The Washington Post reports that Christian missionaries around the world have evacuated predominantly Muslim countries since the September 11 terrorist attacks. The Southern Baptist Convention alone has moved about 100 missionaries in the Middle East and Asia to more secure locations. "They are frustrated because they love the people so much that they want to be ministering to them in this time of crisis," says Avery Willis, senior vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board. Other missionaries still in predominantly Muslim countries are being told to watch their step, and to be even more careful about overt evangelism.
Two missionaries on many Christians' minds are Martin and Gracia Burnham, currently held hostage in the Philippines by the Abu Sayyaf. There apparently hasn't been much news since the Muslim guerrilla group threatened to behead them. However, 16-year-old Basit Balahim, whose father was a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf before his arrest, offered details about the gruesome death of Guillermo Sobero, the other American hostage. "I no longer want to be an Abu Sayyaf member," Balahim told reporters. "You are always on the run. It's difficult being pursued by a lot of soldiers." A U.S. counterterrorism team is visiting Zamboanga, the base city for military action against the Muslim rebels, and the chief spokesman of the Philippine military says it still expects to rescue the Burnhams by the end of the month. Then there's this cryptic announcement by National Security Adviser Roilo Golez: "Within 24 to 48 hours, we expect something big will happen." It's unclear when he said it, but the Reuters story that quoted him ...1
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