assistant
Editor Ashli O’Connell.
Do you think most Christians are prepared for the test of faith
that you and Martin faced?
God says He doesn’t test you beyond what you are able
to endure. I think each person’s testing must be in proportion
to what faith God has given them. I don’t think I was
able to drum up any special faith when I was going through this.
I think it was all God’s doing. He gave me what I needed
day by day. Walking closely with Him and knowing His Word well
is really going to help you when you face whatever testing comes
You are candid in your book about your struggle with faith and
anger with God. How did you reconcile that in the jungle?
of the hardest things about our captivity was that I realized
what kind of person I was. I always thought I was a pretty good
Christian — and then I found myself feeling hatred and
covetousness and all these things I didn’t want to think
existed in me. But God showed me I didn’t have to beat
myself over the head with all that. You just acknowledge your
sin, ask forgiveness and go on. If I had hit myself over the
head with my sinfulness I never would have gotten out of the
depression I was in out there. I learned a lot about my sinfulness,
but I also learned a lot about God’s grace.
the Presence of My Enemies
Gracia Burnham &
Memories: A Missionary Family’s Trial and Triumphs
Yvonne L. Carlson
Life of Faith
Mrs. C. Nuzum
here or call
PE: And what did
you learn about God’s will?
God’s will is not our will. If all this had been up to
me, this wouldn’t have happened. It certainly wouldn’t
have gone on for a year, and it most certainly wouldn’t
have ended with Martin’s death. But God has a plan. I
remember one day the kids and I were out driving and they had
a CD playing. The song was “God Is God and I Am Not”
by Steven Curtis Chapman. I had never heard that song before
— I’d been in the jungle for a year — and
that song just said it all for me. God’s will is always
right and always good. I feel like God’s will was done
in this whole thing whether I liked it or not. I’m not
going to try to second-guess God’s goodness or His plan.
PE: What do you
want the world to know about Martin Burnham?
Martin was an ordinary guy who loved the Lord. I got to watch
him live out his faith for a year in a horrible situation, and
he was just a normal guy who let the Lord use him. I think he
would laugh if he heard people say he was a hero.
PE: How are you
and your children doing today?
Very well. We laugh a lot together. We talk about Martin a lot.
On the whole we’re doing really well. I can’t really
explain that. I think we’ve just chosen to go on and trust
PE: Any other
Each person can make a difference in his or her corner of the
world. You don’t have to go to a foreign land; you don’t
have to dream for an elusive career. Right where God’s
put you, you can make a difference if you’ll just allow
Him to use you. I encourage people to go for it.
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