Martin and Gracia Burnham were a couple who had spent most of their married years in the Philippines, with Martin working as a jungle pilot for New Tribes Mission. Gracia took care of their three children, and monitored the radio. In 2001, the couple decided to take a vacation without the kids to celebrate their 18th anniversary. They chose Dos Palmas on the island of Palawan, a popular resort. Unfortunately, one morning a band of terrorists – Abu Sayyaf – raided the resort, kidnapping 20 hostages.
This apparently was not an uncommon thing. The terrorists would snatch people randomly, and make their families pay huge ransoms before releasing them. If the families didn’t come up with the money, the hostage would be shot or beheaded. This was the situation that Martin and Gracia found themselves in.
Incredibly, they were held captive for over a year. It was an almost unbearable time for the couple. The year was mostly spent being marched from place to place with very little food, as the kidnappers kept moving them in an attempt to avoid the authorities. To say it was primitive was an understatement. No housing or toilets, no extra clothes, and barely enough food to survive on. Every day the kidnappers diligently prayed to Allah, and every day the Burnhams prayed to Jesus. Gracia describes her constant battle to not hate the people who had kidnapped them and treated them so badly.
Some of the hostages were ransomed and freed. Some were shot or beheaded. And some of the hostages’ families came up with the money, only to be told that the terrorists had decided they wanted more.
This is truly a horrifying story, but one worth reading.