In The Presence Of My Enemies, by Gracia Burnham

Gracia and Martin Burnham left their home and children to celebrate their marriage anniversary, one year later only Gracia would return. For a full year the Burnham’s lived in oppression – nights consisted of endless walking through the Philippine jungle, eating things such as leaves when there was no rice, and dropping to the floor at the sound of firearms (this happened more often than not). Warmth, comfort, food, average hygiene, shoes, medicine (and the list is endless) – all these things were luxuries the Abu Sayyaf did not allow their hostages to obtain. The terrorist group had a goal in mind, “When all of the Philippines belong to us, we’d move on to Thailand and other countries where there is such oppression. You see, Islam is for the whole world.” Yet through out this ordeal - God sustained, God provided, God was faithful, God never left their side for an instant. When you’re a woman oppressed, suffering, ill, exhausted, chained to a tree in such lonely nights – would you hear the voice of God over the roaring in your ears? Though at times the flesh was weak, Gracia never forgot her Father whose ways are higher than her own, and whose love for her was endless. The Burnham’s tale is sad and haunting, yet their tale is also one of encouragement, of trust, of learning to lean on God.

-Justine