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In the Presence of My Enemies

In the Presence of My Enemies

by Gracia Burnham with Dean Merrill
published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois,
ISBN#0-8423-8138-4 (hc)

Many Christians in evangelical churches heard announcements or prayer requests for about a year, for the Burnhams in the Philippines, who had been taken hostage and appeared to be alive, but moved from place to place in the jungles there.

I never saw a face for them during that time, and I think sometimes their names blurred in my mind with other missionaries I heard about in hostage situations. However, now that I've read Gracia Burnham's book, which she wrote with the help of Dean Merrill, I feel like I have a much clearer grasp of that horrible time.

At the same time, I'm encouraged by her testimony of how God answered prayers for them in many little ways, and gave them opportunities to share the gospel with these terrorists that no one else could have had or taken advantage of in the same way.

Although her husband Martin was nearly blind without his glasses, his gentle and thoughtful manner, and his wisdom, earned him the respect of their guards and the leaders of this movement. They listened to him. - If only they had also repented and believed that gospel.

Considering that she didn't have toilet paper or anything much to write on, I'm surprised at how well Gracia remembered so many details about the many moves and mobiling as they referred to their treks as they avoided the Philippine army. Still, I'm sure most of them are etched permanently on her mind. It was probably quite helpful for her to spell it all out.

It was a nice touch to see notes at the bottom of some pages indicating what was happening at the same time to their children and family in other places, and what actions were taken to negotiate their release.

You may already know, that at the time the Philippine army rescued them, they accidentally shot Martin, and the nurse who was a hostage with them. They were the last three left of over twenty taken at the beginning and along the way. Gracia explains exactly what happened there, how they died. But she also shows how she was able to forgive.

I'm so very glad too, that she included descriptions of her return home, and the huge funeral for Martin back in Rose Hill, Kansas. It brought closure to the whole story.

The back of the book jacket asks, "Can faith, hope, and love surive a year of terror?" I think Gracia's story answers with a resounding "Yes!"

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Ruth Marlene Friesen

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