Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gracia Burnham at Camp Chautauqua

Psalm 23:5
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies . . .
" . . . and God gave us a hamburger . . . " Gracia Burnham, January 14, 2012
Ferree and Gracia
In The Presence of My Enemies is Gracia Burnham's book of her and her husband's kidnapping and year-long captivity by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the Philippine jungle.

Imagine camping out without a change of clothes, without a sleeping bag, without food or any cooking equipment. Without toilet paper or bandaids or a nail clipper or Kotex. Imagine doing that every day for a year. In the rain, at times. And mosquitos, worms, leeches . . .

Add to that young teen boys bossing you around, their commanders handcuffing your husband to a tree every night, and slogging a heavy load on your back, running and hiding endlessly, with death by gunfire or beheading at any random moment. And you cry every day, "God, get us out of here . . ."

I sat with the roomful of women enrapt in listening to Gracia's story. She had our hearts, this woman who'd met presidents and ambassadors, Congressmen, brigadier generals, television newscasters, international journalists . . . she never pictured or wanted this for her life; she was as unfit for running through the jungle as the rest of us; she was just a mom who wanted to be home with her kids, taking care of her husband.

After months of endless disappointment, exhaustion, weight loss and days of starvation, it didn't seem like God would answer their prayer for rescue, she said, so she began praying for a hamburger. Within days their captors handed them a bag of fast-food Coke, burger and fries! Although the outside world seemed to have forgotten them, God hadn't. And although they didn't understand it, God had a plan for all they'd endured. They may have wanted to know more about that plan---why them, why now---but the hamburger answer to prayer was enough to know.

A hamburger. In the jungle. Odd combinations are glorious things in God's hands, you know? We choose to trust His plan, and slowly, surely, painfully . . . God matches odd turns, unexpected events and unwanted circumstances. He prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies and puts hamburgers on that table in His time.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
Can we trust God's plan today? It's not easy, but it's worth it.


  1. I read their book many years ago. I didn't even remember it till u started talking about her.
    God knows which of us He can use. He knows who will obey Him and let their life's difficulties and/or their widowhood bring glory to His Name.
    She has an amazing testimony. May that be said of all of us walking this path we have been called to.

  2. Yes, Christie, may it be said of all of us, that we bring glory to His Name. Thank you for sharing!


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