An encouraging testimony from the missionary couple when they were Abu Sayaf hostages......... Following is
a testimony that I shared this morning here in Manila at our local church, Christ Commission Fellowship.
Philippians 1:10-14 "I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives
until Christ returns." "May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation-those good things that are produced
in your life by Jesus Christ-for this will bring much glory and praise to God."
And I want you to know, dear brothers
and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News, for everyone here,
including all the soldiers in the palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. "And because of my
imprisonment, many of the Christians here have gained confidence and become
more bold in telling others about Christ."
On Friday God answered our prayers of one year. That Martin and Gracia Burnham would accomplish His purpose
for their lives in captivity and that they would be released from the evil hands of the ASG, but on different travel
schedules to their true home in heaven. Martin is now free, both in body and spirit, and has gone into the presence of
the Lover and Savior of his soul. And Gracia is now free, to return to her children, family, friends and coworkers.
By God's amazing grace, Gracia is recovering well from her gun shot wound in her right thigh. She is also doing
incredible well spiritually and emotionally. She shared a little about how God worked miraculously in and through
their lives this last year. She said that:
Martin was highly respected by every one of the ASG. In the beginning they laughed in disbelief at how he responded
to being a captive and their terror, but as time went on they were awed of his confident faith in the Lord Jesus.
Martin always graciously offered to carry things for the ASG and for the other hostages.
Martin was chained to a tree at night by an ASG guard. Every night for the whole year, Martin would thank the guard
who chained him and wished him a good night.
Martin showed the love and compassion of Christ throughout this year of terror, to both his captors and the other
Martin had lengthy discussions about the claims of Christ with all the ASG guards and hostages. On one occasion he was
having a very serious talk with Abu Sabaya about God's judgment on sin and that one day God would judge his sin.
Gracia said she was in the background motioning to Martin to 'cool it' but Martin very gently continued to share the truth
of Christ with Sabaya. Gracia said that: God graciously sustained them through this difficult trial. One day they were
very very tired from hiking all day. They strung up their hammock, sat in it, and began to talk together.
Martin said, "It's been a very hard year, but it has also been a very good year. They began to thank the Lord for
everything they could think of. Gracia said, "We thanked the Lord for our hammock, our boots (Deborah walked
bared footed for the last two months), etc.
They thanked God for every believer that they had ever met, that they could remember. God encouraged their hearts
with the thought that that person, couple, family or church was probably praying for them.
The Lord brought Ps. 100:2 to Martin's mind, which reads, "Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence
with singing. The other hostages said that Martin and Gracia sang often.
Martin said, "We might not leave this jungle alive, but at least we can leave this world serving the Lord with
GLADNESS. We can serve Him right here where we are, and with GLADNESS."
The last thing that they did before Martin's death was to pray together, thank God for His faithfulness and then laid down
for a nap. They were awakened by a fire fight between the ASG and the Philippine Scout Rangers, and Martin was
ushered into the presence of His loving Lord.
Martin and Gracia's obedience and perseverance to the Lord's great commission through this fiery testing of their faith has
captured the attention of the world. We thank God for their testimony and anticipate much fruit through their story.
The horrendous ordeal is over, but there are many new challenges that face Gracia, Jeff, Mindy, Zach and the rest of their
extended family. We want to express our thanks for your faithful prayers for Martin and Gracia and their family. Please
continue to pray for God's purpose to be fulfilled in and through Gracia's life. And, pray that thousands will hear of the
wonderful love of Christ, and experience His saving grace through Gracia's testimony of God's faithfulness.