Soon after September 11, 2001, the news media stepped up its coverage of Martin and Gracia Burnham, the missionary couple held hostage in the Philippine jungle by terrorists with ties to Osama bin Laden. After a year of captivity and a violent rescue that resulted in Martin's death, the world watched Gracia Burnham return home in June 2002.
In the Presence of My Enemies, the gripping true story of American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham's year as hostages in the Philippine jungle, was a New York Times best seller and has sold nearly 350,000 copies. It tells the real story behind the news—about their harrowing ordeal, about how it affected their relationship with each other and with God, about the terrorists who held them, about the actions of the U.S. and Philippine governments, and about how they were affected by the prayers of thousands of Christians throughout the world. This updated edition contains never-before published information on the capture and trial of the Burnhams’ captors, Gracia’s secret return trip to the Philippines, and updates on recent events in Gracia’s life, ministry, and family.
- Felt as though I lived through it
Listening to this book, I felt as though I lived through this tribulation.
I identified with Martin throughout, and kept thinking, what would I do here?
The #1 outstanding virtue of this book is the down to earth honesty. It is what really happened and what they really felt. No dressing up to try to be edifying. But it was very edifying.
Because of the honesty, I feel like I learned lessons from the experience almost as if I went through it myself.
Some things I have resolved from this experience are to continue to memorize psalms so that I could sing them in such a trial, and to not fear men, but God. (This is not something the Burnhams did well, but I think from their experience that this is what is needed.)
I agree with the comments of others on the dumb explanation near the end of the book of why God did not save them. Gracia says that God could not violate the free will of the terrorists to make them agree to release the hostages. True. But God could have killed the terrorists or made a way for His servants to escape.
An interesting thing is that God answered their small prayers with minor miracles again and again, such as giving Gracia a hamburger and a Thanksgiving feast, but He did not answer the main prayer.
My possible explanation is that it God required much of Martin because he was a chosen vessel. i.e. when the terrorist tried to convert him to Islam, Martin politely answered that he couldn't consider that because his family had been Christians for generations. Rather, I think in hindsight, Martin should have risked getting his head cut off, and shared the truth of the gospel with the killer. It is much harder to take this kind of risk when you are also protecting your wife. The book inspired so much soul searching.
A tough book for me to review. While the journey for the Burnam's was well outside of the American norm, there wasn't that much that came across as captivating during their captivity. There are some very interesting firefights, but the majority sounded like they moved through the mountains aimlessly, or sat around bored, while they were given little to do.
Their faith in God also came across as "American" (wanting to have God, but not give him all of themselves). But that might just be my interpretation.
Worth reading but not one of my top books.
Not to in any way disrespect the family, because for them it was clearly very meaningful. But in honesty reviewing it as a book, it didn't translate that much meaning to my life.
What a story! Heart wrenching and brutally honest story. Challenges my faith!
- Show ALL Reviews
- In The Presence Of My Enemies
In the Presence of My Enemies is the heart-wrenching story of Gracia and Martin Burnham, missionaries to the Philippines who were kidnapped by Muslim terrorist. They were held captive for over a year and at very end, her husband, Martin was shot and killed by a stray bullet. Their intense suffering, questioning and enduring demands an audience. Though at times, their faith wavered, they stand as a testament to the fact that Christ can satisfy through both pain and pleasure. I wish that the conclusion to the book were a little different. Gracia concludes that God would have liked to have rescued her husband, but he did not want to violate the free will of the terrorist. She is trying to get God off the hook of her suffering. However, the Bible never tries to get God off that hook. Still, this book is a worthwhile read, and it is very inspiring. Thank you Christian Audio Reviewers Program. www.christianaudio.com
- Missionaries have a unique calling upon...
Missionaries have a unique calling upon their lives that non-missionaries may never understand - Gracia and Martin Burnham were two such missionaries. In the Presence of Mine Enemies by Gracia Burnham, tells of tragedy and hope in a world that many of us will never experience. They (along with their children) ministered in the Philippines with a mission aviation ministry. Martin, an accomplished pilot and missionary kid himself, was uniquely qualified for this outreach ministry.
Little did Martin and Gracia know that an anniversary getaway would turn into a year long trek through the Philippian jungle as prisoners of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist organization. Gracia masterfully crafts a narrative of suspense as each day in the jungle is a battle of will and a test of their dependance upon our Lord.
Through jungle and gunfire, the reader learns of the atrophies of war and the reckless pursuit of ill-trained soldiers for recovering hostages. The story unfolds with life after the jungle adventure, and the pain of moving on after tragedy. This story offers hope and redemption in a flawed world.
- I was somewhat familiar with the...
I was somewhat familiar with the story of "In the Presence of My Enemies," so there were no big surprises for me. I was glad to finally read and listen to this firsthand account by Gracia Burnham. "In the Presence of My Enemies" is the story of Martin and Gracia Burnham who were American missionaries in the Philippines. They were celebrating a wedding anniversary when the Muslim terrorist group, the Abu Sayaf, kidnapped them in the middle of the night. The terrifying ordeal lasted for over a year.
I appreciate the honesty and transparency of Mrs. Burnham. She could've sugar-coated what really happened, but I believe she was truthful. There were times when she wasn't very Christ-like at all. But don't we, as Christians, act like that also? And we're not even held hostage! What's important is that despite the low points of their kidnapping, the Burnhams still shared the Gospel with their enemies, whether in word or deed.
In regards to the audiobook, Pam Ward narrated the book full of emotion. The only problem I had was the pronunciation of some of her words. I'm familiar with Tagalog, and it bothered me when she mispronounced the words.
The story really made me think about how far would I go to defend my faith. Would I be strong enough to hold onto my convictions? I'd like to think I would. But I know when actually coming face-to-face with that fear, one might react differently. I pray that I never have to be in a situation like the Burnhams, but if I do, I want to be able to proclaim Jesus Christ at all costs!
- “In The Presence of My Enemies”...
“In The Presence of My Enemies” by Gracia Burnham is a phenomenal book! My family and I enjoyed the audiobook edition by http://www.ChristianAudio.com, and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.
I had heard Gracia’s testimony on the radio a few times, but had never taken the time to actually read the book. I’ve never read a book that played through my mind more like a movie than did this book. The narration was excellent and you are somehow transported to the Philippine jungles and are trying to survive with Martin, Gracia and their friends.
This is a book about terrorism, it is a book about missionary life, and it is more importantly, a book about faith in Jesus Christ, in the midst of life’s most difficult struggles.
While on an anniversary get-a-way, this very average missionary couple was abducted and held for ransom by the Abu-Sayyaf, a terrorist cell with links to Al-Qaeda. For over a year they were detained and held in conditions that most of us can’t imagine. I won’t spoil the book by giving too many details, but this is a book the whole family needs to hear together. You won’t be disappointed.
Thanks to christianaudio.com’s reviewers program for the copy of this audio book.
- In the Presence of My Enemies...
In the Presence of My Enemies is the powerful account of Martin and Gracia Burnham’s captivity in the Philippines. In this book, Gracia shares how she met Martin, she describes the events that led to their ministry in the Philippines and she describes many of the events that they experienced during their captivity. In addition to helping us understand the religious conflict that is going on around the world, there are many important spiritual lessons in this book.
One of the great lessons to learn is the power that sin can have over our lives. It was profound to hear how the Muslim captors of the Burnhams were unable to see the error of their ways. The Muslim captors were unable to see that murder, theft and kidnapping are sins that are not justified by Jihad.
A second great lesson to learn from this story is how God can help people have peace and contentment during the most difficult trials. Throughout this story Gracia candidly shared about how she struggled with anger and bitterness over being separated from her friends and family. Ultimately, Gracia’s trust in God’s goodness and sovereignty helped her to be content and at peace during her captivity and after her captivity ended.
I highly recommend In the Presence of My Enemies. This book was well written and the narration was very good. In fact, at the end of the story, it seemed that Martin and Gracia were friends I had known for a long time.
I am grateful to Christian Audio for the opportunity to review this book as a part of their reviewers program.
- The audio book was narrated by...
The audio book was narrated by Pam Ward. She did a fine job of telling the story with emotion. It seemed to me; however, that Pam offered too much emotion. She seemed really “sharp” during a few exchanges between Gracia and her captors. Everything I have seen with Gracia talking gives me a different perspective of her personality. Gracia seems much more humble than how Pam portrayed her in voice.
Nonetheless, listening to Pam’s take on the emotional setting throughout the book definitely left you feeling intense and angry when you should have been feeling intense anger! Having never read the book (and not being a Christian during the first half of this ordeal), I was not too familiar with the story. Pam did an excellent job articulating the words and bringing them to life in my mind.
There is one part of Gracia’s testimony that does not sit well with me. It is when she is explaining why God would allow something like her captivity happen. In a nutshell, her answer is that sometimes God is at an impasse because of man’s free will. I cannot agree with this for that would bring into question God’s ultimate sovereignty.
If you are like me and have never read the book, do yourself a favor and go get it! The faith of the Burnham’s will be a blessing to your soul. If you are not much of a reader, then by all means, download this book or purchase the CD’s. Give it a good listen to and know that in so doing you will be changed for the better.
- This is the story of Martin...
This is the story of Martin and Gracia Burnham, missionaries in the Philippines, who were taken captive by extreme Islamic Jihadists. It takes you on a year long journey through the jungles without proper shelter, clothing, and sanitation. Food was not always in abundance. They were separated from their loved ones (children and parents).
Gracia says this, “My goal in writing this was to tell Martin’s story. I hope we’ve done it well.”
It was done very well. Martin lives and breathes in this story. Martin was a man whose deep godly wisdom and love for God is seen throughout their captivity. Part of that love was, amazingly, for his captors.
Gracia’s story comes out too. She shares her husband’s love and forgiveness for her captives. In light of the fact that Martin did not survive the rescue attempt this is extraordinary! One example will suffice, shown graphic pictures of her dead captors on the day of her rescue. She began crying. The agent showing the pictures was surprised that she was not glad they were killed. She responded if I believe what I do then these men are in hell with no other chances for God’s forgiveness. Those who are still alive she has forgiven and prays for their salvation.
Pam Ward, the reader of this Christian Audio book, did such a fine job; I found it very easy to think that I was listening to Gracia herself.
This book will cause you to examine your heart before God who sees and knows all. As one who is a part of the volunteer christianaudio reviewers program I highly recommend this book.
- I was hesitant to listen to...
I was hesitant to listen to the audio book In the Presence of My Enemies. I didn't know anything about the story of Gracia and Martin Burnham and I couldn't imagine who might kidnap missionaries in the Philippines.
However, Gracia tells the story of the capture of her husband and herself by Muslim radicals with abandon, holding back nothing including details that might put the couple in an unfavorable light by some. The story rings of candor and desperation, beautifully narrated by Pam Ward, other than her feigned male voice.
The story of the one-year captivity of this missionary family will keep you glued to your iPod as the Burnhams dodge in and out of firefight after firefight while enduring near starvation and living in constant fear of their violent and sadistic abductors.
It's a story of triumph against impossible odds and dealing with the rawest side of human existence.
- To tell you the truth...
To tell you the truth I didn't know much about what happened to the Burnhams when it was actually happening. I did know that they had been kidnapped but that was about all. I really wasn't expecting much from the book when I started to listen. I was quickly caught up in the drama and was on the edge of my seat through much of the book.
The narrator Pam Ward did an excellent job. She read the book as if she was the one who had wrote it.
Gracia Burnham writes with an honesty and was very straight forward about what happened to her and her husband. She is very clear that the captors where the bad guys here even though her husband was killed during the rescue. She was also very clear that she still needed to pray for her captors as they are people too. She brought each captors forward as a unique personality and each with good and bad qualities. She also explained how they saw their particular brand of Islam and the contradictions with it.
I felt a connection with the family especially when she talked about her daughter Mindy. That's my name. And then she said that Mindy's birthday was Oct. 17th. That's my birthday too!! Although we are a couple decades apart in age this connection made me really stop and think of how I would have felt if my parents had been in that situation (although I am a PK not an MK).
This story also made me stop and think of how I would have reacted if I had been in the situation. Gracia was very honest in her feelings. She told honestly how she was depressed. How she went through guilt as it was her idea to go to the resort where they were taken. The whole story wasn't tied up in a nice little bow.
I would recommend this book to everyone. Even if biographies aren't you cup of tea this is definetly worth the time.
- I remember seeing the book In...
I remember seeing the book In the Presence of my Enemies at my local Christian bookstore when it first came out in print. The cover always grabbed my attention, and when ChistianAudio offered me a chance to review it, I jumped. I don't read many biographies, probably because I prefer to think in terms of the abstract, but I found much to think about when reading (listening to) Gracia Burnham's account of what happened.
The narrator greatly pulled me in. She sounded scared, concerned, wise, reflective, as though she had lived through the events she was narrating. She's narrated other audio books as well, including Dante's Divine Comedy.
In the Presence made me ask myself how I would feel. What would I do? How do you view your enemies when they are standing over you? I couldn't help but think of some of the despair exhibited in the Psalms. Gracia Burnham did despair. But she also grew from her experience and learned a few things about God's love and grace through her ordeal. And I think I did too.
The only drawback for me personally was when she explained why she though God allowed it all to happen. She basically felt that God's hands were tied on the issue since He's given us free will. I believe the Bible teaches that the terrible events and things she suffered, that we all suffer, are part of what God has ordained from before time began and is working "for the good of those who love him, those who are called according to his purpose."
- I'm not generally a fan of...
I'm not generally a fan of reading a book in which someone just talks about themselves for a long time - in my experience it has just been a lesson in pride and boredom! Not so with this one. The true story of Martin and Gracia Burnham's kidnap and year in captivity is phenomenally compelling. Gracia has a real gift of words, expresses her feelings and circumstances very well, and really draws you into the action.
The book follows everything from Martin and Gracia's courtship, through the incredible trial of their captivity, and the years since the release. Gracia captures her emotions and battles in full, she's not apologetic about her questions along the way, and she communicates every part of the ordeal in the perfect amount of detail.
Reading this book will make you laugh at times, and cry at others. Sometimes it inspires joy, sometimes mourning, but constantly some action. It's difficult to take this book on board without wanting to do something!
Look out for lessons in grace, forgiveness, joy, prayer, community, mission, persecution, marriage, and parenting among many others.
This audio version is narrated well. There are not many audio books read by ladies, and I have to say that the voice suited this perfectly.
I got this audiobook for free as part of the christianaudio.com book reviewer programme. I'm not required to give a positive review.
- I remember hearing updates about the...
I remember hearing updates about the plight of the Burnhams on the radio through out their capture, and while my heart ached for them and their children, I did not have a full understanding of what was going on. Listening to this audio book of Gracia's book In the Presence of My Enemies brought their trial to life for me in my own home. I was horrified at what they had to go through, broken-hearted for their children, frustrated with the lack of action taken to rescue them, and completely overwhelmed and convicted by the godly way in which the Burnhams responded in this journey.
Martin and Gracia Burnham were a living example of what it meant to live for Christ and to count it all joy when we face trials. Their story ended with such bitter-sweetness, yet through it all God was glorified.
This audio book was well narrated and easy to listen to and follow while working around the house or exercising. This book, audio or print, will keep you on the edge of your seat, soften your heart to the experiences of others, and challenge you to walk the extra mile in your own walk with Christ.
* * * * *
This review copy was provided courtesy of the christianaudio Reviewers Program.