Saturday, June 23, 2012

In the Presence of My Enemies

Front CoverI just finished reading In the Presence of My Enemies by Gracia Burnham.  In this honest and unaffected memoir,she tells the story of her captivity in May 2001 at the hands of Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim extremist group in the Philippines. For just over a year, she and her husband Martin, a missionary pilot, lived with their captors and a variety of other hostages in the Philippine jungle. Burnham hauntingly depicts the reaction of deep Christian faith, Stockholm Syndrome and the unremitting terror of hostage life. The odd intimacy among the hostages and captors comes across in surprisingly frank conversations. 

At one point, Martin boldly refers to all the bad things the captors have done to the hostages, only to have one of them look at him puzzled and claim he has never done any harm to the hostages. 
The captors, in fact, do unspeakable things, such as beheading hostages or taking them as unwilling "wives"; Impressively, Burnham makes no attempt to dramatize these events for shock value, nor does she use this book as an occasion for Christian triumphalism. Instead, she chronicles both her high and low moments as a Christian during that year, and shows tremendous respect and love for members of other faiths with whom she lived. While some of the book is written for a Christian audience, a much wider audience will appreciate Burnham's brave, artless account of these horrific events.  It gives a view into the beliefs of the extremist Muslim "religion" and their behavior.  I would highly recommend this book.  I just downloaded it on my Kindle as a free book.


  1. Makes one wonder about the belief some have that 'all cultures are equally valid,' doesn't it. Thanks for telling us about this book, Marti.

  2. Sounds like an interesting book and one that I'd read. I'll look for it. Thanks for the review!