Two years ago this week, Gracia Burnham and her husband, Martin, were celebrating their wedding anniversary at a resort in the Philippines, where the two were stationed as New Tribes missionaries. This year, Gracia is celebrating what would have been her 20th anniversary alone.
The story of the Burnhams' capture and captivity by the Islamic terrorist group Abu Sayyaf is one she tells in her new book, In the Presence of My Enemies (Tyndale). But in one of her first interviews since returning home to Rose Hill, Kansas, Burnham told Christianity Today about what's not in the book—including details about how she really feels about her former captors, her rescuers, her God, and herself. Christianity Today online managing editor Ted Olsen visited Burnham for a three-hour interview in mid-February.
Early on, when the first group of hostages was released, one of the names that kind of kept appearing in the press accounts was a Catholic priest named Rene Enriquez. Your account of the Lamitan Hospital raid differs from his.
He was visiting someone at the hospital. We'd been held hostage for about a week when we finally got to land. As soon as we got to land the soldiers found us. So the plan of Abu Sayyaf was to take us all to this hospital, and then the press would come. [The military] would never shoot at a hospital. There would be negotiations. There would be concessions. And we would be let go. Well, we stormed this hospital, and the military cut the electricity and the phones and started this siege. It was a 24-hour siege with bombing and everything, and here we were in this hospital. And a priest had been visiting a patient in the hospital when the Abu Sayyaf and [we] twenty hostages came in. So I went over to him and I said, ...--> 1