Friday, May 11, 2007

Freed missionary hostage shares dramatic story with Bowie audience
By CHUCK MACDONALD For the Blade-News

The petite 5-foot-3-inch woman with honey-blonde hair stepped confidently to the podium at Grace Baptist Church Sunday evening. She never raised her voice. She didn't pace the stage. Instead she engaged the packed auditorium with conversational tones more in keeping with moms sharing a cup of coffee.

It was Gracia Burnham's story that held the crowd nearly breathless. It was a story of kidnapping, torture, terrorism, incredible deprivations, and eventually the death of her beloved husband Martin. For nearly 13 months, the Burnhams, a missionary couple from New Tribes Mission, had been held captive by the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim terrorist group in the Philippines. The couple and their captors were on the move constantly in the jungles of southern Philippines, usually just ahead of the Philippine army that was trying to free the captives. Finally in the 17th gun battle of the captivity, June 7, 2002, the Philippine army killed several of the terrorists. In the battle Martin and another captive were killed and Gracia was wounded.
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