Woman, Held Hostage In The Philippines Over A Year, Shares Her Tale
TULSA, Oklahoma - A woman who survived more than a year as a hostage in the jungle is inspiring others.
Gracia and Martin Burnham were kidnapped 11 years ago in the Philippines. The Burnhams were celebrating 18 years of marriage when they were taken hostage by a Muslim militant group. In the end, Gracia's freedom came at a price, her husband's life.
It's a situation no one could ever really plan for.
"Spent a little over a year running through the jungle with this group of guys trying to avoid the Philippine military who were trying to rescue us," said Gracia.
Gracia and Martin Burnham spent 17 years in the Philippines working as missionaries. They had three children. They were aware of the dangers. When the Burnhams were kidnapped, it was in what they thought was the most unexpected of places.
"We were at a resort, celebrating our anniversary, which is very embarrassing for a missionary to say. We weren't busy in the jungle working, but we were at a resort," Gracia said.
Gracia says she's since learned that resorts are hot spots targeted by militants.
"They think wealthy people frequent the resorts and that's business as usual for them. Their jihad has degenerated into a kidnap-for-ransom group," said Gracia.
The Burnhams, along with several others, were held captive for 376 days. They had little food, drank dirty water and were involved in frequent gun battles.
"The gun battle that rescued me, my husband died in," said Gracia. "It's interesting that the weak one came home - that the strong one died in the jungle and the weak one came home to tell the story."
Gracia's been telling their story for 10 years. She's authored two books, one of them a New York Times Bestseller. She's says through all the pain, she's held on to what she believes; God's plan. And that one day, she'll be with her one true love once again.
"Oh, he would just laugh. He would just laugh and say, 'Oh, only God can write a good ending to such a tragic story.' Um, yeah, I'll see him again someday and thank him again for being so good to me in the jungle. Martin was a good guy."
Gracia travels all over the world telling her story. One of the biggest points she makes is about forgiveness. Believe it or not, she says she's actually forgiven her captors.
Now, she even works with former Jihad militants, who are in prison. Gracia says she's helped four of those find the Lord.