Seventy days before the Taliban arrested Heather Mercer, Dayna Curry, and 22 other Shelter Now workers in Afghanistan, a different radical Muslim group abducted American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham from a Philippine resort. Both incidents captured the attention of American Christians, especially as the September 11 terrorist attacks made discussion of radical Islam unavoidable. But as more than 200 days passed since the release of Mercer and Curry, the Burnhams remained captive. Finally, as Mercer and Curry began a tour promoting their book, word came of a Philippine military rescue attempt in the jungles of Mindanao. Gracia Burnham was free but injured; Martin Burnham and fellow hostage Ediborah Yap had been killed. The following day, Christianity Today editorial resident LaTonya Taylor contacted the two former Taliban hostages.
What is your reaction to what happened with the Burnhams?
Mercer: I had the privilege of meeting Martin Burnham's parents and Gracia's sister and best friend during their visit to Washington, D.C. [to get the U.S. government more involved in the missionaries' release]. Through their entire ordeal, I have been so struck and encouraged by the family's great faith and hope in God's provision for Martin and Gracia's well-being and safe return. They never doubted the goodness and faithfulness of God in this trial.
Dayna and I, along with thousands of other Christians around the country, prayed—and believed too—for the safe return of both parents. We are deeply saddened over their loss, but we rejoice in Gracia's freedom. For all involved, I am thankful that the immediate situation has come to a close. We know that Gracia and her children will have a long road ahead of them, and we will continue ...1
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