Just before her departure from the Philippines to Kansas, widowed missionary Gracia Burnham spoke publicly for the first time since her Friday rescue. "We want to thank each and every one of you for every time you remembered us in prayer," she said. "We needed every single prayer you prayed for us during our ordeal in the jungle. We know there are countless of you who don't even know us who prayed and offered support also, and we thank you, too."
Gracia thanked the Philippine soldiers who rescued her and attacked her captors. "During our ordeal, we were repeatedly lied to by the Abu Sayyaf," she said gravely. "And they are not men of honor. They should be treated as common criminals."
Gracia had a busy day yesterday; she visited with the family of Ediborah Yap, the nurse who was also slain in the rescue attempt. ("Gracia herself told me that Ediborah was a hero," said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.) Gracia also debriefed American and Filipino military officials about the activities of the Abu Sayyaf.
The buzz in Rose Hill, Kansas, this morning is about how much better Gracia looks than she did in images from her captivity (lots of photos of both here). The family is eager to see her when she arrives on a commercial flight in Kansas City (about a three-hour drive from Rose Hill) this afternoon. (She is not expected to address the public today.) Several papers report on yesterday's church services, but you can read Christianity Today's coverage here.
Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the pursuit of the Burnhams' abductors continues. More than 600 troops are pursuing the Abu Sayyaf, which is estimated to number 242—with 30 in the cell that held the Burnhams.
The Philippine military is watching the country's ports, recruiting ...1
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