Monday, January 16, 2012

Meeting Gracia Burnham

Two days ago around 500 women filled every folding chair in the large cafeteria of Camp Chautauqua, which is only about fifteen minutes from my house. Winter coats draped the back of each chair, purses and boots created an obstacle course for the stragglers making their way to a seat their friends saved for them. It was crowded in a friendly sort of way. A man, who must have been the camp director, welcomed us all, explained that they'd only expected 150-200, and then told how Gracia (pronounce gray-sha), a woman who's met presidents, ambassadors, and major news journalists, will speak anywhere she's invited for no charge except a voluntary offering.

Just an offering, I thought? I recalled the last well-known Christian we'd had at our church when I was a pastor's wife. His mother, who lived in the area, had obligated him to our church to do a concert so his usual exorbitant fee was waived--he'd "make do" with only an offering, but he sure made it obvious what a sacrifice he was making for us little nobodies. His backstage absolute necessities--like only a particular brand of bottled water, fresh fruit, etc, etc, were spelled out like legal demands . . . we could only push him so far! Compared to this, Gracia already impressed me!

A few more folding chairs were added to the end of the row I was sitting in and a short, blond lady in a brown sweater and an artsy, long wool skirt came and sat on the end. She flashed me a big smile, I thought, "Oh, we could be great friends!" The camp director then asked for Gracia Burnham to come, a short video played of Gracia's story, while the lady who'd just smiled at me made her way up front to speak.

On Wednesday I'll share a bit of her message, and tell you about her two books on Thursday. But for today, this video will give you a glimpse of this very genuine widow who knows God will pull her through. Somehow.

For their 18th wedding anniversary, Gracia splurged and booked an overnight at a once-in-a-lifetime resort on a southern island in the Philippines where she and her husband were missionaries. Life changed forever at dawn on May 27, 2001 when they and 20 other resort guests were taken hostage by terrorists. Most of the hostages were ransomed and released within two weeks, a few were beheaded. The Burnhams were held captive until June 7, 2002 when Martin was killed by three bullets in the last of seventeen gun battles between the military and the terrorists. Gracia was shot in the leg, evacuated, and reunited with her three children several days later in Kansas.


  1. Oh My ....Martin's not chained tonight and neither are our husbands. Everyday God will lead us
    through. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  2. Yes, Linda! What a hope we have in Christ who unchains our hearts even in this life, and frees us from sin and burdens in the next!

  3. I have read both of her books. Isn't she such a beautiful lady inside and out!

  4. Liked this so much I posted that video on my Facebook and may even repost on my blog! Thanks for sharing. Look forward to hearing about the meeting with her.

  5. @Candy and Cicero, so glad you appreciated this, and thanks for sharing. On Wed I'll mention a bit bit of her message. I highly recommend a visit to her website, find out where she'll be speaking and plan to attend. :)


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