Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Philippines: Learning to Forgive

“Then God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry…?’ And he said, ‘It is right for me to be angry, even to death!’” (Jonah 4:9.)
Gracia Burnham was angry. A gang of violent Muslims had kidnapped her. Gracia did not even like to go camping. But the group forced Gracia and her husband Martin to live with them in the jungle. The jungle had no beds, bathrooms, stores, or air conditioning.

Gracia and Martin were missionaries in the Philippines. Before the men kidnapped them, Gracia homeschooled their three kids: Mindy, Zach, and Jeff. Martin, a pilot, flew mail and supplies to other missionaries in hard-to-reach places.

The men who kidnapped the Burnhams belonged to a group that wanted Muslims to have more power in the Philippines. They had the mistaken idea that they could get power by hurting innocent people. The kidnappers took Martin, Gracia, and other innocent people into the jungle. Friends and relatives took care of Mindy, Zach, and Jeff.

Rude Treatment
The kidnappers often behaved rudely to the Burnhams. At Christmastime, they made fun of Martin and Gracia because they would not be at home with their families on Christmas. They kept Martin on a chain like a dog. Martin and Gracia got very little food, even when the kidnappers had a lot to eat.

Gracia felt so angry that she wished bad things would happen to the kidnappers. She told Martin that she wished the men would suffer forever.

Martin was very wise. He reminded her that God does not want us to wish for our enemies to suffer. Gracia remembered that the Bible says, “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14, 15, NIV).

When Gracia forgave her kidnappers, her anger went away. But it was not easy to forgive. From day to day, their captors forced them to endure new burdens. Gracia had to forgive again and again. After a while, she found it easier to not get as angry when she was mistreated.

About a year after the Burnhams were kidnapped, their struggle ended. Sadly, Martin died in a battle between soldiers from the Philippine military and the kidnappers.

Gracia was shot in the leg, but she was able to get away from the kidnappers and out of the jungle. She joined her children in the United States. Now she teaches others the lessons she learned in the jungle about forgiveness.

Sources include: To Fly Again by Gracia Burnham with Dean Merrill (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 200
HT:  Kids of Courage

3 comments:

Paul Latour said...

My word! This is just, yet, another reminder of how we have it so easy here in North America.

Sadly, (or should I say "madly") I know Christians here who refuse to do as much as hand gospel tracts to people on the street for fear of what the potential receivers might 'think' of them.

Grace to Gracia and family.

Robert Tewart said...

My church helps to support a missionary family in Philippines. They are always in danger of Muslim groups. We cannot pray enough for brothers and sisters around the world.

Paul Latour said...

"We cannot pray enough for brothers and sisters around the world."

Amen to that!

I really appreciate your efforts through your blog in bringing to light the plight of our brothers and sisters who suffer TRUE persecution in various countries around the world.

Too many people here in this part of the world, under the banner of "Christianity", are oblivious to the reality and depth of suffering that is going on in the body of Christ, for Christ.

Thanks.